Saturday, October 29, 2005

Call Yourself an American Socialist?

Bernie Sanders is the only Socialist in office in America at the federal level.
On January 3, 1991, when Bernie Sanders was sworn in as Vermont’s sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives, history was made. Sanders became the first Independent [Socialist] elected to Congress in 40 years. He has since been re-elected seven times and is the longest-serving Independent in the history of the House of Representatives.
If you call yourself an American Socialist, prove it and donate to Bernie's Senate campaign before November 8th.

Socialists Fight for Womens Rights

The Socialist government of Portugal was blocked in an effort to extend the reproductive freedom of women, but the struggle against the reactionaries carries on.
LISBON, Oct 28 (Reuters) - Portugal's constitutional court rejected on Friday a decision by parliament to hold a referendum on abortion this year, saying it could be held at the earliest at the end of next year, Lusa news agency reported.

The court decided that the referendum could not go ahead on Nov. 27 as the ruling Socialists wanted because of a rejection of the vote by President Jorge Sampaio earlier this year.

The Socialist government, which came to power early in 2005, promised in its election manifesto to hold a referendum on abortion in this deeply Catholic country, one of the few in Europe to still ban abortions.


The Family Planning Association has estimated there are 20,000 to 40,000 illegal abortions a year in Portugal.
As with most in the "Right to Choose" crowd, I am not a huge fan of abortion for its own sake, but and firmly and staunchly in favor of reproductive rights for women. Any other position simply plays into the hands of traditional forces that view women as property to be controlled.

Class Struggle

Class Struggle - this little gem is touted as the "World's First Marxist Board Game" having been designed by NYU professor Bertell Ollman. The object of the game is defined as follows:
"Class Struggle" reflects the real struggle between the classes in our society. THE OBJECT OF THE GAME IS TO WIN THE REVOLUTION . . . ULTIMATELY. Until then, classes—represented by different players—advance around the board, making and breaking alliances, and picking up strengths and weaknesses that determine the outcome of the elections and general strikes which occur along the way.
I ran across this some time ago and was recently reminded of it and, of course, had to blog on it. What a great concept - a Marxist board game! Games are a huge part of the media-scape these days and are fundamental to teaching children about the world we live in and how they should behave in it. The Christian right is well aware of this and we see some top selling games on the market which are themed around Christian concepts, like the "Left Behind" series.

It seems very clear to me that we need more work along the lines of Class Struggle. Bertell Ollman combines solid theory with fun playability and humor to create an inspired final product. Below is an excerpt from Ollman's book "Ballbuster," which chronicles the business venture to sell the game:
In Boston, the Real Paper arranged a celebrity match of Class Struggle between three media personalities, the GOP candidate for governor of Massachusetts, the Democratic secretary of state for education, and Mortimer Zuckerman, one of Boston's leading capitalists, who has since become publisher of Atlantic magazine. Played in the office of David Rockefeller, Jr. publisher of the Real Paper, the game took on eerie overtones when Zuckerman, who played the Capitalists, tried his best to blow up the world just as he was about to lose. "Of course, capitalists would rather be dead than give up their wealth," Zuckerman said with the air of someone who knew what he was talking about.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Save Littlefoot

What do ya'll think most Americans said when recently asked the following question by CBS News:
Which of the following statements comes closest to your views on the origin of human beings? (1) Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, and God did not directly guide this process. (2) Human beings evolved from less advanced life forms over millions of years, but God guided this process. (3) God created human beings in their present form."
Well, according to CBS, 55% chose door number three, or "God created [us] in present form." Better yet, 48% said that this all happened in the last 10,000 years! I guess those folks forgot about Littlefoot and the rest of the long-necks, those insensitive bastards! I mean really, look how cute this bugger is! Er well, that ins not actually Littlefoot himself, but even a bloody T-Rex is almost cudley (don't let him near the 'fridge tho!).

Seriously however, this sort of wrongheaded thinking is truely anti-rational. It is one of the reasons that Marx spoke out so strongly against the reactionary influence of religion in society. As a social force, religion can and does act against rationality and moves us backward in time (though not past 10,000 years mind you) to an era where superstition ruled the day.

Personally I believe, like many others, that Christ was a precursor to Socialism and some radical preachers have stated firmly from the pulpit that a Communist society is the City of God here on earth.

Whether you agree with that notion or not, one thing is absolutely for certain, Christ was no fan of wealth (which the devout of the Middle Ages incorrectly interpreted as his being against money ("filthy mammon"), which is just one form of wealth) and made it quite clear in a myriad of parables and through direct action.

At the root of things I'd say that many so-called Protestant churches today work in opposition to Christ's word and teachings and in opposition to Protestant ideals. One of the fundamental tennants of Christian teaching, which make it break with the older traditions, is for people to be free thinkers and to thoughtfully and prayerfully interpret the Word for themselves.

Religion fails when it takes the parts of the Bible which suit its own purposes, whether they be to fill the coffers of the church or to aid backwards looking political movements, mysticism and superstition.

For me, these poll numbers indicate quite clearly that a large portion of the religious establishment in the US is failing.

Article cross-posted at the UnCapitalist Journal.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I Blog Because...

I blog because...
"I do not write to earn a living or to build a reputation. I write to battle enemies.

"Who are they? Every outdated traditional notion, every irrational system that stands in the way of social progress and human development, and every instance of cruelty in the face of love. These are my great enemies.

"My pen is alight and my body aflame. Until both burn down to ash, my love and my hate will remain here in the world."

- Ba Jin
More here:

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Revered Chinese Author Ba Jin Dies at 100

Revered Chinese Author Ba Jin Dies at 100
Elaine Kurtenbach, Associated Press

BEIJING (AP) — Ba Jin, one of China's most revered communist-era writers
who attacked the evils of the pre-revolutionary era in novels, short
stories and essays, died Monday of cancer in Shanghai, the official
Xinhua News Agency said. He was 100.

Best known for his 1931 novel "Family," the story of a disintegrating
feudal household, Ba Jin also translated the Russian writers Ivan
Turgenev and Pyotr Kropotkin.

Ba Jin worked well into his later years writing essays and compiling
anthologies of his work.

He was part of the young intelligentsia in the early 20th century that
looked to Western philosophies — Marxism, anarchism, and liberalism — for
solutions to China's backwardness and social inequality.
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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Mo Internationale

This site gets a fair amount of traffic from folks looking for The Internationale, and some specific questions regarding whether it is available as a ringtone for mobile phones.

As many of you know, the ringtone business is one of the most onerous forms of capital exploitation in the modern spectacle, piggy-backed on the already exploitive cellphone business.

I thought it prudent to offer some links to truely free ways to program the Internationale on your cell phone.

This site (LA INTERNACIONAL EN TU MOVIL) offers a way to program many phones (Nokia, Alcatel, Motorola, Samsung, Sanyo, Ericsson, Siemens, Sony) to play the Internationale.

For Blackberry devices and other phones that accept MIDI files for ringtones (such as Nokia phones using the PC updater ringtone composer), visit Dave Levy's weblog here.

I've tried a few other MIDI versions with limited success. Stay tuned, I'll update this entry as I get more information and please help out by posting any information you may have.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

New Internationale MP3s

The best collection of versions of the Internationale MP3s on the web has recently gotten better. Check out They have even added my favorite version by Alistair Hulett which I encourage all to download, or better yet you can even buy his excellent 1991 album, Dance of the Underclass (e-mail me if you need help finding this). One of my other favorites in the collection over at is Hannes Wader's German version of the Internationale. Have fun comrades!

Was Lenin a Communist?

Today I have lost the last shred of respect I had left for the New York Times, thanks to its ridiculous character assassination article on Lenin "Russia Weighs What to Do with Lenin's Body."

C.J.Chivers does quite a stomach turning dance around facts and I'm sure is making the likes of Charles Krauthammer grin with pride. This article is the same sort of slop that Chucky dishes out, filled with innuendo and non-facts masked as real news and even sympathy.

Well C.J. congratulations on being able to string together a series of third-hand comments on and disguising it as "reporting." Generally I find it useful to actually:
  1. know something about a topic,
  2. doing real research and using accurate statistics,
  3. and
  4. actually interviewing people who have something intelligent to say and some credentials to back their comments up
Clearly you have surpassed my skills by being able to skip all these rules of thumb I find so handy.

You state in your horrid little story that "Time has been unkind to Lenin, whose remains here in Red Square are said to sprout occasional fungi, and whose ideology and party long ago fell to ruins." As it turns out, the CPRF (Communist Party of the Russian Federation) is the largest independent party (non-coalition) in Russia, holding 12.7% of the seats in the state Duma. United Russia, the ruling coalition, is the only group that holds more seats.

You close the article by asking whether Lenin was a Communist. I'm no authoritarian, but I find it amusing to imagine whether you'd have dared to write such drivel when Stalin was still in power.

Lenin made his share of mistakes, the most unforgivable in the eyes of the capitalist press of course was that he wanted to create a socialist nation free from the wage-slavery inherent in the capitalist system. Lenin was the first successful leader of a socialist revolution, and was followed by many others the world over, and many still follow his lead today. Certainly he made decisions I disagree with, and his methods were not always completely democratic. But it would be very difficult to argue that the methods of most American presidents, especially in times of war, are or were completely democratic.

No, C.J. had one mission and that was to demonize Lenin. Its a testament to Lenin's true power that the New York Times finds it necessary to muckrake the fate of a 80 year old, fungified corpse. For me this proves the old axiom that the powers that be tremble when they think of the people organizing for a better world, for they know their days are numbered. They are few and we are many! The spirit of Lenin lives!

Thanks to Counago & Spaves for brining this to my attention. This nonsense is cross-posted at The Uncapitalist Journal.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Big Government Is Back

The always excellent Texas Observer was filled with great articles this week. Specifically, a piece by James Galbraith exposing the problems of irresponsible slashing of government budgets and the capitalist cronyism that has gone with it. The results are obvious in New Orleans. But the good news is that the left press is realizing that getting rid of Bush is not the answer. The answer is to rethink the role of government and realize that its primary mission should be to organize and deploy social production for the good of the entire society.
Hurricane Katrina has suddenly ended a 30-year illusion—that the era of big government is over. This illusion began with the New York fiscal crisis in 1975 and the California property tax revolt of 1978. It was carried to the national stage by Ronald Reagan in 1980, endorsed by Bill Clinton in 1996, and brought to its apocalyptic unraveling by George W. Bush. We see its consequences in New Orleans.

So now we know. The proper government of the United States must be big, demanding, ambitious, and expensive. It requires the incessant management of environmental forces, the repair and growth of transportation networks, provision of education and health care—and planning for disasters. It is a job for dedicated, competent, professional public servants, with clear missions, big budgets, and accountability for results.[emphasis added]


George Bush is taking a beating for stocking FEMA with incompetent cronies. He deserves it. But this abuse of power is not the whole Katrina story. And replacing Bush is not a sufficient condition for progress. The ideas that Bush stands for, including many that Democrats have foolishly accepted, also stand exposed as frauds. It’s time for them to go. The era of “the era of big government is over” is over. And not a minute too soon.
To read the full article on the Texas Observer web site, click here.