Sunday, April 30, 2006

May Day: White People Step up for Immigrant Rights!

Workers of the world unite! The IWW and many other groups are calling for a general strike and boycott on May 1, 2006. In North America, tomorrow looks to be an outpouring of the largest mass protest in the history of the United States. All sections of the working class (i.e. anyone who has a job, has had a job or would someday like to have a job) including especially "white" people, must step up in support of immigration rights, which are in fact labor and ergo human rights.

For May Day and Beyond: White People Step up for Immigrant Rights!
In the past month, five million people, mostly immigrants of color, have mobilized for justice and are making history, flooding the streets in unprecedented numbers. Meanwhile, the most visible participation by white people is coming from the racist and right wing leaders who are defining and dominating the debate in the Federal government and in the news, radio and opinion pages. Where are the voices of anti-racist white people in this crucial moment, when the worst anti-immigrant legislation in decades is still poised to drop?

We, white people who believe in justice and ending racism, have a responsibility and a historic opportunity to stand with immigrant communities and unite behind their demands. As white people, most of us with U.S. citizenship, we call out to our white communities to take to the streets for immigrant rights. We must demonstrate that the rightwing racists, from the Minutemen to in the Congress, do not represent us!

More from the Binghamton IMC
A little closer to home, a major May Day rally is being held in Ithaca, NY (you can be sure I will be there):

(Ithaca) On May 1st, 2006, a broad coalition of immigrant, community, labor, and student groups will join together, in coordination with millions around the nation, for a rally on The Commons (Bernie Milton Pavilion) in Ithaca to declare that “no human is illegal”. Everyone in support of this sentiment is asked to wear a white T-shirt on May 1st whether able to attend the rally or not.

  • 11:30—Music with DJ Carlos Porras and Colleen Kattau on The Commons
  • 11:00—Cornell students/employees rally on Ho Plaza and march to The Commons from Cornell--Ithaca College students march to The Commons
  • 12:15—Partial List of Speakers Invited Include: County Legislator, Nathan Shinagawa; County Legislator, Kathy Luz Herrera; GIAC Director, Marcia Fort; Latino Civic Assn. Co-Founder, Leonardo Vargas-Mendez; Asian American Assn. President, Siv Somchanhmavong; Immigrant Rights Center, Arum Lee; Catholic Charities Samaritan Center, Renee Funk; Tania Penafort, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan and others
  • 1:15—Music with Salsa Amigos, DJ Carlos Porras and Colleen Kattau

Some current immigration proposals in Congress threaten to criminalize millions of immigrants. We recognize that all immigrants are an integral part of the U.S. society and economy, and continue to be an important force. Latino Civic Association President, Carlos Gutierrez says, "The Tompkins County immigrant population, both documented and undocumented, fill key roles in our local economy, enrich the local cultural landscape, and they are productive members of our community who pay taxes, raise families, and contribute to our schools, churches, neighborhoods, and communities."

More at TCWC/WRC

There shall also be May Day rally in downtown Rochester, NY at the Federal Building at 4:30PM.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Belarus Media Chernobyl

Belarus has got quite a bit of airtime lately. Not only with the sudden heat and light focused on Chernobyl, but with various groups, including some anarchists, supposedly complaining about lack of freedom and government repression, and an awkward quote by the president, Alexander Lukashenko.

The western media has really got everyone riled up over this newest member of Bush's "Axis of Evil" but how far off the mark are they and what is the real reason for all the fuss?

Belarus is the only country in Europe that, nearly 20 years after the fall of the Soviet Union, still maintains a command economy, e.g. the economy is still run by socialist principles. You will find that if you do a search on Belarus, the CIA Factbook entry comes up as the first result. I can guarantee you that is no coincidence. Belarus has been on Bush's hit list for some time, but in a recent strategy document released on March 16, 2006, the leader of Our Fair Land specifically added Belarus to the new "Axis of Evil" along with Cuba and Zimbabwe, two other countries which happen to have central economies.

The statistics in the CIA Factbook are very interesting, one of which stands out from the rest, being the GINI coefficient of Belarus, which the CIA itself describes as "among the lowest in the world." The data currently published by the CIA pegs their GINI at 30.4, compared with 36.6 in the United Kingdom and 45 in the United States. However it should be noted that academic sources have measured the Belarus GINI as being in the 23-27 range.

GINI is simply "This index measures the degree of inequality in the distribution of family income in a country." Simply put, less inequality exists in countries with a low GINI. Of course GINI is not the only measure that tells us whether a country is in good or bad shape, but it is certainly a testament to the power of socialism to transform a society by creating an equal economic playing field. Belarus was one of the most important industrial centers of Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, this being accomplished even though it took Belarus from 1944 until 1971 to recover to their pre-WWII population after the Nazi massacres.

Since 1994, the country has been led by Alexander Lukashenko, who has been criticized by Western governments, Human Rights Watch, and other Western NGO for his Soviet-style domestic policies.1

Luis M. Garcia Cunarro recently wrote the following in Periodico 26 Cuba:
According to the strategy changes implemented during Bush’s second term, the “fight against tyrannies” is added to the War on Terrorism and the administration defines a tyranny as: “The combination of brutality, poverty, instability, corruption and suffering under the rule of despots or despotic systems.” While the concept, which could be applied to the US government, merits reflection, what is certain is that we are seeing a new version of the “axis of evil.” Seven countries are on the empire’s list: North Korea, Iran, Syria, Cuba, Belarus, Burma and Zimbabwe.

What’s most important about this problem is not the definition, but instead the “package” of actions that the US proposes. These include sanctions against those countries, an international discrediting of their governments and peoples, and political and economic subversion, not just by the United States and its close allies, but also from regional organizations like the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the African Union and the Organization of American States.

US National Security is Global Insecurity
Here we see again the zealots in charge of the US identifying a group of countries to be "threats to America" and taking aggressive action to undermine and eliminate these so-called threats. Whereas these countries pose no threat at all to the American people, the fact that they, in the case of Belarus, Cuba and perhaps China and Zimbabwe, demonstrate the ability for a workers' state, deformed or not, to function even in the face of capitalist imperial aggression poses a clear and present danger to the ruling classes.

This is why the Western media, including independent sources, has been doing its very best to find any stories that discredit Belarus or link it in the public mind with other broader propaganda. It cannot be seen as coincidence that at the same time there is a media blitz against Iran regarding their alleged nuclear WMD program, somehow Belarus becomes linked with nuclear terror through a series of Chernobyl stories. Although Belarus was greatly affected by the Chernobyl accident, so were many other countries like Poland, Austria and Hungary, and in fact the whole of Europe. Chernobyl was, is and shall remain in the Ukraine.

Finally, I cannot claim to have any special insight into the mind of Alexander Lukashenko nor any detailed analysis of his domestic policies or record on human rights. Nevertheless we do well to remember how the media crucified Howard Dean during the 2004 US presidential elections and understand that these exact same techniques have been employed in the Ukraine and other countries and are being employed against Belarus.

With the US military recently releasing a document outlining their plans to "engage the enemy" through the media, the internet and via public opinion, that indeed these "terrains" are the location of the new battlefield2, we can see the ominous signs of these techniques today being deployed against Belarus.

Essentially, the Western capitalist elite continues their assault on the working classes and through foriegn policy have continued to implement this program against state socialism. Through the newly articulated model of warfare being adopted by the Western military machine, we see a sort of reverse Orwellian model manifesting itself, we now have to reverse Orwell's ominous "War is Peace" and restate it as "Peace is War."

This is a new Chernobyl for Belarus, a "media Chernobyl" that is spreading radioactive misinformation across the airwaves in order to discredit and undermine a state who's only crime seems to be that it has a socialist economy.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Democracy for Nepal Now!

Although the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) of Nepal urged an end to the general strike in response to King Gyanendra's decision to revive Parliament. The CPN(M) has correctly rejected an end to the protests, arguing that the concession does not address the 12-point agreement, does not restore democracy and does not establish a republic ruled by the people. Meanwhile, the capitalist press in India is mobilizing a media campaign which is likely to sanction the government of India providing additional financial and military support for the puppet king of Nepal.

Xinhua Online reports:
Issuing a press statement, chairman Prachanda and senior leader Babu Ram Bhattarai of the [CPM(M)] the Nepali King Gyanendra's proclamation on Monday and said blocked of the capital Kathmandu Valley and the district headquarters will continue till the new government will announce the election of Constitution Assembly.

The royal proclamation did not address people's slogans of "republic" and "constitutional assembly" in the street, the statement noted.

"The seven political parties who have welcomed and supported the royal proclamation, they objectively broke down the 12-point agreement with us and have breach of trust of the people's aspirations," the statement added.

Xinhua, 25-Apr-2006: Guerrillas to continue protest in Nepal

Recent comments from senior officials in the Indian government do not bode well for the stability of Nepal. Proclaimations about not allowing Nepal to be a "failed state" and public statements of support for the monarchy as "a pillar of the polity (of Nepal)" suggest that the ruling classes of India are ready to throw their support behind the murder king.

We stand in solidarity with the CPN(M) and the people of Nepal and call for an end to the monarchy forever, and for the establishment of the democratic rule of the people.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Let people power prevail in Nepal

And, from the Financial Times:
By Rhoderick Chalmers
Published: April 24 2006 19:58 | Last updated: April 24 2006 19:58

As the people of Nepal rose to signal their final loss of faith in King Gyanendra, the key international players at last achieved a long-awaited unity of purpose in their response to a situation that has been deteriorating for years. Unfortunately, however, they came together behind the wrong solution, trying to force an unworkable deal on an unwilling population.

India, China and the US, with the European Union in support, led a push to strong-arm Nepal's democratic leaders into accepting the king's hollow offer of handing over limited powers. But the outside world's reaction is too far behind events unfolding on the ground here in Nepal, where the Shah dynasty is now facing the end of its power and quite possibly its existence. The world must catch up with local popular sentiment if it is to stand any chance of guarding against a dangerously chaotic transition.

Reference: Let people power prevail in Nepal

Let it not be forgotten that the "people power" would not be possible without the Maoist revolution which plays a large part in shedding the superstitions (traditionally Nepal has regarded the monarch as a god-king) of the past which kept the Shah in power.

Tags: , ,

CPI backs Nepal's Seven Party Alliance

In the wake of the announcement that the king of Nepal has allowed the lower house of parliament to be restored, the Seven Party Alliance (SPA) of Nepal, including the CPN(M) has spurned the empty gesture. "The Hindu" newspaper reports that the Communist Party of India (CPI) supports the SPA decision:
TIRUCHI: The Communist Party of India (CPI) has supported the decision of the Seven Party Alliance (SPA), which was spearheading the pro-democracy campaign in Nepal, to spurn the proposal of the monarchy to hand over power to the Alliance.

Taking exception to India welcoming King Gyanendra's readiness to hand over power to the SPA, CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan said the Centre had reacted in a hasty manner.

"Playing a game"

Speaking to presspersons here on Monday, Mr. Bardhan charged the King with "playing a game" by insisting on the Alliance's acceptance of the 2005 position, when the King seized power directly.

"The King was prepared to go back only to 2005 and not earlier.

Reference: CPI backs Nepal's Seven Party Alliance
This is especially important due to the fact that there is a Maoist rebellion within India as well, as a result of agriculture policies that have impoverished many Indian farmers.

Tags: , , ,

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Buddah Committed to Socialism

People's Democracy, the newspaper of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) today printed clarification of the position of Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, which was distorted by the capitalist press worldwide. It seems that the capitalists are so eager to exploit labor in LDCs that they are grabbing at any excuse to brush-off the fact that Marxists are being elected to public office worldwide:
PD: “We are trying to be friendly with the capitalists” – what does it mean? You want investment and they want profits. This is understandable, in fact a question of mutual interest. But where does the question of friendship arise?

BB: We are not seeking to be personal friends! We are trying to make the state government “investment friendly”. This is to accelerate industrialisation in West Bengal, to speed up employment generation. What was my principled position, it continues. I am trying to work accepting the present reality, drawing lessons from history taking the contemporary global context into account. Capitalism cannot be the “end of human history”. That socialism is a developed system – is a settled question. It is proven that Soviet Union had surpassed other nations not only in food production but also space expeditions, winning of Olympic medals and in [the fine arts]. But some mistakes were committed and price had to be paid for that, and it continues to be paid.

What is China doing? They are advancing by taking the present reality into account and strengthening socialism. China has stunned the contemporary world. In the first week of March, during my visit to Vietnam, I found the same confirmation of my belief. Fidel Castro who continues to be rallying point for the Cuban people and who pronounces – “Socialism or death” – has to also take into account the practical reality and make certain unconventional adjustments. America is trying to cordon Cuba to finish it off, impose intensive economic blockade. Cuba does not have oil – it had almost hit a blind alley. Today, Venezuala is sending oil and Cuba in turn is sending her doctors. The political landscape in Latin America has changed. It is the United States that is on the defensive. But Cuba was facing serious crisis. Fidel who pronounced “Socialism or death” allowed five star hotels to come up on Cuba’s Carribean coast which will be run by multinationals, western companies. Cuba secured oxygen for its sustenance based on the tourism industry. Five star hotels also bring in lot of cultural muck. Castro had to accept this – to save Cuba.

PD: Even then you have faith in socialism? Even today?

BB: Otherwise why should I be in the Communist Party? I am with the people, because I am with the Party. I have reached here through struggles. Being in the government, I may have to take certain different decisions in different circumstances. Even while working within the framework of a capitalist state, an alternative approach can be developed – this is what I believe. In the context of capitalist globalisation, we continue to firmly hold on to that belief. We think about the workers of closed factories. Although a pittance, we have decided to pay them five hundred rupees allowance. Has any other state in the country done this? We have decided to provide Provident Fund for workers/employees of the unorganised sector. We have also done something to address the concerns of employees in the construction industry. From the ideological standpoint, I firmly believe that capitalism is not a finality. Bush will not have the final say. I believe in the historic inevitability of socialism. It is the socialist ideology which will finally triumph. America has been taught an appropriate lesson once. Millions of Vietnamese poor peasants and people had defeated the mightiest military power of the world under the leadership of the Communist Party. We are continuously hearing about advances of the socialist forces from Latin America. Then, why should I lose heart?

Keeping the vision of 21st century socialism as and end-goal while working within the framework of capitalism seems to make a lot of sense in the context of global, integrated capital. I would suggest that a Marxist analysis supports this model. Indeed, why should any of us loose heart?

Successful Socialism

Excellent article on Hugo Chávez from ZNet by Ted Rall:
When the hated despots of nations like Saudi Arabia and Kazakhstan loot their countries' treasuries, transfer their oil wealth to personal Swiss bank accounts and use the rest to finance (in the House of Saud's case) terrorist extremists, American politicians praise them as trusted friends and allies. But when a democratically elected populist president uses Venezuela's oil profits to lift poor people out of poverty, they accuse him of pandering.

As the United States and Europe continue their shift toward a Darwin-omic model where rapacious corporations accrue bigger and bigger profits while workers become poorer and poorer, the socialist economic model espoused by President Hugo Chávez has become wildly popular among Latin Americans tired of watching corrupt right-wing leaders enrich themselves at their expense. Left-of-center governments have recently won power in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Chávez's uncompromising rhetoric matches his politics, but what's really driving the American government and its corporate masters crazy is that he has the cash to back it up.

In their desperate frenzy to destroy Chávez, state-controlled media is resorting to some of the most transparently and hilariously hypocritical talking points ever. In the April 4th New York Times Juan Forero repeated the trope that Chávez's use of oil revenues is unfair -- even cheating somehow: "With Venezuela's oil revenues rising 32 percent last year," the paper exclaimed, "Mr. Chávez has been subsidizing samba parades in Brazil, eye surgery for poor Mexicans and even heating fuel for poor families from Maine to the Bronx to Philadelphia. By some estimates, the spending now surpasses the nearly $2 billion Washington allocates to pay for development programs and the drug war in western South America."

Chávez, the story continued, is poised to become "the next Fidel Castro, a hero to the masses who is intent on opposing every move the United States makes, but with an important advantage."

Heavens be! A rich country using its wealth to spread influence abroad! What God would permit such an abomination? Notice, by the way, that the United States funds "development programs." Oh, and it's a "drug war" -- not a bombing campaign against leftist insurgents who oppose South America's few remaining pro-U.S. right-wing regimes.

Quoted by the Times -- which editorialized in favor of and ran flattering profiles of the right-wing oligarchs who attempted to overthrow Chávez in a 2002 coup attempt -- is "critic" John Negroponte, whose day job happens to be as Bush's Director of National Intelligence. Negroponte complained that Chávez is "spending considerable sums involving himself in the political and economic life of other countries in Latin America and elsewhere, this despite the very real economic development and social needs of his own country."

Pot, kettle, please discuss the $1 billion a week we're wasting on Iraq while people die for lack of medical care and schools fall apart right here in America. Maybe Chávez should have found a better use for the money he spent on Rio's Carnival parade. On the other hand, at least it didn't go to bombs and torture camps.

Televangelist Pat Robertson's 2005 call to assassinate Chávez was criticized only mildly by establishment media, and primarily on the basis that murdering heads of state violates a U.S. law. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accuses Chávez of a "Latin brand of populism that has taken countries down the drain." Which ones? Certainly not Venezuela itself, where a double-digit-GDP boom leads the region and new houses, $10 billion per year is banked for future anti-poverty programs and schools are sprouting like weeds.

Loaded language unworthy of a junior high school newspaper is the norm in coverage of the Venezuelan president. "Chavez insists his government is democratic and accuses Washington of conspiring against him," the San Jose Mercury-News wrote on April 3rd. Why the "insists"? No international observer doubts that Venezuela, where the man who won the election gets to be president, is at least as democratic as the United States. The 2002 coup plotters gathered beforehand at the White House. Surely the Merc could grant Chávez's "accusation" as fact. The paper continued: "He says the United States was behind a short-lived 2002 coup, an allegation that U.S. officials reject." He also happens to be right, though it's hard to tell by reading that sentence.

Eighty-two percent of Venezuelans think Chávez is doing a good job. That's more than twice the approval rating by Americans of Bush. He roundly defeated an attempt to recall him. So why is Washington lecturing Caracas?

"The [Venezuelan] government is making billions of dollars [from its state oil company] and spending them on houses, education, medical care," notes CNN. And – gasp -- people's lives are improving.

What if the rest of us noticed? No wonder Chávez has to go.

April 12, 2006: The Danger of Hugo Chávez's Successful Socialism, Ted Rall, ZNet

Nepal Protests for Democracy Continue

Today tens of thousands of protestors continue to preasure the government in the cities of Nepal. Clashes between the protestors and the police are becoming increasingly violent as the security forces try to maintain the monarchies increasingly tenuous claim to rule the country. Pro-democracy groups and political parties including the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) continue to support the grassroots movement to remove the monarchy from power. To learn more about the conditions in Nepal and to understand the objectives of the CPN(M) a great place to start is with the ariticle published in Vol 57, No 6 of the Monthly Review, People's Power in Nepal by Parvati.

The AP reports:
Katmandu — Nepali police fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesters Sunday, struggling to enforce a curfew imposed to keep persistent pro-democracy demonstrators off the streets in the Himalayan country's deepening crisis.

The protesters were trying to reach the capital of Katmandu when police first fired tear gas, then rubber bullets, independent Kantipur television reported. Doctors at a hospital said they treated three people injured by rubber bullets.

Katmandu was under a daylong curfew for the fourth straight day. On Saturday, clashes between security forces and tens thousands of demonstrators left more than 200 people injured.


Saturday, April 22, 2006

General Strike and Protests in Nepal

The BBC reports that in Nepal, several thousand protesters began marching from the south towards the royal palace in Kathmandu. The crowd made up primarily of youth marched towards the palace in a largely celebratory mood chanting "We want Democracy" and ""Gyane Leave the Country!" (Gyane is the name of the current king). In some areas riot police sent tear gas into the peaceful crowds and attacked the youths with batons leaving behind a scene of bloody desolation. This follows on the security forces brutally attacking a group of 500 lawyers protesting for democracy on Thursday, April 13. The people of Nepal have instituted a "crippling" nationwide general strike to add additional pressure.

The protests are a response to the king's announcement earlier this week to allow parties to participate in the parliament. Most Nepalese see the king's announcement as an empty gesture, since he took control of the country in a bloody coup during which many of his own family members were brutally murdered. They wonder how these nods toward democracy, protected behind a wall of heavily armed security forces, can put Nepal on the path toward peace.

Many of the protestors symbolically wore red clothing and others waved the flag of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), a reminder to the forces that control the cities of Nepal that the majority of working people in Nepal support the rebel forces which have taken control of 80% of the countryside.

In fact, it is widely acknowledged that the only reason the monarchy holds any power at all is due to massive economic and military support from the United States and by proxy, India, and likely the UK as well. In approximately 20% of the states of India there is also a growing Maoist rebellion largely in response to neoliberal economic "reforms" that have impoverished and marginalized large numbers of rural farmers.

The ruling classes of India and their counterparts in the United States see a Maoist victory in Nepal as a fundamental threat to their own legitimacy, and rightly so. A peoples army victory in Nepal which demonstrates that even a poor, rural, uneducated rabble can be galvanized into an effective force for social change through the power of Marxist ideology is a clear threat to the power of capitalists everywhere. It is why you see them partnering with the most reactionary of political partners in this instance, the monarch of Nepal, who has enacted draconian laws that run counter to the most basic of human rights (a 13-year old girl raped by a family-member was recently sentenced to 20 years in prison for the "crime" of having an abortion).

We stand in solidarity with the people of Nepal who are fighting for a better tommorrow regardless of their political affiliation. We call for the end to the monarchy and immediate democratic elections. We call for the military and para-military police forces to end hostilities against their own population, and for immediate honest peace negotiations with the CPN(M).


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Socialism Versus Post Modernism?

I was recently in a debate with a Foucaultian who was defending a post modern theory of politics versus a Marxist based theory. My argument was that post modernism does not offer a political framework at all regardless of the depth of the philosophical aspects of post modernism. He tried to position identity politics as the location of resistance and solidarity in contemporary times, but I responded that this is nothing new and does not get us anywhere because a solidarity based on likeness is not solidarity at all but just another reactionary form of chauvinism. Of course my debate partner made many excellent points and expanded my thinking on many fronts. He even convinced me to read Nietzsche, but truth be told I have been wanting to since I missed a question on Jeopardy related to the Uberman.

In any case, I argued that in order to truly develop a society that can address the issues that identity politics brings to the fore, like racism and sexism, you must have a political entity to affect and enforce change. I gave the example of some young Black Communist Party members who I met recently in NYC. They described their visits to Cuba and Venezuela where racism is strictly illegal. They described a change in consciousness when they arrived in those lands which profoundly altered the perception of their American experience. While in these socialist countries they shed the defensiveness they didn't even know they carried with them everyday in America as a result of racist (and classist) attitudes that prevail in Our Fair Land. They were able to walk the streets with dignity as people instead of as black people. In this way they were able to be free of the social chains that constantly reify their very identities.

Frankly I do not see how a post modern aesthetic can help solve these problems. Only a society based on democratic equality and the elimination of barriers that create separation between people can solve these problems. Such a society must be based on socialist principles as the primary function of capitalist society is to build and reinforce hierarchy, a project for which classism, racism, sexism, and chauvinism are all tools.

I will close with encouraging news from Cuba:
Havana, Apr 16 (Prensa Latina) On the same place the socialist character of the Revolution was declared 45 years ago, Cuba ratified the willingness and resoluteness to continue with its political, economic and social project irrespective of the ever-present US threats and aggressions.


At 78 years, Cuba has the highest healthy life expectancy in Latin America (WHO statistics).

More on Cuba Buttresses Revolution and Socialism...

Friday, April 14, 2006

iPod Prisons

Quinlan Vos at Boredom Won't Get Me Tonight posts:
Headphones. Yeah. Could a better way of keeping people isolated and insulated by their own consent been devised? I think not. Headphones enable their user to be someplace, but not actually have to have any practical contact or interaction with it. It eliminates any risk of contact with other people, enabling the wearer to be blissfully unaware of their surroundings. They'll also probably destroy your hearing.
Throw those damn iPods in the trash!

Heck yeah! I cannot stand to see it. The subways are full of morons with iPods who don't even look each other in the eye. And what are they listening to? What is it doing for them? How does it define their identity? How does it keep them from being human?

A for Anarchy

Also related to V For Vendetta, another post from
The website is intended to introduce fans of the film/graphic novel V For Vendetta to the history and philosophy of Anarchy. V For Vendetta was originally a comic produced in the mid 1980s by Alan Moore and David Lloyd about a man who destroys the corrupt state he lives in, promoting Anarchy to the masses all the while. This core message of Anarchy has been [twisted] in the film verison.
It is clear that the movie does indeed distort anarchism. Especially in the scene describing the run-up to November 5th which shows mass riots and violence on the part of the general population. Nevertheless, the movie does expose casual viewers to a cross section of ideas that they generally would not be aware of. The idea that a government would orchestrate a massive terrorist event on its own soil to scare the population into fascist compliance is particularly noteworthy.

I was also dissapointed that Evey did not vocalize what she came to realize was more important than her own life, which I believe was dignity.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Brooklyn Breaks Free

A bit dated, but in the spirit of just having seen V for Vendetta, this is from Sean at
April 5th: Brooklyn, New York, U.S. - More than 1,000 people, including ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews, flooded the streets of their Borough Park neighborhood in a spontaneous demonstration against police brutality and harassment. Around 6:30 pm, residents began pushing and shoving police following the arrest of 75-year-old Arthur Schick who police say was talking on a cell phone while stopped at a traffic light. According to some eye-witnesses, the elderly man, who is hard of hearing, was roughed up by police after he failed to provide them with identification when they asked for it. The police say that Schick was argumentative and threw himself on the ground. Two men who tried to intervene in the arrest were arrested themselves, including one who allegedly jumped on the back of an officer.

Residents shouted "No justice, no peace" and "Nazi Germany" as they smashed the windows of a police cruiser and set another one on fire. Rioters built numerous bonfires in the streets, which they held for about four hours until riot police were able to "regain control" of the situation.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Powell: No Iraqi WMDs

Robert Scheer of The Nation reports:
"On Monday, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told me that he and his department's top experts never believed that Iraq posed an imminent nuclear threat, but that the President followed the misleading advice of Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA in making the claim. Now he tells us."

This data of course comes as no surpirse to anyone who takes a socialist analysis of imperialism. It has always been clear that this war and all wars are simply extensions of class war and are fought to further the economic and class interests of the capitalist class.

What is interesting is Powell making a public admission which exposes deep divisions among the American elites. It must be assumed that strong forces are working behind the scenes to bring about a "kinder, gentler" imperialism. This means that the neoconservative agenda is under serious attack. However the way they react to this challenge in the coming years could lead to serious instability in the United States and the world.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Protests Spread to 100s of US Cities

Monday April 10th was a National Day of Action for immigration rights. Hundreds of thousands of people across the entire United States took action to support basic human rights for the over 11 million immigrant workers in this country. Daniela Gerson of the New York Sun reports that tens of thousands converged on city hall on the afternoon of April 10th:
"I am fighting for my dad so he can get his papers," Brian Chicaiza, a skinny sixth-grader with greased hair, said after leaving his Queens elementary school early yesterday to join the ribbon of protesters stretching up Broadway from City Hall to SoHo at one of the largest mobilizations for immigrant rights in city history.

The New York rally - like scores of coordinated marches across the country from small farming communities to the U.S. Capitol - gave a chance for America's usually invisible workforce to voice its anger. At the demonstration, those who usually labor behind the scenes as delivery boys and demolition men, nannies and cleaning ladies, unified to demand that America not only accept their labor but afford them legal rights.

There were also thousands of children at the march, many of whom are American citizens with illegal immigrant parents, one of the many complex legal situations in a nation with 12 million illegal immigrants.

The New York turnout, estimated to be tens of thousands, did not rival those in Chicago and Los Angeles last month or one Dallas yesterday, each of which drew hundreds of thousands - but for many there it was a moving first venture into American civic involvement. Starting early in the afternoon and extending into the evening, protesters blocked traffic along Broadway and hoisted signs saying "Amnesty" and "We March Today, We Vote Tomorrow." They waved and danced with flags from more than a dozen nations alongside the American flag and shouted "Si se puede," or "Yes, we can."

The march was organized by a broad coalition of immigrant organizations, church groups, [socialist organizers], and labor unions.

  • More than 80,000 took to the streets in Florida, with an estimated 75,000 people marching in Fort Myers. Many held signs with messages such as: "It is not about politics. It is about human beings. Stop being selfish."
  • Demonstrations included up to 500,000 people in Dallas, 50,000 in San Diego, and 20,000 in Salt Lake City, sparked by dozens of rallies and student walkouts.
  • Over 500 demonstrators assembled in downtown Rochester, NY in front of the Federal Building, carrying flags and banners with messages like “Ningun ser humano es ilegal: No human being is illegal.”
  • Up to 8,000 marched in Portland, up to 50,000 in Seattle, hundreds were in the streets in Memphis and dozens of other small cities across the US.
  • In Tucson, counter-demonstrators, probably Minutemen, burned two Mexican flags and police took six people into custody.
  • More first-hand accounts at
As a socialist, I am in support of full citizens rights for all immigrants and workers. This is the only way to guarantee that workers are not treated as second class citizens and the ensure that the state protects their rights, no matter their homeland of origin, language or skin color.

Monday, April 10, 2006

NYC Immigration Rally April 10

IndyMedia reports:
As congressional negotiations over immigration reform collapse, the people themselves prepare to take to the streets on Monday, April 10. Labor unions, religious and community organizations and immigration advocacy groups are organizing the rally, which will converge at City Hall/Broadway.
Socialist Alternative/CWI is participating in the rally. Stay tuned...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Free Trade: A Socialist Analysis

Free trade makes as much sense as a three dollar bill, and in fact, that is just about the extent of what it delivers to the working people and poor (e.g. the proletariat) of the world.

Martin Hart-Landsberg delivers a comprehensive dismissal of the free trade myth in the current issue of the Monthly Review (Vol. 57 No. 11). The most surprising part of his article, from my perspective, is that the WTO and other proponents of free trade actually 1) base their arguments in favor of free trade on the antique and simplistic concept of comparative advantage and 2) care about trying to fool us all into believing that free trade is good for the poor.

The 15 year experiment in neoliberalism is finally coming to an end. It is clear to the global proletariat that the lies of globalization lead to nothing but a race to the bottom for everyone other than the super rich. Peru is on the very of electing the latest in a series of socialist presidents in Latin America, perhaps the worst hit victim of neoliberalism (and its predecessors).

Nevertheless we have technocrats in Geneva, London and New York continuing to blindly tow the line of their capitalist masters, dazzling us with complex computer simulations of a bright future all the while ignoring the statistical reality of suffering evident the world over.

Fortunately there are a growing number of socialist economists who stand up to the pollyanna utopian visions of the neoliberal propaganda machine. One such, Hart-Landsberg delivers the death blow to Ricardo's comparative advantage in the following excerpts:
Arguments promoting free trade generally rest on the theory of comparative advantage. David Ricardo introduced this theory in 1821 in his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. It is commonly misunderstood to assert the obvious, that countries have or can create different comparative advantages or that trade can be helpful. In fact, it supports a very specific policy conclusion: a country’s best economic policy is to allow unregulated international market activity to determine its comparative advantage and national patterns of production.


Mainstream economists, while continuing to accept the basic outlines of Ricardo’s theory, have developed refinements to it.


Like all theories, the theory of comparative advantage (and its conclusion) is based on a number of assumptions. Among the most important are:
  • There is perfect competition between firms.
  • There is full employment of all factors of production.
  • Labor and capital are perfectly mobile within a country and do not move across national borders.
  • A country’s gains from trade are captured by those living in the country and spent locally.
  • A country’s external trade is always in balance.
  • Market prices accurately reflect the real (or social) costs of the products produced.
Even a quick consideration of these assumptions reveals that they are extensive and unrealistic. Moreover, if they are not satisfied, there is no basis for accepting the theory’s conclusion that free-market policies will promote international well being. For example, the assumption of full employment of all factors of production, including labor, is obviously false. Equally problematic is the theory’s implied restructuring process, which assumes that (but never explains how) workers who lose their jobs as a result of free-trade generated imports will quickly find new employment in the expanding export sector of the economy. In reality, workers (and other factors of production) may not be equally productive in alternative uses. Even if we ignore this problem, if their reallocation is not sufficiently fast, the newly liberalized economy will likely suffer an increase in unemployment, leading to a reduction in aggregate demand and perhaps recession. Thus, even if all factors of production eventually become fully employed, it is quite possible that the cost of adjustment would outweigh the alleged efficiency gains from the trade induced restructuring.
It should be noted that despite the smokescreen of academic economic analysis it is quite clear that the capitalist class (if not the technocrats themselves) is fully aware of these false assumptions and does not at all expect free trade to operate in a way that is beneficial to trading partners nor the world poor. Indeed, the capitalists specifically do not want the system to work in a fair way because their prime motivation is the retention and consolidation of their own power, a project at which they excel.

Hart-Landsberg goes on to explain:
Although this bias is sufficient to dismiss the study’s usefulness as a guide to policy, its results are still worth examining for two reasons: First, the projected benefits are smaller than one might imagine given the World Bank’s unqualified support for liberalization.


If we were to take these numbers seriously, they certainly suggest that the third world has little to gain from an actual WTO agreement. As Mark Weisbrot and Dean Baker note in their critique of this study, “the removal of all of the rich countries’ barriers to the merchandise exports of developing countries—including agriculture, textiles, and other manufactured goods—would...when such changes were fully implemented by 2015...add 0.6 percent to the GDP of low and middle-income countries. This means that a country in Sub-Saharan Africa that would, under present trade arrangements have a per capita income of $500 per year in 2015, would instead have a per capita income of $503.”12 Moreover, as they also point out, these meager gains would be far outweighed by losses incurred from compliance with other associated WTO agreements.
Read the full Monthly Review article...

I'm no economist but $3.00 more a year per capita! I can guarantee you that won't pay the bill for the newly privatized water system, one of the strings the IMF invariably attaches to WTO compliance! Needless to say, this is leaving our friends at the WTO scratching their heads, while the pirates of capital laugh all the way to the bank (which of course, they own too).

Free trade is nothing but. The alternative to free trade is simple: give the people the ability to self determine their economic relations by allowing local, state and national governments to regulate trade and capital. These decisions must be based on the democratic will of the people, not closed door deals between the unelected bagmen on capital. Another world is possible, and socialism gives us the tools to put the necessary constraints of capital, freeing the wealth of the world to benefit all people instead of only the few.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Burn This Feed

For all you comrades who subscribe to the RSS feed, We'd very much appreciate you subscribe to our Feedburner feed instead of the Atom or other feeds previously offered. The url is as follows:

Mucho gracias!

Chavez: Socialism or Death

From an interview between and Professor James Cockcroft:
Ahora: President Chavez has said "Either capitalism finishes us or we build the other road demanded by the world: Socialism." Theoretically, is Venezuela building socialism?

Cockcroft: "Not theoretically, and not in reality either, because Venezuela still has a capitalist economy. The important thing in Venezuela is that it is carrying out a revolutionary process starting from the beginning, with a very intelligent and capable leader who owes his life to the social movements that saved him during the April 11-14 military coup (sponsored by Washington) and Pedro Carmona's short lived regime.

This revolutionary process is opening the way to a new society, with more than 8,000 cooperatives and many factories occupied by their workers who under new self-management systems are working better than during the purely capitalist period. It is a society in transition towards something new, but we still can't clearly see what the future of socialism in Venezuela will be like or that in Our America, the united Latin America that Bolívar spoke about and now Chavez. But it is true what Chavez says, 'socialism or death', because capitalism is destroying us."

Ahora: There is talk about new types of socialism. What characteristics should they have, keeping in mind that there are reforms that don't affect the structure of capitalism?

Cockcroft: "Nobody knows in fact, because socialism will be different in each country according to the historical, cultural and current conditions. Fortunately, the time of a "correct" version is weak. If the reforms don't affect the structure of capitalism, as they are starting to do in Venezuela, the process doesn't move toward socialism."

Tags: , , , ,

Solidarity with the Cuban Revolution!

Brother Rockstar at found this gem and I had to share! All hail "Uncle Zap"!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Christian Socialism

Revolutionary ChristChristian socialism has long been a topic of interest to me. I am very active in my church and diocese and was batised as an adult. Nevertheless, my class conciousness and understanding of historical forces that comes with that often come in conflict with the doctrines of organized religion, specifically the Christian church.

I was contacted today by a comrade in Oregon who runs the blog Willamette Reds. A series of posts on Christian socialism caught my eye, an excerpt of which follows:
There exists among the oppressed the task of making God exist. By this I mean that we share a faithfulness to the Gospels and to Tradition as well as a consciousness and means to use the Gospels and tradition in order to provoke and struggle for justice. In that struggle the matter of God is revealed as both ever-present and distant, as intimate as Father and Comrade and as distant Unknowable Other.

The only certain path to Theosis, individually or socially, is through this struggle. Other paths lead there, but none are as certain as the path of the loving struggle for justice. The matter of God is both Beginning and End, both Path and Destination. Constructing that path from a capitalist society forward is the task of making God exist.

Obviously this is not Marxist scientific socialism, but compelling nonetheless. I have to say "Amen brother! Throw the money changers out of the temple!"

I highly recommend visiting the Willamette Reds blog.

France General Strike 2006 Update

Grève Générale 2006!

Workers and students across the world have begun to show support for the French movement or take similar action themselves. In France, the strike has continued to gain traction among the unions and public service workers, with over 20% of the public service on strike as of April 4, with over 3 million total people estimated on strike nationwide.
  • In Germany, students occupied the rectorate of Bielefeld university since 1st February in a protest against the introduction of student fees. From 15th February students at Padeborn University were occupying the rectorate of the area's high schools. As of 2nd March these occupations were evicted by force.

  • In the UK, 1.5 million people went on strike against proposed pension cuts. Also, students occupied Sussex University Library to protest against redundancies and cuts in staffing, some declaring solidarity with students in France.

  • In Japan, during the anti-war demonstrations in March 19th, young workers in carried placards against the CPE and new PSE laws which will come into effect in Japan in the near future.

  • In New Zeland, over 1,000 high school students walked out of class to protest against youth pay rates, whilst linking their protest to the events in France. The protest ended with some violence and a sit-down protest in a major intersection.

  • Workers in Gothenburg, Sweden smashed several windows on the Centerpartiet local office in protest against new labour laws proposed by Maud Olofsson, The Chairman of the Swedish liberal party Centerpartiet. She openly admitted that she has been directly inspired by French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepins controversial French CPE law.

    500 people, youths and workers, gathered at the central plaza in Stockholm to demonstrate against the Centerpartiet attack on worker rights and in solidarity with the youth revolt in France. The group was dispersed by mounted police.

    Also, in Denmark 200 protested in front of the French embassy in solidarity with French youths.

  • In the US, millions marched in rallies and strikes across the USA to protest against anti-immigrant bill HR 4437. In the days following the demonstration tens of thousands of students have walked out of high schools and held spontaneous demonstrations, blocking traffic and picketing city halls.

    Several thousand students have been involved in walkouts in Tucson and Phoenix Arizona, in some cases having to break out of their schools to join demonstrations, which have included blocking traffic and in one case throwing rocks at the US border patrol headquarters.

    On Monday 26th a walkout in Los Angeles county involved around 36,000 students. In San Diego, 30-40 student protestors were arrested for truanting on March 29th during one of the protests, and there were reports of 250 students and 80 police officers fighting a pitched battle with blocks of concrete outside Oceanside High School. Demonstrations and further arrests were also reported in Houston, El Paso and Los Angeles.

    In New York, young people from Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) marched to the French Consulate in Manhattan with banners calling for the withdrawal for the CPE.

    SDS was one of the main groups involved in the university occupations and teach-ins in the US during the late '60s, which has been revived in 2006 with 30 chapters across the country. I met some of the leaders of this group recently and I can tell you they are great people. I encourage everyone to consider joining up with the SDS. They have a lot of positive momentum right now.

  • Finally, in Spain on March 31st, a group of around 60 people assembled in front of the French consulate in Barcelona in solidarity with the struggle of the french people against the "CPE, precariousness, exploitation by work, slavery of workers...". A cordon of 20 mossos d'esquadra (Catalan cops) blocked the entrance of the consulate. In November there were two arrests at the consulate during a demonstration held in solidarity with the uprising in the suburbs.
These reports have been summarized from and other sources.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Monument to Pro-Life

Edie at Annotated Life wrote:
Edwards' sculpture [...] conveys woman's prison. Spears did not even pose for this “Monument,” which is not a monument to her, or woman, or even the sacrifice of a great deal of a woman's liberty to motherhood. It is a monument to “pro-life,” the sovereignty of a single male cell within a woman's body. It is a monument to vessel-hood. The idealized role of woman under Christian fundamentalism is one of ignorance, pliancy, and subservience; the bearskin rug is fitting décor for such a primitive existence.

More (including pictures of the sculpture)...
Right on, sister, right on. As a socialist, this sort analysis is a dead-on exposure of the fundamentalism which feeds reactionary poltics. "Pro-Life" is nothing but. It is simply a code for the subordination of women under men. Notice how many pro-lifers are also pro-war. If their concern was truely for life, then they would also be anti-war (and anti-death penalty for that matter). This is almost never the case. These folks often also call for fewer social services (which kills the poor), "free-market" economics (which kills the poor) and are against civil rights (which kills the poor and Black).

As socialists we must resist the temptation to accept the terms of debate set forth by the Christian right regarding reporductive freedom. We must retake the moral high ground and expose their hypocricy for what it is. Too many young Western women today have grown up in a world where they enjoy the fruits of the feminist struggle during the 1960s and 1970s. They do not know the danger they face nor why they must remain militant. Thankfully the Conservative right wing is doing everything in their power to remind them. This sculpture should serve as a wake up call that pro-life means subjugating women to the role of sex-slave and child bearer. A better world is possible for women...

I encourage anyone who has not read The Handmaid's Tale to do so. Only when we have a socialist government which represents all people will we be free of the counter-revolutionary tactics of the Conservative right wing.

We Need More Socialism

New found blogging comrade Mike Schafer at brought to my attention this somewhat surprising opinion piece in the Nation by Ronald Aronson titled "The Left Needs More Socialism."

Aronson starts with:
It's time to break a taboo and place the word "socialism" across the top of the page in a major American progressive magazine. Time for the left to stop repressing the side of ourselves that the right finds most objectionable. Until we thumb our noses at the Democratic pols who have been calling the shots and reassert the very ideas they say are unthinkable, we will keep stumbling around in the dark corners of American politics, wondering how we lost our souls--and how to find them again.

I cannot agree more. The liberal plays into the hands of the right wing by operating on the terrain of fear that is the domain of reactionary politics. Only by embracing a hopeful future, one of economic, social, racial and gender equality where all people are treated with dignity and respect can we hope to offer a coherent vision of the future for our world.

It is time to stop accepting the oppresive commercial/police state governed by mass media fearmongering which makes us too scared to even let our children walk a block alone, afraid to speak up on labor issues in the workplace, afraid to protest against what we know is wrong -- while giving business interests carte blanc to do as they please.

A famous quote from the 1968 Paris Revolt is: "Be Reasonable, Demand the Impossible!"

I say be even more reasonable, demand and fight for the possible, a socialist world governed by peace and cooperation, not war and profit!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

France 2006 General Strike

The world has been watching the French strikes all week. Sure is a lot of red in that crowd, eh? Strike action is spreading from students to public and now even private sector workers. A general strike is looming. Solidarity strikes have sprung up in England and Germany looks to be next. Organizers are continuing the massive strike action in the US versus the racist reactionary anti-immigration agenda of the right wing. Many are murmuring about 1968 and the wave of worker revolt that brought down fascists in several countries, toppled Nixon, and brought socialist governments into power across Europe (and also, unfortunately, led to the Trilateral agenda).

In case you thought you were getting an unbiased view from the American "news" media (including the liberal darling, John Stewart who literally lied about the extent of violence in the strikes), the ICFI correctly reports:
The reaction of the [US] media has been universally hostile, varying from denunciations by the right-wing press of “mob rule” to the more low-key perplexity expressed by the liberal media, which suggests that French are suffering from some type of collective dementia because they believe they have the right to such things as job security.


In one way or another all of the commentaries suggest the protests are illegitimate. They declare that France’s labor laws and social protections are outmoded and must be “reformed” if corporations are to thrive and create jobs. They suggest that “everyone” agrees with this, everyone, that is, except the millions of workers and young people marching on the streets of France. Echoing the infamous comments of British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the time of the invasion of Iraq, the US media suggests that the strength of a democracy is measured by the ability of political leaders to defy the will of the people and do “what’s right.”


Complaining that France sported “only” 14 billionaires, as compared to 24 in similarly sized Britain, Pearlstein concludes his column: “Indeed, when you ask French university students who is the Bill Gates of France, they look at you blankly. It’s not simply that they can’t name one. The bigger problem is that they can’t imagine why it matters, or why that has anything to do with why they can’t find a good job.”
The American media is nothing more that the bought whore of Wall Street. Yeah, Gates has created so many jobs for Americans. Perlstein is a moron. Gates has created more jobs in India than in the US, not to mention the hordes of 1099 employees he imports, and he constantly complains about the American education system and how lazy young American's are. He has even made speeches at high schools including the statement that a job as a street sweeper was considered "opportunity" by our forefathers. He of course forgets to mention that systemic racism and anti-labor practices meant that is was much easier for capitalists to exploit the masses 100 years ago (which I'm sure is truely what he is complaining about).

The IWW had posted a statement from the CNT-F some excerpts of which follow:
Three million demonstrators on Tuesday 28th March! And it was a weekday... so that's three million on strike! Both public-sector and private-sector employees realised how important it was to strike, in order to achieve the greatest number possible on the streets to express their total rejection of the CPE, and indeed of precarious labour in general.


The CNT calls on all workers, on the unemployed, on precarious workers and "sans-papiers" to join with the university and high-school students and participate in the general assemblies, so that sector by sector we can build the strike from the grassroots.
The CWI reports:
There are more and more discussions amongst workers about the need for a general strike to try to turn the tide against the series of attacks they have suffered. While currently public sector workers feel more confident to strike on the days of protest there is also anger amongst the private sector as well. If private sector workers saw that there was the chance of a generalised struggle that would not leave them isolated in their individual companies then they too would join in. While a national student meeting has called for blockades of railway stations and motorways on March 30 and a general strike on April 4, a more generalised strategy is needed. However it cannot be ruled out that the French tradition of spontaneous strikes will be seen again with workers deciding to continue striking.
We at FoOL stand in solidarity with all of the strikers fighting for a better world. We stand against the neo-liberal agenda which reduces all life to a question of profits. We encourage our brothers and sisters to consider marching and striking in solidarity wherever you may live or work, to stand up and fight to end the attacks by capital on the working class.

For a first hand account from a perspetive sympathetic to the strikers, and eyewitness photos as well, I highly encourage you to visit - unrest in france

Mar 31, 2006: 2 hour long blockade of the Gare de Lyon train station in central Paris
more photos at

Cross posted at the Uncapitalist Journal.

IWW Organizes 10 Starbucks

A bit late, but I wanted to post on the IWW victory versus Starbucks. On March 8, 2006, the IWW reports that:
The IWW Starbucks Workers Union won a watershed victory yesterday in the first National Labor Relations Board conflict over unfair labor practices between the world's largest coffee chain and the baristas who work there. Faced with the prospect of having its widespread union-busting campaign exposed in a public hearing, Starbucks agreed to remedy all of the myriad violations committed against workers who have organized a union.


The NLRB complaint against Starbucks which resulted in this settlement outlined a widespread anti-union effort that extended to upper level management, including a Starbucks Senior Vice President. Fifteen Starbucks employees were named in the complaint.
Thanks to Puritan City for their post on this story. I'm kicking myself for not buying some IWW Starbucks Union T-shirts when I was in The City.