Friday, September 25, 2020

A Woman's Right To Choose Must Not Be Denied. But That's Not All

I thought about this today after I read an article about Joe Biden not being denied Holy Communion by a right wing ant-abortionist priest. It made me think deeply about the ongoing war on women; it is so important that men join this war alongside them and fight for women’s rights. This is a long and at times violent war. A book I read some time ago that I think is worth reading about this is Caliban and the Witch by Silvia Federici. It’s a bit of a slog but a fascinating book. I would ask though, that my critics accept that I am not an expert on this subject other than fighting for women’s rights in the workplace as a union activist and in campaigns against domestic violence both inside and outside my union activity. So constructive criticism is welcome.


Source: Abortion is Not Murder

Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired

So the WSJ reports today that poor old Joe Biden had a bit of a rough day of it last October.  When he arrived at a Catholic Church in Florence South Carolina, he was not only a few minutes late for Mass, when he went up to the altar for what we called in my time Holy Communion, when the priest hands you this little wafer and you eat it; the priest refused to do hand Joe one. This is important as Catholic teaching maintains that priests turn bread and wine into the body and Blood of Jesus Christ.


That must have been a shock for Biden who is a Catholic though it has happened before apparently.  But he has received communion many times before, “….including from the Holy Father…..” he told PBS NewsHour after the brush off. The “Holy Father “ is the Pope. “Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of church teaching.”, the priest, a man named Robert Morey said at the time. 


I am somewhat familiar with this having been educated in Catholic schools and having attended a few Masses in my time. I was not only taught that a Jewish woman had a baby without sex and it was the son of the supernatural being that created the cosmos and humans. I understood that the Tabernacle where they store that little wafer is where Jesus lives.


Morey, a former attorney, said that instead of communion he offered Biden a “blessing” and that, “…..he felt sorry for Joe Biden and that after the Mass he prayed two rosaries for him” .


 Anyway, I don’t want to get too much in to that as  I don’t believe in magic anymore.


But I have to say, I get a little peeved when this culture of men, who, by the way, never have to make the decision about whether to have an abortion or not, demand that women must have them. They demand it most fervently and many of them are prepared to commit violence or murder in order to intimidate those who believe differently to tow the line.


Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz, a Trump supporter, told the followers at the Republican Convention that, “The Biden-Harris ticket is the most radically pro-abortion campaign in history, they and other politicians are Catholic in name only.”. I think that the Catholic Church and the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) are two organizations that have no credibility giving morality advice to anyone. Both are infested with rape culture, pedophilia and corruption.


Biden’s response of course is the usual one for politicians when it comes to this subject, “My private beliefs relative to how I would deal with church doctrine is different than my imposing that doctrine on every other person in the world—equally decent Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists.”, he says.


The history of controlling a woman’s productive rights goes back a long way. But the right to control their own bodies and when they have children must be theirs.   


I would prefer that a woman would be sharing these views but in the absence of one I want to share some thoughts about abortion rights.


I don’t give too much credence to those who claim to love human life so much that they deny the right of a woman to control her own body and reproductive process, yet support social legislation that deny a woman the ability to adequately care for a child and still work or further her education if she wants to. Most of the so-called “pro-life” proponents oppose a publicly funded health care system, free education, or decent social housing and so on. You will rarely, if ever see them at an antiwar rally or condemn the US war machine’s slaughter of a few million people and the displacement of some 35 million others over the past few decades, all in the rapacious quest for profits.


I have always felt that having an abortion was most likely an economic issue and poked around a bit. I found this  2004 study by the Guttmacher Institute that came to the following conclusion:

“The reasons most frequently cited were that having a child would interfere with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for dependents (74%); that she could not afford a baby now (73%); and that she did not want to be asingle mother or was having relationship problems (48%). Nearly four in 10 women said they had completed their childbearing, and almost one-third were not ready to have a child. Fewer than 1% said their parents’ or partners’ desire for them to have an abortion was the most important reason. Younger women often reported that they were unprepared for the transition to motherhood, while older women regularly cited their responsibility to dependents.”


The National Institutes of Health found similar results in a 2008:

“In 2008, the abortion rate for non-Hispanic White women was 12 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with 29 per 1000 for Hispanic women, and 40 per 1000 for non-Hispanic Black women.2 Disparities in abortion rates also exist by socioeconomic status (SES), with women with incomes less than 100% of the federal poverty level (FPL) having an abortion rate of 52 abortions per 1000 reproductive-age women, compared with a rate of 9 per 1000 among those with incomes greater than 200% FPL”


The more anti-abortion legislation, the more harmful the result. South Carolina, where Biden was refused the body of Christ, is one of the states where maternal mortality rates have soared in the past, nearly 300% in 2015 wrote Nina Liss-Schultz in Mother Jones Magazine, pointing out that in the same year, a “….third of women in South Carolina had no dedicated health care provider”. The US has the highest maternal death rates in the industrial world.


I am not an academic or an expert in this field of study but it seems obvious to me that the victims of the restrictions on abortion rights and women’s rights in general, hurt the poor most and that also means women of color; that’s how capitalism works. The same forces that place women in this position, and support eliminating access to abortion services is one method, then condemn poor or working class women for inadequate care or not spending enough time with her child which is a luxury that is not available when one is working two or three jobs.


The reality is that an unwanted pregnancy among the wealthy is not only easier to avoid and if an abortion is needed, legal or not, they will have access to the professional services necessary for it, discretion guaranteed of course. I saw it quite a while ago but I seem to recall Mike Lee’s Film Vera Drake, making this very clear.


It is important that men, and the labor movement, stand in solidarity with women on this issue. But while we support a woman’s right to have an abortion if she so chooses and that society provide the means for that. We must also fight for the right to have a child and not be driven in to poverty and despair. For her right to have a child and continue her education or her career. If I am correct in thinking that the decision to terminate a pregnancy is often an economic one we must take that out of the equation, society has an obligation to do so.


We stand for the right of women to choose in the fullest sense.


We stand for the right of women to choose not to have their baby if this is their decision. We stand for this to be their decision and their decision alone. We stand for a free national health care system within which they can have the benefit of the best and most modern treatment if they choose to have an abortion.


We also stand for the right of women to choose to have their child if that is their decision. The right to choose means to choose to not have a baby or to have a baby. The right to choose to have a baby means the right to a well-paid job with full health care benefits, a decent and affordable place to live and free on sight childcare at work, school and home.


It is these two choices, the right not to have a baby and the right to have a baby that go together to make the real and full right to choose.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

"Unconscious Bias" is the New Racism. Apologies Follow

I'm sorry, I didn't know.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The historic mass protests that burst on to the scene after the murder of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police have changed everything. Despite the refusal of the Grand Jury to indict Louisville Metro Police for the murder of Breonna Taylor, we must not lose sight of the fact that we have witnessed the most powerful movement against the state and institutionalized racism certainly in my lifetime. Thousands of young white workers whose future is increasingly bleak, have joined this movement led by Black working class youth under the banner of the Black Lives Movement. In addition, the Black Lives Matter banner has been raised throughout the world.


To understand what works and what doesn’t in society, we only have to look at the case of Colin Kaepernick, the former Black American football player who was demonized in the media and sidelined by the league’s team owners for "taking a knee" during the national anthem before the start of a game; a mild protest against the killing of Black people by the cops. For five years they held this position and that Kaepernick was wrong, and then magically, with the Black Lives Matter protests, these billionaires have publicly admitted they were wrong and Kaepernick was right.


There’s a lesson here. Mass direct action works. It was mass direct action that built the unions and mass direct action and political struggle, not lawyers, liberal politicians or the so- called Supreme Court that can change the world.

The fear that this class unity and militant protest will spread has made the US ruling class very uneasy. Sensitivity is the game now to try and keep the lid on things and get back to normal. Apologies for racial insensitivity or hurting people’s feeling are a dime a dozen.

The latest public apology is from the CEO of Wells Fargo Charlie Scharf who sent out a letter to his employees that has brought accusations of racism.

That the white racist ruling class in this country is racist is a given. Racism is an institutional aspect of US society and capitalist society in general, it is built in to it. But it’s important to see through the phony concessions to the power of this movement.

What got the Wells Fargo CEO in to hot water was when he wrote the following about looking for talent:
“The unfortunate reality is that there is a very limited pool of Black talent to recruit from with this specific experience.”

So what’s racist about that sentence? In fact, it’s probably an accurate statement. But why is there a “limited pool of Black Talent” this is the question.

If he had preceded it with, “Due to the institutionalized racism in our society and the exclusion of people of color from this field for centuries, it’s hard to find qualified people.”, he would have been in the clear

But he can’t say that because the system, what we know as capitalism, cannot be at fault. Capitalism is a great system and the United States is a “GREAT” country and as the Predator in Chief says, not a racist country. We are not only a great country, we are the greatest country.

So like all the others there’s an out. He atones for his sin,
“I apologize for making an insensitive comment reflecting my own unconscious bias.”


So, he’s not responsible for anything, he was speaking unconsciously. He’s just confessed, he’s OK and the system is sound. This apology will hopefully appease the many people of color on the lower rungs of the corporation. “There are many talented diverse individuals working at Wells Fargo and throughout the financial services industry…” he adds and that he, “….never meant to imply otherwise.”


The reality is that institutionalized racial exclusion in US society is why the pool we are talking about is relatively small and he has done nothing to change that. He has benefited from it and him and others like him perpetuate it. He’s a major part of the problem and by claiming he was unconscious of it all he's a liar too. He knows why the pool is small and always has known. Like all of them, he chooses to do nothing about it and feather his own nest.


Despite the pool being small due to racist practices, it’s quite likely there is a person of color that could fit the requirements.  But, it’s a bit of a bother, it’s much easier to grab the white guy.


The slip was made, a slip that could have been avoided if he had told the truth, but he can’t. So he confesses explaining that it was not even a conscious mistake, it was an unconscious one like bumping in to the lamp when sleepwalking.


The fact that a cop is even fired, a racist restaurant employee terminated, a person let go for making racist comments outside of the workplace, this is the result of the Black Lives Matter movement and protests since Rodney King, Oscar Grant and, in my opinion, Ferguson was a major event. Breonna Taylor George Floyd and of course Trayvon Martin, there are just too many to name here. A friend said to me today, as far as the Black population is concerned, their cup is running over, it is overflowing.


The shooting of cops is not productive but completely understandable when we look at the big picture, I have stated before, it a credit to the patience of Black folks that shooting cops has not been more frequent as cops are shooting them.  But the movement is the key, a growing, united movement that must take a national character and draw in to it all those fighting against the savagery of the market and for social and economic justice.


Danger lurks around every corner. Wells Fargo will be looking for “diverse” candidates for “key roles with compensation north of $100,000” says Scharf. Apple, Alphabet, Rockefeller, Lowe’s, money managing companies and many others are throwing cash at Black businesses and Black colleges and institutions in order to increase the social weight of the Black Middle class that can act as a buffer zone to hold back the revolutionary potential of the Black workers and undermine the present movement stopping it from spreading.


In the period ahead we will hear lots of “unconscious bias” apologies from racists in powerful positions and things can continue as normal. People like the CEO’s of banks who have perpetuated the racism in society that the Black population are confronting with a vengeance.


If you feel you might slip off the rails with all the apologies and all, let Malcolm X get you back on there with his profound statement that, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.”

US torn by crises as election looms

This article by John Clarke, was originally published in Counterfire

September 23, 2020
Written by John Clarke
Published in Analysis

Biden. Photos: Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0, licence linked at bottom of article

Ahead of the US elections, John Clarke considers the balance of forces, the dangers of a second Trump term and the intensifying crisis whatever the outcome

Recalling his stay in New York City, in 1917, Leon Trotsky referred to that great financial centre of the US as ‘the foundry in which the fate of man is to be forged.’ The global importance of economic developments and political struggles in the United States is even greater today than when Trotsky was writing. The country is edging towards a presidential election, torn by a series of deep and interrelated crises and beset by sharp and intensifying social conflicts.

As Donald Trump seeks a second term in office it is worth noting that his presidency has been extraordinary from the outset and very much a sign of the times.  He isn’t one of the career politicians that normally find their way into the White House. He ran for office expressing the most reactionary perspectives and by cultivating a base of support among disgruntled sections of the population captivated by the right wing populism he advanced. That base-building has also involved a readiness to endorse and embolden openly fascist and overtly racist elements.

In power, tensions and discord notwithstanding, Trump has been able to avoid ruinous open rifts with elected Republican politicians. Predictably, he has pursued a harshly xenophobic and deeply reactionary course, though it has not been without twists and turns, as changing priorities and internal conflicts inside the White House have left their mark. Trump has implemented brutal tax cuts for the rich, while attacking social supports for the poor, and gutted regulations that protected consumers and the environment. He has embraced climate denial and pulled the US out of the Paris accord. His ‘America first’ anti-globalism has led to tensions with other G7 powers and he even threatened to pull out of Nato at one point.

Trump’s anti-immigrant direction has been shocking. His wall along the Mexican border may not have come to pass but the frenzy of hatred he has whipped up in the process has been enormously serious. His immigration raids and detentions haven’t, in fact, represented a fundamental break with what came before him but he has gone about things in such a way as to wilfully fan the flames of racism to an unprecedented degree.

‘Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo,’ Trump declared shortly after capturing the Republican nomination. Predictably, this has involved a brutal effort to advance the dominant and exploitative role of the US on a global scale. A critic of the invasion of Iraq, Trump’s arrival on the scene was seen as a defeat for the ‘neocons’ within the Republican Party. Yet, he has drawn on the services of this layer in his attacks on Iran, Venezuela and Bolivia. The infamous war criminal, Elliot Abrams, was appointed as Iran envoy just last month. Trump has also, of course, supported without reservation, the unrestrained drive to complete the Zionist colonial project and to subdue Palestinian resistance to it.

Trump and the pandemic

The Trump presidency has been deeply impacted by the onset of the global pandemic and the deep economic crisis that it has intensified. As the grim milestone of 200,000 Covid-19 deaths is reached in the US, the failure of the Trump Administration to act decisively to prevent this tragedy is irrefutable. Behind Trump’s bluster and empty promises of a vaccine, lies the stark truth that he represents the interests of the most greedy and reckless sections of the capitalist class and that he is ready to let people die in order to protect the flow of profits. As winter approaches, the toll of this ‘business as usual’ strategy will become even more deadly. The harsh truth, moreover, it has utterly failed on its own terms, as the economic recovery Trump promised has stalled and the hardship of the downturn intensifies.

The elements of the crisis in the US, however, are not limited to Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic and the downturn in the economy. His administration and the entire US establishment have been thrown into crisis by the upsurge of social resistance that was set in motion by the racist police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The scale and intensity of the Black Lives Matter resurgence and the mobilisation against police brutality has been astounding. Its demands for the defunding and abolition of the police and the determined struggle taken up in the face of state repression have been far more than those in power bargained for.

This upsurge has deepened the dangerously reactionary nature of the Trump presidency.  It has also galvanised the most vicious elements of his base of support and set its stamp on the electoral race that is unfolding. Trump has always been ready to support and embolden fascists and racists. His infamous reference to ‘some very fine people on both sides,’ in response the white supremacist mobilisation in Charlottesville, in 2017, made that abundantly clear. However, those comments seem measured and restrained by comparison to his recent interventions. 

Quite remarkably, Trump has taken a position of open support for the fascist street army that, with the support of the police, has unleashed deadly violence on those challenging police racism in US cities. When far right vigilante, Kyle Rittenhouse, gunned down two protesters in Kenosha, Trump asserted of the killer that, “He was trying to get away from them, I guess ... and he fell. And then they very violently attacked him.” When, on the other hand, the police carried out the veritable extra-judicial execution of anti-fascist, Michael Forest Reinoehl, Trump declared, “This guy was a violent criminal, and the US Marshals killed him. And I will tell you something—that’s the way it has to be. There has to be retribution.”

As the November election draws closer, Trump makes it clear that he will win or lose on the basis of a clear cut appeal to racist sentiment. He has declared a counter attack on the mythical ‘left wing indoctrination’ of school students in the US, that he claims has fuelled the protest movement. He insists that ‘the left is attempting to divide Americans by race in the service of political power’ and that this ‘toxic propaganda’, if not defeated, ‘will destroy our country.’ To leave no doubt as to the base he is consolidating, he told supporters last week that, “You have good genes, you know that, right? The racehorse theory. You think we’re so different? You have good genes in Minnesota.”

Neoliberal mainstream

It is clear that the election will be decided on the basis of support or opposition for the politics of Donald Trump. If the Democratic alternative, Joe Biden, wins, it won’t be because of any great enthusiasm for his candidacy. The Democratic establishment ensured that Biden would be the contender because they want to represent the neoliberal mainstream and would rather lose to Trump than see their party express the politics of Bernie Sanders. With ‘career prosecutor,’ Kamala Harris, as Vice-Presidential running mate, there can be no doubt that the Democrats have fielded a team dedicated to the good stewardship of US capitalism and its global empire.

While Biden is certainly not the harbinger of radical change that Trump suggests, it would be absurd to suggest that the electoral outcome is irrelevant. There is no doubt that Trump represents some enormously dangerous directions at a time of deep economic, social and political crisis. A second term would intensify his reactionary policy directions, take a far more authoritarian course than up until now, embolden the right wing street army and seek to crush movements of social resistance.

In recognising the threat posed by Trump, however, it would be wrong to disregard the dangers of a Biden presidency.  Hopes that Biden would be influenced by a left grouping within the Democratic Party, as was recently suggested by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are wishful thinking. Biden is actually favoured by the dominant section of the capitalist class and political establishment, who view Trump as too erratic and volatile. We may be sure that a Biden Administration in the White House would seek to impose the burden of the economic crisis on the backs of working class people. We can be equally confident that it would continue the drive to endless war abroad and do whatever was necessary to contain social resistance and the struggle for racial justice domestically. The calculation in high places is that this would all be done more effectively under Biden.

As the election draws nearer, the crisis conditions shaping US political life will not abate. The pandemic will be taking an even more dreadful toll. The economic crisis and the hardship it has caused will intensify. Trump’s provocative political manoeuvres will be taken to ever more extreme levels. The Trump base and his far right street army of admirers will pose even more of a threat. We may also expect that the Black Lives Matter protests and other forms of social resistance will intensify in response to escalating attacks and worsening conditions.

The electoral result, on November 3, will be highly significant but neither outcome will mean that the  intensifying crisis will abate. Polls suggest a Biden victory is more likely than not but, in these volatile times, firm predictions are impossible. It has been suggested that Trump may not be ready to concede if he loses. It’s unlikely that he would be in a position to defy a decisive result but he could certainly deepen the social conflict simply by being an ungracious loser. It’s not hard to imagine his political base responding on the streets to allegations of fake election results. Tellingly, his supporters have actually tried to disrupt early voting.

In the end, however, it’s necessary to recognise that the US presidential election is really a matter of deciding who will be in charge of imposing the burden of the crisis on working class people. A Trump win poses very real dangers and a Biden victory, while it means a more measured approach, leads in the same direction. Worsening conditions of economic hardship and the deeply racist brutality of US institutions, particularly the police forces, have produced a wave of social resistance that has cast its shadow over the political life of the country. After November 3, that movement will confront different challenges, based on the electoral result but, in either case, the need for growing working class resistance will be utterly vital. Based on the power and resilience of the struggle in recent months, there is every reason to look forward with optimism.


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Michael Roberts: More on a world rate of profit

by Michael Roberts

Back in July, I wrote a post on a new approach to a world rate of profit and how to measure it.  I won’t go over the arguments again as you can read that post and previous ones on the subject.  But in that July post, I said I would follow up on the decomposition of the world rate of profit and the factors driving it.  And I would try to relate the change in the rate of profit to the regularity and intensity of crises in the capitalist mode of production. And I would consider the question of whether, if there is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall as Marx argued, it could reach zero eventually; and what does that tell us about capitalism itself?  I am not sure I can answer all those points in this post, but here goes.

First, let me repeat the results of the measurement of a world rate of profit offered in the July post.  Based on data now available in Penn World Tables 9.1 (IRR series), I calculated that the average (weighted) rate of profit on fixed assets for the top G20 economies from 1950 to 2017 (latest data) looked like this in the graph below.

Source: Penn World Tables, author’s calculations

I have divided the series into four periods that I think define different situations in the world capitalist economy.  There is the ‘golden age’ immediately after WW2 where profitability is high and even rising.  Then there is the now well documented (and not disputed) collapse in the rate of profit from the mid-1960s to the global slump of the early 1980s.  Then there is the so-called neoliberal recovery where profitability recovers, but peaks in the late 1990s at a level still well below the golden age.  And finally, there is the period that I call the Long Depression where profitability heads back down, with a jerk up from the mild recession of 2001 to 2007, just before the Great Recession. Recovery in profitability since the end of the GR has been miniscule.

So Marx’s law of profitability is justified empirically.  But is it justified theoretically?  Could there be other reasons for the secular fall in profitability than those proposed by Marx.  Marx’s theory was that capitalists competing with each other to increase profits and gain market share would try to undercut their rivals by reducing costs, particularly labour costs.  So investment in machinery and technology would be aimed at shedding labour – machines to replace workers. But as new value depends on labour power (machines do not create value without labour power), there would be a tendency for new value (and particularly surplus value) to fall relatively to the increase in investment in machinery and plant (constant capital in Marx’s terms).

So over time, there would be a rise in constant capital relative to investment in labour (variable capital) ie a rise in the organic composition of capital (OCC).  This was the key tendency in Marx’s law of profitability.  This tendency could be counteracted if capitalists could force up the rate of exploitation (or surplus value) from the employed workforce.  Thus if the organic composition of capital rises more than the rate of surplus value, the rate of profit will fall – and vice versa.  If this applies to the rate of profit as measured, it lends support to Marx’s explanation of the falling rate of profit since 1950.

Well, here is a graph of the decomposition of the rate of profit for the G20 economies.  The graph shows that the long-term decline in profitability is matched by a long-term rise in the OCC.  So Marx’s main explanation for a falling rate of profit, namely a rise in the organic composition of capital is supported.

Source: Penn World Tables, author’s calculations

What about the rate of surplus value?  If that rises faster than the OCC, the rate of profit should rise and vice versa.  Well, here are the variables broken down into the four periods I described above.  They show the percentage change in each period.

Source: Penn World Tables, author’s calculations

For the whole period 1950-2017, the G20 rate of profit fell over 18%, the organic composition of capital rose 12.6% and the rate of surplus value actually fell over 8%.  In the golden age, the rate of profit rose 11%, because the rate of surplus value rose more (16%) than the OCC (4%).  In the profitability crisis of 1966-82, the rate of profit plummeted 35% because, although the OCC also fell 6%, the rate of surplus value dropped 38%.  In the neoliberal recovery period, the rate of profit rose 24% because although the OCC rose 11%, the rate of surplus value rose 37% (a real squeeze on workers wages and conditions).  In the final period since 1997 when the rate of profit fell 10% to 2017, the OCC rose a little (4%) but the rate of surplus value dropped a little (7%).

These results confirm Marx’s law as an appropriate explanation of the movement in the world rate of profit since 1950 – I know of no other alternative explanation that explains this better.

So will the rate of profit eventually fall to zero and what does that mean?  Well, if the current rate of secular fall in the G20 economies continues, it is going to take a very long time to reach zero – well into the next century!  Among the G7 economies, however, if the average annual fall in profitability experienced in the last 20 years or so is continued, then the G7 rate will reach zero by 2050.  But of course, there could be a new period of revival in the rate of profit, probably driven by the destruction of capital values in a deep slump and by a severe restriction on labour’s share of value by reactionary governments.

Nevertheless, what the secular fall in the profitability of capital does tell you is that capitalism’s ability to develop the productive forces and take billions out of poverty and towards a world of abundance and harmony with nature is hopelessly impossible.  Capitalism as a system is already past its sell-by date.

Finally, can we relate falling profitability with regular and recurring crises of production and investment in capitalism?  In my book, Marx 200, I explain that connection and in the July post I showed a close correlation between falling profitability of capital and a fall in the total mass of profits.  Marx argued that, as average profitability of capital in an economy falls, capitalists compensate for this by increasing investment and production to boost the mass of profit.  He called this a double edge law: falling profitability and rising profits.  However, at a certain point, such is the fall in profitability that the mass of profits stops rising and starts to fall – this is the crux point for the beginning of an ‘investment strike’ leading to a slump in production, employment and eventually incomes and workers’ spending.  Only when there is a sufficient reduction in costs for capitalists, bringing about a rise in profitability and profits, will the ‘business cycle’ resume.

What is happening right now?  Well, as we have seen above, global profitability was already at a low point in 2017 and still below the pre-Great Recession peak.  By any measured guess, it was even lower in 2019.  And I have updated my measure of the mass of profits in the corporate sector of the major economies (US, UK, Germany, Japan, China).  Even before the pandemic broke and the lockdowns began, global corporate profits had turned negative, suggesting a slump was on its way in 2020 anyway.

We read about the huge profits that the large US tech and online distribution companies (FAANGS) are making.  But they are the exception.  Vast swathes of corporations (large and small) globally are struggling to sustain profit levels as profitability stays low and/or falls. Now the pandemic slump has driven global corporate profits down by around 25% in the first half of 2020 – a bigger fall than in the Great Recession.

Source: National accounts, author’s calculations

Profits recovered fast after the Great Recession.  It may not be so quick this time.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Stop the Looting. Housing is a Human Right


Richard Mellor

Afscme Local 444, retired



Any worker that’s been through a strike knows that the mass media is biased. In that sense, those accusing the media of “fake” news are correct. But what the mass media has is a class bias. It is designed to influence public opinion in a way that places the private sector and the so-called free market in a positive light. The landlord, the cops, the CEO, the hedge fund manager, these are who we must look up to. It is free speech from the point of view of those that own the media.


I remember during the uprising that occurred after the Rodney King beating by cops was caught on video and a Teamster truck driver, Reginald Denny, was dragged from his cab and beaten mercilessly. The beating was horrible and caught on tape. The mass media made sure we saw this event day after day for a long while. The reason for this extensive coverage was not a result of the owners of the mass media having concern for Denny; it was to generate anger and ill feeling toward the black youth that committed the offense and the black community in general for participating in the uprising; it was to undermine the reason for the uprising. This is why the looting of stores is a popular theme as it gives the media another means to denigrate an entire community.


A recent study found that during the thousands of Black Lives Matter protests, a justifiable uprising against the ongoing murder of Black people by the police, the overwhelming majority of them have been peaceful with “…more than 93% involving no serious harm to people or damage to property…” Yet the capitalist media and the government ensure we draw a different conclusion with the help of lots of coverage. Looting is given a prominent role in the coverage and Racists, landlords who profit from the need for decent housing, and the ruling class in general place looting front and center. I have heard workers refer to the protestors as “looters” repeatedly, this more often than not has a racist root and is often accompanied by the “Blue Lives Matter” slogan in essence supporting the police murders of Black folks.


Let’s Talk About Looting

Let’s address some much more extensive and harmful looting. There’s housing for instance. After the Great Recession when more than 5 million people had their. homes taken from them by moneylenders, big investment firms and capital management companies started snapping up single family homes. This was fairly new as the big landlords like their victims in one place like a tower block as it’s easier and cheaper when problems need addressing or their agents have to actually come face to face with the tenants. But the 2008 crash that destroyed so many lives offered too lucrative an opportunity for the owners of capital. Investors have been buying more than one in ten homes sold in the US over the last decade according to the Wall Street Journal. Wayne Hughes’s whose the CEO of American Homes 4 Rent, has 53,000 suburban houses in 22 states and collects about $1 billion a year in rents.


Shares of the two largest landlords, Invitation Homes and American Homes 4 Rent are up 79% and 59% respectively


A home is human shelter, it should not be a commodity, an investment and there is no nastier phrase in the real estate lexicon than “house flipping” in my opinion. Housing, like other important social needs should not be businesses, that’s why the market fluctuates so much and why housing in the US. Is so expensive. Some of the wealth we create through labor is in their banks and state coffers and how that is allocated should be the collective decision of those who created it; providing housing is one area.


The pandemic has brought new opportunities for the speculators in human shelter as investors are raising billions of dollars to snap up homes as people start falling behind on mortgage payments.  Those with federally backed mortgages can take advantage of a government protection plan set up in March. They can skip mortgage payments for a year and make up for it later. This relief program is known as “forebearance” but many homeowners are missing out and lending companies are not being cooperative. In January, local restrictions on evictions and foreclosures, introduced in response to the pandemic, will expire and people could start losing their homes.


Some of these looters, like Invitation Homes are starting sale-lease back programs as a means of increasing its home ownership above its present 80,000. Sale-leaseback is common in commercial real estate and involves investors buying a home from someone having a hard time with the mortgage and the possibility of losing it then renting it back to them.


One speculator in human shelter, Jared Kessler, is the CEO of a startup (hate that term too) called EasyKnock. Kessler’s all excited about the end of the prohibition against foreclosures in January, “Once January comes that’s when the carnage will come,” Mr. Kessler said. “We’re just giving people choices that they never had before.” WSJ 9-18-20. In capitalist free market ideology and culture, Kessler is an innovator, a fine outstanding member of society, waiting for the “carnage” that the market is about to inflict on a section of society, and as Obama’s friend Rahm Emanual suggested, taking advantage of a crisis. Self-enrichment, regardless of the consequences, is good in capitalist ideology


It’s much like the Great Recession when moneylenders, so cooperative making the sale, are hard to find. Sue Stevenson, a mortgage-default counselor describes the situation when it comes to applying for forebearance:

“We might refer to it as the document paper game. The servicer has everything that they require to do a loan modification to review but continuously and sometimes for over seven months will keep asking for documents that they already have. It is frustrating to no end.”

“Ms. Stevenson, the counselor……said homeowners have had trouble getting through to mortgage-service companies on the phone.”,
the Wall Street Journal writes, “Calls are often sent to voice mail and not returned, she said. Other times, calls are answered but dropped. Borrowers must then call again and endure yet another lengthy hold period.”

Sounds familiar doesn’t it. We call it the runaround. Pressing endless buttons on the telephone trying to get an answer to something that is important to you. And what sort of society but an unjust and inhumane one would create a profession called mortgage default counselor?

During the process, homeowners are sent letters warning them that they are past due on their mortgage payment and that they are at risk of foreclosure and forced eviction. Mortgage holders are told the letters are required by law. Even so, one woman says, “It’s just scary every time they send a letter of being delinquent. I’m doing everything I’m supposed to do.”

And on another note, It’s the police forces that evict people from their shelter on behalf of the moneylenders, Blue Lives Matter folks might think about that for a minute.

Housing is a basic right, or should be, in any civilized society. But we don’t live in a civilized society do we, we live in a marketplace and everything is for sale including our bodies.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Israeli Jewish terrorist jailed

Zionist Settlers harass and terrorize Palestinians on a daily basis. Image source


Article originally published on the UK website Left Horizons

September 15, 2020


From a UK Labour Party member


The Times of Israel reported this week that a Jewish settler on the West Bank has been given three life sentences for firebombing a Palestinian family home, killing a baby and his parents.

What was notable in the case was the fact that the trial judge attributed the attack to an “extreme racist ideology” on the part of the murderer Amiram Ben Uliel, and that the newspaper, correctly, described Ben Uliel as a “terrorist”.

This case typifies in microcosm a part of Israeli society that is rarely dealt with by the British press. Settlers, living on confiscated Palestinian West Bank land and often with an extremely racist outlook, have conducted a relentless campaign of intimidation, harassment and violence against local Arab villagers. Even in this case, a rarity in coming to court at all, it has taken five years for the family of those firebombed to get any kind of justice. The judge noted that to this day, Ben Uliel “has not taken responsibility for his actions”.

Convicted as a lone attacker

Although Ben Uliel was convicted as a lone attacker, the only survivor of the firebombing, a five-year old boy, claimed that other settlers had been present and that they had fired on him when he escaped. His evidence was not admitted on account of his age. Ordinary workers will be appalled at the crime of Ben Uliel, but there will be those in Israel, including Members of the Knesset and ‘respectable’ politicians, who will hail him as a ‘hero’ and when an appeal is considered, will be demanding his early release. The “extreme racist ideology” mentioned by this trial judge is far from being confined to a handful of lunatics – it pervades the whole of the political right-wing, including many members of the Knesset.

The attack described in this case is far from being unique. In April, The Times of Israel reported that even in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, “virus season brings rise in settler violence targeting Palestinians.” Despite restrictions having been placed on Israelis leaving their homes, it reported, there had been almost a doubling of attacks by settlers on Arab villagers, from 9 per month to 16 per month.

Israeli settlements are on land confiscated from Palestinian villages and farms. They are built to the most modern air-conditioned designs. They are serviced by all the necessary utilities and by new roads which are, in effect if not ‘legally’, settler-only roads. Last but not least, the settlers are armed to the teeth.

South African apartheid

Even in the worst days of Apartheid South Africa, there were no ‘raiding’ expeditions of white racists into the African ‘townships’ or ‘Bantustans’, where the overwhelming majority of blacks were forced to live. In the West Bank it is different. The size and scale of land confiscation and settlement building has been such that the population of Jewish-only settlers is at least comparable with the population the Palestinians. Many of the settlers support a political ideology that would see the whole of ‘Eretz Israel’ – from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River – as exclusively Jewish.

They would be happy to terrorise Arabs out of their homes in the hope that they would flee elsewhere. It is a hoped-for ethnic cleansing and a ‘freeing’ of the land that would never have occurred to the white racists in South Africa who were in such a tiny minority. So it is, that more or less with impunity and with the Israeli Army unwilling to do anything about it, the extreme right wing of the settler movement actively harasses and terrorises local Arab villagers week in and week out.

According to B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, “Violence by settlers (and sometimes by other Israeli civilians) toward Palestinians has long since become part of daily life under occupation in the West Bank.

Injuries to life and limb

These actions range from blocking roads, throwing stones at cars and houses, raiding villages and farmland, torching fields and olive groves, and damaging crops and property to physical assault, sometimes to the point of hurling Molotov cocktails or using live fire. Over the years, this widespread violence toward Palestinians has resulted in injuries to life and limb, as well as damage to property and land”.

The violence meted out by the settlers is only the ‘informal’ equivalent of the same violence meted out on a daily basis by the Israeli state itself as it gradually and inexorably squeezes more land out of Palestinian hands and crowds the Arab population into smaller and smaller areas. Western social media is full of incidents and examples of the almost casual daily indignity and brutality faced every day by Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli occupying army, brave boys who point automatic weapons at children.

According to B’Tselem, in the last fourteen years, up to the end of last month, Israel has demolished over 1600 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, not even including those in East Jerusalem. This has led to nearly 7,000 additional homeless Palestinians, half of them children.

Demolition of Palestinian homes

In Palestinian communities unrecognized by the State of Israel, many which are facing the threat of expulsion, Israel repeatedly demolishes residents’ homes. From 2006 through 31 August 2020, the homes of at least 1,085 people living in these communities - including 521 minors - were demolished more than once by Israel.

“In addition, from January 2012 through 31 August 2020, the Civil Administration demolished 1,778 non-residential structures (such as fences, cisterns, storerooms, farming buildings, businesses and public buildings) in the West Bank (excluding East Jerusalem)”. 

With Palestinians having no civil rights, with no economic development allowed, facing all manner of obstacles to their daily activities and lives, it is no surprise that a comparison has been drawn between the racist Apartheid regime of South Africa and the policy of the Israeli government today.

The South African journalist and author, Bejamin Pogrund, was an early ally of Nelson Mandela and among the first Jews to fight South African Apartheid. After he moved to Israel in the 1990s, he used his experiences in South Africa to fight against the accusation that Israel was an ‘apartheid’ state. He seems to be changing his mind.

Netanyahu’s annexation plans

According to the Times of Israel again, Pogrund has warned that if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with his plan to annex large parts of the West Bank, apparently without offering Israeli citizenship or rights to the Palestinians who live in these areas, “Israel will indeed turn into an apartheid state

I have argued,” he says, “uphill and down dale, and lectured about it in a dozen countries and books and articles, that this is not apartheid. There is discrimination against the Arab minority and there’s an occupation in the West Bank — but it’s not apartheid…if we annex the Jordan Valley and the settlement areas, we are apartheid. Full stop. There’s no question about it.”

Many activists in the labour movement today would say – and the overwhelming majority of Palestinians would agree – with the greatest respect  to Benjamin Pogrund and notwithstanding his history of Struggle in South Africa, he is wrong on that point. Whatever legal changes might take effect through Israel’s annexation of most of the West Bank, it would be only rubber-stamping what is already a fact on the ground.

At the 2018 Labour Party conference, following a brief and very positive debate on the rights of Palestinians, the entire floor of the conference was awash with Palestinian flags being waved. Today, under the leadership of Keir Starmer, a different atmosphere prevails, one in which it is impermissible to criticise the state of Israel. But Labour Party members must not give in on this point; they must continue to fight as hard as they have done in the past for the national and democratic rights of the Palestinian people. One Palestinian family has seen some element of justice, five years after the fact. Another few million are waiting their turn.


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

There's no Evidence the US Has a Racist History is There?

If you support Trump, especially if you are a union worker and work in a multi-ethnic workplace (what they call diverse). You should openly defend your support of this man which is your right and explain why.  You should explain how his views strengthen the union and our struggle for higher wages, better conditions and a decent standard of living.

You should defend his position that the US is not racist and never has been as you clearly support it. Trump has done us all a favor in a way, he has brought this crap in to the open. You support fascism, racism, let us all know.

I should add that in the video I say 1000 white men were indicted for killing a black man in 1866, as far as my recollection goes, this was in Texas. Also, I mention getting 26 views on a video I did defending Ilhan Omar, it was 26,000 and it's on this channel. I'm not a Democrat just to clarify.

Also, This video will be on our blog, Facts For Working People at If you are on FB if you can "like" our Facebook page please do so. It's at:

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Brazil's Indigenous People Need Support. Without the Amazon, we all die.

The reality is that if we do not put a stop to this destruction of the natural world it will put a stop to us.  It is not "human nature" that is the cause of this, bad people as opposed to good people. Capitalism demands this process, the land is commodified, everything has as price and must produce not a social need, but surplus value; it must be made a profitable enterprise.

Unless the workers and oppressed people's of the world act decisively, it won't just be the indigenous of Brazil that lose their way of life and their existence as a people, it will be the entire human race. We are not there yet, there is still time to reverse the destruction that capitalism is wreaking on the Earth and on human beings, but time is getting short, it won't go away by itself.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Working Class History is Not Taught in Schools

Just sharing some thoughts about working class life, our histories, the conscious suppression of a working class consciousness and the dominance of identity politics. The purpose of the education system is to teach white capitalist history and the men that dominate it.

If Biden Wins; We'll Still Be Faced With The Class War

The Apex of Western Civilization

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Whenever I am not quite sure what position to take on an issue, I try to think deeply about which choice advances the interests of the working class, not just domestically, but internationally. That choice is the correct one. Every worker should openly oppose racism for example because it is harmful to our class interests. Racism is important to the ruling class, to capitalism, as it is an obstacle to working class unity and without this unity, it will be impossible to build a future for our children and save the planet from the environmental catastrophe that capitalism has in store.

The United States is still the most powerful economy in the world. It has been in a perpetual state of war since its formation in order to reach this point. Since the collapse of the monstrous Stalinist regime in the former Soviet Union and a similar though not identical process taking place in China that has yet to play out, we are witnessing increased tension between major nation states as they compete with each other for control of the world’s resources and profits.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The US ruling class welcomed a shift to the so-called free market economy from former Stalinist states, but what Washington wanted was a subservient ally that would give US capitalism  access to cheap labor power and new markets. The collapse of the old Soviet Union and the old bi-polar world with a sharing of influence between these two great powers gave a certain stability that no longer exists.

After two global wars that cost millions of lives, the US emerged as the dominant world power controlling over 50% of world trade after World War Two. After the Soviet Union’s demise under its own weight, the 21st century was supposed to be the American Century we were told, and the Wall Street Journal announced “We Won”.  Another major capitalist journal pointed out that The Eagle Has Landed. The “American” century lasted about 10 years.

With the rise of China and to a lesser extent Russia, there is  increased tension and conflict between these great powers, particularly between the US and China. This is a natural outcome of capitalism which is a competitive system of production, a global economic system in which competing nation states vie for dominance within the framework of a global economy.

The initial glee at the collapse of Stalinism has turned in to its opposite as China threatens US capitalism’s global dominance further. While the threat is not immediate as the existence of nuclear weapons has acted as an obstacle to a war between major powers, it would be foolish to think that they have all these nuclear bombs and weaponry never to use them. It's unlikely because the consequences are so dire, the potential for the end of life as we know it. There are numerous proxy powers that might do so, a rogue state like Israel for example, the only nuclear power in the Middle East.

With the rise of the degenerate Trump, and the November elections ahead, there is a feeling among millions of US Americans that the world will end if he isn’t voted out of office. The political choices in the US are very limited, with the US being home to two of the most powerful capitalist parties in the world leaving workers and much of the middle class without a political voice. In desperation, there is a huge drive to elect the corporate shrill Joe Biden.

“Whatever you do, vote blue”, is one of the slogans. The choices are so distasteful that more often than not we are told in the mass media and by celebrities, sports millionaires and the like, to simply, “VOTE”. Raising the banner for the alternative to Trump and the Republicans is not easy to do and seeming to defend the right to vote and encouraging you to do so is a dishonest way of calling for a vote for Biden and the Democratic Party without mentioning them.

But when it comes to China and US foreign policy in general, Biden and the Democrats, should they oust Trump, will continue the aggressive stance toward one of the few states that can challenge it for global influence. China has already surpassed the US as the world’s largest trading partner. And Biden, who Trump has accused of weakness, with regard to China, will have to prove Trump wrong; his manhood depends on. More importantly, the dominance of US capitalism is at stake and like any US president, his job is to defend it. Biden represents that section of the US ruling class that longs for a more stable world where profit taking is not so much of a roller coaster ride, but that will not be easy, especially as the pandemic has changed everything and US capitalism has shown itself to be the least prepared for a global crisis like the coronavirus.

What is important for wage workers to understand is that whether they reside in the capitalist parties of the world or the repressive bureaucratic clique that dominates what they refer to as the Chinese Communist Party, none of these squabbles between the leaders of major powers, are conflicts in which workers should take sides or have any interests.

Many of Biden’s advisors are from the Obama era, “I think there is a broad recognition in the Democratic Party that Trump was largely accurate in diagnosing China’s predatory practices,” Kurt Campbell, who was Obama’s top Asia advisor told the media. I think if Biden is elected, we will find that many of Trump’s decisions and executive orders will stay in place.

Many Congressional Democrats are pressuring Biden to keep some of the Trump Tariffs, and here’s where that language thing is important; their reason for this is to “protect American workers”. This is a lie of course; it is to protect American capitalist’s profits.  The Democratic Party has not protected US workers at all as the declining living standards and attacks have continued under Democratic and Republican administrations alike.

The very best that could be said of the Democratic Party is that the decline in living standards and worsening conditions continues at a slightly slower pace.

It’s the same lie they tell when they claim in the mass media that raising wages will mean a loss of jobs or that they won’t hire. Wages and prices are not organically linked---wages and profits are. If the market can bear it, (supply and demand) a capitalist will raise prices anytime, and if they can’t and workers, through withholding our labor power or slowing the labor process down in some way, force a wage increase on them, then they eat it in profits. They won’t go on that holiday this year. They won’t buy the SUV, send their kid to that private school. But they never explain it this way because they want us to think that raising wages means job losses or higher prices for us as consumers. Better have a low paying job than no job.

Biden will undoubtedly have a different personal approach and will return to the more polite two faced dishonesty of diplomatic relations between capitalist powers than Trumps’ crude gangster like style. But while Biden, like many of his class colleagues, is overconfident and underestimates the situation, telling an audience in Iowa in 2019
“China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man,” in order to show what a tough guy he is, the nature of the system drives these powers in to further conflict. 

The US government’s attack on Huwei is about blocking China’s tech industry and preventing it from competing successfully with the US in a field where the US has global dominance up to now. But either way, this too is a war in which working people have no side. And what must Chinese workers think hearing statements like that from a US politician? The US mass media broadcasts any negative statements about the US when foreign leaders make them in order to draw US workers on to their boat.

They will try to make it work, after all, US and China trade in 2019 was more than $500 billion. Plus, Biden has made climate change an issue. He has referred to it as an “existential threat” and millions of people, especially the youth, agree with that.  Biden needs China’s cooperation on climate issues.

The US also claims, as does Trump, that China is authoritarian and doesn’t respect democratic values. Biden claims that his attitude toward China would be to promote democracy and human rights. If they were to be honest, surely most US workers find this somewhat hypocritical. US capitalism has supported or installed some of the world’s most ruthless authoritarian regimes. Mobutu, the Shah of Iran. Pinochet in Chile.  US intelligence has confirmed that the present head of Saudi Arabia is behind the killing of the Saudi dissident Kamal Kashoggi who was a US citizen but no sanctions there. The CIA itself is no stranger to assassinations and the overthrow of regimes that are not friendly to US corporations like the Albenz regime in Guatemala, Mossadegh in Iran or the billions spent supporting right wing fascist elements in El Salvador and Nicaragua.

Unfortunately, most US workers learn about geography after the US bombs a country and we see little maps of it on CNN. The heavily censored US mass media has been very effective in keeping workers in the dark about world affairs and geopolitical relations.
In a summer Pew Research Center poll, 73% of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of China, just 22% a favorable one. In 2011, 51% had a positive view, 36% a negative one.

But. Can they point to it on a map?

The world economy is more integrated than ever before. Companies like Apple, WalMart, and other retailers not to mention Caterpillar and airline manufacturer Boeing, or Motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson  depend heavily on foreign markets for profits and labor power.

I believe US workers know how rotten our government is, but at least it’s ours is the excuse. But the government is not “ours” it is a capitalist government just as the government of England’s Elizabeth 1st was a feudal state despite the rural peasantry being the most populous.  Class solidarity both at home and abroad is the only way out of this nationalist trap.

As I am quite critical of the Democratic Party here, and always have been, I need to stress a point. In the US if you are either a Republican or Democrat and being political for the most part simply means voting, sticking a piece of paper in a ballot box.  But this criticism isn’t an attempt to support the  Republican Party, and certainly not suggesting anyone should vote for the sexual predator and racist, Trump.

Kimberly Klacik is a Black woman running for Congress from Maryland’s 7th District which includes Baltimore. She has produced a very effective ad that shows her walking through Baltimore past dilapidated homes and shattered buildings. She gives alarming statistics about crime and poverty and how the Democrats have governed cities like Baltimore and Black people have nothing to show for it. It is a very powerful ad and I understand Trump has used it to strengthen his argument that the cities, mostly run by Democrats are a dismal failure and he’s the “law and order” president. This will resonate with some. Trump has already called for the death penalty for the person(s) who critically wounded two cops in LA as defended the 17 year-old fascist who murdered two peaceful demonstrators protesting police violence in Kenosha WI.

The problem with Ms Klacik’s ad, and her politics of course, is that she never mentions what her solution to this urban blight is. But we know what her solution is and what Trump’s is as well; that is law and order, mass incarceration, weak or non-existent unions and continuing the school to prison pipeline.

Trump has yet to apologize for taking out a full-page ad calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five who were wrongly imprisoned for a crime they didn’t commit. They were young children basically.

The crisis in the inner cities is a product of the so-called free enterprise system. It is also a racial problem as it is the legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and people of African descent being completely ostracized and denied access to any of the benefits of a so-called democratic society for hundreds of years. That median household net worth of Black families is 10 times less than whites, ($17,000 and $171,000 respectively)  is a legacy of this racial history not personal flaws or weaknesses in the Black communities.

The only thing we need to know about Ms Klacik is she is an opportunist, an enemy of the working class, in particular Black workers, and that while she highlights the violence and serious social problems that the free market generates, her solution is to attack workers and the poor and serve the interests of Wall Street, hedge fund managers and other parasites like the present occupant of the White House.

We can expect no relief from these two parties of Wall Street, Michael Bloomberg, the 12th richest man in the world is donating $100 million to help Joe Biden in Florida, Bloomberg, Bernie, Biden, all in the same pot together. You think for one minute he doesn’t want something in return.

No, workers find ourselves once again without a political voice in the electoral arena. Building a powerful anti-capitalist workers movement and an independent political party rooted in this movement is the task before us.