Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Israeli Military and Intelligence Chiefs Call for Two-State Solution

Source: New York Times
By Jack Gerson

An extraordinary full page advertisement in today’s New York Times displayed a long-developing and now wide-open split between major players in Israel’s defense and intelligence leadership on the one hand and Premier Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies on the other:“In a Turbulent World Israel’s Security Chiefs Agree:  Separation Into Two States is Essential for Israel’s Security”. To see the ad, go to .

Six former chiefs of staff of the Israeli Defense Force (including former Israeli Premier Ehud Barak), six directors of Shin Bet (Israel’s domestic security agency), and six heads of the (notorious) Mossad (Israel’s intelligence agency) speak out in the ad for a two-state solution, arguing that since Jews are no longer a majority of Israel’s population — and will become even more of a minority as time goes on — Netanyahu’s single-state policy will inevitably end in a minority dictatorship imposed on the population.

So, here are eighteen hardened military and intelligence chiefs calling for peace and democracy. They are the same folks who have led genocidal raids on the people of Gaza; who have carried out kidnappings and assassinations around the world; who have been the backbone of the Israeli subjugation of the Palestinian people.  But now they see the writing on the wall. They see that, sooner or later, Israel will not be able to maintain both formally democratic elections and majority Jewish rule. With the fig-leaf of Israeli democracy gone, it will be that much harder to maintain support into the indefinite future. They saw what happened to apartheid South Africa, and want to avoid that.

So they call for a two-state solution. A “demilitarized Palestinian state” and “the democratic Jewish homeland of Israel”. A Jewish state and an Arab state. But, clearly, only one of these — the Palestinian state — would be demilitarized. So it would be a demilitarized Palestinian state and a nuclear-armed “democratic Jewish state”. To state this is to see just what the makers of the NY Times ad have in mind for the Palestinian state: to live under constant suspicion, in enforced weakness, and to — at best — settle for scraps while waiting for the next Netanyahu to come along and launch the next genocidal attack.

A very different solution is plain, and it is sorely needed. But a solution to the crisis in Israel/Palestine is not possible within the framework of capitalism    Only through the revolutionary transformation of society and the creation of a federation of democratic socialist states in the Middle East can the violence be ended, a democratic socialist, secular state in which the rights of Palestinians, Jews, and all other ethnic and religious groups are guaranteed. 

This is not a pipe dream. It can be a reality. But not so long as Palestinians are viewed as less than human, and not until they are allowed to democratically exercise their majority in the population.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sanders Tells HIs Supporters Not to Vote for Stein

By Richard Mellor
AFSCME Local 444, retired

So Bernie Sanders is telling his supporters and former supporters “not” to vote for Jill Stein. We have the age-old scenario in place now, “Anyone but Trump”.  I remember how the liberals reacted when Reagan won his first term.  We were on the brink of a world war. Reagan would instigate a conflict between the US and the Soviet Union that would end it for all of us. What a deal the capitalist class has. There is only mass media coverage of their two parties and if one doesn’t work, the other is all there is.

Those who took the Bernie bait and ran with it, uncritically parroting his phrase, “political revolution” at the top of their lungs, have a lot to answer for. Many of these were those same seasoned liberals who predicted World War III in 1980. There was a major war at home of course. Democrat Carter had begun deregulation of the airlines and had used Taft Hartley against the miners in 1978 and Reagan opened a decade long war against organized labor with his smashing of PATCO and the firing of 11,000 air traffic controllers, banning them from working in the industry for life. The stifling bureaucracy atop organized labor under the leadership of the moribund Lane Kirkland did nothing,  giving the bosses’ the green light to step up the war against labor.  Despite heroic rank and file sacrifice, strike after strike was defeated due primarily to the AFL-CIO leadership’s non-response.

Along with the liberals, desperate for a savior that could return things to the good old days of the post World War II upswing, there have been thousands upon thousands of workers and youth who genuinely believed in Sanders. Many of them had no experience with previous left populist figures in the Democratic Party like Jackson in 1984 and 88. These genuine supporters had illusions in Sanders and illusions strengthened by the liberals who, despite Sanders admitting that his “political revolution” was nothing more than a voter registration drive, repeated his slogan ad nauseum.

But many on the left, particularly some of the established socialist organizations played a similar role as they salivated at the thought of intervening in the Sanders campaign and leaving it with more members than they went in with. Some in insignificant sects called for them to join their particular "revolutionary" group as if people move from no political activity to revolutionary conclusions without first trying to reform the system, activity that finds organizational expression in a mass reformist party not a revolutionary one. Others simply called for a workers party or the need to build an alternative, but this approach was not a viable one either given what was developing.

As the campaign grew in strength it became more difficult to determine the actual line. Socialist Alternative, the group from which I was expelled was consistent in only one thing, strengthening illusions in Sanders. It was difficult at times to determine what their actual position was. But what is clear is that leading members of Socialist Alternative in Chicago and Toronto said that if Sanders were to win the nomination they (Socialist Alternative) would support him. This is unheard of in such circles, support for a Democratic candidate, a candidate in a major capitalist party especially a presidential one.

I received a comment from a friend on a listserve. The comment is from a member of Socialist Alternative, a leading figure in it. He writes:

“And another from a SAlt member "For all the ultralefts who had the condescending position that supporting Sanders would 'sow illusions in the Democrats' because you thought working class people are so mindless they would just bow before their leader Bernie when he shepherded them into the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, here is my evidence that you were dead fuckin wrong (link to video of Bernie being booed/heckled by his supporters) Workers have the capacity for independent, consistent political thought, it seems. Wow, who knew?"

I assume the numerous young people I saw crying at the DNC when Sanders revealed his true self never had illusions in him. Their tears were tears of joy as their true feelings were vindicated I suppose. No matter, the name of the game is never to admit your mistakes and weave a web of lies and half truths. The SA has a perspective document on line from their recent convention and, as always, how right they’ve been. How can you admit your mistakes when you never make any.

So, in a round about way the Socialist Alternative arrives at the Green party door after the illusionary bubble was popped last night. They are correct of course to call for a vote for the Green Party and Stein in November but the way they have arrived will in time cause a another serious crisis inside the group as it failed to prepare the Sanders supporters that joined it for what would actually happen. Sanders’ betrayal will lead many to drop out of political life in disgust, at least temporarily but there will be others looking for somewhere to go and we on this blog have said the Greens is it.

A major difference is that we said it from the beginning. We have been very supportive and sympathetic to Sanders’ supporters but we have been honest with them rather than strengthening any illusions they held that he was actually going to lead something concrete. We never supported him from the beginning and not only argued that they should vote for the Green Party but join it, build it, work to make it a genuine party of working class people, trade unionists, environmentalists and a socialist party. It was the only viable answer to those who we anticipated would want to fight on, want to participate in the electoral process as well. We have not wavered in our arguments that the Democratic Party, as a major party of global capitalism is not a way forward for workers and the middle class and nor was Sanders  We said from the beginning that Sanders would support Hillary Clinton.

This is what we wrote a year ago. Alternative to Sanders and the Democratic Party

Hillary gets the OK from the Neocons.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

After listening to Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren and the Pied Piper of Hamelin  AKA Bernie Sanders last night I am wondering if the Pope might be preparing the paperwork for Hillary Clinton’s Sainthood. After all, Mother Theresa, that other great exploiter, er I mean savior, of the poor was rushed through the process. All you have to do is commit a miracle and Hillary Clinton, as Ali Abunimah pointed out in tweet this morning, is some character, having the ability to save the world’s children and get rich doing it.

We have watched this process play out over months as Sanders won the hearts of the traditional liberals who struggle in desperation to find a savior, a knight in shining armor that can return this country to its former greatness, the post war era, the era of the Best and the Brightest to use David Halbertsam’s term.

But, faced with a fractious Republican Party with a highly influential base of right wing religious fanatics whose main concern is not profits but the rapture, the more astute big bourgeois in the US are throwing their weight behind their other main party and its candidate Hillary Clinton.  What was also noticeable last night is none of the major speakers mentioned US foreign policy, its wars, the trillions of dollars that the US taxpayer pays to wage them. No drone war, no assassinations, no civilian deaths, no massive destruction of the Middle East.

Clinton is a ruthless and slick politician.  She is the right choice for to represent her class, the class that rules. She will make the right decisions for them with regard to Russia, China, the interests of US corporations abroad and at home as the austerity agenda of the 1% intensifies in the course of the next economic crisis that is almost certain to occur under the next president’s first term. We should not forget that Madeline Albright, a war criminal herself, is solidly behind Clinton. Albright is the person who said that half million deaths of mostly women and children due to US imposed sanctions on Iraq was “worth it”. I guess it takes a certain level of sacrifice to “make a village” doesn’t it?

Clinton also considered the vicious Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak “like family” and it showed.  The Obama Administration held on to Mubarak as long as it could until the movement against him made it impossible to continue.  Being a stooge of US imperialism is a dodgy business.

It’s hard not to sympathize with the view some more conspiracy minded folks have expressed that Trump is a Democratic Party plant.  His protectionist and anti- globalization views are opposed by most US business, many who get most of their profits overseas. His claim to close the Internet is worthy of a comedy central sketch. 

As Rania Khalek points out at the Intercept, the Neocons are backing on Hillary as well. Why not? “I would say all Republican foreign policy professionals are anti-Trump,” Khalek quotes Robert Kagan as saying. Kagan is a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, the conservative think tank.

Clinton will escalate tensions with Russia as she has already done with regard to the leaked e mails in an effort to deflect attention from the corrupt US political process and her and the Democratic Party’s role in it. “If, as I hope, Hillary Clinton is elected, she is going to immediately be confronting a country that is not where she is,” says Kagan. “She is a believer in this world order. But a great section of the country is not and is going to require persuasion and education.”  The Hawks love Hillary.

I am a Green Party member and will be attending the convention in Houston next month.  Jill Stein, the presumptive GPUSA presidential candidate is repeatedly making overtures to Sanders to join her, hopefully on the ticket. This is a disastrous mistake and the party needs to put a stop to it. Who made this decision to continually make overtures and even offer Sanders a role in the Green Party?  A decision like this should be discussed and democratically voted on if we want o act like a political party. When was the decision made? The Greens do not need Sanders as far as I am concerned.

From what I can gather there are many Sanders supporters who will also come in to the Green Party disgusted as they are with his betrayal. However, along with those Sanders supporters who genuinely believed he would lead a real movement, a real political revolution, there will likely also be those liberals who want to create in the Green Party what the Democratic Party denied them.  They will be pro-capitalist, just a gentler kinder capitalism. They will in the main be people who are more financially secure and less affected by the ravages of the market and the capitalist offensive on living standards.  This in itself does not disqualify anyone from being welcome in the struggle for a better world, a safer world and one in which humanity can exist in harmony with nature.

But their politics will.

Monday, July 25, 2016

A quick observation on tonight's Democratic Convention

Richard Mellor
AFSCME Local 444, retired

Well I've just stepped away from the television after watching some of the Democratic Party Convention and I have a first short take on what was said. I heard Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders speak and as expected, the big guns were brought out to unify the party and they all did a good job of it. It should not be hard to defeat an opponent like Trump, his latest comment about closing down the Internet is an example of the lack of a serious campaign on his part. Some people have suggested he was a plant to ensure a  Democratic victory in November and at the same time unhinge the Republican party already in disarray.

There were a couple of things that struck me from the three speakers I heard.  Bernie was clearly the most political but it was the same message we have heard throughout his campaign. What stood out was not one of them mentioned the trillion dollar wars or foreign policy at all.  Warren and especially Sanders talked of a massive social spending program that will cost trillions. Where will the money come from? It is impossible that such a program would get off the drawing board without dealing with the massive defense budget. And even if it gets on to the party platform getting them to act on it is another matter. The Democratic Party defends bankers and the system they rule, it will not represent the interest of millions of workers it is a capitalist party. Michelle Obama talked of a level playing field, or maybe it was Warren, but this system is built and dependent on an uneven one. It has never and never will have a level playing field.

Then there is the next downturn, a deep recession or slump that will occur during the the next president first term; that will throw up some roadblocks.  But why bother with that, we don't want to dampen spirits do we. Plus, it's just plain divisive, no negativity here.

And what about the composition of the US Supreme Court.  This is Sanders' political revolution, he never lied about that, he always defined it as getting more people involved in the process and that means voting and voting Democrat.  He is, and never was, talking about a mass movement, of organizing the power of workers and youth in to a direct action/political movement that would act in it' own interest. He contrasted Trump's nominees to the Supreme Court with Clinton's. But didn't the Supreme Court exist in the 1950' s and 60's when black people were being set upon by dogs? 

Every freedom, every right and benefit we enjoy today we owe to the struggle US workers, black people, women, Native Americans and all victims of oppression waged against a most violent and ruthless opponent. The US ruling class is a collection of some of the world's mass murderers par excellence.

I have to say though, that I can only imagine how black women must feel seeing a woman up at that podium, one of the most powerful women in the world, that looks like them I know black men have had similar feelings because friends have told me; they never dreamt it could happen here given the violent racist history of this country. I recall seeing Jesse Jackson in tears when Obama had that huge crowd in front of him at his first term, I think it was in Chicago. They were real, genuine tears at a sight he probably never thought he would live to see.

I am sure many women will feel this way about Hillary Clinton who, as I wrote in previously must be defended against attacks from the misogynists in her class. There's enough to oppose her on politically but even bourgeois women have a right to not be discriminated against because of their gender.

But you don't get to be the head of the Harvard Law Journal and president of the US through one of the major big business parties without being trusted, without having a deep sense of class loyalty. Obama has that, was the best choice and Clinton is definitely the choice of the 1% this time---class loyalty comes before gender. She will be the next president bar any unforeseen calamity  So while I understand why so many African Americans stand strongly in support of the Obama's given the historical importance of having a black family in the White House, the crisis facing the black working class and poor, the hundreds of thousands of black people incarcerated, will not be solved by simply changing the color of the guy sitting in the driver's seat.

We're free because our media is free from government control.

If there is one thing to be thankful about it is that we have a free media in the US.  I was just thinking about how important that is and wanted to share with readers a few truths that would never have come to light without a free mass media as those claiming responsibility for events are revealed to us.

Richard Mellor 

Event                                                          Those responsible

Killed Kennedy                                               ISIS

Marilyn Monroe                                             Saddam Hussein

John Denver                                                   Moamar Ghaddafi

Cancelled Seinfeld                                         PLO

Princess Diana                                               Osama bin Laden

2007 crash                                                     Keyser Soze'

Roseanne Barr’s anthem catastrophe           Bashar al Assad

Holocaust                                                      Yasser Arafat

Global Democracy                                       Henry Kissinger

Warriors 2016 NBA final defeat                  ISIS

Exaggerators Belmont defeat                      Muslims

Creator’s Belmont win                               Westboro Baptist Church

Photo of Liz Tyler breastfeeding                ISIL

Jebnnifer Anistons self doubt                     Vladimir Putin

Unhappiness                                                 Muslims

War                                                               Muslims

Flint water crisis                                          Muslims from Dearborne only

Katrina                                                         Hugo Chavez

Shot Malcolm X                                           Bob Hope

These are just a few of the important events in our time that we would never understand if our media wasn’t free.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Globalisation and whose recovery?

by Michael Roberts

The finance ministers of the top 20 economies of the world met in Chengdu, China this weekend and they were worried.  Global economic growth continues to slow and monetary policy (central bank easing through cutting interest rates and engaging in ‘quantitative easing’) does not seem to be working in restoring levels of economic growth achieved before the Great Recession.

And the decision of the British people to vote to leave the European Union is an extra shock to world capital economy. Brexit implies further slowdown in world trade expansion; one way that the G20 financial authorities hoped could get global growth going again.  The prospect (still unlikely) that Donald Trump could win the US presidential election in November also raises the risk that the largest and most important economy in the world could move towards protectionism on trade and finance, as well as imposing and supporting tighter restrictions on the free movement of labour.  The great days of globalisation could be over.

Prior to the meeting, the IMF had to announce yet another reduction in its forecast of global growth.  The reduction was not much, but it was the fifth time in 15 months.  The IMF now expects global GDP to grow at 3.1 percent in 2016 and at 3.4 percent in 2017 — down 0.1 percentage point for each year from estimates issued in April.  And this forecast is still well above the much more pessimistic June forecast of the World Bank, which is expecting only 2.4% growth in 2016 from the 2.9 percent pace projected in January.

The G20 leaders said they were opposed to trade protectionism “in all its forms” and were committed to further monetary and fiscal measures to “strengthen growth”, but there was again no commitment to common action.  US Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said ahead of the meeting that it was “not the right time for coordinated action similar to that in 2008-09 following the global crisis because economies face different conditions.”  So basically, they are doing nothing and relying on already failing policy methods.

But the strategists of global capital are worried.  First, nothing appears to be working and real GDP and trade growth are slowing.  Look at the latest data on world trade growth by the Dutch research group CPB.  World trade contracted yet again in May and is now up only 0.75% from May 2015 in volume (that’s excluding price effects).  Growth in 2016 is well below the post-Great Recession average of 2.7% a year, which in turn is less than half the rate of world trade growth before the global financial crash (at 5.7%).
world trade volume
And it is not just trade.  World industrial production, the best measure of growth in the productive sectors of the world economy, is hardly moving and is actually falling in advanced capitalist economies, according to CPD.  Again industrial production growth is below even the post-crash average, which in turn is below the pre-crash average.
world IP
But it is not just the economic performance of the global economy that worries the G20 leaders; it is the political effect that this is having on the people of the major economies.  They are losing confidence in mainstream politicians because they cannot deliver on better living standards and any recovery for the majority since the Great Recession.  The leaders talk big about recovery and improving conditions but the majority don’t see it.  This partly explains the Brexit vote in Britain and the rise of so-called populist parties in Europe and Trump in the US.

Three recent reports by mainstream economic experts show that the perception of the majority that they have not seen any ‘recovery’ is based on reality.  McKinsey, the international management consultants, published a report called Poorer than their parents? A new perspective on income inequality, which showed that the real incomes of about two-thirds of households in 25 advanced economies were flat or fell between 2005 and 2014!

McKinsey concludes that “Most people growing up in advanced economies since World War II have been able to assume they will be better off than their parents. For much of the time, that assumption has proved correct: except for a brief hiatus in the 1970s, buoyant global economic and employment growth over the past 70 years saw all households experience rising incomes, both before and after taxes and transfers. As recently as between 1993 and 2005, all but 2 percent of households in 25 advanced economies saw real incomes rise.

Yet this overwhelmingly positive income trend has ended. “between 2005 and 2014, real incomes in those same advanced economies were flat or fell for 65 to 70 percent of households, or more than 540 million people (exhibit). And while government transfers and lower tax rates mitigated some of the impact, up to a quarter of all households still saw disposable income stall or fall in that decade.

McKinsey forecasts that: “If the low economic growth of the past decade continues, the proportion of households in income segments with flat or falling incomes could rise as high as 70 to 80 percent over the next decade. Even if economic growth accelerates, the issue will not go away: the proportion of households affected would decrease, to between about 10 and 20 percent—but that share could double if the growth is accompanied by a rapid uptake of workplace automation.”  Who says this is not A Long Depression!

Last week, Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, published a speech of his that he made in Port Talbot, Wales, in June. Port Talbot is the home of the British steel industry, now owned by the Indian steel giant, Tata.  Tata has announced that it wants to sell the business there or close it down, putting thousands of steel workers out of work.

Now Haldane has been a bit of a maverick in central bank circles in the past.  I have already pointed out in previous posts that he considers that the finance sector in capitalism adds ‘no value’ whatsoever and can be even negative for the global economy – that is very ‘off message’ for a bank official!

At Port Talbot, he made a speech called “Whose recovery?”. In it, says that, when he visited a community centre in Nottingham in the middle of England:  “I was stopped in my tracks by a forest of furrowed brows and a phalanx of probing questions, not all of them gentle. “What exactly do you mean by recovery?” one asked. “My charity is dealing with 50% more homeless people than three years ago.” Every other charity in the room had similar stories to tell. Whether it was food banks, mental health problems or drug addiction, all of the numbers were up. The language of “recovery” simply did not fit their facts.”

In the UK’s very weak economic recovery since 2009, it is the rich, those in the south and those who are older than have ‘recovered’. The rest have not at all.  Haldane commented. “At least as measured by GDP, the economy and society as a whole is 5% better off. But is it? The income of the already-rich has risen by just over 10%, while the income of the already-poor as fallen by 50%. Does the former really swamp the latter when it comes to the well-being of society?”

Haldane found that in only two regions – London and the South-East – is GDP per head in 2015 estimated to be above its pre-crisis peak. In other UK regions, GDP per head still lies below its pre-crisis peak, in some cases strikingly so. For example, in Northern Ireland GDP per head remains 11% below its peak, in Yorkshire and Humberside 6% below and here in Wales 2% below.

Since the end of the Great Recession, the largest gains in income have come in regions where income was already high – London (incomes more than 30% above the UK average) and the South-East (14% higher). Contrarily, some of the larger losses have been in regions where income was already-low – Northern Ireland (18% lower than the UK average) and Yorkshire and Humberside (14% lower).  Haldane concluded that “it is clear that recovery has been associated with both the incomes and, more strikingly, the wealth of the least well-off having broadly flat-lined. Recovery has not lifted all boats, especially some of the smaller ones. This pattern may go some further way towards solving the recovery puzzle. Whose recovery? To a significant extent, those already asset-rich.”  And this is the UK, which has supposedly recovered better than the rest of Europe.

Then there is the report by Macquarie, the Australian based investment firm (WhatCaughtMyEye200716e248606). Macquarie reckons that the structure of the labour force is shifting towards the modern equivalent of ‘lumpenproletariat’ (they use the Marxist term). Most people are increasingly employed in more precarious and low-paid occupations.  This applied to “as much as 40%-45% of the labour force”.  The same trend is evident in most other developed economies.  Macquarie have not have got the concept of lumpenproletariat right.  What the investment firm describes is really the normal position of the labour force under capitalism: continual tendency to join the ‘reserve army’ of labour.

This is why the ‘recovery’ has not been felt by the majority as they are locked into insecure jobs with low incomes. Inequality of income and wealth continues to worsen, while the productivity of the labour force languishes across the board.  US labour productivity has stagnated from the 1980s onwards.  “Over subsequent decades, stagnant productivity was pretty much replicated across most economies. Declining productivity growth reflects that an increasing proportion of the labour force and employment is essentially “warehoused” in lower productivity occupations, pending either their final elimination and replacement”, says Macquarie.

The last six years represented essentially a continuation of a trend towards lower-end jobs in the US, which started in the mid-to-late 1980s. “On our estimates, low end/contingent jobs represented ~36% of the total labour force in 1990 and today it is ~42% (or around 52m jobs vs. 33m in similar occupations in 1990) whilst the high end jobs used to be 45%-46% and today the number is closer to 43.5%.”

So the world economy has still not recovered to pre-crisis levels.  More important, the majority of households in the major economies have seen no ‘recovery’ at all.  The great jobs expansion is been mainly in low-paid, low productivity sectors or in self-employment where incomes are relatively lower.

The solution to this depression of incomes, output and productivity from mainstream economics varies from the Keynesians, who yet again advocate more government spending as monetary policy is exhausted (see this latest piece by Summers and Eggertsson) to the Austrian monetarists who reckon the problem is excessive monetary easing by central banks that has created a credit bubble without any impact on the real economy.  The Keynesians want more government spending and the Austrians want less credit expansion.  As I and my co-author G Carchedi showed in a The long roots of the present crisis, neither policy solution will work.

What worries the strategists of capital is that their failure to get capitalism going again or reduce the burden for the majority to pay for it is beginning to end their political control of the majority.  Brexit, the rise of Trump and other ‘populist’ leaders now threaten the end of the neoliberal ‘free trade, cheap labour’ agenda of globalisation.

Movie short: Fish Night at Lake Radiation.

This is a short a friend of mine made. He is a union member who is a keen video enthusiast obviously. I thought it would be a little change of pace but it too is political as the idea for it is the dumping of nuclear waste and all the waste sites we have here in California, most people have no knowledge of them. There is also that famous lake in Russia, a cold war dumping ground. There are also the uranium sites on Native American land here in the US that are the source of many cancers and other ailments due to environmental pollution.

He made it in a sandbox which is pretty neat. And, as you can see, the affect the dumped radiation has on the fish in the waters above is pretty sharkish. His YouTube channel is here.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The lesser evil approach cannot bring change. Vote Jill Stein

From Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444

Politics is not a personally contest about the individual. It's about the party.

To my friends who are going to do what I have heard for 40 years, "hold my nose and vote for a Democrat because we have to stop the Republican", you are ensuring we never have an alternative. Firstly, fascism is not 6 months away and we have to recognize that the serious bourgeois in this country are opposed to Trump; he is not good for business. As much as I dislike this racist, misogynistic individualist who has nothing but contempt for and abuses working people, I would not like to see them resort to extra legal methods to remove a political person they don’t want, but you can’t rule it out here in US. It is a violent country.

For a period of years, myself and a few others managed to get my local union not to support any Democrats or endorse them, the liberals were terrified as they look to one or another section of the 1% to save their world and middle class values. The liberals do not see the working class as the force for social change. To not support the Democrats is not the norm for unions as the Democratic Party is the party of the labor bureaucracy, the agents of capitalism inside organized labor. This is why millions of workers have simply abandoned politics altogether.

Eugene Debs said it is better to vote for what you want and not get it rather than what you don't want and get it. My local didn't simply reject the Democratic Party for that period, it was a major campaigner within the labor movement nationally for a labor party based on the trade unions. Not supporting Democrats never hurt us, it politicized a section of our members and it will always cause concern among the bosses’ and the union hierarchy that wants to obscure class antagonisms and have us all on the same team. In fact, you can win more reforms if that is what you seek, from Republicans or the right if you are an independent force, independent of capital, organized and conscious of your goals and strategy and tactics to achieve them.  It is the organized working class that the power in this country fears. Aside from program, strategy and tactics, democratic structure and a conscious membership is where the power lies.

Imagine if hundreds of thousands rather than vote for Hillary Clinton and her Wall Street party, joined the Greens and voted for Jill Stein. Stein has a better program than Hillary or Bernie Sanders who is a staunch supporter of the murderous US foreign policy. Sanders called for the prosecution of Snowden, Stein says she will offer him a cabinet post. There's a bit of  difference there I would say and to be honest, Jill Stein needs to be more clear about not needing Sanders.

 If the Greens, even if Stein lost but received a huge surge in popularity this election, it would have a far greater and more positive affect than a vote for Hillary if she wins which is most likely. It will change the balance of class forces. It will have an affect on many people who have given up and have correctly determined that the lesser of two evils is a dead end. It will accomplish part of Sanders' “revolution” which is not a revolution at all but an effort to get more people to vote. It will be different in that as opposed to Sanders whose intention it was to build the Democratic Party it will be a non-capitalist party receiving them, it will open up fissures in the duopoly. This is important as so many people have decided that the dictatorship the two capitalist parties have over US political life cannot be dislodged. See our Alternative to Sanders that we published over a year ago.

Yes the Green Party has some serious problems of its own. I am aware that others from the left argue that it is a capitalist party but I do not accept that. It is neither a capitalist nor a workers’ party in my opinion. Where it ends up is a matter for history to decide. Its immediate problems are that it has no party structure. It is not a member organization. It is not taken seriously by many people and there is justification in that. It is seen as a purely environmental party but that is not the case. It recently adopted an anti-capitalist amendment and there is a growing pro-worker, socialist and anti-capitalist faction in it.

This doesn’t guarantee it will be successful in becoming a real force in US politics. But supporting for the millionth time the lesser evil, the warmonger in one capitalist party against the racist, misogynistic clown in the other, does guarantee we will continue down the road to disaster. On the environment alone, capitalism will destroy life as we know it.

I was having a discussion with someone yesterday about the situation in the US and world and he said he was not merely angry but “white hot” about the direction the capitalist class and their political representatives are taking us. It is good to feel this way. We are right to be angry, we are right to have a healthy class hatred as long as that anger is organized, is not directed at individuals and takes a political constructive, collective road as opposed to an individualistic destructive one.

Here are some of the immediate issues those of us that started this blog believe activists in the Green Party should address.  We published them in a previous blog post and hope to discuss them with activists at the Green Party convention next month:

1. Build the Green Party as an Eco-Socialist party. That is a party committed to ending capitalism and to instead build a world based on the collective ownership of the dominant sectors of the world economy and a democratic sustainable international plan of production, distribution and exchange.

2. Build the Green party as an independent workers party, that is, one with its roots in the workplaces, the working class communities, the rank and file of the unions and the schools and colleges, and with the stated objective of organizing the working class to run the world.

3. Change the internal life of the GP from the undemocratic so called consensus method to the democratic method where decisions are made after full and open and democratic discussion, where majority decisions determine the policies and program of the Party, and where minority opinions have the right to be heard.

These three points could provide the basis for building a serious movement to take on US capitalism. Points 1 and 2 state the basis of the party's policies in relationship to capitalism and what can replace it. Point 3 is also crucial if the Party is to be a viable political force. Unless the internal life is made democratic we can choose any political and or economic policy we wish but members would be able to do anything they wish. This would be a recipe for shambles and paralysis.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Green Party: Interview With Jill Stein

Richard Mellor

Jill Stein, the presumptive presidential candidate for the Green Party and the best choice for working people in November, does a pretty good job in this interview.   As regular readers of this blog are aware, some of the authors, myself included, are in the Green Party and two of us, Sean O’Torain and myself, will be attending the convention in Houston next month. Sean is also a delegate.

I should add that over a year ago, those around this blog pointed to the Greens as an alternative to Sanders. We were emphatic that Sanders’ supporters should leave him and the Democratic Party and join the Greens, not simply to vote for it as many liberals and left people do periodically, but to build it and work within it to make it a socialist party, and eco-socialist party which a more accurate term as the environment is a core issue for the GPUSA, and a workers party. We explained this in more detail in our “Alternative to Sanders”

Jill Stein is clearly the best candidate for working class people, but there are a couple of issues that hopefully Ms. Stein will think more about. One of them is the question of an FDR type New Deal.  It was the Second World War that that saved capitalism back then, not Roosevelt’s reforms, and in the present period, with globalization and the rise of countries like Russia and China, it is impossible for US capitalism to cough up FDR type reforms, even those Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party populist calls for.  US capitalism’s global struggle for market dominance will not allow it and US workers and the middle class will be driven further in to poverty in order to pay for it.

Related to this is Ms Stein’s refusal to draw a line between herself and the Greens and the Democratic Party populist, Bernie Sanders. She mentions Sanders uncritically. But Sanders is a staunch supporter of US foreign policy, Stein’s foreign policy platform is far better.

I agree with Ms Stein that the Greens can make a change in this election and even win the presidency But a major effort must be made to change the internal structure and life of the Green Party. 

Here are some important issues we think should be discussed and taken up in order for the Greens to become a serious force in US political life. Jill Stein is right to be optimistic; there has never been a greater opportunity than now for an alternative to the two parties of Wall Street.

1. Build the Green Party as an Eco-Socialist party. That is a party committed to ending capitalism and to instead build a world based on the collective ownership of the dominant sectors of the world economy and a democratic sustainable international plan of production, distribution and exchange.

2. Build the Green party as an independent workers party, that is, one with its roots in the workplaces, the working class communities, the rank and file of the unions and the schools and colleges, and with the stated objective of organizing the working class to run the world.

3. Change the internal life of the GP from the undemocratic so called consensus method to the democratic method where decisions are made after full and open and democratic discussion, where majority decisions determine the policies and program of the Party, and where minority opinions have the right to be heard.

I believe these three points could provide the basis for building a serious movement to take on US capitalism. Points 1 and 2 state the basis of the party's policies in relationship to capitalism and what can replace it. Point 3 is also crucial if the Party is to be a viable political force. Unless the internal life is made democratic we can choose any political and or economic policy we wish but members would be able to do anything they wish. This would be a recipe for shambles and paralysis.  Sean O’Torain

Turkey: Now We See a Real Coup in Action

We reprint this report from Turkey. It was originally published at The Socialist Network.

Turkey: After Last Week’s Dress Rehearsal Now We See a Real Coup in Action…


Published: 22 July 2016. Author: Tayfun Hatipoğlu.
Each day that goes by after the farcical “coup” supposedly organised by rebel army units, we see a real coup being put into operation by President Erdogan’s regime. One sector after another faces a massive purge. Already over 60,000 state employees have been arrested or fired. And many more are promised as those interrogated supposedly give up the names of their colleagues.

We have seen this technique before from would-be dictators in history. Hitler burnt down the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, then blamed it on the communists in order to justify the introduction of an emergency and the assumption of executive powers. He then proceeded to round up all his opponents and launch his murderous regime. In the Soviet Union, Stalin used the assassination of his rival and Leningrad Party Boss Kirov to justify a four year purge of Soviet society that led to the murder of millions.

In Turkey, despite all the government’s crocodile tears over the 265 dead and 2100 injured by last week’s pantomime “coup”, the regime’s real priorities quickly emerged as they immediately seized upon events as a pretext with which to remove long lists of opponents to President Erdogan. A three month State of Emergency allowing the President to rule by decree has been rushed through Parliament and the European Convention on Human Rights suspended. Now, Erdogan will be able to implement laws without parliamentary approval and no court will be able to challenge them. He will have the power to extend his already heavy control of the media, restrict freedom of assembly and detain and arrest on a massive scale.

Erdogan has just told Reuters that “there was no obstacle to extending the state of emergency beyond the initial three months”. No wonder that Can Dündar, the editor of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, has described Turkey under the new state of emergency as “an oppressive regime where the law and liberties will be suspended, press will be censored, and the parliament eliminated.”

Para-military Judges?
Within hours of the coup attempt 2700 judges, including many of the country’s top justices, have been suspended and/or taken into custody. All clearly based on lists prepared before the coup. What could all these judges have to do with a coup attempt? After all, we didn’t see gown-wearing court officials in the streets of the capital brandishing sub machine guns or manning tanks.

Or is it just a coincidence that Erdogan has expressed his anger and frustration in recent months with the decisions by some top judges to free journalists and academics that he had targeted for prison? And could it be that he feared that these existing judges might not have done his bidding and imprisoned the scores of members of parliament that are soon to face trial after the new law removing parliamentary immunity? Clearly, Erdogan is using the failed coup to finish off his takeover of the judiciary that he began in 2014. He effectively admitted to this in his post-coup interview with Al Jazeera.

Commando Academics?
Then again, why would Erdogan be removing the country’s 1500 university faculty heads? Were academic stormtroopers blocking off the bridges over the Bosphorus, or university lecturers piloting the helicopter gunships? Or could it just be a coincidence that over 2000 university academics angered Erdogan by issuing a petition against the unnecessary war launched against the Kurds in the south-east of Turkey, a war organised  in order to stampede voters into regaining an AK Parti majority in last November’s parliamentary elections?

The truth is that by taking over the directorship of all of Turkey’s faculty departments the President’s party will now have the power to appoint and dismiss all of Turkey’s academic staff, and thereby begin to install a self-serving religious fanaticism throughout Turkey’s higher education system.

Teachers as Coup Plotters?

And what about the 21,000 private teachers now dismissed just for working in schools linked to the Gulen religious movement? How could they have possibly have been implicated in the coup? Perhaps they were using their lesson plans to arrange the distribution of army units for the military rebels.

Civil Servants in Armour?

Tens of thousands of civil servants have now been dismissed after a culture of informing on each other was earlier introduced in government departments. Working from previously prepared lists thousands of officials have been dismissed from education, social security, environment and even the government’s Sports Department. Are we seriously expected to believe that officers responsible for sports facilities were part of a military plot?

The Army

In addition to the arrest of thousands of individual soldiers, around a third of Turkey’s 360 serving generals have been detained since the coup. These included commanders of military intelligence, generals in charge of the special forces, admirals and air force leaders. Even before their interrogation began we have seen their battered and bruised faces on television and their semi-naked bodies gathered together in the stables. So much for Erdogan’s assurances that torture and abuse will not be unleashed in his crackdown.

While no one would have sympathy for any commanders who issued orders to shoot unarmed civilians, are we really supposed to believe that the pathetic mini coup of last week could have been organised by so many high level and highly experienced officers drawn from all wings of Turkey’s military service? The botched “coup” bore all the amateurish hallmarks of something organised at junior level without much co-ordination and of very limited scope. If such a huge array of military leaders had truly been involved in the coup then surely it would have been on a much bigger scale, far better organised, and rolled out across the whole country rather than in just a few locations. After all, the Turkish armed forces are the fourth largest in the world and second biggest in NATO after the United States. How can we understand a coup organised by over 100 generals and admirals that collapses within a few hours at the first sign of opposition from police and demonstrators.

Indeed, the whole timing of the “coup” is very suspect. Who organises a coup at ten o’clock on a Friday evening when millions of us were outside eating and walking around? Now we have heard that the Department of Intelligence was already aware of the coup in the afternoon. Even Erdogan admitted on television that he heard about it at 8pm. In other words a full two hours before it even began!

Last but not least, how could such a coup plan involving a big percentage of generals and commanders, and if the government is to be believed, even to include sections of the police and the judiciary, be developed without it coming to the attention of Turkey’s huge and fearsome intelligence service? It beggars belief that not one of the thousands of officials supposedly involved in the coup reported it to his superiors, or that it was not picked up by the large scale wire-tapping system in Turkey. Erdogan had to admit in his Reuters interview that: “It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it”. This has to be the understatement of the decade! Or is it just an excuse used to cover up a deeper plot while providing yet another reason to purge the intelligence services and install more reliable staff.

Who Is Accused of Organising the Coup?
We are told that the coup was organised by the Gulen Islamic religious movement whose leader lives over in the United States. The fact that this was announced as the coup was actually taking place and before any of the participants had been interrogated or evidence assembled makes one immediately suspicious. The government’s response was just too well-prepared.

As to the accusation that the Gulen movement organised the coup, everyone in Turkey who knows anything about the Gulen community knows that they have little or no support in the armed forces. That is why the Gulen were the prime movers behind the anti-armed forces prosecutions in recent years in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials. To think that the arrested generals and admirals were supporters of Gulen is laughable and could only be put forward in the wierd ‘Erdogan in Wonderland’ atmosphere fostered by the President’s pro-government media which even influences the ignorant and confused international media. As they say in modern marketing speak: if you want to tell a lie make it a big one and deliver it with great confidence.

Gulen’s Method of Operation
It is well-known that despite the Gulen movement being a strange Islamic religious cult it has always operated by running educational institutions and businesses and placing its graduates into the professions and institutions. Thus, in the first ten years of Erdogan’s rule when Gulen and AK Parti were in alliance, the Gulen community provided a large number of the new government officials appointed to run the various government civil ministries. They provided Erdogan with his “cadres”.

It was only after the fallout between the Gulen movement and Erdogan three years ago, as Erdogan’s increasing totalitarianism pushed him to cast off any power sharing with former allies, that he decided to drive the Gulenists out. More recently, he has “discovered” a Gulen “terrorist” organisation which they have named FETÖ, an acronym or name that doesn’t even appear to stand for anything. Indeed, never having bombed, assassinated or killed anyone that we are aware of, FETÖ has to be the strangest terrorist organisation the world has ever seen. In reality, it is an imaginary organisation dreamed up by the Turkish government, especially over the last year, so that they can pin the “terrorist” label onto the Gulen movement, link them in the public mind to the Kurdish PKK and Islamic State, and thereby justify the taking over of the Gulenist businesses, schools and media channels.

Who Actually Organised The Coup?
If it wasn’t the Gulen movement behind this “coup”, then who was responsible for it? Coming from the army it could only have been the responsibility of a pro-Ataturk, pro secularist group of officers. The large number of senior generals and admirals that have been arrested each would have taken decades to reach their high positions, decades during which everyone in Turkey knows that the army was completely dominated by a pro-Ataturk, pro secular ideology. The Turkish armed forces were always the bulwark against Islamic political movements whether these were the older REFA Party or the more modern versions in the AK Parti or the Gulen movement. This army even put tanks on the street as part of a “soft” coup in 1997 to remove REFA from the government. Indeed, as recent as 2007, leading figures in the army were contemplating organising a coup against the possibility of AK Parti putting their candidate, Abdullah Gül, into the position of President.
To prove the point, the army rebel statement that was read out on state television as the “coup” began was clearly a pro-Ataturk, pro-secularist statement which could not have been written by the Gulen people. Yet strangely, all mention of this statement has conveniently ceased.

What Kind of Coup Was it?

It is possible that the “coup” was in fact a false flag operation actually prepared and put into operation by the government. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that the government had sacrificed unarmed Turkish citizens to aid their struggle to defend and extend their power. The bombings in Suruç and Ankara last year organised against the pro-Kurdish HDP which killed 150 and badly injured hundreds more, bore all the hallmarks of a government operation using ISIS proxies. These bombings were part of a sustained campaign by the AK Party including the burning of 250 HDP offices all over the country, all were designed to provoke HDP into street fighting and thus to be discredited in the second parliamentary election.

However, there are certain indications that this “coup” may have had some genuine elements to it. That said, the bumbling, limited and amateurishness of the operation leads one to think that it may have been part of a government-inspired  ‘agent provocateur’ plan involving only a few senior officers with support from junior ranks. A plan known about in advance and encouraged by the government’s intelligence services. And then crushed before it could be rolled out.
At some time in the future hopefully the truth will come out. Perhaps even sooner if the massive publication of internal AKP documents by Wikileaks this week yields up anything related to these events.

Extending the President’s Power
What then is going on? It is clear to anyone with open eyes that this whole operation has been designed to provide the means for removing the President’s rivals and enemies in a clean sweep. To “cleanse the institutions of state” as Erdogan put it the day after the “coup”. In this way, the President is swiftly extending his power into those areas of the state and society he doesn’t yet dominate.
The army in particular was an institution not yet under Erdogan’s control, being run by officers brought up on the fundamental secularist principle laid down by Ataturk that religion and politics should not be mixed. In an interview with the Reuters news agency a day ago President Erdogan let the cat out of the bag as he announced that “within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood.”

A Dark Future is Coming for Turkey
In order to ramp up the mood of paranoia the Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has just warned that a possible second military coup is being prepared. What bullshit! The authorities want to maintain the fever pitch atmosphere so that they there is no let up in arrests and dismissals. Accordingly, they are encouraging their supporters to continue demonstrating every day, and reports are coming in of gangs of AKP youth wondering the streets of even small towns shouting and issuing threats.

Already some journalists are being rounded up and human rights lawyers too. For example, the Washington Post interviewed human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz on Turkey’s crackdown. The next day he was detained at Istanbul airport.

Forty two TV and Radio station licenses have been revoked. How long will it be before the last few opposition voices are snuffed out?

Now the two opposition parties, CHP and MHP, which came behind the government after the “coup” and helped pass the State of Emergency law are now expressing concern that the state of emergency could concentrate too much power in the hands of Erdogan. How stupid could such opposition leaders be? Erdogan first attacks his closest rivals such as the Gulenists, or his most serious enemies such as the HDP and the remaining secularists in the state. Next he will come for the other opposition parties.
What these pathetic opposition parties don’t seem to recognise is that the AK Parti is not a normal bourgeois political party which is willing to play the parliamentary game: in power for a time, then in opposition for another. Rather, it is a mass social, political and religious movement determined to take over power on a permanent basis and penetrate and dominate all institutions of society. Its membership of ten million is an insatiable beast that needs constant feeding with welfare services, jobs and benefits. If one day these cease the whole project will start to crumble, and awareness of this ceaselessly drives the AK Parti leaders to extend their octopus tentacles into every nook and cranny of society in the search for more resources to feed its supporters.

The AK Parti movement uses religion and mixes it with politics in order to cement its base together and present itself as a holy crusade. It was no accident that mosques all over Turkey broadcast the call to prayer throughout the Friday night of the “coup” to rouse the faithful to come out and defend “their” regime. Or that scores of imams appeared in the streets in Istanbul marching against the coup along with their followers.

Death Penalty
Erdogan has floated the idea of reintroducing the death penalty so that he can execute some of those in detention so as to terrify the rest of his critics. When the European Union warned him that such a move would lead to the cancellation of Turkey’s EU membership bid and any hope of visa-free travel for its citizens, he just shrugged his shoulders and indicated a total lack of concern. In response to criticism of his post- coup crackdown by the French Foreign Minister he told him to mind his own business.

Those who still maintain that Erdogan is just a puppet of American Imperialism seriously underestimate him. He has his own agenda for total power and is willing to do virtually anything to achieve it. Indeed, he seeks to build his own imperialism. Anyone watching the sickening videos now being played on state television can see his pretensions to become a modern-day version of the Ottoman Caliph to be ‘adored’ by his followers.

Don’t Believe the Coming Avalanche of Lies
Get ready for a never-ending stream of accusations and mountains of fabricated evidence laid out in the government dominated media. Already ridiculous stories are emerging of large caches of arms being found at the offices of legal prosecutors but in reality planted in order to justify the purge. Don’t believe the lies!

Get ready for armfuls of confessions from those arrested – Stalin taught the world how to intimidate prisoners in order to get them to admit to the opposite of the truth. Whatever is confessed don’t believe it. It will all have been extracted under duress and in flagrant disregard of basic human rights.
Those already being interrogated will no doubt give the names of anyone they know in order to escape the intimidation and pressure – just as they did in Argentina in the 1970s. Thus arrests will spread in wider and wider circles until the regime feels confident that all opposition has been silenced or neutered.

Bir Gun… (One Day…)
Where there is life there is hope – and even in these darkening times, hope must be maintained. All regimes fall. And the stronger they become the harder they fall. One day Erdogan’s rule will come to an end. To that day we must look forward and prepare. Venceremos!