Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trumka, Trump and the White Worker


Trump and AFL-CIO head Trumka
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Richard Trumka is upset. Trumka is the head of the AFL-CIO, the national trade union federation representing 12.5 million US workers. He’s mad at the “moderates” in the White House who are “starting to hijack Trump’s trade agenda.” making it hard for Trump to keep his promises. He didn’t call out China for being a currency manipulator on his first day in office as he promised. He hasn’t opened negotiations on NAFTA as he promised and he hasn’t said anything about imposing “steep tariffs on China and Mexico” as he promised.  Trumka would say he’s happy Trump didn’t lock up Clinton or fulfill his pledge to get rid of Obamacare most likely. It’s trade Trumka is concerned about, he wants the US government to force US capitalists to invest in and hire American workers.

Trumka is a protectionist.  He ignores the lessons of Smoot Hawley, the series of protectionist measures introduced to protect US industry in 1930 right after the Great Depression hit. US trading partners retaliated and Smoot Hawley made the depression and suffering worse, helping drive the move to world war. The world economy is far more integrated now than it was then and the “moderates” know that. And where does Trumka's position put solidarity across borders? How is siding with US capitalists against their foreign rivals help us build solidarity with foreign workers working for those rivals? You're right---it doesn't. What Trumka is saying is lay off Germans, lay off Japanese or Mexicans or whatever. It's a disaster, the Team Concept at the international level.

Trumka and the clique atop organized labor are picky when it comes to criticism mind you. Their buddy Obama screwed them with the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), an issue so important paid staffers around the country were touting it as the savior of the labor movement----for them. Obama abandoned the “government option” another promise, as he crafted Obamacare that has some good points as evidenced by the inability of the present gang to dismantle it; though it is completely inadequate as a health care system for a nation of 300 million people.

The union hierarchy has literally given billions of dollars over the years to the Democratic Party, that other party of Wall Street. Their candidate, Hillary Clinton received $31 million in the race against Trump. In one of those rare moments when the two most unpopular candidates in the history of US politics were on offer, the likes of Trumka and the union officialdom and most of the US bourgeois found themselves cheering for the same person.

Years of supporting the Democratic Party and offering concession after concession to the bosses’ in the hope of better days has driven millions of workers to abandon politics altogether. Why bother voting when the only result has been lower living standards? The relationship the union leadership has built with the bosses' based on labor peace and safeguarding profits, has lead many workers and union members, to draw the conclusion that their leaders are simply corrupt.

The likes of Trumka have no independent ideas of their own. They often come out of the universities and think tanks of the capitalist class where they soak up their economic policies and political world outlook like a sponge. The fact is that we live in a world economy like it or not, the laws of capitalism dictate it. Yet within this world economy the existence of nation states each with competing interests act as a constant obstacle to growth, a source of friction and eventually war. The argument for free trade on the one hand or protectionist policies on the other are different capitalist solutions to an insoluble problem, they both lead to disaster for workers.  Globalization has alleviated this problem to a degree, but only temporarily. Only a rational, collectively owned managed and planned global system of production can overcome this contradiction and open a period of genuine cooperation and peace between a global federation of democratic socialist states.

This is not an option for the heads of organized labor so they flip flop from one extreme to the other, each of them trying to protect their little corner of the labor broker market as that’s how they see themselves, they are labor brokers and its their job to provide this valuable commodity to capitalists at the best possible price under the most favorable conditions.

Before Trump’s election victory, a victory the vast majority of experts did not foresee, Trumka savaged Trump. “Trump is Trump….” , he told the Financial Times in September, “……He’s a racist, he’s a bigot, he’s xenophobic and he’s a misogynist. But most of all he’s anti-worker. He’s always been anti-worker,”  Trumka was convinced Trump would lose you see, hence the vitriolic tone.  As we say in the US, "Who's your daddy now?"

When he met with Trump in January of this year, Trumka said: “We had a very productive first meeting with the President-elect,”  Not be outdone by the Predator in Chief he rushed out a tweet: "A very honest and productive conversation this morning with @realDonaldTrump,"

Trumka and the whole lot of them that pledged to "work with" rather than "against" this degenerate and enemy of working people have to be sent packing.

Now Trumka is defending him against the moderate free traders who are “hijacking” his plan.

As I have stated before, the leadership at the helm of organized labor are responsible for the rise of Trump. They are the reason workers do not have a party of our own and the movement against the capitalist offensive has been delayed and will, as it arises, be wracked with confusion at times and periods of reaction and violence as the US working class struggles to find its feet.

Too many opportunities have been lost. Over decades, we have seen a steady decline in living standards and rising inequality as a minority of families accumulate untold wealth. The security state has grown in preparation for the battles to come. Workers’ efforts to fight back like the numerous strikes in the 1980’s and early nineties were defeated by a combination of the employers and our own leaders. Only recently, building trades leaders met with Trump and praised him as the public sector union heads accept fate and hope they can get their Democratic friends in to office in 2020. They continue to urge workers to vote for a political party they abandoned long ago.

Racism has been very effective method of dividing the working class in the US as white workers got the better jobs, better housing, education, and generally a better life. Black Americans have historically been denied an entry in to this world and all statistics bear this out. From slavery through Jim Crow and today, institutionalized racism has created two worlds here.

But it has become harder for the US ruling class to provide these benefits to the white worker. If racism was a good thing for the white worker we would have had a better standard of living in the Apartheid South but we didn't. Racism was stronger, unions and worker solidarity weaker and wages and conditions worse.

The post war blue collar jobs that were an entry in to the middle class for white workers in particular have gone. After Trump’s Nov. 8 win, Trumka said he reached out to the Trump to say he was willing to work with him on improving existing trade agreement. “Entire communities have lost their purpose and identity. And we have to fix that,” Trumka said. First off, Trump doesn't give a crap that Trumka reached out to him, he's not afraid of Trumka.  And Trumka is wrong on this jobs issue. These jobs have not solely gone to China as he wants us to believe but fallen prey to innovation and technology. These jobs are not coming back.

This and the disgust millions of workers have with the two capitalist parties and consequently politics in general was another opportunity lost. Millions of workers have given up. Others saw in Trump a rebel, not one of the Washington crowd they hate. On the left, the Democrat Sanders had the same appeal.  Many of the white working class voters that voted for Trump had previously voted for Obama.

US capitalism is forced by the system to drive down the living standards of the US working class and the white working class has not been exempt. The life expectancy of white workers without a college degree is declining. There is massive white, mostly rural poverty and as the Financial Times points out, “In 1999, white men and women aged 50 to 54 with a high school education had a mortality rate 30% lower than black Americans. In 2015 it was 30% higher.”*

This is a staggering statistic. It has only recently been raised to any significant extent and is masked to a degree by the declining mortality rate among college educated white Americans. The information is in a paper published yesterday by two economists, Anne Case and Sir Angus Deaton.  This is a generation abandoned by capitalism, a generation whose parents benefited from institutionalized racism in the US and the rise of US power in the post World War Two era.

Opioids have been a contributor to this crisis but drug addiction, the health care system and the statistics above are all a product of the so-called free market. “There was something rotten going on even before Oxycotin was introduced,….”, says Ms Case, “…people want to feed the beast (of despair). They may do that with drugs. They may do that with alcohol. They may do that with food.” I might add with stuff that looks like food and fills the belly and they may also do it with religion.

Another opportunity is lost. The conditions are ripe for an alternative in the US. Had the heads of organized labor offered one, used the resources, human and financial, and their control of an apparatus with a huge national structure to attack the source of the problem, many of the people that were drawn to Trump or Sanders would have provided the base for a real working class movement and political alternative to Trump and Clinton. One third of Sanders supporters went over to Trump from what I read. People do desperate things in desperate times.

But Trumka and the trade union hierarchy offered Clinton to the masses. The heads of organized labor are primarily to blame for the rise of Trump and his election. And now we have him, they will “work” with him. The union member has a responsibility here to remove this clique that heads our organizations.

I would like to finish with this point. I understand that many white workers that voted for Trump did so out of desperation. A lot of them voted for Obama and received no relief, millions of blacks received no relief under Obama also. Am I correct in saying only 12% of black folks turned out to vote last November? These white workers put aside, ignored the horrible racist, sexist and vicious anti-immigrant campaign Trump ran. “I’m no racist, just get me a job, I have to feed the family.”

Well not only will Trump not get them a job; he will savage them further and they are in an even weaker position now because by voting for Trump, supporting Trump in any way, not openly condemning Trump for the degenerate that he is, those white workers sacrificed unity with workers of color and women for a pipe dream. They kept their mouths shut in the hope this degenerate would help them out and in doing this they have weakened their own ability to fight back.  Ito make it openly clear we  is not difficult to overcome racial division, but we have to have working class unity to do it. And part of that is for us as white workers is to make it absolutely clear that we will not be conned in to this false unity with the white capitalist class that rule society based on a unity of skin tone. They have no love for us.

“This looks like a generation that is never going to recover from this and as they get older its going to get worse.” said Deaton, the other author of the paper.

Deaton doesn’t see the working class as a force at all in society, if he does think of it, it is likely in a negative light. But the working class will fight back and it will seek class allies in that process. Those that voted for Trump would have been in a stronger position now had they not voted for anyone. More importantly, if they had openly condemned his racist and sexist attacks on other sections of the working class. This would have changed the balance of class forces in our favor rather than divide and weaken us.

It’s never too late of course, and if we are to drive back the capitalist offensive, overcoming institutionalized racism and other forms of class division is crucial.

* White ‘deaths of despair” Surge in the US:  FT 3-26-17

Friday, March 24, 2017

Trumpcare Bill Pulled. Anothet setback for Trump


Trump Administration is in deep crisis early on
Trump: “I’ve been saying for the last year and a half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is to let Obamacare explode…..It is exploding right now.”

Paul Ryan: “We’re going to be living with Obmacare for the foreseeable future”

The vote on the health bill that is supposed to replace Obamacare has been postponed. Trump has informed the media, the “fake media” no less, that the bill has been “pulled.” Trump asked Ryan to pull it and the Republicans headed in to an emergency session. Paul Ryan is supposed to be giving a press conference at 4 pm today.

Rep. Greg Walden, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee has stated that the bill is dead. 

This is a huge setback for Trump and his Administration and adds to the thrashing he got from the Wall Street Journal editorial pages three days ago.  The Wall Street Journal is the leading mouthpiece of US capitalism and its comments have to be taken seriously. This is not the gutter press, the mass media that is aimed at the masses, it is the voice of the US ruling class and meant for its members.

The WSJ editorial compared Trump to “…a drunk to an empty gin bottle...” because of his refusal to back of or apologize for his unsubstantiated claims that former president Obama and the British wiretapped Trump Tower.

“If President Trump announces that North Korea launched a missile that landed within 100 miles of Hawaii, would most Americans believe him?”,  the WSJ wrote.  This voice of the US ruling class also took a swipe at Breitbart, the right wing news agency once run by Trumps close advisor Steve Bannon, sometimes referred to as President Bannon.

It is becoming clear that a dominant section of the US bourgeois is losing patience with Trump. His endless double speak, lies and threats normally through Twitter, are a destabilizing factor and a hindrance to profit taking. Capital loathes instability and obstacles to the business of making money. The Journal pointed out in its editorial that Trump’s approach, his “false claims” survived the campaign as his supporters treated them as “mere hyperbole”.  This may have been true in the sense that some people may have thought Trump was just mouthing off but the fear he has instilled in people, women, blacks and immigrants especially is real as a whole section of Trump supporters took him seriously and welcomed his racist, misogynistic and nationalist tone. There was no hyperbole as far as they were concerned and the increase in racial violence and killings by white nationalists and Nazi elements are a product of Trump’s rhetoric, hyperbole or not.

But the majority of the bourgeois are nearing the end of the road as far as Trump is concerned. Their candidate, Hillary Clinton lost the election and they admit that she was not a popular alternative but, as the WSJ adds, “…. now he’s President, and he needs support beyond the Breitbart cheering section that will excuse anything”

The collapse of the health care bill is another nail in the coffin. The problem is what to do?

US capitalism is in such a deep crisis that it has been almost impossible to predict what will happen.  But it is beginning to appear like Trump will be, as some have predicted, the shortest serving president in US history.  I for one, cant’ say with certainty that he will be gone before too long but they won’t put up with him for much longer.  There are huge divisions with in the Trump Administration and the Republican Party is slipping back in to a fractious melee after a brief period of euphoria after the Trump win.

If it seems likely that Trump is incapable of showing a real sense of class solidarity and loyalty by building coalitions and reaching out to Democrats as some like McCain have said there are other options. There is still the claim by the ex British spy that the Russians have something on Trump that happened during his visit there. There are ongoing investigations by the FBI in to his and members of his cabinet’s dealings 2ith Russia that could be used as a reason to remove him. 

The US ruling class in no stranger to assassination and if they had to they would resort to that although it is highly unlikely as it would increase the already volatile and unstable environment in the US. Trump is at war with the second branch of the US government’s three branches, the Judiciary. His attacks on judges as individuals and the Judiciary as an important aspect of the state apparatus are dangerous as they undermine the credibility of the system, of class rule, what we know as Bourgeois Democracy. This concerned them all when Trump suggested he might not accept the election result if he lost.  If he could do that, so could we.

As is usually the case, the silence from the heads of organized labor is deafening.  The building trades leaders, as we are all aware by now, met with him and spent some time kissing his ass in the hope of getting a few jobs out of an infrastructure program that may well head down the same road as the health care bill. Their dream of increased revenue to keep their part of the “union business” going and their obscene salaries safe is fading along with Trump’s popularity.  Their colleagues atop the public sector unions have been whining, hoping things will change in 2020.

Things are happening so rapidly this commentary will be almost ancient news by the time it’s posted on this blog but as we remind ourselves in our weekly phone conferences, we are closer to another severe recession or deep slump. This will add fuel to the fire and give rise to more social unrest and build upon the developments we have seen with the women’s marches, the airport protests against attacks on racial and religious minorities and other developments.

Some of us, I am one of them, are grateful to Trump for giving confidence to those normally silent racists to come out in to the open. It’s better that we can see them and deal with them openly.

One last point I want to make is that I do not think we should support the state, security forces investigating or interfering with a media outlet as they are with Breitbart and others I understand from reports. It sets a dangerous precedent. Please feel free to share your views about this; we are in interesting times. There will be increased attacks on workers up ahead and, as we have said before, it is the “whip of the counter evolution” that will drive the movement from below as workers, women, people of color and all those who are savaged by the market are forced to fight back and begin to unite along class lines.   

At present, the developing movement is hugely influenced by the petite bourgeois and middle class elements. The failure of the heads of organized labor to mobilize their 14 million members contributes to this, but capitalist crisis which includes the costs of foreign wars in defense of corporate profits, will soon change this dynamic.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Arrogant US Imperialism Demands Money From Cambodia


By Richard Mellor Afscme Local 444, retired

“[The U.S.] dropped bombs on our heads and then they ask us to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF [International Monetary Fund] not to lend us money,” Hun Sen said at an Asia-Pacific regional conference earlier this month.”

US imperialism, led by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon waged an illegal undeclared war in two small countries bordering Vietnam in the early 1970’s, Cambodia and Laos. In addition to the 3 million or so Vietnamese that died in that war, the foray in to Cambodia took upward of 600,000 lives, mostly peasants and rural farmers, the US killed another 400,000 or so in Laos. The US slaughter of Cambodian and Laotian civilians was a genocidal attack by the most powerful military in the world on a defenseless, rural peasant population.

Kissinger and Nixon are war criminals, mass murderers. Nixon has since died but Kissinger, a friend of presidents and politicians, is still alive and a respected American hero. The massive destruction and loss of life in Cambodia and Laos was no accident, no “error in judgment”; it was US policy and had been carried out with gusto in Vietnam. . John Naughton, the Assistant secretary of state in 1967 said of US strategy in Vietnam that, “We seem to be preceding on the assumption that the way to eradicate the Vietcong is to destroy all the village structures, defoliate all the jungles, and then cover the entire surface of South Vietnam with Asphalt.”

As they do today, the US public is kept in the dark about the realities, consequences and decisions of the US war machine. Back then, it was the general rule to count all dead bodies as enemy soldiers. Even if that were the case, and we now know it was not, people defending themselves against aggression, as the Vietnamese were doing, does not make them enemies.

The code names for the raids in to Cambodia and Laos were, as Christopher Hitchins suggested in his book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, “…a menu of bombardment…” with such colorful names as Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner and Dessert. Between March 1969 and May 1970 3,630 raids went across the border in to Cambodia dropping more than 500,000 tons of explosives on Cambodia's countryside. In addition, the US dropped defoliants on the peasants’ food supply that, “…created a massive health crisis which naturally fell most heavily on children, nursing mothers, the aged and already infirm, which persists today.” Hitchens, The Trial…p 35.

With its use of white phosphorous and depleted uranium in Iraq the same scenario is being played out as thousands of Iraqi people are dying from cancers related to the US invasion and deformities among newborns related to the invasion are widespread.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the architects of the slaughter in Indochnina were celebrating the results of their creative activity. Chief of Staff HR Haldeman’s diary entries explain, “Kissinger’s “operation breakfast” a great success. He came beaming in with the report, very productive.” Haldeman wrote in March 1970 .

A Haldeman entry 22 April 1970 says that Nixon, following Kissinger in to a National Security Council meeting, “turned back to me with a big smile and said K’(issinger)’s really having fun today, he’s playing Bismarck.” Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger.

"Everything that flies on everything that moves"
Henry Kissinger on US policy in Cambodia.

According to Hitchens, the US Senate Subcommittee on Refugees estimated that between March 1968 and 1972 “…..more than three million civilians were killed or injured or rendered homeless.” I guess it’s hard to tell when the planes carrying the weapons of mass destruction fly at such altitudes the accuracy and extent of the damage can’t be seen. In the same period, the US dropped more than 4,500, 000 tons of high explosives on Indochina and that doesn’t include the defoliants and pesticides it poured over their food, on the people and even on its own troops.

And the US warmongers want Cambodia to repay a paltry loan it made to them that has doubled due to interest.

The staggering hypocrisy and arrogance of US imperialism.

See: The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens and;
Sideshow: by William Shawcross.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Musical Chairs in Germany


from Dan Armstrong in Germany

The last leader of the German Social Democratic Party, SPD to proclaim his humble, working-class origins, was Gerhard Schroeder. The same Schroeder who embraced neo-liberal ideas, led a frontal attack on the well-developed system of social security, savagely cut unemployment and welfare payments to "improve incentives for capital to invest and modernise" and during this process caused half a million Social Democratic workers and trade unionists to leave the party in disgust and millions more voters to abandon their traditional voice.

One incidental effect was to strengthen the nascent left reformist party Die Linke which has since then competed with the SPD for votes. On Sunday 19th March, a new leader of the SPD was elected, unanimously, Martin Schulz. While party members are euphoric  and the party's popularity has shot up to equal that of Merkel's CDU, what differences, if any, will follow from Schulz's election as party chairman and candidate for Chancellor at the September General Election?

Until recently, the share of the vote for the SPD slumped year on year several percent so that by the end of 2016 the party could only command 19 and 20%.  After a good initial showing of 11-12%, the Linke has mainly stagnated over recent years, failing to appeal to the mass of workers and left voters, unable to produce political programmes which offered little more than demanding more teachers and opposing increases in military spending. It now receives around 6-7% in many regions, more in the east, but importantly has lost parliamentary seats in numerous states and seems to be having difficulties in the elections pending in industrial Northrhine Westfalia, hovering around the 5% minimum threshold vote.

For many years, the SPD has been in government coalition in Berlin as a junior partner with the CDU/CSU. Their record has not been entirely negative. Using their few ministries, the SPD pushed through a universal minimum wage, an affordable house-building programme and so on which have been well received by workers’ organisations.

Meanwhile the German economy has been slowly struggling out of the recession of 2008 and is now performing better than most capitalist countries in the EU. The budget cuts for public services been less than in other countries but have been enough to turn the deficit into a surplus, a rare event in the EU. Leaning on the growth, a whole number of unions in metal-working and logistics industries, for example, have pushed through long-overdue wage rises of 4-5%, each success emboldening further layers of the working class.

Growth of a new right wing
The massive influx of refugees from the Middle East was met with contradictory views. Big corporations and strategists of capitalists saw the influx as a welcome potential for meeting labour shortages and, once integrated, for refreshing pensions funds etc. Smaller localised firms plus many of the depressed badly-paid layers or unemployed fearful that their conditions could worsen, resented the influx. The anti-Euro and anti EU grouping of the AfD split several times and lined up with radical rightwing grouplets whose numbers were swelled through mass anti-immigrant demonstrations so that the AfD is now looking at entering many if not all regional parliaments with 10-12%, eclipsing the Linke and often the Greens too.

Decline of Merkel's Centre
Many of the capitalist, liberal and left forces on a continental scale became alarmed at this revival of protectionism and xenophobia although many wily conservatives understand the usefulness of an ethnically divided working class. At the same time, the rightwing groups conjured up the spectre of the "threat from the east".  The CDU's sister party in Bavaria, the CSU, departed from the liberal line of Merkel and demanded an imposition of numerical limits on immigrants. Such a demand is against the German constitution which guarantees refugees the right of admission. This split inside the dual conservative party led to the growth of the AfD and also to the decline Merkel's popular support as the Mother of the Nation. Previously running at over 40% of voters, the CDU/CSU began a steep decline down to the low 30 percent.  In addition, the number of non-voters increased from election to election.

At this juncture of events, the left organised resistance in the form of counter demonstrations and public protest, usually in grassroots and ad hoc groups which have been able to come together to stage impressive public showings of a refusal to accept the rightward drift. In half a dozen countries, popular movements with vague catalogues of mostly anti-capitalist aims sprang up. In Germany there had already been quite a long history of mass antifascist blockades whenever tiny neo Nazi groups marched or held rallies. Following the British exit from the EU and several ominous anti-democratic measures taken in eastern and central Europe, millions on the left asked themselves what the future may bring - time to resist or time to retreat? The American left displayed admirable and innovative forms of protest against the rightward slide under Trump. Perhaps it was these protests which encouraged the working class movement to seek a new course in the early months of 2017. Opinion polls began to reflect this shift and the SPD began to increase its support significantly.

The arrival of Martin Schulz
And so came the change bringing in Schulz. The leading figures in the SPD hardly differ from each other in any significant way. The term of office of President Gauck was to fortuitously expire in March 2017; the SPD, embedded in a government coalition with the CDU/CSU, put forward one of its party leaders, Steinmeyer, to stand for the post. Steinmeyer, previously foreign minister was a close accomplice of Gerhard Schroeder's reactionary economic and social policies and the rightwing coalition partners could hardly object to his becoming head of state. Thus began the game of musical chairs. Steinmeier moved from the Foreign Minister to the President, the chairman of the party and putative Chancellor candidate Sigmar Gabriel was chosen to become Foreign Minister in Steinmeyer's place.

The post of party chairman and combined with it the Chancellor candidate, became vacant. Gabriel had no chance of winning and stepped down. Opinions were canvassed and a candidature of Martin Schulz for these two posts was mooted and found favour with the establishment. Week by week his popularity was stoked until a campaign for "Martin", by now called only by his first name, was in full flow. Now at the Special Conference of the SPD, a massive delegate vote has taken place and Schulz received unanimous support. Schulz, unlike any possible rivals, does not belong to the established SPD leadership. He progressed through local politics and then entered the EU parliament and although he did support Chancellor Schroeder's neo-liberal policies, this was hardly noticed because his base was in Brussels.

For the moment Schulz is riding a wave of popularity in both the party and in the general public not seen since the time of Willy Brandt in the 1970s. The SPD support rose from a weak 20% to 25 then 30, now 33%, neck and neck with the once powerful CDU/CSU. In 1972 Brandt enthused young and old, workers and students, was elected as the first socialdemocratic Chancellor under the non-political slogan: "Willy waehlen - Vote for Willy"  and the SPD became the biggest fraction in parliament for the first time ever. Brandt campaigned for a controlled decline in heavy industry and cushioned those workforces with planned redundancies and rundowns. Workers participation and a more open attitude to Eastern Europe completed the reform image.

Similarly Schulz' supporters are personalising the SPD image asking for a vote for Martin. Schulz was elected with the simplest and non-specific platform: defence of the EU, more equality, justice and respect. He scattered in a few possible promises such as free education for all from the kindergarten to the university, extension of unemployment pay, and so on.

In the hope of a fresh breeze, there is a swelling enthusiasm for the party, at the time of writing a growth in membership of 13,000 (out of 450,000). There are still six months until the General Election in September 2017. Meanwhile several regional elections will deliver a running commentary on developments. In the summer, the SPD congress will decide on its electoral programme.  So far we have heard no policies to combat temporary employment, acute housing shortages in the big cities, measures to renew crumbling infrastructure, etc. An SPD president and chancellor would embolden the labour movement to press their demands.

There is no question: an SPD revival is underway. For the first time in a generation there is a realistic hope of renewing an SPD government. The tiny Linke meanwhile is still failing to attract more support; some sectarians in its ranks are already denouncing Schulz, saying that he is no different from previous SPD leaders and that he will betray. These tiny "purist" forces sound shrill in the face of groundswell of rank and file support for the traditional party of the workers' movement.

One of the main demands of the Schulz campaign is, for example, to combat inequality. It will be a simple matter to show and explain how to combat the gulf in incomes and how to redistribute them by intervention in the large firms. By denouncing the SPD now will surely demoralise many potential supporters as they will understand this as a call to give up the fight. The left can try to extend the minimal programme of the SPD and show the need for action against the forces of capital. It will be necessary to try to gather the forces for a new left wing in the SPD and bring them together with solid working class militants in the Linke.

The views above are those of the author.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Remembering Bhagat Singh

Despite growing up in England where many Indians now live and call home, I had never heard of Bhagat Singh. I worked in factories with Indians and Pakistani's and knew little about their history, what I would have known had a colonial British bias to it.

Bhagat Singh is a heroic figure and worshiped by many Indian people especially Punjabi's and Sikhs. History is  full of such people but those who fight for the oppressed, for unity, for all humanity don't get much play time in the history books of the ruling classes.

Bhagat Singh was executed by the British. I saw an Indian film about his life but am not sure how accurate it was not knowing the history as much as I should and the dancing and singing so prevalent in Indian movies can, at times, detract from the seriousness of the subject matter.

Thank you to my Punjabi friends for making me aware of Bhagat Singh and his role in Indian and world history, especially Professor Singh and Farooq Tariq for sharing this article with me. It is from the International News. RM.

Ammar Jan
 Bhagat Singh: his times and ours 

by Ammar Jan
March 21, 2017

The 23rd of March will be the 86th death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, one of the most revered figures of the anti-colonial movement. In India, his life and death will be commemorated by a right-wing government which, after the nomination of an outright anti-Muslim bigot as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has given up even on any pretence of justice or inclusivity. And in Pakistan, apart from a few civil society and Left activists, the day will either be ignored or consciously repressed. With a nationalism premised on the obliteration of all traces of a shared past between Muslims and non-Muslims, the story of a young Sikh man’s struggle for freedom becomes a source of collective embarrassment.

It is a form of historical violence to restrict a person to specific identitarian markers when his/her entire life was a formidable effort to overcome all limitations of race, caste and religion that structured the world he inhabited. Bhagat’s internationalist and cosmopolitan outlook (despite having never travelled abroad) can be gauged from the inspirations he cites in his letters from prison – German communists, English philosophers, Russian anarchists and novelists, and leaders of the National Congress and the Caliphate movement. Categorising a man who called for total communal harmony and identified with global revolutionary movements of the era as only an Indian, Sikh or even Punjabi does not diminish the universal potential of his life and struggle. It only indicts us, demonstrating how alienated we are from universalism, from our own past and, eventually, from our own humanity.

Yet a compelling question often posed is: if Bhagat is to be considered an icon to the youth today, how do we explain some of his actions, including the murder of a police constable and a bomb attack at the legislative assembly (purposely thrown in an empty area to avoid casualties)? This is a pertinent question, particularly at a moment of rising communal, religious and ethnic violence in our region, not to mention the spiralling financial and human costs of the ‘war on terror’. Do we then need to emulate a man who was condemned as a terrorist, and who immediately accepted responsibility for his actions?

The question of violence, however, is presented today in an ahistorical manner in the debates on the subject. In such frameworks, one can equate the military occupation of foreign lands to the resistance against that same occupation, or the deaths of four million Bengali peasants due to a British-created famine to the violence of the Tebagha Peasant Movement against such lethal exploitation of the peasantry. One should not forget that even Gandhi’s ‘non-violent’ movements were regularly accused of instigating riots, resulting in imprisonment, torture and death sentences handed out to many ‘peaceful’ anti-colonial activists by the colonial state.

Therefore, one cannot mimic the language of the state to collapse disparate political projects into the awkwardly woven categories of ‘violence’, ‘fanaticism’ or ‘totalitarianism’ without regard to their specific historical development. And it is pertinent to remember that the context that produced the possibility of a Bhagat Singh was an outright assault on the lives, property and dignity of the Indian population.

In 1919, a Punjab-wide agitation began against the growing economic crisis in the province, often led by soldiers who had loyally served the British during the First World War but now faced precarious conditions due to the demobilisation of soldiers at the end of the war effort. Tensions reached a crescendo when hundreds of people celebrating the Baisakhi festival at the Jallianwala Bagh were massacred by Colonel Dyer’s troops for allegedly violating a curfew.

This was also a time when imposing humiliating conditions on the general public was meant to, in the words of a British official, “teach them obedience”. For example, it was made compulsory for all locals in Gujranwala to salute a European every time they saw one, while natives were forced to crawl through a street in Amritsar where a British woman had been harassed. The Punjab of the 1920s was littered with examples of such forms of collective punishment and humiliation meted out to the locals. Regardless of all the rhetoric of a civilising mission, colonial rule was established and secured through pain imposed on the bodies of individuals refusing to accept colonial sovereignty, and the fear such procedures induced in bystanders. Yet, pain and fear remain remarkable omissions in the history of political thought, particularly in their centrality to the experience of colonial modernity.

It is here that we witness what is unique about Bhagat’s actions – his absolutely breathtaking indifference to the machinations of power. If fear of the colonial state’s reprisals hindered the development of public opposition to the Raj, the young man’s voluntary surrender to police authorities signalled his determination to face the worst excesses of colonial power in its notorious dungeons for political prisoners.

One can assess his steadfastness from his writings and actions while in prison. Bhagat and his comrades refused to offer any defence in the case, using the trial instead to highlight their opposition to colonial rule. In fact, he castigated his father for displaying “weakness” when the latter submitted a review petition in an attempt to save Bhagat from the impending death sentence; Bhagat reminded his father that his son’s life was not worth compromising the principles of the freedom movement. In another letter written to an imprisoned comrade who was contemplating suicide, he emphasised that the process of enduring pain and suffering was a necessary component of the fight against colonial power, and ending one’s own life would be tantamount to surrender.

The hunger strikes led by Bhagat and his comrades against ill-treatment in jail captured the imagination of the country, and were met by solidarity events and hunger-strikes throughout the country. The appeal of his persona can be judged by Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s response to the news of the hunger strike, as he stood in the Legislative Assembly to declare his sympathy with the young men, boldly declaring that “the man who goes on hunger strike has a soul. He is moved by that soul, and he believes in the justice of his cause. He is no ordinary criminal who is guilty of cold blooded, sordid wicked crime”.

If colonial sovereignty was secured through its inscription on the tortured bodies of the colonial subjects, Bhagat Singh’s decision to voluntarily undergo suffering and turn it into a national spectacle became a major embarrassment for the British. In overcoming the fear induced by pain, it demonstrated the limits, and eventually, the fragility of colonial power.

What further propelled him into the national imaginary was his subversive tactics in the courtroom, a platform he used not for his own defence, but to mock the Empire and its judicial system in front of the national media. Poetry, jokes, and slogans substituted legal reasoning in the courtrooms, with the accused questioning the right of an occupying power to judge their case. One can imagine the appeal of such tactics for ordinary Indians, who were caught in the perpetual drudgery of facing humiliation at the hands of colonial institutions. An Empire that seemed eternal and was built upon rituals of obedience suddenly appeared contingent, vulnerable and fragile, opening up possibilities of a post-imperial world, an idea that occupied Indians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Therefore, Bhagat Singh’s singularity was not an unrestrained penchant for violence. In fact, in his famous letter to ‘Young Political Workers’, he explicitly denounced the cult of the bomb, and encouraged the youth to educate themselves and work patiently with the masses. It was his tactical genius in opening up political imagination beyond the colonial present that was truly remarkable. Even more impressive was his readiness to face the consequences of his commitments, which eventually took him and his comrades, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru, to the gallows in Lahore on the 23rd of March, 1931.

What concrete lessons we draw from these episodes and how we fight our collective amnesia about heroic figures from our past depends on us. In either case, all those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom and human dignity – like Bhagat Singh – live eternally and are in no need of acknowledgement from those holding onto their privileges and fears in a mediocre present. Instead, we should reverse the question and ask whether ‘we’ are dead or alive in their eyes. This simple reversal will have immeasurable consequences on how we view history, ethics and, eventually, life itself.

The writer is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge and a lecturer at the Government College University, Lahore.

Email: ammarjan86@gmail.com

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Korea: corruption, cults and chaebols

by Michael Roberts

Koreans have decided to impeach their President Park Geun-hye over corruption charges.  Last Friday the country’s top court upheld an earlier impeachment vote, officially ousting Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female leader, from office. This follows months of protests by South Koreans alarmed at claims of bribery, influence-peddling and even shamanistic cult rituals in the presidential Blue House. The demonstrations were more than 1m strong. An impeachment motion easily passed the legislature.

Park is the most unpopular South Korean leader since the country became a democracy in the late 1980s. The scandal ensnared senior government officials and business figures, including Lee Jae-yong, the acting head of Samsung, who denied bribery, corruption and other charges at the first hearing in his trial last week.  Samsung apparently  donated 43bn won ($40m) – more than any other firm – to the foundations run by the president’s confidant, Choi Soon-sil.

Choi is the Rasputin to Korea’s Park. She is the daughter of a South Korean ShamanisticEvangelical cult leader, Choi Tae-min. Her ex-husband is Park’s former chief of staff Chung Yoon-hoi and dressage athlete Chung Yoo-ra is their daughter.  Samsung allegedly gave millions of euros to fund Choi’s daughter’s equestrian training in Germany. Choi is in detention, accused of using her close ties with Park to force local firms to “donate” nearly $70m (£60m) to her non-profit foundations, which Choi allegedly used for personal gain.

It looks likely Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer and political veteran from the opposition Democratic party, will win snap presidential polls in May. Mr Moon has won admirers among the country’s younger generation for his “progressive values” and pledges to tackle youth unemployment, which stands at a record high since the Asian crisis of 1997-8.  Despite what his opponents say, he is no communist.

Korea’s political turmoil is yet another example of how incumbent governments around the world have suffered the price of failure and exposure since the Long Depression began in 2009 after the global financial crash of 2007 and the Great Recession of 2008-9.

The mainstream view is that Korea is a capitalist success story.  Unlike other so-called ‘emerging economies’ in the post 1950 period, which have struggle to close the gap in output and living standards with the leading imperialist countries like the US, the UK or Japan, Korea has made substantial progress.  Between 1960s and the 1980s, Korea’s economy expanded by an average of 8% a year in real national output.  Per capital GDP rose from $104 in 1962 to $5,438 in 1989, and reached the $20,000 level just before the global financial crash. So per capita income rose from 5% of the US in 1960 to around 55%.

This progress was made possible because Korea embarked on, and adhered to, a state-directed industrialisation and export strategy for nearly 50 years. The manufacturing sector grew from 14.3% of GDP in 1962 to 30.3% in 1987.  Within two generations, Korea vaulted into the OECD, its goods and services became known around the globe, and its national corporate champions entered the ranks of the world’s most recognized companies.  In 2012, Korea became the seventh global member of the ’20-50′ club (population surpassing 50m with per capita income of $20,000), the supposed definition of a major capitalist economy.

Marx’s law of profitability can provide an underlying explanation of the success of Korean capitalism in the period from the 1960s after the Korean war to the end of the 1970s.  While the major capitalist economies experienced a fall in profitability from about the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, Korean capital had high and rising rates of profit.  The Korean rate of profit has been measured by several different authors including myself, but probably the best and most thorough measurements have been by Esteban Maito and Seongjin Jeong, the editor of Marxism21.

Maito finds that the Korean rate of profit rose from the 1960s to the late 1970s. (Maito, Esteban – The historical transience of capital. The downward tren in the rate of profit since XIX century ). And that was the peak.

Jeong presents the most comprehensive analysis of trends in the rate of profit on Korean capital.  Jeong finds that the rate of profit fell from a peak in 1978 to a low in 2002.  And the decline in the rate over the 1980s and 1990s was the underlying cause of the crisis and slump of 1997, part of the so-called Asian crisis. “The 1997 crisis was intimately related to a broader problem of declining capitalist profitability.  While the rate of profit has recovered since that crisis”, Jeong says, “its 2002 level still remains at only one-third of the level of 1978.  This suggests that the Korean economy remains in the middle of its long downturn.”

Jeong also shows that Marx’s law of profitability, based on a rising organic composition of capital, provides the underlying cause for this fall in profitability.  The era of Park Jung Hee, which saw a limited stabilisation of profitability, was only possible because of intensified exploitation of the Korean working class in the so-called neoliberal period of the 1980s, delivering a rise in the rate of surplus value or exploitation, the main counteracting factor to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.  But even that factor could not overcome the eventual fall in profitability in the 1990s that finally culminated in the slump of 1997, ironically just as profitability in the major economies peaked.  In the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the South Korean economy suffered a liquidity crunch and had to rely on a bailout by the IMF.

The Asian crisis that hit Korea so hard led to a sharp devaluation of capital values (through the writing off of bankrupt companies and rising unemployment), followed by more neoliberal measures that boosted profitability.  But as Maito and my own measures of profitability show, after the 2001 mild global recession, Korean profitability resumed its decline, leading up to the global financial collapse of 2008.  Economic growth was stopped in its tracks in 2009.

Since then, Korean capitalism has become part of the Long Depression.  Underlying trend growth has weakened from 7% a year in the 1990s to just 3% now.

Moreover, Korean capitalism now faces serious structural challenges, many of which imply a further decline in potential growth.  Korea has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and one of the world’s most rapidly aging societies. The working age population is projected to peak this year and decline rapidly thereafter, depressing potential employment and growth. The overall population is expected to start declining after 2025.

Korea’s economic success came on the back of exports, but that heavy reliance may now be a liability in a world of slowing trade and with the prospect of the end of globalisation and the rise of protectionism after the election of President Donald Trump in the US.  With exports exceeding 50% of GDP—one of the highest shares among advanced economies—Korea is heavily exposed to any shocks or change in China and the US, particularly from China, its largest trading partner.  Some of the heavy industrial sectors that underpinned Korea’s past growth—for instance, shipbuilding, shipping, steel, and petrochemicals—are now facing bleak prospects globally given the trade slowdown and competition from China.  Korean capital is under severe pressure.

Moreover, South Korea’s economy is still dominated by oligopolistic chaebol that are now being squeezed at the low end by expanding Chinese manufacturers and at the high end by Japanese players who have benefited from a deliberately-weakened yen. Exporters are creating fewer jobs in South Korea as the chaebol move production offshore to look for cheaper labour.  That has left the domestic economy hurting: small and medium-sized businesses are still failing and the high-value services sector is lagging well behind other countries. “This has raised concerns about Korea’s traditional catch-up strategy led by exports produced by large chaebol companies”, the OECD said in a report last year.

In the 1990s, Korean capitalists adopted neoliberal employment policies by keeping much of its workers on casual temporary contracts.  The share of temporary workers was nearly 22% in 2014, double the OECD average.  But this led to slowing productivity and under-investment in skills.  Labor productivity rose at an average annual rate of 5.5% in 1990-2011, but it has stagnated since then and remains only 40% of the three most productive OECD countries.  Labor productivity is particularly low in the service sector—much lower than in peer economies and only half that of manufacturing and much lower in smaller companies.

Korean capital prospered on the backs of overworked staff, working long hours and by avoiding any social security.  The Basic Livelihood Security Program (BLSP), introduced in 2000, provides cash and in-kind benefits to the most vulnerable, but is substantially less generous than the OECD average. The National Pension System (NPS) currently covers about one-third of the elderly and the OECD reports that pension benefits were only around one-quarter of the average wage in 2015.

This has led to increasing household debt: many retirees borrow to open (risky) small businesses, in an attempt to supplement their incomes. Total social spending amounts to just 10% of GDP, less than half the OECD average, while household debt rose steadily from 40% of GDP in the early 1990s to nearly 90% today.  At the same time, corporate debt has been consistently high at about 100% over the last decade.   This high and rising debt indicates that Korean capital is no capable of getting a healthy and rising rate of profit and is forced to borrow to grow – increasing the impact of any future slump.

Back in 2012, the now disgraced Park Geun-hye pledged to rebuild the ‘middle class’ and increase its size to 70% of society.  This has turned out to be a sham.  Instead, there has been increasing economic polarisation in the Long Depression.  Economic inequality increased noticeably during and after the 1997 crisis and the Great Recession of 2008-9. South Korea’s average gini coefficient — a measure of inequality — for 1990–1995 was 0.258, but with rising inequality its coefficient increased to 0.298 in 1999. It continued to increase, reaching 0.315 in 2010.  The same trend can be seen in income distribution: the share held by the top 10% of income holders divided by that of the bottom 10% has increased from 3.30 in 1990 to 4.90 in 2010. The income share of the top 1% was 16.6% of national income in 2012, not far short of the extremes in the US and much worse than in Japan.  The most recent statistics released by a government source indicate that as much as 73% of Seoul residents identified themselves as belonging to the ‘lower class’.

The Great Recession has increased the precarious position of Korean workers and produced an even sharper cleavage between regularly employed workers on standard contracts and irregularly employed workers (those who are limited-term, part-time, temporary or dispatched), increasing the latter from 27% of the working population in 2002 to 34% in 2011. This means that approximately one-third of South Korean workers suffer from insecure job conditions, receiving only around 60% of regular workers’ wages with no medical insurance, severance pay or company welfare subsidies.
Since the late 1990s, a general trend among South Korean firms has been to discard the old seniority-based salary system and adopt the American style ability-based salary system. With this change, the wage gap between professional and managerial workers and the rest of the workforce has widened greatly. As the South Korean economy has moved towards being knowledge-based, the value of scarce skills and knowledge has increased and globalised business sectors have begun to offer extremely high salaries to attract talent.

So significant income disparities that have long existed between South Korea’s conglomerate firms and medium to small-sized firms have become even greater in recent years. South Korea’s top 1% of income earners are most likely to be employed in the leading conglomerates, like Samsung, Hyundai and LG, which have grown into truly world-class companies and become very profitable.

Finally, in South Korea, as in most societies, wealth inequality is much larger than earned income inequality. In 2012, the top 10% of the population possessed 46% of the country’s total wealth. The bottom 50% possessed only 9.5%. This wealth inequality emerged primarily from the booming real estate market. But in recent years, the stock market and other financial investments have replaced the real estate market as the major means of wealth accumulation.

According to Statistics Korea, the average monthly household income of the top 10% was 10,627,099 won.  This is 5.1 times higher than that in 1990, which was 2,097,826 won. For the bottom of 10%, the figure increased only 3.6 times from 248,027 won to 896,393 won. So the gap between these two groups increased from 8.5 times to 11.9 times. The data is based on 8,700 households, not including the extremely poor or the top chaebol families, so the actual gap appears to be much larger.

One out of six people live with less than 10 million won per year and one out of four households are more often in the red than in the black. The poverty rate of people over 65 years old is 48.5%, which is 3.4 times higher than that of the OECD average. Moreover, the suicide rate is among the highest in the world. Korean capitalism may appear to have been a relative success by world standards over the last 50 years, but it has been at the expense of its people.

The future of Korean capitalism is tied up with the future of global capital.  No national economy can escape that.  But there are specific challenges for Korean capital too.  The biggest and possibly the most immediate is what happens with North Korea.  If and when the Stalinist-type regime falls there, Korean capital is no position to integrate the people of the north into the capitalist system of the south.  The cost that West German capital and economy suffered when the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was united again was significant and held back one of the most successful capitalist economies for a decade.  The disruption to Korean capital would be very much greater, especially if this should happen in this period of economic stagnation and political turmoil.

Then there is Korean capital’s longer term future.  The slowing of world trade everywhere is damaging to Korean capitalism, but this slowdown appears to morphing into the end of the period of so-called globalisation that world capitalism has benefited from since the early 1980s.  Regional trade agreements like TPP and TTIP are in the rubbish bin, thanks to Donald Trump, while he talks of tariffs on imports into the US and forcing American capital back to the US.  The next global recession could be an even bigger hit to Korean capital than the last.

Globalization of Rape Culture


by Andrea Wilkum.

“Making someone feel obligated, pressured or forced into doing something of a sexual nature that they don't want to is sexual coercion. This includes persistent attempts at sexual contact when the person has already refused you. Nobody owes you sex, ever; and no means no, always.”*

A 2016-17 economic survey published by India’s Maharashtra government revealed that violent crimes against women increased by 21.9% over a two year period from 2014-16. Rapes over that period rose from 3,438 to 4,209 in 2016. (The Indian Express). As in most statistics of this nature, they are on the low end as most rapes are never reported.

According to statistics which were released in the United States in January 2017, the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime reported an overall increase of crime from 2015-2016 with the number of rapes rising 3.5% in that period. In the most recent Gallup poll, 1 in 3 women in the United States worry about being sexually assaulted. This is a shockingly high figure when wee think about it. Of course, men rarely, if ever do think about it.

There has been some recent focus on the rape crimes in India, and the country has faced some sharp criticism as a backward and twisted country in regards to their failure to stand up for women’s rights and not hold their law enforcement accountable for these actions.

Much of the blame for this increase in sexual violence lies in the fact that many Indians are living in a society which offers poverty, poor living conditions, low wages, and a failing legal system. There are citizens living in slums which do not offer adequate sewers or running water, but the failure to deal with the issues of rape and an almost nonexistent police force within poor areas to fight crime makes matters worse.

Along with the statistics, many rape victims in India never report them to the authorities for fear of the negative social stigma that this act carries in regards to dishonor amongst families. In 2015, it was reported that Indian police registered under 40,000 rape cases whereas the United States reports about 63,000 annually.  It is important to point out that India has nearly four times as many people as the United States.  To complicate matters, when sex crimes are reported in either country, they hardly ever make it to trial and those that do often result in a meager sentence if the perpetrator is found guilty. A court case is often a grueling ordeal for the victim as women’s personal and sexual lives are dragged through the mud and she is portrayed as a person of low morals.

Now, a new epidemic of sex crime has arisen in India which is the selling of gang rape videos for less than $1.00. A health worker walking home from a district within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was raped by four men. Unfortunately, this video of her rape was circulated online which led to her suicide.

There have been multiple stories published which involve similar scenarios. These are the known stories that have been shared publicly, and stand as a perfect example as to why most of these cases do go unreported. Victims are often blackmailed. The rapes are often shot on mobile phone and are easily spread throughout a community.

What is even more disturbing is that the Times of India has reported that hundreds of these rape videos are being sold “under the counter”, “right under the nose of the police and the administration” (Times of India August 4, 2016). The dealers involved in these crimes reportedly download the videos from social networks sites such as Twitter or Facebook, which they then proceed to sell. Since these crimes are all online, it does not take very long before the videos go viral.

The report recalls the disturbing events happening right now in the United States. The commander of the US Marines Corps is being held accountable for similar sexual crimes occurring among the ranks. Male Marines are uploading videos or images of female Marines without the victim’s consent to a Facebook page called, “Marines United”, which has about 30,000 members—rampant with misogynistic commentary and victim-blaming. While the US Senate is investigating the matter, it will be difficult to shut down these types of websites. When one web page is down, a new page will simply spring up with the same content. A member of the “Marines United”, Marshall Chiles justifies the page and its members by stating that sexual assault will continue to happen if women are continued to be allowed in to the military. Simply put, if a woman is added or integrated in to a group of males, this sort of thing “just happens” and will continue to happen because women are a supposed distraction. Chiles states further that the group was created to promote camaraderie and was designed as a form of social validation.

This logic is the same logic that is used against rape victims, sexual assault victims, (i.e. “She was raped because she was too drunk to notice her surroundings”, or “She was asking for it with that short skirt”.) etc.

The scale of sexual violence is large, however, should we really be blaming the military or pointing the finger at one single country for being the sole misogynists of the world? While I do not condone the scandal in any way whatsoever nor sex crimes, we need to take a step back and look at how this misogynist ideology is still allowed to thrive within the twenty-first century. Even though these incidents are happening constantly, feminism is still questioned or regarded as a negative idea. Also, often dismissed or viewed as a threat by those people who feel that they are being attacked simply because many of them are now being forced to question a centuries old way of backwards thinking. The reason situations such as these mentioned in the article can occur is because of a deeply entrenched history of sexism discrimination and violence, which apparently still runs rampant within some “civilized societies.”

With the election of Donald Trump, a serial predator who boasts about being able to do anything he can to women including kissing them without their permission and grabbing their genitals, it is no wonder these attitudes prevail in the US. After all, if the president of the United States can do what he wants with a woman why can’t any man?

It has been mentioned on this blog that more than half the world’s industrial workers are women. We have seen strikes of women factory workers throughout Asia.  The recent women’s march here in the US was a historic event spurred on by Trumps assault on women’s rights at home. Two to four million marched in support of women’s rights.

A lot must be done to change attitudes formed over centuries of treating women as objects and women as hosts for future generations (of males hopefully).

We have a long way to go but women will not be driven back to the dark ages by Donald Trump or religious zealots. We have come too far for that.