Thursday, June 21, 2018

US Foreign Policy at the Root of Border Crisis


Over 14 years ago and a few month before I retired as a backhoe operator at a water district I wrote a commentary "Undocumented Workers are not the Enemy of Labor" and distributed it in my workplace. It was in response to a worker trying to get us to sign a petition to deny undocumented workers drivers licenses. I opposed this and wanted to explain why. I gave some background as to why our brothers and sisters from the south leave their homes, communities and families to make the perilous journey north. It is as relevant today as it was then and we reprint this article from yesterdays Chicago Sun Times written in response to the Trump Administration's, brutal, racist and inhumane treatment of families and their children seeking food, work, and security in the US, fleeing conditions that US foreign policy has created.  As US workers we must understand history if we are to understand the present. These are our sisters, brothers, and class allies that the parasitic billionaire Trump and his cronies are subjecting to such violence. It is in our interest as workers to defend them.  It is important to get out union locals to pass resolutions defending them and making it clear the deafening silence of the heads of organized labor on this social issue is criminal. Organized labor should take this lead on this  and all social issues that affect workers, including through direct action and work stoppages. We will have more on this issue. Richard Mellor


 Stefanie Herweck stands with other protesters in front of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Rio Grande Valley Sector's Centralized Processing Center on Sunday, June 17, 2018, in McAllen, Texas. | Joel Martinez/The Monitor
 
06/20/2018, 08:55pm
U.S. support for brutal Central American dictators led to today’s border crisis

Georgie Anne Geyer

To many shocked Americans, the separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border is simply a breakdown of everything America stands for. To me, it is even more.
To me, it is a foreign policy issue — a question of the deepest possible blunders in American strategy that demands serious, not sentimental, response.

OPINION
I spent much of my professional life covering Latin and Central America for the Chicago Daily News, and I knew those poor folks at the border. I buried myself in their history and suffered with them over the original sin of the Spanish conquistadors, who destroyed much of the brilliant Mayan culture and put little in its place in terms of decent governance.

In the 20th century, when countries like El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala were in their formative modern periods and could have truly progressed, the United States opted in every case not for the necessary land, government and political reforms but to support military dictators and far-right candidates who kept Central America locked in the hopeless despair that still drives tens of thousands of them to El Norte.

Those were the years when American policy and pressure could have made all the difference. But instead of supporting reforms, American companies, which virtually dictated Washington policy, mistakenly identified with the ruling classes — United Fruit in Honduras, for instance, and also in Cuba. When the political disasters came, as they had to, we were on the side that was more than wrong, it was unworkable.

Guatemala, the largest of the Central American nations and historically the leader, is an especially egregious case study. The Guatemalan military has always been particularly cruel, and in the 1950s, it was no surprise that new reformist leaders emerged in Jacobo Arbenz and Juan Jose Arevalo.

Arbenz was to become famous in Washington as the forerunner of the “communist threat” — the era in which Fidel Castro took over Cuba in 1959 and then united with Moscow. Arbenz designed the most comprehensive land reform ever seen in Latin America, but Washington chose to see him as a communist and moved to overthrow him. Arevalo was an even less radical leader, also removed by Washington.

Guatemala never benefited from those reforms. But it did go through terrible guerrilla wars, supported by Havana, in the ’60s and ’70s, and today it is a beautiful but sad land, where every village remembers thousands of dead.

El Salvador went through a similar tragic drama in the ’70s and ’80s, as mostly middle-class young men wanting change created another guerrilla war against a cruel and retrograde landed class and the far-right ARENA party. Washington tried to create a “middle,” but there was none, and today, although the leftist “guerrilla party” holds the presidency, the untamed violence within the society, as in almost all of Central America, is expressed in the brutal gangs that poison these societies anew. And in the tens of thousands of men, women and children fleeing for the American border.

The most sobering reality for Americans is that, in almost every case and at almost every moment when productive change in these small societies could have taken place, Washington moved decisively to stop it. In fact, we were stopping them from going through the very same processes we employed for ourselves as we developed our society. (Ever heard of Teddy Roosevelt breaking up the trusts?

Now, I’m quite aware that nobody is going to be thanked for trying to bring history into the emotional drama at the border. Sobbing mothers, lost children and a cruel White House get starring roles, no matter how you look at it. But it would help if we could at least start to think about a couple of the bigger themes that offer long-term ways to solve this immediate problem.

On the immediate scale, the only answer is for America to hammer out a tough but reasonable immigration policy. Everybody says it, but nobody does it. In the bigger picture, we still have virtually no productive foreign policy toward our neighbors in Central America. Remember FDR’s Good Neighbor Policy or JFK’s Alliance for Progress? It can be done.

Yet, ironically, we read news stories about the U.S. involving itself deeply everywhere else — as far away as Yemen and Somaliland. Do such policies, focused so far afield, really make sense, or are they the inventions of our leaders’ adventurous whims?
Wouldn’t it simply make common sense for our neighbors to come first?

Georgie Anne Geyer has been a foreign correspondent and commentator on international affairs for more than 40 years.

Send letters to: letters@suntimes.com.
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

US Immigration. The Truth Behind the Wire. A Poem by Kevin Higgins

Another contribution from Kevin Higgins, one of Ireland's great poets and becoming one of North America's as well. Feel free to share.


The Truth Behind the Wire

The Truth Behind the Wire
by Kevin Higgins

Kindly disregard the attention seeking cries of the few.
They are child actors being given scripts by liberals.
Most of the young people there are delighted with
what we’re doing. There is no policy
of separation from parents. It’s just
if you’re going to process the mamas
and papas, you’ve gotta take
the bambinos away.
The wire we put around them,
for their own safety, isn’t even barbed.
In there, we help kids go to school;
even give them haircuts
with our giant - and deadly
accurate - Immigration
and Customs Enforcement scissors.

This is the exact opposite of cages.
Despite the headlines,
no one has been gassed.
There are, and never have been,
any concentration camps.
These children are in temporary custody;
playing video games
and soccer; getting two snacks
a day and lots of sleep
under their resplendent thermal blankets.
The chain-link fencing
we’ve used to divide into bedrooms
the building we’re warehousing them in
is entirely incidental.

Almost none of the adolescents in our possession
have, as of yet, been turned
into bespoke hat-stands
and raffled off to the dissatisfied wives
of Texan cattle-hands.

And we have, as of today, no plans
to use the hindquarters of the small ones
to fashion a new face for
Rupert Murdoch.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Brazil: austerity, debt and trade

by Michael Roberts

I have just returned from Brazil where I spoke at the annual Society for Political Economy (SEP) conference at the University Federal Fluminense (UFF) in Rio de Janeiro and at the economics faculties of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the State University of Sao Paolo.

I did so as the currencies of the major so-called emerging market countries dived against the dollar.  The moves by President Trump to ‘up the ante’ on tariffs on trade against everybody and the resultant retaliation planned by the EU and China will hit the exports of these economies hard.  At the same time, the US Federal Reserve has raised its policy interest rate yet further.  That will eventually increase the cost of servicing dollar debt owed by these emerging economies.  So the emerging market debt crisis is getting closer.  Argentina has already had to go to the IMF for a $50bn loan and its stock market dropped nearly 10% in one day this week. The South African rand is also heading back towards its all-time low against the dollar that it achieved two years ago.

Brazil is part of this new trade and currency crisis.  The Brazilian real has taken a hit too, halving in value against the US dollar since 2014 and heading back to a record low since the Great Recession of R$4 to the US$.

Unemployment remains near highs.

And this is at a time when the country is bracing itself for a presidential election in October.  The leading candidate in the polls is former president Lula of the Workers Party (PT). But he is languishing in jail convicted on a supposed corruption charge.  He is unlikely to be able to stand in October.  So the election result is wide open.  And with 50% of Brazilians saying that they are not going to vote (even though it is compulsory!), that is an indication of the disillusionment that most Brazilians have with their mainly corrupt politicians and with the prospects of Brazil getting out of its slump that the economy has been since the end of the commodity price boom in 2010.

The Great Recession of 2008-9 hit the economy as everywhere else, but when the prices for Brazil’s key exports (food and energy) also plummeted, the economy entered a deep depression that troughed in 2015-6.  The mild recovery from that is now stalling.

The incumbent administration of President Temer came into office through a constitutional coup engineered by right-wing parties in Congress that led to the impeachment of the Workers Party president Dilma Rousseff.  From the start, Temer aimed to impose the classic ‘neoliberal’ policies of ‘austerity’ in the form of drastic cuts in public services, reductions in public sector jobs and government investment.  Above all, Temer aimed to massacre state pensions.  The slump and the high level of public debt were to be paid for by Brazilian households.  No wonder Temer’s popularity ratings have slumped to a record low of just 4%.  But public sector deficits (now around 8% of GDP) and debt must be brought under control to re-establish business and foreign investor ‘confidence’, so the argument goes.

As I showed in a previous post, Brazil has the highest public debt ratio among emerging economies (IMF data).

But as I also showed in that post, the cause of the high budget deficit and debt was not ‘excessive’ government spending on pensions etc.  Instead it was continual recurring crises in the capitalist sector and the low level of tax revenue – because the rich do not pay high taxes and continually avoid them anyway, while the majority pay sales taxes that are highly regressive ie. the poorer pay more as a percentage of income than the richer.

The slump has been caused by the collapse of the capitalist sector in Brazil and the cost is being shifted onto the public sector and average Brazilians through austerity measures. The results of the slump and austerity were evident to me on my latest visit to Brazil: in the rundown streets of the cities of Rio and SP; and from the comments of people and the attendees at my meetings on the continual freeze in education and health spending etc – and in the high levels of crime.

So it was no surprise that SEP asked me to speak on the impact of austerity globally.  Austerity, investment and profit. Actually my paper made two points: first, that austerity was not the cause of the slump or Great Recession in global capitalism.  On the contrary, government spending was rising in most countries before the crash, as economies globally boomed.  See below for state spending in emerging economies (my calcs).

But more important, I wanted to show that, while Brazilians must resist and reverse ‘austerity’ with all their might to protect public services and welfare, just increasing public spending will not solve the underlying problem of capitalist booms and slumps – as the Keynesians claim.

In my paper, I presented both theoretical arguments and empirical evidence to conclude that just boosting government spending will not deliver the sufficient ‘multiplier’ effect on growth, income and jobs wherever the capitalist mode of production dominated.  Capitalist production only revives with an increase in profitability and overall profits; and a slump and ‘austerity’ are the ways that capitalism can get out of a crisis – at labour’s expense.  I showed that the impact of a rise in profitability on growth under capitalism – what my colleague G Carchedi and I have called the Marxist multiplier – is much greater than boosting government spending (the Keynesian multiplier). So the policy of austerity is not just some ideological pro-market irrationality as Keynesians claim, but has rationality in the context of low profitability for the dominant capitalist sector.

And as I pointed out in my other lectures in Rio and SP universities, the Long Depression continues and now it seems to be entering a new phase (The state of world economy): first, with the growing risk of a major trade war between Trump’s America and everybody else; and second, with the rising cost of debt biting into corporate stability, particularly in ‘emerging economies’ like Brazil.  The repayment schedule for debt owed to foreigners will reach a peak next year, as the costs of servicing and ‘rolling over’ that debt will have risen.


And as I have shown before, Brazil has the highest interest costs on debt of all major emerging economies (see BR in the graph below).

The global economy has been experiencing a mild upswing (within the Long Depression) from a near recession in 2016.  But in 2018 it looks like growth globally will peak and the underlying low levels of profitability and investment will reappear, along with a new debt crisis in non-financial corporate sector itself, to pose new risks.  We shall see.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Children in cages. The roots of this vicious, cruel crime.

Children in cages at a US border detention center
Sean O'Torain

Firstly, a personal comment.  I am originally from Ireland. I see that some creature with an Irish name is among the supporters on the Internet defending Trump and Sessions tearing the children from their families' arms and putting them in cages. 

To this person with the Irish name and to all who support the Trump cruelty, child abuse and kidnapping at the border, as a person born in Ireland I say this: Do you think they should have built a wall back in the mid 1800's when hundreds of thousands of starving Irish peasants were landing on US shores? I am confident that the answer to this question would be a resounding “no”

These people came here because Irish people were dying by the tens of thousands as food was exported to England by English landlords. In Ireland Before and After the Famine, (it is more accurate to call it the starvation), author Cormac O’Grada documents that in 1845, a year of mass starvation in Ireland, 3,251,907 quarters (8 bushels = 1 quarter)) of corn were exported from Ireland to Britain. That same year, 257,257 sheep were exported to Britain. In 1846, another starvation year, 480,827 swine, and 186,483 oxen were exported to Britain. The Great Irish Famine.

Linked to this is the tens of thousands of undocumented people from Ireland in the US today. None of the children of these immigrants are being seized and put in cages, not that they should be, but this shows the racism of what is going on.  

Then there is this the most important and fundamental question.  Any decent human being is disgusted by what is being done by the US capitalist government to the children and the families at the border. These are children; they are our children, the children of the working class, poor rural workers many of them. It is very good that so many people are correctly speaking out and demonstrating against this crime. But that is not enough. To have a chance to stop this brutality, the roots of this brutality must be understood. All the capitalist mass media in the US from right to left, from Fox News to MSNBC, from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal to the Los Angeles Times, all collude to prevent any discussion on what is at the root of this humanitarian crisis

They collude to prevent any discussion of why it is that Latin America, Central America and Mexico are so violent and so poverty stricken that people risk their lives to try and come to the US. What the US capitalist mass media does is hide the reality that the reason that these areas are so violent and poverty stricken is because of the policies of the US profit-addicted corporations, that is, US capitalism - US imperialism. US capitalism has dominated Latin and Central America and Mexico for centuries and continues to dominate the continent. See the book “Open Veins of Latin America” by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. This was one of only two books Isabel Allende was able to take with her when she was driven out of Chile after the US organized military coup orchestrated by US war criminals Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger.  The coup overthrew the elected socialist government of her husband Salvadore Allende, murdered him and tens of thousands of other Chilean trade unionists and socialists-----people fighting for land reform and a more equal distribution of the wealth of the country. 

See also the review of  “The century of US capitalism in Latin America" by Thomas O'Brien. The review of this book, neither book or review written by left wingers states: Throughout the nineteenth century and up to the 1930s, American corporations stridently resisted local opposition as they secured what they wanted in Latin America, cheap labor, plentiful raw materials, and favorable business conditions.”

 “Stridently resisted”. These writers, supporters of capitalism, are good with their euphemisms. This euphemism describes what were US organized military coups and mass slaughter in Latin America. There were 200,000, mostly indigenous peasants massacred in Guatemala alone. A central organizing location for these operations is in the US, run by the US capitalist government and cynically called "The School of the Americas".

Consider the statements of Smedley Butler the Major General, in the US Marine Corps and one of the most decorated US soldiers in history.  In his book War is a Racket, he wrote: “I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested." “I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for National City bank to collect revenues.”  "I spent most of my time (in the marines) being a high class muscle man for big business, for Wall Street and the bankers. I was a racketeers for capitalism". From the horses mouth. It is no wonder there are not too many Hollywood epics about Butler as there are about Patton, Washington, and mediocre figures like Custer.

The role of NAFTA, the North American Free  (Free!!!) Trade Agreement is also part of this. NAFTA allowed US capital to go where it liked and do what it liked in Mexico. There it has wiped out 
millions of subsistence farmers driving them from their land and into the cities where they could get no work. Many of these are the people and their children whom today are heading to the border to try and get work and something to eat. On top of that, the US provides the huge market for the drugs that are produced in Mexico and other Latin American countries and from which comes so much of the violence.

Many of these people displaced by market savagery are people in these countries who would be starving and instead get caught up in the drug business and cartels and the violence that accompanies it. It is estimated that 90% of the illegal guns in Mexico come from the US. US gun capitalists are arming the Mexican drug cartels just as they are arming about anybody who wants to be armed in the US.

At the root of all of this and its driving force is the drive for profits of the US corporations.  It is the offensive of the US corporations that is, US capitalism and its government and military machine.  

A friend once asked me why these governments of Latin America did not help themselves. This made me think.  Every time the working peoples of Latin America have tried to help themselves, have elected governments and built movements which tried to bring about land reform, which tried to stop the mostly foreign corporations from looting their resources, which tried to improve the lives of their peoples, US capitalism intervened to overthrow these governments and put these movements down. And when necessary the US did this with extreme violence.  

The nightmare of poverty and violence in Central and Latin America and Mexico is because of the policies of US imperialism and their boot lickers in the region. A few names make this clear:  Mexico, Chile, Grenada, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Columbia, Cuba, Panama and on and on. Look them up. See how US imperialism intervened again and again; and all for profit. So much for the whining, lying hypocrisy of US capitalism/US imperialism, and its mouthpieces from its extreme right to its liberal wing about its great support for democracy.

One thing that all the media outlets and politicians of US capitalism have in common, from the Republicans to the Democrats, from Fox News to MSNBC, from Trump to Sanders, is that they always refuse to deal with the responsibility of US capitalism, of the US corporations, of the US profit system, for the monstrous suffering of the peoples of the world, the destruction of the environment and in this case the cruelty against the children and families at the border. 
  
US Imperialism and its drive for profit is responsible for creating the conditions in Latin and Central America which drives people to try and get something to eat and a job in the US. Just like US and European imperialism created the conditions in the Middle East and North Africa which drive the people from these areas to seek something to eat and a job in the more economically wealthy imperialist countries in Europe. Of course, part of the reason these countries are more economically wealthy is that they looted and continue to loot the countries of the Middle East, just as the US is economically more wealthy partly because it looted and continues to loot Latin America. Imperialism impoverishes the countries it dominates. Hence the wars and the people fleeing to get a job and something to eat and to escape the violence that imperialism causes. For every action there is a reaction.  

People in the US who defend the grotesque cruelty on the borders are apologists for creatures like Sessions and Trump and the US corporations which loot Latin and Central America and Mexico and at the same time live off the backs of the US working class and poison the air, the water, the food on which the US people have to live.   

The leaders of the 14 million strong US trade union movement sit quiet as usual; cowed as they are by US capitalism, supporters as they are of US capitalism, living high off the hog as a reward for preventing their members from confronting the US corporations and US capitalism.  These so-called leaders also have responsibility for the barbarous cruelty being suffered by the children and families on the border, they too have blood on their hands.

The big forces that are responsible for this cruelty must be identified and opposed. It is the case that a mass movement must be built but there is also individual responsibility. The cops and border guards and the people who are imprisoning these children should look at what they are doing and refuse to go along. Most of them are organized in some sort of union and they should collectively organize and refuse to seize and imprison the children.  Once more the union leaders, the leaders of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations disgrace themselves and betray all working people not only in the US but in Latin America. They more than betray. See the role of many of these leaders in the so called American Institute of Free labor Development (AIFLD) Through AIFLD many of these leaders actually cooperated with the US government, corporations and CIA to help put down workers and peasants movements in Latin and Central America over the decades.  Read more about this here and here and also in our conference notes here.

There is also the responsibility of church goers. Sessions and Trump and co are quoting the Bible to justify their crimes and cruelty against the children and families. There are tens of thousands of churches in the US. Most of these claim the Bible as the foundation of their belief system. There are tens of millions of members of these churches. These people also have a responsibility, as do members of other religious organizations. They should organize in their churches to stand up, speak out and demand that their churches openly state that their Bible does not justify these crimes. And if their churches do not do this then they should take action. They should fight to change their organizations, their churches, from the inside or if necessary leave those churches that refuse to condemn what its going on in the name of the bible and either join a church that will condemn this or rethink their belief system. Flipping through the channels yesterday I sto
pped at a megachurch service and the preacher was talking about some guy telling his brother something completely irrelevant from a text that cannot be verified in any way at all. And this as children are being ripped from their parents and thrown into jails all around him and this in the name of the bible upon which he bases himself and his church. What sort of religion is this?

The Sessions clan has a long association with Southern racists. What Christian can support what Sessions, Trump and anyone else that doesn’t act, are doing to these families?

US working class people must raise their voices not only against this cruelty at the borders, but against the corporate capitalist system that causes this and which at the same time exploits the US working class. Working people in the US must build a movement against the US corporations and link with working people in Latin America, Central America and Mexico to end capitalism which is a catastrophe for all the working people of the Americas and for the environment of the Americas.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Arizona Teacher Talks About Education and the Recent Strike.



These comments from an Arizona teacher are from the same forum that I attended on June 10th 2018 that was organized by the Oakland Education Association. On the same panel were teachers from Kentucky and West Virginia, fresh from the recent struggles in what are now known as the Red State struggles.

Click this link for some video of the Kentucky teachers Click this one for video of the West Virginia teacher's comments. They are both good and inspiring.

When you listen to this report from the Arizona teacher it becomes very clear that the problem in that state and what we do not have to fear or waste spending money protecting ourselves against, is murdering hordes of Mexican and Central American workers. The enemy is a domestic one, a rogue state with a violent history led by a violent clique intent on convincing its own people that are suffering under its rule that others are to blame for our predicament. Workers like ourselves who's goals are the same, feed their families, feel secure, live a decent life.

Why are the LIberal Writers So Depressing?

Some potential for conflict here I think
 Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Just saying the problem with the world is "greed" explains nothing.

What is the authors intention in this article below? I do not think the word capitalism appears once. He talks of the emergence of European powers in the 15th century competing for world markets, labor and raw material (although he doesn't mention that either, they were simply driven by the desire for "subjugation" in the abstract) What was the economic foundation of these states? What is history?

The political orientation of authors like this one, Hedges is another and there are many more, leaves one in a state of despair. The period described boils down to the greed of rich individuals or a collection of rich individuals who want to subjugate people. The crisis facing global society at the moment is greed whatever that is and Bush had a lot to do with it. Are these individuals feudal lords?

"What the Bush administration did was simply take one gulp too many and the result has been a kind of national (and planetary) indigestion." the author writes.

What does this mean? It sounds like a cooking show. The reason this world outlook is so empty and depressing is that those holding it do not have a historical materialist world view. Not only is there no such thing as capitalism, therefore no capitalists, there is no working class either. Working class history in this author's mind doesn't exist. The class struggle doesn't exist whether it is in the form of the Native American's struggle against colonization and the introduction of capitalism to the continent or the factory occupations and strikes in France and the US during the 1930's or the revolutions in Russia, Spain and around the world.

That's why this worldview is so pessimistic and is more likely to be read by the petit bourgeois than working people. There is no force in society that can change society for the author, the working class doesn't exist and certainly cannot play a revolutionary role if it did. That working people could govern society would be an absurd concept. And perhaps the most important aspect of this thinking is that there is no alternative to capitalism, to the present mode of production and the political superstructure and social organization that arises from it.

This is the doomsday school of thought.

Compare this to what Engels wrote:
The materialist conception of history starts from the proposition that the production of the means to support human life and, next to production, the exchange of things produced, is the basis of all social structure; that in every society that has appeared in history, the manner in which wealth is distributed and society divided into classes or orders is dependent upon what is produced, how it is produced, and how the products are exchanged. From this point of view, the final causes of all social changes and political revolutions are to be sought, not in men's brains, not in men's better insights into eternal truth and justice, but in changes in the modes of production and exchange. They are to be sought, not in the philosophy, but in the economics of each particular epoch. 


Here there is an attempt to explain the workings of society and what form it takes.
Engels continues:
The growing perception that existing social institutions are unreasonable and unjust, that reason has become unreason, and right wrong, is only proof that in the modes of production and exchange changes have silently taken place with which the social order, adapted to earlier economic conditions, is no longer in keeping. From this it also follows that the means of getting rid of the incongruities that have been brought to light must also be present, in a more or less developed condition, within the changed modes of production themselves. These means are not to be invented by deduction from fundamental principles, but are to be discovered in the stubborn facts of the existing system of production.
Engels, Socialism Utopian and Scientific part 111

What is happening
now is that a global order that was brought about in the aftermath of a second great global war between the capitalist powers that killed some 50 million people is collapsing. The bi-polar world where two powers were able to maintain a certain stability for a period ended with the collapse of Stalinism and now we have a declining US imperialism, a power that for a brief moment of the 21st century dominated the global scene, threatened by the rise of China.  Despite its decline, US imperialism is armed to the teeth and the most dangerous and destructive force on the planet.

The author of the linked article is right when he writes that the events we have witnessed over the past period, "....could, in the end, result in ruin of a historic kind". We have made that very clear on this blog that unless capitalism is overthrown and replaced by a global federation of democratic socialist states, capitalism will end life as we know it.

But we have a more optimistic and realistic view. The working class, united and conscious of the task history has laid out for it, is the only force that can prevent the environmental and humanitarian catastrophe that capitalism offers. History teaches us this. There are no guarantees, leadership is a major factor in the outcome of any struggle. But the working class has the power to change society of that there is no doubt.
Here is the article:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

US Government puts children in cages.


Sean O'Torain.
We must use our imagination. These are children, these are our children.  


As you read this the US government, representing US capitalism, is seizing little children from their mothers and locking them in cages. Business Insider reports that the number of migrant children kidnapped and held separate from their parents has gone up 21% in one month. This is a monstrous crime. We must use our imagination.  Imagine if this was your child. Put yourself in the place of these mothers and children and fathers. The children do not know where they are, do not know where their mothers and fathers are. In many cases the whereabouts of these children is unknown, not only unknown to their parents but also not known to the government thugs, whether in their suits or in their uniforms, that kidnapped them. Now they are talking about building tent cities, the more accurate word would be concentration camps. Not a single person of conscience in the US, not a single person with any decency in the US, can stand aside as this happens. Imagine if your child was in a cage, imagine if you did not know where your child was. Trump, Sessions, the Republicans, the Democrats, they are all monsters.  

The capitalist class and the capitalist parties are responsible for this crime. The capitalist Republican Party is carrying out these kidnappings and caging. The capitalist Democratic Party confines itself to whining that children should not be separated from their parents. The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the Democratic Party believes that the whole family should be put in a cage together not separated. Remember more people were deported under the Democrat Obama than under any other president. 

The US has 5% of the world’s population and it has 25% of the world’s prisoners. Over 50% of these prisoners are people of color. The US prison policy is viciously racist. There are many undocumented people in the US from Europe. The children of these people are not being seized nor should they. This kidnapping of children and putting them in cages is blatantly racist. 

As well as being racist the US prison policy is viciously against the poor. Where are the Wall Street criminals and the Washington criminals being seized and put in cages or put in prison? As the saying goes in the US it is a question of being innocent until proven broke. The owners of the big corporations and their political hacks if they break the law pay a fine but with one or two exceptions never go to prison. It is just part of the price of “doing business”. 

 As usual the leaders of the 14 million strong trade union leaders say nothing. They could call on their members to block all transport that is used to seize and take the children from their parents and lock them up and put them in cages. Somebody has to drive the busses, somebody has to build the cages. But as usual the union leaders hide. If the unions of the cops and the immigration sector were unions, and not combinations which in most cases confine themselves to protecting their members from their own crimes they would refuse to carry out this criminal work. 

In the last two years we have seen millions of people march on the women’s marches. The apparatus that organized these must now organize mass action to defend the children, to defend the mothers to defend the families. A Defense of the Children and Parents and Family day, an End to the Kidnapping and Caging of Children Day can be organized. A date set and action called and organized by the women movement organizations.  The school student led movement against gun violence should join in organizing this. That movement is defending children also. The movement against racism and sexism, the movement against police violence, the movements to defend public education, to defend the environment, all these movements must come together to stop the kidnapping and caging of children. And while the trade union leaders, cowed as they are by the bosses and committed as they are to supporting the capitalist system will not act, this does not mean that those of us who are in unions are helpless. We can go to our union locals, we can call a meeting of our members in our workplaces, and we can participate in building a movement to stop this cruelty, this barbarism against children and families.  

A final word. Living in the US capitalist system is to live in a gigantic lie. Here is Trump the representative of US capitalism over in Asia “to spread democracy”. The US capitalist media and especially the liberal capitalist media yammers on about how terrible it is Trump is shaking hands with the North Korean leader. Not a mention of the US having 25% of the world’s prisoners, not a mention of the US government of Trump putting children in cages, not a mention of the US having invaded 30 countries since 1945, not a mention of the fact that US capitalism is the only force in the world to have ever dropped nuclear weapons in war. And deliberately dropped them on civilian populations. 

This Blog has no support for the Stalinist regime in North Korea but if there was any reason to this whole thing at all it would be the US who would be in the dock for having nuclear weapons. After all the US capitalist class is the only capitalist class that has ever used them.  In passing in the opinion of this Blog the North Korean regime will not give up its nuclear weapons. As the idiot Bolton, one of the many boot lickers to Trump reminded them look what happened to Khadafy when he gave up nuclear program. He was overthrown and dragged from his hiding place and raped by US backed militias.  

This Blog calls on all to mobilize now in whatever organization and campaign you are in to build a coalition to stop the caging of migrant children, to stop the breaking up and deporting of families. These crimes are being done in the name of the US people. That is in our name, in your name. This can be stopped if such a coalition is built and takes direct action. It is the responsibility of all of us to act. Again use your imagination. Think of the nightmare that is being inflicted on these children and families, the terror that is being inflicted on the entire Latino population. Not knowing when your door will be battered down, when you will be seized in the street or the bus, not knowing if your child will be seized from you and you will perhaps never see them again. 

All change for the better in US history in the last hundred years has come about by great mass movements of ordinary people. This can be done again here. And with victory on this front this coalition to defend the children and the families can be built on and move on to tackle the many other problems of US capitalism. The problems of war, climate change, pollution of the air and water and food, poverty, inequality, racism, sexism and oppression.
   

Anti-Semitism: Tories and British Media Slander Corbyn and the Labor Party

Image result for Jeremy corbyn images
Jeremy Corbyn






 From Roger Silverman in London
 A NEW WEAPON AGAINST THE LEFT

Anti-semitism is an age-old phenomenon, and once again it is in the air - but this time as a weapon of slander against the left, by the Tories, the billionaire media, the BBC, the Guardian, and above all the Blairite faction now dislodged from the Labour leadership but clinging on to control of the parliamentary LP. It is a disgusting lie - and it's time we said so.

In the wake of the failure of past smear campaigns to brand Jeremy Corbyn as simultaneously a pacifist and a terrorist sympathiser and a Stalinist agent, somehow all at the same time, the current hysteria is only the latest and most bizarre tactic by the Tories and those same "New Labour" MPs who tried so hard to remove him in the past. It's a new version of the fake "Zinioviev letter" in 1923, or of Churchill's accusations in 1945 that Labour was going to establish a Gestapo police state.
It is the Tory party that is riddled with racism through and through, from the 1905 Aliens Act that blocked Jewish emigration from the East European pogroms, to the Right Club that was founded by a Tory MP in the 1930s to "expose the activities of organised Jewry". And according to the book Whitehall And The Jews, 1933-1948, British immigration policy throughout that period "was designed to keep out large numbers of European Jews - perhaps ten times as many as it let in."

We all know the Tories' record of racism: Enoch Powell's descriptions of "wide-grinning picaninnies" and blood-curdling warnings of "rivers of blood"; Boris Johnson's repetition of the same vile word in his description of "picaninnies with their water-melon smiles"; the outright racist treatment of the Windrush generation that is still continuing today.

As for anti-semitism, it was the Daily Express which carried the infamous headline "JEWS DECLARE WAR ON GERMANY" and the Daily Mail which screamed "HURRAH FOR THE BLACKSHIRTS" in the 1930s.

And what about that great fighter against fascism Churchill?

Churchill praised Hitler: "I have always said that if Great Britain were defeated in war I hoped we should find a Hitler to lead us back to our rightful position among the nations."
Similarly, he told Mussolini: "If I had been an Italian, I am sure I should have been whole-heartedly with you from the start to finish in your triumphant struggle against the bestial appetites and passions of Leninism."

Even if we discount one particularly revolting anti-Semitic quote which he later disowned, Churchill did ascribe the wave of revolution sweeping Europe after the First World War to a Jewish conspiracy…

“The part played in the creation of Bolshevism and in the actual bringing about of the Russian Revolution by these international and for the most part atheistic Jews... With the notable exception of Lenin, the majority of the leading figures are Jews. Moreover, the principal inspiration and driving power comes from Jewish leaders ... The same evil prominence was obtained by Jews in (Hungary and Germany, especially Bavaria)… Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing… This movement among the Jews is not new… Karl Marx… Trotsky, Bela Kun (Hungary), Rosa Luxembourg (Germany), and Emma Goldman (United States)... this worldwide conspiracy for the overthrow of civilisation…”

The prominence of Jewish activists in the revolutionary movement is for me a matter of pride. But OK, that was then; what about now?

It was the Mail, again, which made a thinly veiled anti-Semitic attack on Ed Miliband, calling his father "The man who hated Britain… refugee… Marxist…" (no one could mistake the innuendo), while the Sun published an unflattering picture of Ed Miliband eating a bacon sandwich, something which again was universally recognised as another anti-Semitic jibe.

It's time to fight back against the unscrupulous lies of the establishment and to defend with pride Labour's - and specifically Jeremy Corbyn's - consistent record of resistance to racism in all its forms.

BACKGROUND

I know something about anti-semitism. My grandparents were penniless refugees from pogroms in the Tsarist Russian empire, driven from their homes by riots, slaughter, arson. My paternal grandfather arrived together with his brother in Liverpool en route to America, and then had to toss a coin to decide which of them crossed the Atlantic; he lost, and had to eke out a living as a pauper pedlar. As for my maternal grandfather: once he'd arrived in Britain, he was killed in his '20s in the fury of racist hatred, the victim of an anti-Semitic murder.

My father Sydney Silverman was a left Labour MP for 33 years until his death, and a courageous campaigner for socialism. My one disagreement with him is his conversion to Zionism during the years of Nazi rule. In 1940 he was elected chair of the British section of the World Jewish Congress. In this capacity he was among the first to warn the world about Hitler's "final solution of the Jewish question" and to mount a desperate worldwide campaign to save European Jewry from genocide. Three days after my birth, he visited the newly liberated Buchenwald and Belsen Nazi concentration camps as a member of a parliamentary delegation. A fellow member committed suicide soon afterwards.

In my early teens, as well as a member of the Young Socialists I was also a member of Hashomer Hatzair, a socialist Zionist youth organisation; an honoured previous member had been Mordechai Anielewicz, who had led the heroic doomed uprising in the Warsaw ghetto in 1943. I joined the Labour Party at the age of 15 and have been a member all my life, with the exception of the long "New Labour" years. I have encountered occasional manifestations of anti-Semitism in my life, but only once from a left activist - and never within the Labour Party.

ZIONISM
The Jews throughout the Russian empire and central Europe enjoyed a rich cultural and political life, speaking their language (Yiddish), building their own welfare and youth organisations, cultivating their unique kletzmer music, staging concerts, theatre dramas, publishing newspapers, and organising their own mass socialist party the Bund, an autonomous party allied to the social-democratic parties of Russia and Eastern Europe.

In the early years of the twentieth century there were many idealistic young people who emigrated to Palestine to build a new life free from ghetto misery and deprivation. Among these early Jewish settlers were many communist militants who successfully fought the Zionists and united Arab and Jewish workers in common struggle. One of these was a hero of the twentieth century Leopold Trepper, who later organised the clandestine Russian spy ring the Red Orchestra right under Hitler's nose in Nazi Germany. He was eventually arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, and later, like so many others, rewarded by Stalin with ten years in a Soviet labour camp. In the 1920s Trepper (at that time he too was a member of Hashomer Hatzair) emigrated from Poland to Palestine and founded a joint Arab/Jewish trade union Ichad (Unity).

Zionism was originally little more than a fringe sect. It was only under the shadow of the swastika that it gained support as an expression of mass despair, a forlorn quest for a mirage promising escape from generations of age-old persecution. Israel was founded after the holocaust by victims fleeing the holocaust and the concentration camps. In that sense, Zionism was an outgrowth of the holocaust. It has subsequently proved a deadly trap and a tragic failure. Settlement in Palestine has not after all offered the Jews lasting security; Jews are no safer in Israel today than in Europe and America.

THE FOUNDATION OF ISRAEL
Still, it is necessary to understand how this phenomenon materialised. The Bund had been wiped out in the gas chambers, and for the survivors the prospects of rebuilding a thriving Jewish culture in Europe seemed hopeless.

I don't agree with my father's stance at that time but I understand it. He was later to fiercely oppose the Israeli participation in the Suez war in 1956, and died in 1968 outraged at the Israeli occupation of the West Bank after the 1967 war. But after the 2nd world war, he made an impassioned plea on behalf of the survivors of the concentration camps. There were 250,000 former concentration camp inmates still rotting in displaced person's camps, many of them threatening mass suicide after years of incarceration. Just like today's migrants crossing the Mediterranean, Jews desperately seeking escape from the threat of annihilation boarded refugee boats illegally crossing to Palestine. Both during and after the war, they came under direct military attack from British warships. It is estimated that out of a total of 142 voyages, over half were intercepted by British patrols; more than 1,600 were drowned at sea; about 50,000 ended up in internment camps; and only a few thousand actually entered Palestine.

To understand the plight of the holocaust survivors and the appeal of Palestine, listen to this explanation by a camp survivor, quoted in a speech my father made in 1946 …
"There are thousands more like me and my story is the story of my entire generation as Jews… I am 28, and I have never eaten bread I have earned with my own hands. This shirt I wear was given me by the Red Cross; this coat I wear came from the partisans; this sweater— from my sisters in Palestine.

My uncle in the United States sent me a dollar bill and J bought these boots I wear. During the war I was in the Ghetto. Later on I joined the partisans and I was called 'the Jew'… As the war was over I returned to my town. Of 7,000 Jews, two small children remained… (Pulling out a battered photograph from his pocket)… "This is all that remains of my family. One went to the war, was taken prisoner and killed by the Germans, all the rest were slaughtered by Poles. I do not even know their graves… Here is a photograph of my mother and father. Both were killed by the SS… This is a photo of my school class. All who went to Palestine — six of them — survived. All who remained in Poland — 33 — are dead… My sisters in Palestine write, 'We want to see you'. This is my story and it is the story of thousands, thousands more."

ISRAEL TODAY

It was British imperialism which had created the false diversion of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Just as it later cultivated Wahabism and fanatical Islamic fundamentalism to divide and rule in the Arab world, with all the deadly consequences we see today, it also created the monster of Zionism. With the Balfour Declaration in 1917 during the First World War when the Ottoman Empire had crumbled, it had deliberately cultivated Zionism as a cunning strategic weapon to protect the oilfields against the Arab revolution. It could see the benefits of establishing a Jewish state as an outpost, to exploit Palestine’s strategic location and protect its control at that time of Egypt, the Suez canal and the route to India by creating, in the words of the first British military governor of Jerusalem, “a loyal Jewish Ulster”.

That phrase explains it all. In the Middle East as in all the territories administered by the British Empire, a calculated policy of "divide-and-rule" was set in motion to promote communal conflict. We still see the bloody consequences of this heritage of "British civilisation" in ethnic conflicts in all these regions today - in Northern Ireland, the Indian sub-continent, Sri Lanka, Cyprus, Palestine… In the Middle East, Israel was later politically exploited by US imperialism to establish a dependent client-state enclave within the oil-rich Middle East as a bulwark against the Arab revolution.
The constant wars, the occupation of the West Bank, the blockade on Gaza, the colonial resettlements, and the current ongoing massacre of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza are monstrous crimes. But they are not unique. When people make glib and facile comparisons with the Nazis, I don't necessarily ascribe their views to anti-Semitism, but I do consider them provocative and grossly misplaced. There is a difference between brutal colonial military repression - a practice of all regional capitalist super-powers, including British imperialism - and deliberate systematic racist genocidal extermination.

The current atrocities in Gaza are every bit as horrific as the bloodbath in Sharpeville in South Africa in 1960, or in Amritsar in 1919, when British troops mowed down more than 1,000 peaceful demonstrators; and the barbaric treatment of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is almost as monstrous as the tortures and mutilations committed by the British in the Kenya death camps. There is no need to invoke the Nazis: it's enough to brand the Israeli state as being as bloodthirsty as the British.

WHAT SOLUTION?
I feel solidarity, as all socialists should, with victims of racism and oppression - with the past Jewish victims of Nazi genocide and equally with the current Palestinian victims of Zionism. I understand why a "back to Africa" movement developed among black people in the USA; why Muslims in British India yearned for a homeland of their own within the sub-continent; and why Jewish holocaust survivors were desperately seeking a homeland of their own.

But I'm opposed, as should all socialists, to any state being based on or defined by ethnicity or religion: an "Israel for the Jews" any more than a "Britain for the British". That's why I was active in the anti-apartheid movement. I also sympathise with indigenous people whose land is colonised by outsiders, whatever their own history of oppression.

But history can’t be unwritten. I don’t call for the expulsion of the descendants of migrant settlers in the USA, Canada, South America or Australia, and I don’t call for the abolition of Pakistan - most of whom likewise were also originally fleeing from despair and persecution back home. Terrible and genocidal crimes were committed against the indigenous populations of all these countries, and similar crimes are being inflicted today against the Palestinians. Generations have grown up in Israel in the last seventy years, and they have no other home. What I condemn is Israel's identity as a racially-designated state in which non-Jews face discrimination and which acts as a regional military occupation power.

The task of socialists is to combat all attempts to pit workers of different nationalities or historical backgrounds into fratricidal conflict, and to campaign for the common interests of all workers, uniting them in a common struggle for a new society. We should call for a common homeland of all communities in a harmonious socialist federation of the Middle East.

As a socialist, I will always fight against ethnic exclusionism, whether "Britain for the British" or "Israel for the Jews…"
As a socialist, I'm in favour of everyone living wherever they like: whether it's Syrians in Britain or Jews in Israel…
And as a socialist, I support unity: a socialist federation of the Middle East, a socialist federation of the Indian sub-continent, a socialist federation of Europe.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Union Convention: Different Views Emerge

Full PDF Here

Facts For Working People has been informed that there will be delegates running against the present leadership at the UAW convention that opened yesterday June 11th.

The linked PDF is being distributed by a rank and file auto workers group Autoworker Caravan.

It would be very good if the delegates running against the present leadership and any opposition forces could work together around issues that will galvanize the membership after years of concessions and decline and change the direction of the UAW that is centered on concessions and cooperation.

The view that workers and bosses have the same interests and carried out as policy under the heading of the Team Concept is the present philosophy held by the present leadership of organized labor.

A change in this practice by a leadership of a union like the UAW would have a positive affect among the rank and file of the labor movement.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Kentucky Teachers Stress the Need For Union and Community Links


Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The two union sisters in this video are both Kentucky teachers who have been involved in the recent struggles. They are speaking at an event organized yesterday (June 9th) by the Oakland Education Association that represents Oakland CA schoolteachers.

These two women touch here on a crucial issue for working people from all backgrounds and an issue that the present conservative and pro-management leadership of organized labor has tragically failed to take up to any serious degree, and that is linking labor struggles with the communities in which we live and work.

I have a long experience with this as I worked in the streets of Oakland CA and at times in severely economically depressed areas.  Myself and other leaders and activists of Afscme Local 444 always made this point. We worked in communities where as many as 50% of 18 to 24 year olds may be unemployed or under employed. These were overwhelmingly communities of color, Black and Latino working class people.

As is the case throughout the country as the sisters above explain, the police behave as an occupying force in these communities and act almost without impunity. I need not go in to details or raise the numerous individual cases of unarmed black workers and youth who are murdered by the police here in Oakland and throughout the nation.

I always raised in my local union and during and before our 1985 strike, the need to reach out to these communities in which we worked and, I should add, earned a very decent wage compared to most workers black, white or otherwise. It is in our self interest to speak up for and and join with the community on issues important to them. Workers have the power to stop production and we must bring that power to improve the lives of all workers. It is in our self interest to do so as the very youth and young men that are unemployed and are portrayed as thugs and our enemies, the bosses would use against us with no hesitation if it suited them. They would be reaching out to them if we don't.

The capitalist media blames GM workers for that company's  failures, meat packers for theirs, transport workers for poor transportation in this country and they blame the poor and wage a racist campaign against black folks in particular blaming them for their own condition which is a product of the savagery of the so-called free market.

The bosses have always appealed to the unemployed as strikebreakers and I urge readers to read labor history the Toledo auto lite strike for example when the unemployed were organized and joined picket lines. If we want the unemployed not to cross our picket lines and support us we'd better have a reason for them to do so, not some moralistic whining, but real material reasons---a job might be a good start. The unions due to the policies of the leadership, have failed them miserably too.

In the particular case of myself and my co-workers, we were vulnerable, as we worked in these streets. And no matter what the nationality, color or religion of a group of people, you can't have a huge percentage of them on the streets with no prospects of a decent job, a decent place to live, facing police violence, and no future without trouble. It doesn't matter what their background.

After the Rodney King beating and subsequent events we had a meter reader badly beaten by I think it was four black youth. The police can't protect us from this, they are used to break our strikes. We can protect ourselves by reaching out through our organizations, to those in desperate straits, suffering not only from economic repression but racial, sexual and other forms of discrimination from society as a whole. Recognizing their struggle as our struggle will draw them to us and our organizations and help build working class unity in the struggle against this capitalist offensive.

I am proud that when I was active in my local it took up these issues. We supported imprisoned and framed gang leaders, one who was a main organizer of the gang truces after Rodney King. We supported the right of the guys that badly beat the Teamster and truck drive Reginald Denny during the King riots and their right to a fair trial. We made the connection between the riots and the social conditions in LA communities. The beating of Rodney King was just the spark that set it off.

During our strike we had demands that applied to the community like for 50 jobs. We started with a shorter workweek to create jobs and backed off to demanding the public utility we worked at create 50 jobs and never dropped it. We also went to welfare offices and had a caravan through a predominantly black community trying to draw them in to our strikes and bring their demands and resources with them.

We supported workers and union activists in other countries.

Lastly, the truth of it is the present union hierarchy has failed us and all working class people miserably. West Virginia showed that the way they would win would be to remove the obstacle of their own leadership and let the rank and file lead. It is not an accident that these teachers struggles took place where the union hierarchy is weaker or hardly present at all. They would have stepped in as they tried to do in West Virginia to pacify the movement and appease and trust the bosses and their politicians. The workers knew better. After the Rodney King events I urged my Central Labor Council to organize a mass rally in Oakland for jobs and against racism and police brutality. I could have been talking to myself. But imagine what that would have done in the minds of the black youth. They would have seen unions as on their side, as fighting for them. We would have all been safer.

The union hierarchy has helped organize and provided some resources and financial help some of the teachers have said. But the time now is to be diligent and wary. The officialdom has the view that concessions must be made, the Democrats too. As the woman from West Virginia pointed out in the last blog post, both Democrats and Republicans favor the wealthy.

The officialdom could have brought all these struggles together and this can be done still by the new rank and file leadership that is emerging.  Organize a conference with all the teachers fighting back, Puerto Rico has been in a state of civil war practically and followers of this blog should read the reports we get from Puerto Rico teachers leader Mercedes Martinez. Such a conference can have a serious debate  on what is needed to build this national movement. Strategy and tactics can be debated and representatives form many other groups from those fighting the poisoning of urban water supplies, to those fighting the poisoning of the land (the indigenous communities are in a catastrophic state), the Black Lives Matter Movement, the struggles against high rents, for affordable housing, transportation, health care  and gentrification. There are struggles everywhere.

The very leadership that has refused to lead for decades instead supporting concession after concession will not do so, they will try to undermine the militancy and fight of the movement and try to direct it in to the party of their allies, the Democrats who act as agents within the workers' movement. They see no alternative to the present economic state of affairs and are terrified of any serious victories because for them a movement of the working  class can only lead to chaos and the end of the relationship they have built with the bosses based on labor peace.

As the movement grows then independent candidates can run our of the movement rooted in it. This is how a healthy part of the working class can develop.

Again, it was refreshing to hear the teacher from West Virginia say at this OEA event that "we're all working class".

Indeed we are.

More reading on the recent teachers struggles: