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Cultural Marxism

What are blind spots? They are lacunae in the minds of excellent analysts.  My stock in trade is political economics, so I will confine...

A 21st-Century Marxism: The Revolutionary Possibilities of the “New Economy”

It should hardly be controversial anymore to say we’re embarking on the “end times” of…something. Maybe it’s corporate capitalism, maybe it’s civilization, maybe it’s...

The Father of Cultural Marxism

Angelo M. Codevilla has written a brilliant piece, The Rise of Political Correctness.  For a few days I have been thinking about how to...

Pushback Against Cultural Marxism

We have gotten so used to seeing college presidents and other academic “leaders” caving into so many outrageous demands from little gangs of bullying...

Professor rejects Marxism after traveling the globe: ‘Socialism doesn’t work’

At least one professor in America does not feel the Bern. University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Professor Jack Stauder says his political and...

Cultural Marxism Might Be Funny

I learned of the Charlemagne prize when Pope Francis recently received this honor. Having recently commented on this occasion and the prize, I only offer...

White Skin Privilege and Marxism?

Author's Note: This article was originally composed as a response to an essay published on the International Socialist Organization (ISO) website. Unfortunately, they refused...

‘Godzilla coming to town’: Berkeley braces for violence ahead of conservative’s speech

The University of California at Berkeley is preparing for a possible repeat of violent clashes, as...

Tony Blair in Wonderland

Photo by Chatham House | CC BY 2.0 Tony Blair is clearly a piece of work.  Incidentally, I’ve known about him for decades before he...

Where Is the Outrage?

Violence breaks out at Berkeley protest So reports the Los Angeles Times. Some Trump supporters planned a protest; some others showed up in counter-protest.  I will say up...
video

Video: At least 14 arrested as left- and right-wing protesters face off in Berkeley,...

Arrests were made at a right-wing gathering and counter-protest in Berkeley, Sunday. Amber Cummings, the organiser of an 'anti-Marxism' demo, announced ... Via Youtube

At least 8 arrested as left- and right-wing protesters face off in Berkeley, California

Published time: 27 Aug, 2017 20:57 Edited time: 27 Aug, 2017 21:20 Police have arrested at...

Making America Hate Again

Two days late, Donald Trump has finally condemned violent white supremacists. He was pushed into it by a storm of outrage at his initial...

A New Class Politics

Photo by May4th | CC BY 2.0 Class is back on the agenda of the European left. That is good news. The reasons, however, are...

Did British students commit election fraud? Watchdog launches ‘double-voting’ probe

An investigation has been launched into “troubling” reports of thousands of people illegally voting twice...

Tories accuse left-wing students of ‘voting twice’ in general election

Published time: 30 Jun, 2017 15:48 Edited time: 30 Jun, 2017 16:02 Senior Tories are...

Slouching Towards the Post-Legal Society

Cultural Marxism:  From show trials to no trials If the property is the proverbial nine points of the law, it is not surprising that Marxism,...

A Grain of Truth: RCEP and the Corporate Hijack of Indian Agriculture

The plight of farmers in India has been well documented. A combination of debt, economic liberalisation, subsidised imports, rising input costs and a shift...

Turn the Other Cheek

I respect and frequently enjoy the writing of Fred Reed, whose work I discovered through being a regular visitor to LewRockwell.com. Recently, he wrote...

Being and Politics

Gilad Atzmon has a new book just out titled Being in Time: A Post-Political Manifesto. The title probably is influenced from a book, Being...

Death Wish of the Antifas

Now that the New Left has abandoned its earlier loose, flexible non-ideological stance, two ideologies have been adopted as guiding theoretical positions by New...

Civilizational Plague

Nick Giambruno: What exactly are Cultural Marxists, and how are they, and political correctness, contributing to the decline of Western Civilization? Doug Casey: Economic Marxism was intellectually...

Rethinking the Marxist Conception of Revolution

In the twenty-first century, as capitalism enters an epoch of unprecedented crisis, it is time to reconsider the Marxist theory of proletarian revolution. More...

Is Francis a Fascist?

Fresh off a hate-filled rant against populism (a.k.a. consent of the governed), Pope Francis recently delivered another mean-spirited, hateful diatribe about the “grave risks...

Mises Destroyed Marx

If asked to name the foremost critic of Marxism, most economists sympathetic to the free market would name Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, who in his...

The Sober Wisdom of Joseph Sobran

Perhaps Fox TV viewers and readers of his bestselling books think that Bill O’Reilly is a Renaissance Man. However, there is a far more...

The Jewish Question, from Jesus to the Holocaust & Israel

The ultimate redpill on the JQ and all the major historical events surrounding it, told from the Jewish perspective. With special focus...

The Real Racists: Examining the Outrage Over the Chicago Kidnapping

The recent kidnapping and torture of a special needs teen has inspired a massive amount of outrage on social media. Many people, including a considerable...

Only Wealthy White Leftists

A great uproar goes forth from the enemies of the Trump Beast, with much gnashing of hair and pulling of teeth. He will be...

A Place Without Music

Imagine you have a special talent for music; imagine with hard work and dedication and long hours you’ve become a skilled performer. Imagine that...

Putin and Xi in Western Propaganda

by Jeff J. Brown / October 29th, 2016 Better watch out, Vlad. When Western propaganda throws an “-ism” at you, the gloves have come off....

Hillary Is Such a Nasty Marxist

Nothing outrages Progressives more than the truth. Predictably, then, when Donald Trump voiced the undeniable fact that Hitlary Clinton is “such a nasty woman,”...

Nuclear Annihilation

Twenty-five years is a long time to get back to where you started, but two-and-a-half decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union, it...

The Left Must Hate Poor Black People

The greatest moral claim of the political left is that they are for the masses in general and the poor in particular. That is...

The Lost Language of Integration

(Photo: Ars Electronica / Flickr) In a recent This American Life episode, investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses the perils of America’s segregated school system. She points...

Berkeley suspends Palestine class midway through semester

A University of California, Berkeley class, ‘Palestine: A Settler-Colonial Analysis’, was suspended after Chancellor Nicholas Dirks...

Darwin Unhinged

This is atrociously long, criminally even, by internet standards but I post it anyway because I get occasional requests.  Few will read it, which...

The Excesses of the Extreme Centre

Donald Trump, in a speech given in Charlotte on Thursday, August 18, cast himself as the truth teller for forgotten Americans and a champion...

On Jihad and G-had

The use of the letter “G” in the above G-had, is meant to represent “G” as used in the hip-hop subculture of...

Culling the Herd

Prompted by a discussion at this post… Stayton July 5, 2016 at 7:56 AM I would even venture to argue that large-scale war is part of...

Hillary the Witch

This article, originally published in the December 1994, is collected in Lew Rockwell’s The Irrepressible Rothbard. For some timeI have been hammering at the theme that...

What’s Fascism, Really?

Fascism: The Career of a Concept. By Paul E. Gottfried.  Northern Illinois University Press, 2016. Vii + 226 pages. Paul Gottfried’s immensely erudite survey of...

Why You Shouldn’t Romanticize the Black Panther Party

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP). It is arguably the most revolutionary and...

Obama Tries to Ram His TTIP Down Europeans’ Throats

Eric Zuesse Like the foie gras producer ramming food down ducks’ throats in order to create diseased super-fatty livers that some humans find acceptable to...

Why Obama Prioritizes Ousting Assad Over Defeating Syria’s Jihadists

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Dr. Christina Lin, a leading young scholar on jihadist groups, opened her April 8th commentary at Asia Times: In a blunder...

Oppose the witch-hunt of Ken Livingstone!

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. The suspension of former London Mayor Ken Livingstone from the Labour...

Zionism: Imperialism in the Age of Counter-revolution

Coercive Engineered Migration: Zionism's War on Europe (Part 11 of an 11 Part Series) During the 1920s General Secretary of the Communist Party of...

Is it Government or Oligarchs?

I think what you have to understand is our structure of government being a “republic” rather than a democracy, invites oligarchy. There has never...

To End No Wars

(Photo: Ivana Vasilj / Flickr Commons) Jason Smith was both very unlucky and very lucky. His bad luck began on February 20, 2015, when he was...

To the Dustbin of History

We read on Wikipedia: The phrase “ash heap of history” (or “dustbin of history”) figuratively refers to the place to where persons, events, artifacts, ideologies,...

Is Trumpism the New Nationalism?

Since China devalued its currency 3 percent, global markets have gone into a tailspin. Why should this be? After all, 3 percent devaluation in China...

The Two Core Beliefs of the Republican Party

Eric Zuesse 1: One core Republican belief is spread by religious fundamentalists, and it’s a conviction to do war against others by outpopulating them – reproducing more...

The Topless Dancer, Slavery and the Origins of Capitalism

Although I’ve written thirty-five articles about the origins of capitalism over the years, I never suspected that my first for CounterPunch would be prompted...

“Marx Is Muss” congress: Germany’s pseudo-left discusses war policy and austerity

(WSWS) -   “Marx Is Muss” congress: Germany’s pseudo-left discusses war policy and...

What America’s Media Get Very Wrong About ‘Socialism’ — And About Senator Sanders

Eric Zuesse (RINF) - On April 30th, Jonathan Cohn at Huffington Post provided a perfect example of what America's media get wrong about the meaning...

The Origin of the ‘New Cold War’

Eric Zuesse This will be history, replacing myth. So: if at the start it might seem unbelievable, I request the reader – please click onto...

Why America Hates and Despises Victims

Eric Zuesse. Dateline: 3 July 2014 RINF Alternative News Here are photos of residents in southeastern Ukraine and of their homes that we bombed yesterday, and you...

The US War Against Russia Is Already Underway

How true is the spreading belief that President Obama has ruined US foreign policy, and how does it actually work? The Voice of Russia is...

How and Why the U.S. Has Re-Started the Cold War (The Backstory that Precipitated...

When the Cold War ended, in 1990, Russia was in a very weak position, no real threat at all (except for nuclear weapons, but...

The Con Man and the Big Con


One can too easily blame capitalism for debasing the culture and intellectual life of the US. The profit motive has surely placed commercial success ahead of artistic merit. Independent purveyors of art and ideas have been either co opted and absorbed by monopoly corporations or ground to a pulp attempting to compete with corporate-sponsored rivals. Culture has become corporate culture, despite the democratizing relief sometimes offered by the Internet.

From producer to consumer, arts and entertainment corporations are the ever-present intermediaries for successful production and realization of cultural commodities. Their goal is profit and not artistic merit.

Similarly, the humanities have been marginalized through the marketization of higher education. The ever present mantra of “running everything like a business” has deeply infected the process of learning, thus sending philosophy, political studies, literature, history and other humanities to the dustbin. That which cannot pay its way deserves no place in the university, say administrators wedded to best business practices. Consequently, the appreciation for and vibrant generation of the humanities is stunted by the dominance of the “practicality” of the sciences and business. Higher learning becomes learning for a purpose, namely, getting ahead.

But the arts and independent thought are threatened by other factors as well. While even those friendly to capitalism will give a reluctant acknowledgment of the economic factors that diminish culture and humanistic pursuits, few accept the significant role of politics in stunting culture and learning. Of course many will readily agree that right wing zealots chip away politically at the liberal values that are believed to be the foundation for cultural and intellectual enrichment. They will eagerly concede that pornography police and music censors retard the free flow of ideas. But they, nonetheless, celebrate the US democratic spirit that continues to nourish the spring of cultural production and intellectual innovation.

Accordingly, they forget, or purposely overlook, the insidious role of Cold War repression that befell intellectual and cultural life in the US from the late 1940s through the early 1960s, with loud echoes today. For nearly a decade and a half, intellectual conformity on class, race, and Communism was rigorously enforced through punishment or fear, especially in the sensitive areas of culture and ideas (the battle of ideas is not merely in academia or among the men and women of letters but in the unions and mass organizations, where a vibrant incubation of radical ideas was replaced with a tepid, mediocre, and intolerant uniformity). Thousands of cultural and intellectual workers lost their jobs, were shunned, or blacklisted. Tens of thousands were frozen with fear and determined to assiduously avoid anything controversial.

Artists and intellectuals grew timid: ironically, some of the best popular cinema of the otherwise mediocre era was offered by ex-Communists who had made their mea culpas and thus earned the right to tackle edgy themes (for example, A Face in the Crowd (Kazan), Sweet Smell of Success, and The Big Knife (Odets). The best of television, a then-new medium seemingly happy to wallow in mediocrity, came from deeply covert writers who had been expelled from Hollywood. When vibrant African American music in the form of a subversive Rhythm and Blues stood to crack the cultural barriers, US entertainment corporations co-opted and whitened the music while transforming it into mildly titillating Rock and Roll (RCA and Elvis Presley), a safer alternative.

The false radicalism of Abstract Expressionism was promoted by a deeply conservative coterie of wealthy art impresarios intent upon overshadowing any subversive messages borne by representational art (see How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art, Guilbaut). And mildly mocking satire of upper-middle-class and suburban mores a la New Yorker magazine became the gold standard of popular literature.

Youth rebellion, thought to be a biological imperative, found expression in the middle-class angst of the “beat” generation or through revisiting frontier toughness through the cult of the motorcycle. “Alienation” replaced “exploitation” as the theme of critiques of industrial society.

Moral and political philosophy shunned social criticism for the fetish of linguistic analysis while the social sciences fell under the sway of the paradigm of the self-interested, rational individual.

But it was not simply fear and intimidation that drove the vapidity of culture and thought in the high season of anti-Communism. The best and brightest of Cold War liberals readily collaborated with the US government's security forces and propaganda offensives. As Frances Stoner Saunders thoroughly documents (The Cultural Cold War), the CIA's front organization, The Congress for Cultural Freedom, purchased or captured in its net some of the most illustrious intellectuals in the US and the world. Recruitment and manipulation of writers, editors, journalists, academics exerted a strong influence on the direction of intellectual and cultural life for decades. It would be naïve not to believe-- and contrary to what has been uncovered-- that these same government tentacles had not reached into the US labor movement and numerous NGOs.
It is a pity that no one has taken on the daunting task of assembling all of the glimpses, hints, testaments, and documents that have allowed us to peek behind the curtain of secrecy and deception shielding the vast apparatus of thought control employed by US rulers. What we know about the co-option of a student organization like NSA, a labor front like AIFLD, a publishing house like Praeger, or public intellectuals like Isaiah Berlin, Mary McCarthy, Clement Greenberg, or Arthur Schlesinger Jr. suggests that the instruments of influence stretch far and wide and ensure limits to discussion, debate, and artistic expression.

A Swamp of Gullibility: The Case of Paul De Man

It was in the context of reflecting upon the Cold War clamp-down on US culture and intellectual life that I approached Evelyn Barish's new book, The Double Life of Paul De Man. From the mid-sixties until his death in 1983, De Man acquired a scholarly, intellectual reputation that secured him a position as one of the most influential intellectuals in the Western world. His students and colleagues in the intellectual school popularly known as “deconstructionism” held prestigious positions at many academic centers, influenced most of the humanities, and succeeded in penetrating into popular culture. Deconstruction-- as an intellectual current-- has the curious distinction of being nearly incomprehensible to the uninitiated, yet purporting to be a devastating critique sweeping away all that comes before it.

Not long after de Man's death, an admiring student of his discovered evidence that de Man collaborated with the Nazi occupiers in his native Belgium, contributing pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic articles to Belgium's leading newspaper. This revelation rocked the academic community and beyond, raising questions about de Man's integrity and fitness to retain his celestial place in the liberal arts heavens. De Man loyalists sought to cast the collaboration as an aberration and, perhaps with some merit, as irrelevant to the value of his work. As with other fascists or collaborators-- Martin Heidegger, Herbert von Karajan, Werner von Braun, etc.-- it may be possible to separate their life's work from their work with the devil (possible, but difficult).

Critics like David Lehman in his 1991 book, Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man, offered no such life line to de Man and deconstruction. He argues forcefully that deconstruction is as tainted by hum-buggery as de Man is flawed as a human being.

But like the Western debate over Heidegger's past, sides were drawn, but no minds were changed.

Now comes Ms. Barish's book which shows that Paul de Man was thoroughly a cad, a thief, and, with few exceptions, cavalier with the truth. While Barish indulges in annoying flights of psychological speculation, while she gets some minutiae wrong, she marshals a most convincing case that de Man neglected a wife and children, falsified official documents, stole from investors, lied about academic credentials (even about his own paternity), failed to pay debts-- the list of crimes and misdemeanors goes on and on... Those curious of the myriad, lurid details should buy the book; they will find it more bizarre than fiction.

Predictably, the Barish book drew many responses. At one extreme, de Man friend and Sterling Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Yale (succeeding de Man as Sterling professor) and Andrew W. Mellon Scholar at Princeton, Peter Brooks, brought his scholarship to bear on the book in a review published in The New York Review of Books. Notable for its prickliness, the review challenges Barish's “scholarship” but fails to engage or correct any of the substantive claims at play. Nor do Brooks’ scholarly sensitivities note that the NYRB published several de Man articles previously, perhaps a fact that might be seen as tainting the editors' objectivity.

Robert Alter, writing in The New Republic, saw the Barish book as demonstrating that de Man was simply a “total fraud,” a conclusion with which those of us less concerned with scholarly niceties might concur. Carlin Romano, writing in the Chronicle of Higher Education, similarly recoils from de Man's demonstrated moral corruption.

Harvard Professor Susan Rubin Sulieman, writing in the New York Timesconcedes that de Man is a “con man,” but cannot resist the academic urge to cast a long shadow by scolding Barish over her scholarly standards. Her sense of moral proportion seems to be overshadowed by her outrage over professional standards.

Writing in The New Yorker, Louis Menand details de Man's sins with a school-boy relish, while attempting to separate his turpitude from the intellectual views associated with his work. Menand writes, in defense of deconstructionism:
 
We could say that deconstruction is an attempt to go through the looking glass, to get beyond or behind language, but a deconstructionist would have to begin by explaining that the concepts “beyond” and “behind” are themselves effects of language. Deconstruction is all about interrogating apparently unproblematic terms. It’s like digging a hole in the middle of the ocean with a shovel made of water.

... go through the looking glass...”? “...digging a hole in the middle of the ocean with a shovel made of water...”? Is this nonsense or an example of the elevated, urbane wit so long associated with The New Yorker?

Chickens Coming Home to Roost

While writers milk the de Man affair for its full entertainment value, and academics debate the damage to the deconstructionist program, critical questions are quietly passed over: How did de Man, the con man, slip through the filters of some of the world's most prestigious universities? How did Bard, Harvard, Cornell, and Yale allow this man who never completed a baccalaureate snooker the gatekeepers on his journey to claiming one of the most prestigious academic chairs in the US? More broadly, how were the celebrated New York intellectuals, especially Mary McCarthy and Dwight McDonald, seduced into sponsoring de Man into the highest intellectual circles?

In her fashion, Barish speculates on the personalities and psyches of those taken in by de Man in order to supply an explanation. But such an explanation would reduce the rise of Paul de Man to an unprecedented, finally inexplicable historic accident.

A better answer is found by returning to the historical context of Paul de Man's journey. De Man arrived and maneuvered his way into a position to launch his career at the peak of the Cold War repression in the US. Academics and intellectuals were not expanding horizons nor inviting fresh currents. Rather, they were circling the wagons and banning controversial ideas. This was, of course, fertile soil for opportunists, people who could read the signs and conform.

It is important to remember that de Man's chosen field of literature and literary criticism underwent a radical transformation coincident with the rise of anti-Communist hysteria in the US. Formerly, critics sought to understand literature in broadly open ways, groping for social, cultural, historical, and personal factors that would inform the meaning of texts. A prominent exponent and acknowledged leader of this school was V. L. Parrington. While not a Marxist, Parrington's “...progressive interpretation of American history was highly influential in the 1920s and 1930s and helped define modern liberalism in the United States..." (Wikipedia) Parrington's Pulitzer Prize winning book “... dominated literary and cultural criticism from 1927 through the early 1950s...,” according to a source cited in the same article. At that time a Marxist, Granville Hicks, wrote a critical appreciation of Parrington's work for Science and Society in 1938 (The Critical Principles of V L Parrington), concluding that “...if he were alive, Parrington would be fighting for democracy. Certainly his work is a powerful weapon on that side.” Apparently, too powerful for the malignant 1950s.

Moderately progressive views such as Parrington's were squelched in this time of toadyism:
 

Trilling was one of the most important "hard-liners" in the CIA's Congress for Cultural Freedom. 

Today, Parrington is largely forgotten, thanks to Cold Warriors and academic opportunists. And in his place, the “New Critics” arose in the late 1940s to rescue literary texts from a fulsome, rich interpretation, especially an interpretation that might even remotely suggest Marxism. From that time on, everything was text and only text. Like the shift from representational art to Abstract Expressionism, the movement to “new criticism” was a Cold War gambit masquerading as a new, daring approach to culture, a safe officially sanctioned rebellion that barred the door from seditious art and interpretation.

Arriving in New York in 1948, Paul de Man's brand of charm, salon wit, and shameless opportunism fit perfectly into the intellectual milieu of the emerging Cold War. A European, without the baggage of Communism or leftism, but emitting vague hints of participating in the Resistance, proved attractive to Cold War liberals. But when he packed up and left Bard College for Harvard ahead of bill collectors and scandal, his fortunes took another even more significant turn. Harvard's heralded Humanities Six class gave de Man a taste of the flavors enjoyed at the US's elite universities. The gift of the New Critics' method of “close reading” became the foundation for his meteoric career. Add European exoticism, a profound rejection of inter-subjective meaning, and convey this package in a dense, impenetrable language, and you have a ticket to stardom for an incorrigible con man. Paul de Man punched the ticket.

Intellectual life in the US was irreparably damaged by the stifling, suffocating atmosphere imposed by Cold War hysteria. Cultural and intellectual watchdogs collaborated with administrators to master promoting the illusion of a free and open society while blocking any potential challenges to the bourgeois canon. Central to that task was the project of creating and shaping ersatz rebellion, of channeling the natural skepticism and contrariness of young minds towards benign expressions of revolt. Paul de Man became a willing participant in that game, molding deconstruction into an instrument for thumbing one's nose at an ambiguous, amorphous establishment. A difficult, frustratingly opaque language coupled to a defiant rejection of the most basic category of understanding-- meaning-- seduced initiates into the world of deconstruction. While it challenged no center of real power, deconstruction tasted, smelled, and looked like rebellion. Thus, it joined a long list of carefully constructed cultural and intellectual manifestations that absorb the rebelliousness of youth while producing a harmless release of energies.

Many believe that with the loosening of the repressive noose popularly called McCarthyism, the US returned to openness and freedom of expression. However, that is a misleading perspective. Openness and freedom of expression mean nothing when intellectual and cultural ideas were purged and remain forgotten or uncritically scorned. Openness and freedom of expression mean nothing when intellectual and cultural workers have had their spines surgically removed to the point that they cannot muster the courage to call out frauds and poseurs.

Though hardly revolutionary, V.L. Parrington's ideas and those of many similarly purged, remain lost to a new generation, while the ideas of the discredited Paul de Man and those of other intellectual opportunists and charlatans continue to circulate through the universities and in prestigious journals. The same could be said in the arts and many other intellectual pursuits where the limits of debate are not stated, but inherited. This is the legacy and cost of hysterical, unrestrained anti-Communism.

Zoltan Zigedy

Surveillance, Cyberspying, and the Fig Leaf of Democracy

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Venezuela’s Crossroads Lies in the Past

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Ukraine’s Fascist Roots

Ukraine's Fascist Roots

by Stephen Lendman

US-installed putschists are fascist extremists. Elevating them to power should scare everyone. 

Ukraine is the epicenter of European fascist reemergence. It's a freedom-destroying cancer. 

It threatens world peace. It risks global conflict. It doesn't surprise. Its roots are deep. 

Washington offers full support. It's longstanding. It dates from 1945. Svoboda and Right Sector parties are modern-day Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) heirs.

Its Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) leaders were Nazi collaborators. They fought with Hitler's Waffen SS Galician Division. 

Their forces massacred hundreds of thousands. Their hero was Stepan Bandera. He headed OUN-B. It terrorized Ukrainian and Polish Jews.

His legacy thrives in Ukraine today. His heirs openly display his OUN-B red and black flag. They enjoy full US support. 

Svoboda's slogan is "Ukraine for Ukrainians." Bandera said the same thing. He wanted Ukraine made ethnically pure. Mass extermination followed.

Svoboda earlier called itself Socialist-Nationalists. It bears erie resemblance to Hitler's National Socialism. It reflects fascism writ large.

Svoboda openly calls for "creat(ing) a truly Ukrainian Ukraine in the cities of the East and South."

"We will need to cancel parliamentarism, ban all political parties, nationalise the entire industry, all media, prohibit the importation of any literature to Ukraine from Russia."

"Completely replace the leaders of the civil service, education management, military (especially in the East)." 

"Physically liquidate all Russian-speaking intellectuals and all Ukrainophobes (fast, without a trial shot. Registering Ukrainophobes can be done here by any member of Svoboda)." 

"Execute all members of the anti-Ukrainian political parties."  

Svoboda straightaway abolished Russian-speaker minority rights. It targets Jews, ethnic Russians and opposition elements. 

Its manifesto calls for "carry(ing) out a broad public discussion about the meaning of Ukrainian pluralism for the future of Europe, Russia and the world."

Its aim is undermining Russian Eurasian influence. It wants fundamental freedoms destroyed. It wants hardline rule replacing it. 

Democracy is strictly verboten. Hooliganism is longstanding  strategy. Unrestrained violence reflects it. Opposition elements are targeted for elimination.

Post-WW II, Washington began cooperating with Ukrainian fascists. OUN-B leader Mykola Lebed (1909 - 1998) openly collaborated with Nazis.

He was responsible for massive Volhynia and Eastern Galicia Polish ethnic cleansing.

In 1949, he emigrated to America. He did so with CIA/State Department help. 

He lived in New York. His CIA-funded Prolog Research Corporation spied on Soviet Russia.

In his book titled "The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths," Per Rudling said:

"During the early Cold War, extreme nationalism and fascism were retooled and employed by Western intelligence services in the struggle against the USSR." 

"One CIA analyst argued that 'some form of nationalist feeling continues to exist (in Ukraine)…"

"There is an obligation to support it as a cold war weapon."

According to Rudling, CIA and State Department officials collaborated with OUN members. 

They sponsored them. They brought them to America. They shielded them from war crimes prosecutions.

They helped them gain "positions of of influence and authority, assisting their creation of semi-academic institutions and/or academic positions at established universities," said Rudling.

They whitewashed their WW II crimes. They transformed them into Ukrainian heroes. 

During Viktor Yushchenko's illegitimate Orange Revolution presidency, institutes of memory management and myth-making were established.

They buried information about OUN/UPA atrocities. 

According to Rudling, "(u)nlike many other former Soviet republics, the Ukrainian government did not need to develop new national myths from scratch, but imported ready concepts developed in the Ukrainian diaspora."

Washington calls OUN/UPA and its modern-day heirs "nationalists." It buries their fascist roots. It ignores their criminal past.

Rudling was clear and unequivocal saying:

"The OUN shared the fascist attributes of antiliberalism, anticonservatism, and anticommunism, an armed party, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, Führerprinzip, and the adoption of fascist greetings." 

"Its leaders eagerly emphasized to Hitler and Ribbentrop that they shared the Nazi Weltanschauung and a commitment to a fascist New Europe."

Racial/ethnic purity was a core ideological element. It remains so today. Washington's alliance with hard right extremist groups is longstanding.

Political analyst Caleb Maupin said decades before European fascism, Ku Klux Klan elements were state-sponsored in former slave-holding states.

It wasn't the only fascist organization Washington embraced, said Maupin. Post-WW I, American Legion leaders were openly fascist.

So were prominent US industrialists like Henry Ford. Fascism thrives in today's America. It reflects its dark side.

It emerged post-WW I. At the time, Western civilization was called decadent and destructive. It was in decline, critics said.

In his book titled, "The Decline of the West," Oswald Spengler said "liberalism, democracy, socialism (and) free-masonry" weakened it. Fascism alone could save it, he claimed.

In his essay titled, "Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions," Mussolini said, "Fascism denies, in democracy, the absurd conventional untruth of political equality dressed out in the garb of collective responsibility."

He called it Marxism's "complete opposite." In class struggle for social progress and justice, he added. 

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power," he stressed.

His definition applies now. Corporatism's alliance with political Washington reflects his ideology. It built for decades. 

It's deeply entrenched. It reflects Washington's bipartisan agenda. Its criminal class runs things.

Huey Long once said fascism will arrive "wrapped in an American flag." In his book titled, "Friendly Fascism," Bertram Gross called Ronald Reagan its prototype ruler.

He described a slow, powerful "drift toward greater concentration of power and wealth in a repressive Big Business-Big Government." 

It reflects a Big Brother alliance. It leads "toward a new and subtly manipulative form of corporatist serfdom." Its friendly face conceals its dark side.

In the 1930s, George Seldes saw it coming. He worried about New Deal policies eroding. 

In his 1934 book titled, "Iron, Blood and Profits," he discussed a "world-wide munitions racket." 

He cited WW I militarists. He named weapons makers in Europe and America.

He called them "merchants of death." They promote "imperialism (and) colonization - by means of war." 

"(T)he healthfulness of the business depends on slaughter. The more wars," the more profits.

His 1943 book titled "Facts and Fascism" explained "Fascism on the Home Front" in Part One. It's called "The Big Money and the Big Profits in Fascism."

In Parts Two and Three, he discussed "Native Fascist Forces" in industry and his day's media. It was a shadow of today's propaganda machine.

Print and radio's early days alone existed. Television was years away.

In his 1935 novel titled, "It Can't Happen Here," Sinclair Lewis saw fascism coming in hard times. 

It'll be led by a charismatic leader, he said. A self-styled reformer/populist champion. A con man exploiting human misery.

He recounted Merzelium "Buzz" Windrip's rise to power. His promise to restore prosperity equitably was duplicitous. His alliance with corporatist interests and religious ideologues remained hidden.

He capitalized on hard times. He instituted militarism. He established unconstitutional governance. 

He convened military tribunals. He did so for civilians and nonbelievers. He called them traitors.

He solidified hardline rule. He institutionalized tyranny. He put political enemies in concentration camps. 

He created Minute Men paramilitaries. They terrorized opposition elements.

He destroyed democracy. He abolished constitutional freedoms. He declared martial law. 

He usurped dictatorial powers. He circumvented Congress. He made himself supreme ruler.

Lewis said it can happen here. Today it's institutionalized. It rules America. 

It runs Ukraine. Svoboda and Right Sector parties have enormous power.

Their members hold key ministerial positions. Previous articles discussed Obama's new friends. They include a rogue's gallery of societal misfits.

They're militant fascists. They're thugs. They're criminals.

They're illegitimate putschists. They're xenophobic, hate-mongering, ultranationalist anti-Semites. 

Combined they represent mob rule. They make mafia bosses look saintly by comparison.

For the first time since WW II, overt fascists have real power in Europe. They hold major government posts.

In December 2012, European parliamentarians expressed concern about "rising nationalistic sentiment in Ukraine."

They called Svoboda members "racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic." They're polar opposite "EU's fundamental values," the added.

They "appeal(ed) to pro-democratic parties in (Ukraine's legislature) not to associate with, endorse, or form coalitions with" these elements.

That was then. This is now. EU officials openly support what they condemned. They do so unapologetically.

They march in lockstep with Washington hardliners. They mock democratic values they claim to support.

Olexander Turchynov serves as illegitimate president/parliament speaker. He's a political opportunist.

He's Ukrainian armed forces commander-in-chief. He's Batkivshchyna/All-Ukrainian Union/Fatherland party deputy chairman.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk serves as Ukraine's illegitimate prime minister. He's super-rich.

He's a former central banker/economy/foreign minister/ parliament (Verkhovna Rada) speaker.

He's a Batkivshchya/All-Ukrainian Union (Fatherland) leader. He sold out for greater wealth and power. 

He serves Washington, EU interests and Western bankers. Paying them comes first. Ukrainians bear the burden. 

Exploiting them irresponsibly is official policy. So is plundering Ukraine for profit. Selling its state enterprises at fire sale prices. 

Strip-mining its state resources. Hollowing out its economy. Wrecking it entirely. 

Creating a protracted Greek-style Depression. Making ordinary people suffer most. Cracking down hard on nonbelievers.

Andriy Parubiy co-founded the ultranationalist neo-Nazi Social National party. It's now called Svoboda. He did so with Oleh Tyahnybok.

Right Sector hard right neo-Nazi hate-mongering anti-Semite Dmytro Yarosh is his deputy. He openly boasts about "...fighting Jews and Russians till I die."

He calls Russia Ukraine's "eternal enemy." He said war between both countries is inevitable.

Right Sector neo-Nazis are the worst of Ukrainian extremists. On May 2, they massacred 300 Odessan civilians in cold blood.

They did so inside Odessa's Trade Union House building. They hunted down survivors and murdered them. 

They're gun-toting, radicalized terrorists. Imagine them and likeminded scoundrels in charge of Ukraine's government.

Imagine Obama embracing them. They're cold-blooded killers. State terrorism defines their agenda. Elements opposing them are targeted for elimination.

Oleh Tyahnybok heads Svoboda. He's a force to be reckoned with. He reflects fascism writ large. He openly claims determination to crush "Russkie-Yid mafia" elements Ukraine.

Parubiy serves as Kiev's Secretary of National Security and Defense Council. He oversees Ukraine's Defense Ministry and armed forces. 

He directed months earlier Right Sector Maidan violence. Other Svoboda/Right Sector officials hold influential ministerial posts.

Obama's new friends are fascist extremists. Their agenda makes peace activists cringe. They threaten civil war. Regional conflict could follow. They risk spreading it globally.

Yatsenyuk vowed never to give up "a centimeter" of Ukraine to Russia. "This is our land," he said. "Our fathers and grandfathers have spilled their blood for this land." 

"And we won't budge a single centimeter from (it). Let Russia and its president know this."

Washington pledged full support. Obama pledged financial aid. Doing so violates US law. It doesn't matter. 

Parubiy wants all he can get. He wants "immediate US military aid," he said. On May 15, he got feature Wall Street Journal op-ed space requesting it.

He lied claiming "Putin's goal is to destroy the independent Ukrainian state…"

"(B)ecause it had the courage to choose a better future with Europe," he said.

He called UN Charter recognized self-determination "illegal." He said so regarding Crimea's legitimate reunification with Russia.

He turned truth on its head claiming Putin "stirr(ed) up separatist movements in multiple regions of Ukraine in the hope of annexing even more Ukrainian territory."

Ukraine "can't do everything on its own," he said. It's "a peaceful nation," he claimed.

It's waging war without mercy on its own people. Burying truth is longstanding fascist policy.

Parubiy want US military aid. He wants weapons, "modern equipment," and training. He wants all he can get. He enjoys Journal editorial support.

He and likeminded ideologues turned Ukraine into a fascist police state. It's an eastern cauldron of violence.

Paribiy deplores peace. He wants conflict escalated. He ludicrously claims Western military aid can "regain stability."

Enhancing Ukrainian might can "withstand Russia('s) (nonexistent) aggression." He wants powerful weapons supplied.

He wants "tools to defend our nation." He wants them despite no existing threat. He wants them for lawless aggression.

He wants eastern opposition elements crushed. He wants them slaughtered in cold blood. 

He wants Washington partnering with his crimes. He risks global conflict. 

He and likeminded ideologues may start WW III. Stopping them matters most.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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Communist Unity and Its False Friends


To paraphrase de Maistre, every political party has the leadership it deserves. It is confidence in the wisdom of this maxim that keeps me from commenting extensively on the continuing effort to retreat from Marxism-Leninism on the part of Chairman Sam Webb and the rest of the Communist Party USA top leadership. As the membership continues to shrink-- discounting internet “friends” and “likes”-- one can only marvel at the dogged loyalty of most of the remaining membership, a loyalty perhaps leftover from times when the Party was under attack from all sides. But the Party is under attack from no one today, especially since the Party's entire body of work coincides with working selflessly for Democratic Party election victories while slavishly following (off-electoral season) the leadership of the AFL-CIO.
Apparently changes are afoot in the CPUSA as it approaches its June National Convention. There will be leadership change. Unfortunately, it does not promise to be accompanied by a shift in ideological perspective. Nonetheless, some will entertain an unfounded “hope” in a new direction, a hope that will immobilize dissent.
There is also talk of dropping references to “Communism,” the final barrier, if the Webbites are to be believed, to the CPUSA becoming a party with mass support.
For an honest, critical discussion of the latest musings of Sam Webb, go here: Houston Communist Party.
Apart from its continual decline, the CPUSA counts as a small voice, but an authoritative voice, to the US left on matters pertaining to the World Communist Movement. Recently, Sue Webb, who represented the CPUSA at the International meeting of Communist and Workers Parties held in Lisbon in November of last year, gave a report of that meeting, highlighting the CPUSA’s and other parties' assessments and views on the current situation and the way forward.
Much of Sue Webb's commentary is a thinly-veiled attack upon the Greek Communist Party (KKE) under the guise of supporting diversity and independence in the world movement. At the same time, she exploits differences between Parties to justify the CPUSA's exodus from Marxism-Leninism.
Now the KKE needs no one to defend its honor or its positions; it is supremely capable of supporting both. However, it is important for all Communists and friends of Communism to examine carefully and critically the views represented in Lisbon. Sue Webb's commentary fails to reach those standards.
She disparagingly suggests that the KKE obstinately and unreasonably thwarted a final, unifying statement: “The Greek party's criticisms were so strong that it rejected and blocked issuance of any consensual final statement summarizing the thinking of the conference. In doing so, the Greek party and its supporters from a few other countries clearly went up against the thinking and policies of the overwhelming majority of parties represented at the meeting.”
At the same time, she heralds the diverse roads taken by various Parties and their relative autonomy from a single path, citing Lenin copiously as well as her Party's reliance upon "our own experiences and conditions of struggle.” In other words, she faults the KKE for not acceding to the will of others by drawing upon its “own experiences and conditions of struggle.” Apparently, she finds no inconsistency in touting the old Euro-Communist line of national Communism while chiding the KKE for its principled, independent stance in the Lisbon meeting.
The charge of instigating disunity is particularly spurious when the KKE's big role in revitalizing the international meetings, conferences, and exchanges is recognized.
Lost in Sue Webb's simplistic account is the singular contribution that the KKE brings to any discussion of the path to socialism. Without judging the merits of its every conclusion, one must respect the deep analysis that the KKE has made of the collapse of mass European Communist Parties since the Second World War. While most Parties have wrestled with the lessons of the loss of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European socialist community, few explore the theoretical consequences of the near-complete self-destruction of powerful mass Communist Parties in Italy, France, and Spain as thoroughly as does the KKE. The process of evisceration of Marxism-Leninism in non-ruling Communist and Workers Parties began well before the fall of Soviet power. It is the KKE that draws the most profound lessons from this experience. Webb ignores it entirely.
Failure to grapple with the lessons of the collapse of Eastern European socialism and the failure of Euro-Communism leads to a one-sided, distorted map of the road ahead.
It is in this context that the KKE challenges the position that there are “stages” between capitalism and socialism. After World War Two, many Parties projected an anti-monopoly stage in the transition to socialism. Still others sought to construct a stage built on a “democracy of a new type,” a system of rule that was neither bourgeois nor socialist. These strategies entailed a focus upon parliamentary struggle and collaboration with all non-monopoly capitalist forces. The Italian “Historic Compromise” was the symbolic culmination of this perspective, engaging a strategy that opened the door to the bourgeoisification of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and consequently its inevitable demise.
One of the ideological salesmen of this approach, Giorgio Napolitano, demonstrates, with the trajectory of his life, the cruel tragedy of the PCI's failure: once a member of a university fascist youth group, Napolitano engaged with the resistance, joined the PCI, assumed a leading role in its new direction, and today reigns as the President of the Italian bourgeois Republic. With measured civility and dignity, he legitimized the government of the buffo-fascist, Silvio Berlusconi. His many honors, decorations, and prizes testify to his service to capitalism.
In an interview in 1975, Napolitano, then the economic spokesperson for the PCI, deftly danced around hard questions posed by Eric Hobsbawn:“I believe that in any country the process of socialist transformation as well as socialist regimes have to be founded on a broad basis of consensus and democratic participation... My argument about the principles and forms of democratic life to be upheld in the context of an advance to socialism and the construction of socialist society refers more concretely to the countries of Western Europe in which bourgeois democracy was born, where representative institutions have a more or less strong tradition and diverse democratic,ideological, cultural and political currents have operated more or less freely... [and] which are characterized in varying degrees... by the presence of sizable intermediate groups between the proletariat and a big bourgeoisie controlling the basic means of production.” Only a mere thirty years after Communists played a key role in the fall of anti-democratic European despotism, Napolitano vigorously celebrates the dubious Euro-tradition of bourgeois democracy while catering opportunistically to the interests of the middle strata. Unfortunately, these illusions still linger with many Communist Parties. It is this failed perspective that is vigorously opposed by the KKE.
Similarly, the mass Spanish Party, under the leadership of Santiago Carillo, collapsed into near irrelevancy thanks to the fetish of bourgeois democracy and the pandering to non-proletarian strata. Carillo argued that ”... the Communist Party should be the party of freedom and democracy...We must bring into our programme as an integral part, not only the demands of the workers, but also those of all sections of society which are under privileged.” These vacuous, shallow slogans serve the bourgeoisie well, as they do when inscribed in the platforms of modern bourgeois congressional or parliamentary parties. No wonder workers fled the PCE in droves; they understood Marxism far better than did the Party leaders.
Reflections on these tragic miscalculations should lead one to heed the warnings against opportunism issued by the KKE:
It leaves them defenseless against the corrosive work of the bourgeois and opportunist forces which are trying to assimilate the CPs into parliamentarianism, to castrate them and make them a part of the bourgeois political system, with unprincipled collaborations, with participation in governments of bourgeois management which have a “left”-“progressive” label, with entrapment in the logic of class collaboration, with support for imperialist centres, as is happening e.g. with the CPs of the so-called European Left Party, as well as other CPs that are following the same path. (G. Marinos, Member of the PB of the CC, KKE)
In the wake of the deepest global economic crisis since the Great Depression, the idea that Communist and Workers Parties should struggle to lead capitalism out of the weeds-- to better “manage” capitalism-- is an absurd strategy guaranteed to further marginalize the prospects for socialism. If only the Communists (or Communists in alliance with others) can rescue capitalism, why would they do so?
Sue Webb fails to frame the KKE positions in the context of class partisanship, an error that guarantees confusion and misunderstanding. She fails to find a difference between fighting for reforms in the framework of capitalism and refusing to take the side of a bourgeois class, a distinction that the KKE sharply makes. Where reforms benefit working people-- increases and improvements in public education, social welfare, public health, etc,-- Communists fight harder than anyone and accept allies unconditionally. But where workers are asked to stand with the bourgeoisie-- in sacrificing wages and benefits to make their employer more competitive, in boycotting products produced by foreign workers-- Communists urge that workers stand aside.
Sue Webb charges the KKE with discounting emerging economies as rivals to Western imperialism:“the concept of the BRICs countries... or others, such as in Latin America, emerging as challenges to Western imperialism is rejected.” But this is absurd; Communists see these countries as imperialist rivals to Western imperialism. That is, they have their own designs upon the global economy, their own expansionist interests. At the same time, Communists oppose aggression and war on the part of imperialist powers in every case and of every stripe. For example, Communists fervently oppose US intervention in Venezuela; they oppose EU and US meddling in Ukraine. However, they do not support the respective national bourgeoisies. This is in contrast to some “Marxist” organizations that vacillated on or capitulated to regime changes or “democratic” missionary work in countries such as Iraq or Libya.
Sue Webb scoffs at the KKE rejection of the term “financialization.“Identifying financialization as a particular feature of today's capitalism is a hoax, a diversion. Capitalism is capitalism.” One might well ask her: if capitalism is not capitalism, then what is it? I'm sure it’s lost on her that the notion that there is good capitalism and there is bad capitalism is alien to Marxism. Social Democracy and its genetic relatives all attempt to find a good capitalism to ride toward socialism. Of course in every case they have failed-- capitalism doesn't go in that direction.
Profit is the driving force of capitalism; it is impossible to imagine capitalism without profit. And profit-seeking shapes the trajectory of capitalism. Like a rabid predator, capitalists seek profits everywhere-- in the capital goods sector, in the consumer goods sector, in the service sector, and in the financial sector. The fact that the financial sector played a bigger role in profit-seeking in recent times sheds little light on capitalism's fundamental operation. Rather, anointing financial activity as a unique species of capitalism only obfuscates the basic mechanisms of capitalist accumulation. It adds nothing.
That the global crisis first broke out in capitalist financial centers is undeniable. But the fact that the initial eruptions were the result of processes long set in motion is equally undeniable. Social democrats would have us believe that the crisis was caused by aberrant behavior, a feverish fixation on financial maneuvers easily repaired by regulation and reform. This is nonsense. This is not Marxism.
Thus, the term “financialization” is a kind of hoax. A term favored by those too lazy or too afraid to examine the inner workings of a rapacious system.
One does not have to agree with every perspective, every formulation of the KKE to recognize that they are taking the lead on issues facing the World Communist Movement; they are asking the hard questions that challenge old habits, easy assumptions, and unexamined positions. Yes, they challenge convenient beliefs that make for easy interaction with other left forces, but they do so from fidelity to the Communist tradition. Yes, they do not put consensus-for-the-sake-of-consensus ahead of principle. But those of us who want to restore vitality to the Communist movement must show a deep appreciation-- and not contempt-- for their selfless commitment to resurrecting a militant Communism based upon the foundations laid by Marx and Lenin.
For all its self-congratulatory bluster about escaping from dogmatism, sectarianism, and “alien” ideas, Sue Webb's Party is about to sink into oblivion. As with a sinking ship, the CPUSA 's leadership is jettisoning its deck chairs and cabin furniture as fast as the water rises. Gone are the Party archives, the Party newspaper, Party bookstores, Party organizations, education, and even Party meetings. Gone are the Party symbols, the organizational principles, the ideology, and even the greetings of comradeship. In their place are Facebook and Twitter communications, telephone and video conferences, and common cause with liberal groups between the mandatory efforts in support of Democratic Party election campaigns.
Sue Webb says: “The outlook and policies of our party fit well into the mainstream of the world communist movement as expressed at the Lisbon meeting last November.”
Would that it were so! The current CPUSA leadership rejects audacious approaches to reaching socialism while waiting passively for the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and The New Deal. They draw their strategic line from the desperate, defensive measures necessitated by the rise of fascism eighty years ago, a temporary front with non-working class forces that quickly betrayed that alliance after World War II and the fall of fascism. Sam Webb and his leadership coterie remain locked in the thinking of another time.
Well into the mainstream”? I think not. The World Communist Movement is growing again thanks, in part, to lively, frank conversations about the way forward, as occurred in Lisbon. While consensus remains illusive, the process of discussion is, nevertheless, clarifying and unifying. But for those captured in the web of opportunism, the future is bleak.


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An Introduction to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

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Getting Serious about Inequality


The tenacity of the Yankees... is a result of their theoretical backwardness and their Anglo-Saxon contempt for all theory. They are punished for this by a superstitious belief in every philosophical and economic absurdity, by religious sectarianism, and by idiotic economic experiments, out of which, however, certain bourgeois cliques profit.” Frederich Engels, letter to Sorge, London, January 6, 1892. Translation by Leonard E. Mins (1938)
One hundred and twenty-two years later, the Yankees remain bereft of theory while clinging to every outlandish scheme promising to curtail the appetite of an insatiable capitalist system. Churning on without interruption, capitalism generates greater and greater wealth for its masters while devouring everyone else in its wake. From regulatory reform to alternative life styles, from tax policies to cooperative endeavors, self-proclaimed opponents of this rapacious economic behemoth have announced newly contrived exits from its destructive path. While “...people [in the US] must become conscious of their own social interests by making blunder upon blunder...” as Engels put it in another letter to his US friend Frederich Sorge, the contented capitalists merrily continue profiting.
Engels' brutal indictment of the North American allergy to theory and the affinity for unfocussed activism was tempered by an optimism based more upon hope than reality: “The movement itself will go through many and disagreeable phases, disagreeable particularly for those who live in the country and have to suffer them. But I am firmly convinced that things are now going ahead over there... notwithstanding the fact that the Americans will learn almost exclusively in practice for the time being, and not so much from theory.”
That conviction may well seem misplaced today as many of those who claim opposition to capitalism continue to decry theory and invest instead in utopian schemes and isolate burning issues from a general critique of capitalism and its social policies.
Nothing illustrates the Engels' diagnosis more than the current public discussion of inequality and poverty. It is tempting to call the new-found interest a fad or fashion, since it seems to spring from nothing more than a sitting President's alarm. But the present-day rage to address economic inequality is far more cynical. With interim national elections on the horizon and a competitive Presidential race on its heels, Democratic Party leaders served notice on the lame-duck President that it is time again to rouse the Party base, the labor unions, the progressive single-issue organizations, internet lefties, and the deep-pockets social liberals. Hence, despite the fact that inequality and poverty are neither newly discovered nor newly arrived, the alarm goes up: inequality is with us! Poverty is on the rise!
It is true, of course. Only a few outliers would deny that income and wealth growth for most people in the US have been stagnant or declining since some time in the 1970s (Even right-wing ideologue, Representative Paul Ryan, concedes that there are 47 million US citizens living in poverty). Health care has been in crisis, with millions left without any significant health options and untold numbers dying prematurely. The education system, like the physical infrastructure, is underfunded and crumbling. Employment continues to decline as discouraged workers exit the labor market. In short, poverty, disease, declining living standards, crime-- all the attendant problems of social and political neglect-- continue unabated, increasing dramatically over the last forty years.
At the same time, a privileged minority has enjoyed increasing income and wealth, a sharp rise in that group's share of the economic pie. As the economy marched forward, the “fortunate few” marched forward as well, but at an ever accelerating pace.
Without Theory
Data, not stultifying political or ideological rhetoric, must drive our agenda.” So says rising Democratic Party superstar, Senator Cory Booker, in a newsprint debate with Republican policy icon, Representative Paul Ryan. Sponsored by The Wall Street Journal(A Half Century of the War on Poverty, 1-25/26-14) to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Lyndon Johnson-era “War on Poverty,” the two contestants demonstrate the futility of addressing poverty without a broad and deep understanding of its sources and its history-- the “how” and “why” of social theory. Representing the “respectable” Left in the US two-party political pantomime, Booker rehearses a host of liberal think tank palliatives based on education, job training, apprenticeships, de-criminalized drug use, and a bare-bones safety-net designed to shrink the number of those unlucky enough to fall below official government floors.
Solutions, for Booker, come through the tools of business and commerce: investments, cost-benefit analysis, returns on investment, cost savings etc. Rather than improving peoples' lives, the task of reducing poverty resembles an MBA project of this new generation of Democratic Party politician. He draws on suspect, often out-of-date correlations once found between education levels and future economic outcomes to sell education as a magic elixir. These long unexamined verities are now shaken by the absence of good paying jobs, the declining worth of higher degrees, and the enormous growth of student debt. Booker's feeble defense of the leaky safety-net that remains as a tarnished legacy of the New Deal and Johnson's anti-poverty legislation centers on food stamps and Medicaid, a formula to barely sustain life, but to not escape poverty. Add a dash of Moynihan-like sermon against single-motherhood and you have the anti-poverty program of the new generation of Democratic Party leaders-- truly a patchwork of “economic absurdity” worthy of Engels' contempt.
As for the Republicans, they argue for nothing, only against Democratic Party plans. Theirs is a simple contention: Forty-seven million US citizens remain in poverty. While the “War on Poverty” may have shifted the victims of poverty demographically, the poor are still with us and in great, stubborn numbers. For Representative Ryan, charity and moral suasion-- the remedies of two centuries ago-- are the only alternative to liberal interventionism and its failure.
Now liberals will recoil from these harsh conclusions. They can and will point to significant pockets of improvement, temporary declines in the poverty rate, or promising social experiments. But what they can neither explain nor address is the persistent reproduction of poverty by our economic system. For nearly forty years, measures of income and wealth inequality have grown, signally an inevitable increase in poverty. Even those ill-disposed to theory can surely see a relationship between growing inequality and increasing poverty.
Glaringly absent from Booker's program is any significant plan to redistribute income and wealth. We can attribute that absence to the near complete ownership of elected officials of both parties by the corporations and the wealthy. But on the periphery of mainstream politics, voices can be heard advocating measures both to grow the economy beyond mass impoverishment and/or to redistribute wealth through taxation.
The Krugmans, Reichs, and Stiglitzs and the like enjoy a measure of independence afforded by their academic tenure and widely celebrated intellectual stature, allowing them to somewhat sidestep fealty to corporate masters. As esteemed economists, they understand that the continued growth of inequality will ultimately bring harsh economic or social consequences. But their nostrums, like those of the political establishment, only treat the symptoms of a persistent malady that continually generates inequality, unemployment, and crises. A study of economic history demonstrates that bursts of economic growth and progressive taxation have indeed tempered, even slightly reversed inequality and the growth of poverty, but over time both return to their former trajectory.
A Dose of Theory
A new study by a French economist, Thomas Piketty, brings forward the view that the long-term tendency of capitalism is to produce and reproduce inequality. Though his book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century, is not scheduled for release in the English language until March, it has already generated serious discussion across the spectrum of the US commentariat. New York Times columnist, Thomas B. Edsell, asserts that the book “suggests that traditional liberal government policies on spending, taxation and regulation will fail to diminish inequality.” (Capitalism vs. Democracy, 1-28-2014)
How can that be? The liberal and social democratic consensus cries out for government spending, progressive taxation, and corporate regulation as the answer to growing inequality. A gaggle of Nobel laureates embrace these tools, attesting that they are effective means to combat inequality. What does Piketty see that they do not? 
History.
Piketty is not afraid to study the history of inequality, a necessary condition for any proper socioeconomic theory. What he finds, according to Edsell, is that:
...the six-decade period of growing equality in western nations – starting roughly with the onset of World War I and extending into the early 1970s – was unique and highly unlikely to be repeated. That period, Piketty suggests, represented an exception to the more deeply rooted pattern of growing inequality.
According to Piketty, those halcyon six decades were the result of two world wars and the Great Depression.
In other words, growing inequality is the normal for capitalism and its shrinkage the aberration. Apologists would have us believe otherwise, that capitalism does not carry a gene for inequality. Unlike his Yankee counterparts, Piketty is willing to study the economy as a system-- capitalism-- and explore its historicaltrajectory. Both methodological dispositions give rise to a theory of inequality, an incomplete theory, but a theory no less.
Now Piketty and his frequent collaborator Emmanuel Saez are widely acknowledged to be among the leading experts documenting inequality world wide as well as in the US. Undoubtedly this gives a high plausibility to his core claim to identify a strong correlation between capitalism's typical course and the growth of inequality.
Of course students of Marxist theory or followers of this blog should not be surprised by Piketty's findings. For over a hundred and fifty years Marxists have maintained that inequality and impoverishment are necessary products of the capitalist system. That is, the logic of capitalism necessitates growing inequality. By locating profit at the heart of the capitalist organism, Marxists understand that wealth will invariably flow to the tiny minority of the owners of capital and away from the producers. It is this process of profit generation that overwhelms all barriers, all “reforms,” to channel society's resources to the capitalist class.
Piketty's argument is a welcome antidote to the paucity of explanatory theory presented by the liberal and social democratic punditry. The controversy stirred by Piketty's argument well before its English-language availability is a sure sign that he offers something beyond the conventional.
However, his interpretation of the long-term trajectory of capitalism, especially its departure from the norm, may be incomplete. He reportedly sees the time between 1914 and 1973-- a time when he claims that the growth of inequality was uncharacteristically retarded-- as a period when the after-tax rate of return on capital lagged behind economic growth. One could quibble that this is perhaps too simple and mechanical, the era was certainly one in which many factors worked to change the “normal” course of capitalism and often buffered the growth of inequality, together constituting a tendency.
But it would be a simplification to locate these factors entirely in economic or political events while overlooking policy. For example, throughout most of the twentieth century capitalism paid an anti-Soviet levy or rent to the working class as an inoculation against the threat of socialist or Communist ideology. That factor played no small part in moderating inequality, creating the mirage of working class equality, and ensuring labor peace.
Closer examination of Piketty's interesting thesis must await publication of the book.
For a Robust Theory of Inequality
We needn't wait for Piketty, however, to find an adequate theory of inequality. Elements of Karl Marx's theory of socioeconomic development offer the key to understanding the production and reproduction of inequality in our time as well as earlier times.
There are, of course, many possible causes for the concentration of wealth. Theft, good fortune, guile, dishonesty are only a few of the ways that humans have redistributed wealth since antiquity. Such causes occur often in history, but only haphazardly. The only systemiccause of inequality is the expropriation of the labor of one by another under the protection of social norms. Marx called this process exploitation. He was the first to identify its forms and its trajectory. He was the first to explain adequately the mechanisms of expropriation. Armed with Marx's theory of exploitation, the inequalities of slavery, feudalism, and, of course, capitalism are revealed with all their specific features. Thus, the concentration of wealth produced by expropriation of the labor of slaves, serfs, and employed workers is connected to unique socially protected forms of exploitation.
Exploitation explains how inequality arises and continues. Without recognition of this mechanism embedded in capitalist economic activity, liberals and social democrats cannot explain the persistence of inequality. They will apply inadequate reformist measures to stem the tide of wealth and income concentration springing from capitalist exploitation, but the tide will not be forestalled by reforms.
It cannot be overemphasized that inequality springs from a process, a process definitive of capitalist economic relations. Outside of the Marxist orbit, commentators view inequality as a state-of-affairs, a state-of-affairs existing between various social groupings. While they authentically decry the misery generated by inequality, they are at a lost to find the proper quantitative relationship between different groups constitutive of society. Sure, some have more than others, but what is the socially just distribution of society's goods? Granted that inequalities exist, what is the optimal way to assign shares of wealth? How much and for whom? Should everyone get an equal share? Should those on the bottom get a 10% larger share? 20%? These are the questions that perplex the non-Marxists.
The best answer from the best minds of Anglo-American social philosophy is a pretty nasty and unsatisfactory principle called Pareto efficiency. Rather than solving the inequality puzzle, Pareto efficiency justifies an unequal state-of-affairs provided that it does not diminish the well-being of others, including the least advantaged. Because of the theoretical intractability of settling on exactly what constitutes a just distribution of goods and services, modern bourgeois academic philosophers attempt to establish what would be the least objectionable, but unequal state-of-affairs. Nothing demonstrates the theoretical barrenness of Anglo-American social thought than this misguided, impossible task of determining distributive justice once and for all and for all times and places. There is no idealized state-of-affairs that could answer this question. The question itself is misguided.
Rather, in our time, the task of reducing inequality, of advancing distributive justice, is to eliminate exploitation. There can be no ideal, perfect solution to the inequality issue, but there is a way of eliminating the primary cause of indefensible inequality in a capitalist society: end labor exploitation.
Liberals and social democrats have no answer to the rightist challenge that workers today are immeasurably better off under capitalism than they were two hundred years ago. It is certainly true that most workers now live longer, are healthier, and have more free time than did their counterparts two centuries earlier. Marxist theory does not challenge that point. Instead, it asserts that the logic of the capitalist system tends to impoverish working people at all times. Whether capitalism succeeds in suppressing living standards is entirely a different matter. Other factors-- labor fight back, labor shortages, the cheapening of the means of subsistence, etc.-- may buffer, even overwhelm this tendency for a time, but the tendency never disappears.
The tendency towards impoverishment flows logically from the Marxist understanding that labor under capitalism is a commodity like any other commodity. Capitalists buy and sell the labor power of workers just as they do any other factor of production or distribution. And as with any other cost, they seek to pay the lowest possible price for it. Accordingly, the capitalist system, through the cost-cutting actions of individual capitalists (or corporations), is constantly pressuring the compensation of workers downward to levels of mere maintenance-- that is, poverty. The only systemic constraint upon that pressure is the necessity of securing labor in the future.
Therefore, we find in Marxism a basis for understanding (and addressing) inequality and poverty. Thanks to a theory that identifies the two closely related afflictions with specific historically evolved mechanisms and that connects their production and reproduction to economic systems, we can avoid the muddiness and ineffectiveness of the liberal and social democratic approaches. Both mystify the causes, offer a balm instead of a cure, and fail to halt the continuing reproduction of inequality and poverty. Like quacks and faith healers, liberals and social democrats may make the patient more comfortable, but only excising the cancer of capitalism will finally end the suffering.


Zoltan Zigedy




Enslavement Of America – Best Speech Ever By Communism Escapee (Video)

By Susan Duclos


Ladies and gentlemen, the statement shown in the video below is six minutes long and should be seen by every single citizen of the United States of America, man, woman and child. 


At a public hearing on proposed gun control legislation, Manuel Martinez, a man who escaped Cuba in 1962 after opposing Fidel Castro and being imprisoned for it, blasts Oregon gun control lawmakers in an impassioned speech that only someone that has lived through communism and Marxism, only someone that watched innocent men, women and children murdered by their own government, only someone that fought against his whole country being enslaved by a dictator, can give.


“They come here in those dog and pony show and cry that their going to protect people. You're going to protect nobody! I want to know what is behind it? Do you know what is behind the problem we have in this country with it's Marxism," Martinez said.

He continues, saying "Marxism is not coming, Marxism is here! Marxism has been in this country for quite a while now. And the politicians allow that because they are ignorant or they're part of the plot!"

“Don’t sell me this. A very powerful man tried to sell me this 50-something years ago, I didn’t buy it, do you think I am going to buy it now after pushing 80 years?" Martinez said. “This is Marxism, plain and clear.”

“They put this dog and pony show saying hey, we are going to protect you. No, what they did was enslave a country,” Martinez said. “They destroyed a country the same way that this country is going to be destroyed if we continue in this fashion. This is what you’re selling here!” Martinez said, holding up old communist magazines from Cuba and stating "This is what you selling here!! You are not selling protection! You don't care about if we die or live!  THIS IS WHAT YOU'RE SELLING!!!

That is just a a portion of this man's statement, watch the entire video as Manuel Martinez speaks up and fights for your rights guaranteed to you under the US constitution.



The fact that an immigrant, a man who fled to the US to escape tyranny and a dictator like Fidel Castro, is willing to stand up, speak out and fight harder for OUR constitutional rights than half the people who were born free in America, says so much about how clueless some Americans truly are to how close to being totally enslaved we are at this moment in time.





Cross posted at Before It's News




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In the summer of 1980, Italian fascists blew up the central station in “red” Bologna. 85 people were killed, more than 200 were wounded. The terrorists had close ties to the Italian military intelligence and NATOs secret stay-behind groups. In Norway in the summer of 2011, two fascist lone wolf terrorist attacks were carried out against the government square block and the Youths Labor party summer camp, claiming the lives of 77 people and wounding more than 300. August 2nd in Italy and July 22nd in Norway are both markers of the worst terrorist acts in post-war Western Europe. In this guest post, Idar Helle, a member of the Transnational Labour Project in Oslo, reviews the book by Eystein Kleven 22. juli-terroren: Angrepet på arbeiderbevegelsen [The terror of 22nd of July: The attack on the labor movement] (Marxist publishing 2011, 42 pages).

After the 22nd of July 2011 most of the literature has focused on the victims and the personality of Anders Behring Breivik, the man who carried out the two acts of terror in Norway. But this text is different. Instead, the cultural and ideological conditions for fascist mass violence in our time are brought to the surface. More than what we are used to from the Norwegian left, the author Eystein Kleven at Marxist publishing uncompromisingly proceeds to take action about what he sees as a strengthened reactionary political tendency in the European deep culture. With a little defined labor movement safely positioned in the role as the hero of history, the pamphlet from the fall of 2011 pounces on bourgeois society:

“That is how the reactionary becomes the particular in the bourgeois at the same time as the general in fascism. This is true even though the reactionaries, and not at least fascisms, have the habit to dress up with creations of the past, be it kings’ men, crusaders, the pope’s church supremacy or the caliphate of the East. Among the bourgeois theories or ideologies, fascism is the ideology that most consequently and brutally substantiates the fight against the labor movement” (P.41).

The pamphlet has weaknesses making it vulnerable to the author’s opponents among liberals and authoritarian anti-Marxists.  Eystein Kleven’s way of reasoning and phrasing in a direct way has something sober about it, but just as much belongs to a time before 1960, when the faith in Marxism as the consummation of science was considered a state religion in the East, and a plausible point of view at the universities in the West. The text seems to have been created in a strange closed universe, without any references to public debate or scientific literature at all. It is thus up to the reader to seek other texts within and outside of the Marxist mainstream to supplement Kleven, and to create a more effective political synthesis.

“The White Terror” is a term used about the harsh behavior of the French restoration monarchy after the fall of Napoleon and the last breath of the revolution in 1815. It is at this point that we arrive at last at the most insisting pinprick: “in history the reactionary violence has consistently been considerably more cruel and violent than the violence carried out by progressive forces during revolutions” (P.21). From here the author moves on to an uncompromising statement that on a strategic level capital will at any time be prepared to form alliances with fascism against social counterforces to avoid change of the economic system.

To fully understand this, it might be suitable to be specific about the implications this analysis has for the political forecast in Europe: The statement implies that the dominating financial interests today seeking to transform the European Union into a more complete plutocracy and corporate power structure, will have less to fear from neo-fascist governments than in a social Europe. And if the Troika and the creditors on Wall Street and at the Frankfurt stock exchange would have to choose, they would – every day throughout the whole year – prefer Golden Dawn’s mob rule to Syriza and the attempt to organize the Greek and the European community against the interests of capital. The leading theorist of the Frankfurt School, Max Horkheimer, expressed the essential point like this in the 1930s: “Whoever is not prepared to talk about capitalism should keep quiet about fascism”.  


Idar Helle is a researcher in the field of contemporary history, with a special focus on labour movements and industrial relations in Norway and Europe.

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Caracas.

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There are many ways one can respond to such criticisms, which to be sure are not without a significant validity. One of them is to remind people that it shows a real loss of perspective to highlight only a leader and movement’s errors and forget its important successes, such as those derived from Chávez’s taking power in the first place (at a time when that idea was somewhat discredited on the left), his re-nationalizing PDVSA (the Venezuelan petroleum company), and his raising the then unpopular flag of socialism. Still, leaving aside the significant lack of perspective that these criticisms represent, there remains a different kind of error, which has to do with the skeletal notion of politics and political discourse they embody.

Imagine a doctor who insisted that the human being is mortal and therefore no medications or care can really save him, or an automobile designer whose only idea was that a car is a thing for getting from one place to another. The former, without having committed a logical error, would have brought his profession too close to that of the funeral director, whereas the latter would apparently not distinguish between a scooter and a city bus. Yet in many ways this reductive, bottom-line approach is how people think about politics today – for example, as simply representing the populus – without much interest in the manner in which it is done, nor in questions of style, to say nothing of questions of right and wrong.

The late Luis Villafaña once observed that Chávez, whenever he went to a place (for example in the traveling episodes of Aló Presidente), would begin to talk about the region, recite poems having to do with it. Essentially, he was trying to put the region on the map: Chávez wanted it to be a somewhere, its people to be somebodies. According to thebrilliant analysis of Toby Valderrama, Chávez was a kind of catalyst who allowed the population of a country that lives off the petroleum rent (in such societies work is generally undervalued and not related in people’s minds to achievement) to see themselves as agents and therefore capable of doing something. In his discourse they became inheritors of Bolívar, Zamora, Maisanta, and countless others.

Chávez tried to inspire people; impressively, he actually succeeded in doing so. Was this merely an affective part of his discourse and hence unrelated to real politics? I once wrote that the kind of inspiration Chávez proffered should be thought of in relation to the word’s etymology: to inspire is, literally, to breathe… life. The truth is that without living people, people who have decided to be or become, it is surely impossible to do anything, let alone anything political.

The contrary of being inspired is, of course, to lose morale. In fact, it would be hard for someone not living in Venezuela to understand the widespread “pérdida de ánimo” that has taken place following Chávez’s death. It is possible that recent changes in Nicolás Maduro’s discourse – now more carefully prepared and self-critical – together with the call for popular mobilization to combat the economic war will do something to change this. Otherwise the Bolivarian movement will have to find other means to keep the inertia and routine of urban life – the degrading objective conditions that are reserved for the majority in a modern class society – from mining its militants conduct, which has to be the basis of the process of change.

The kind of “bare bones” view of politics that I am questioning recently showed itself in another context. This was the crisis induced in the European left by the “Winter phase” of the Arab Spring. A sharp divide opened up among leftist intellectuals concerning the interpretation of the events in Libya and later those in Syria. Some adopted an ultra-defensist perspective that in its most extreme versions ended up celebrating Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad. Others, who later would be accused (sometimes with justice) of being “pro-NATO,” felt that more credit had to be given, at least in certain moments of their trajectory, to the rebel movements. In the Spanish language website rebelion.org, where some of the most heated disputes took place, John Brown hinted that the former group was so Manichean that it would have to disown José Martí for having opened Cuba to imperialism.

It would be quite difficult to fairly map the complex motivations and context of this whole debate. Nor is it my interest to try to do so here, but rather to illustrate something about the crisis and limitations of hegemonic political discourse. Though it seems a bit of a throw away, I am inclined to say that both sides are partly right, partly wrong. Let it be acknowledged that an intellectual who ends up coinciding with NATO obviously is on the wrong side. On the other hand, it remains a strict matter of fact – and this is the point I wish to make – that a political perspective which dissolves into a purely geostrategic view of things, as the defensist view sometimes did, is doomed to failure. Unless one takes into account the aspirations of people on the street, their sense of dignity, their lived reality and being, one cannot do any kind of politics, but especially not left-politics. This is because people on the street are the agents of left politics.

Put another way, the exclusively geostrategic view sees politics as a chessboard: a mere moving of pieces around as if all of us, at least in our minds, could be Metternichs or Bismarcks. Whatever support this view can offer to left politics, it cannot be the whole of left politics.

These days, thanks in a great measure to existentialism, one cannot read Hamlet’s most famous soliloquy without thinking that his question about being or not being is not simply a matter of living (biologically) or not but is rather about the decision to live deliberately and meaningfully. I say this because, in effect, “to be, or not to be” constitutes a basic (pre?)political question for everyone today; choosing the former is the only alternative to the dominant position which, as Peter Sloterdijk argues, is a diffuse cynicism. Hence, in our time, simultaneous with any serious political action, a collective has to decide to be or to become; often it must do so with reference to the concept of a nation or a people. (The Basque left, always interesting in this respect, has recently named its party Sortu (to be born), while its newspaper of some years is Gara (we are).)

In the “Afterword” to his Considerations on Western Marxism, Perry Anderson argues that Marx committed a series of errors because he underestimated the importance of the nationalisms that would dominate Europe in the second part of the 19th century (something Marx might have corrected had he lived longer). In our time, however, the left has frequently fallen into an even greater error: not understanding interiority, motivation, and identity. I take it that it was one of the great successes of Chávez that, with a discourse that cannot be reduced to any mere instrumentality, he sought to interpellate and elevate people – their being – in a fundamental sense.

Chris Gilbert is professor of Political Science at the Universidad Bolivariana de Venezuela.

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Class against Class


Every commentator of every stripe concedes that US workers have been battered over the last five years since the onset of the global economic crisis. What most fail to concede is that the battering was the direct result of a one-sided class war.

From every perspective, measured by every economic indicator, all US workers-- those organized into trade unions and those not-- have been hammered relentlessly. Unemployment, measured by the government's least telling index, remains unconscionably high. Labor force participation, a better measure of the job picture, continues to decline. And the jobs that do become available are unprecedentedly part-time, low-paying, or temporary.

Wages are stagnant or declining in every sector and labor's share of national wealth continues to atrophy. Benefits are under attack with workers’ contributions to existing benefits growing and employers’ share shrinking.

The oft-cited road to success for working class youth-- a college education-- has proven fool's gold. The average student is saddled with $25,000 in student debt and a marginal job that retards getting out of debt and capturing meaningful savings.

At the same time, a “recovery” has occurred: production and national wealth have rebounded to and surpassed their pre-crisis levels. Profits and profit growth are well above historic levels and trends. And the stock market has revived energetically.

The widely heralded “recovery” has only been a recovery for the very wealthiest. A recent study by the formidable economic research team of Saez and Piketty shows that 95% of the income benefits of this one-sided recovery have accrued to the top 1% of income recipients. The other 99% must settle for a tiny share of the meager remaining 5% gain in income!

That US workers’ fate and the fate of their employers and their minions are on two separate, divergent tracks is undeniable. That these two tracks are sustainable is entirely a different matter, a matter to be settled when workers embrace a fight back in the struggle between classes.

While pundits from across the political spectrum acknowledge the huge and growing chasm between the rich and working people (see, for example, Paul Krugman's Rich Man's Recovery, The New York Times), they offer little by way of explanation and even less toward addressing and correcting the condition.

Instead, they deplore and regret, condemn and ruethe sorry plight of working people in the face of burgeoning wealth channeled to the privileged. They trot out a host of tired, ineffective nostrums that consistently evade changing the dynamics that invariably generate growing inequality. Slogans like “tax the rich” warm the blood, but get no political traction. And on the rare occasion when tax increases and the like survive political mine fields, the rich find ways to evade them. Given the political power that inequality confers to the wealthy, it should be no wonder that even modest reformist proposals are decisively aborted by the best “public servants” that monopoly corporations and their wealthy owners can buy.

What, then, are the dynamics that generate inequality? What reallyaccounts for the ever widening income and wealth game between a tiny minority and the vast majority of US citizens?

No understanding of economic inequality in a global capitalist economy can begin without an acknowledgment of class.The existence of social classes is the unwelcome analytic tool that capitalist apologists devote careers to denying. Media savants and academic authorities choke on the word “class.” To them, class division is a distant memory of hereditary aristocrats and down-trodden peasants. Surely, they affirm, the rise of representative government has eradicated class distinctions.

To avoid the obvious, liberals and so-called “progressives” have created a class that simply hangs in the air, absent any supporting structures: the middle class! A favored idea embraced by politicians, top labor leaders, and social workers, the middle class is said to shrink, decline, or disappear; yet no one tells us where the lost members go!

This slick trick hopes to mask the simple fact that the US is not a classless society.

Contrary to popular mythology, social life in the US is not all harmony and bliss. Instead, it is one of conflicting and incompatible interests. Moreover, the sharpest differences, the differences that determine material well-being, are differences of social class. The great contribution of Marxism is to reveal exactly how class is best understood-- not as social position, profession, or subjective perception, but as a material relation between employer and employee. That is, the most useful discrete divide is between those who engage the labor of others and those who provide that labor. The former constitutes a class of employers and their minions; the latter-- a much larger group-- constitutes the working class.

Even a casual reflection on the relation between the two classes in capitalist society exposes a sharp and irreconcilable difference of interest. Those who employ labor share no other goal than maximizing the profit of their enterprises. Put simply, from the Mom and Pop store to the largest monopoly corporation, owners are in business to make money. While small enterprises are limited in scope and intensity, larger enterprises, especially those with investors and shareholders, are driven relentlessly to achieve greater and greater rates of profit and sums of profit.

It is the logic of capitalism to reduce the costs of economic activity and command a greater share of that activity for the owners, investors, and shareholders. From the perspective of the worker, “reducing costs” translates into a relentless attack on the wages and benefits of the working class. The less that must be shared with the worker, the more that can go toward profit.

Since the dawn of capitalism, workers have recognized the divergence of interest between profit maximization and realizing their desire to improve their economic standing. They have understood the necessity of fighting to both maintain and expand their share of the fruits of economic activity. The history of labor is a history of the development of the instruments (unions, political parties), techniques (unity, strikes, demonstrations), and ideology (class, class consciousness, class struggle) necessary to secure a greater share of the surplus generated by the labor process. And among the most advanced, visionary workers, a world entirely free of the employer/employee relationship, a world without exploitation, a world of common, social ownership, is the goal.

Thus, we can and should measure the success or failure of the working class movement by how well it has fared in the battle with employers for a greater share of that surplus.

And by that measure, or any other, not only the last five years have been a disaster, but the previous three decades as well. Income and wealth distribution has shifted dramatically in favor of the employer class and its attendants. The rich are winning a class war for the lion's share of socially produced wealth. The working class is losing even the gains of the past.

How does this happen?

While the employers have mounted an aggressive assault on workers' wages and benefits, ostensible workers' organizations have failed workers.

The Democratic Party enjoyed the support of the working class thanks to both real and imagined gains won through the New Deal of the 1930s. In the ensuing years, that high point of labor-friendliness dissipated, with its last echoes embodied in the 1976 Democratic Party platform. Of course that platform was betrayed by the Democrat President-elect, James Carter. Never again did the Democratic Party embrace labor's cause, despite Don Quixote-like efforts by Jesse Jackson in subsequent years. While establishment Democrats mocked Reagan's lame “trickle down” economics, a decade later they celebrated the same idea with their absurd slogan that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

Obama, the latest political “friend” of labor, has so far failed to deliver anything of significance to workers in the five years of his administration, nothing that might have reversed the grinding, painful decline of working class standards of living.

Certainly the top leaders of the trade union movement have served workers no better. Accordingly, they have been punished for their failure by a sharp decline in union membership, a decline that has lead them to panic before their own fate.

Of course their concerns, born of self-preservation, are nothing compared to the devastation of the working class inflicted over the last four decades. Their failure to use the available tools of class struggle, their reliance on cozy arrangements with bosses, and their identification with the health and flourishing of corporations are policies that have proven severely injurious to the working class.

Collaboration that links the fate of the working class to the fate of the corporations has paid off handsomely... for the corporations. A recent study summarized in The Wall Street Journal submits that by the end of this decade, “Adjusted for productivity, average labor costs will beat Japan by 18%, Germany 34%, and France 35%.” The study doesn't bother to mention what this will mean for US workers, of course. Their losses to the gods of competitiveness are capitalists' gains!

To take an example, US auto sales have soared to levels unseen since before the economic crisis first struck. Corporate profits are growing at a record pace.

How do they do it?

First, the US auto industry received massive tax-payer bailouts from the Obama administration, but only on the condition that they close plants and lay off workers! So much for the Democratic Party friends of labor.

Secondly, the industry produces the same amount of vehicles with less than 80% of the former workers, a forced-march increase in productivity.

And thirdly, at United Auto Worker unionized plants, the union submitted to deep concessions. Entry level UAW workers now make $15.78 an hour, a rate commensurate with an annual wage a mere 12% above the level defined by the Federal government as “living in or near poverty.” Once, the UAW wage and benefit package was the gold standard of industrial unionism!

Because of their total capitulation to the auto industry bosses, the leaders of the once proud UAW have resorted to pursuing the organization of the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant by sneaking through the back door. They hope to use a European Union regulation and their cozy relation with the company to secure recognition. How else to “win” a non-union shop when union and non-union wages are virtually equal? (Actually, when relative costs-of-living are factored, they are sometimes better in non-union plants).

Indeed, there is no class war when one side is always in retreat. The rout can only be reversed if workers shed their blind support for the Democratic Party and vigorously exercise their independence. The rout can only be reversed when workers transform their unions into class-struggle weapons and launch a counter-offensive.

The future doesn't have to continue with the past.

Zoltan Zigedy

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Spontaneous Combustion and a Knight in Shining Armor


Give us an organization of revolutionaries, and we will overturn Russia!” V.I. Lenin

The US left suffers from two maladies that persistently thwart any effort to move beyond the malaise of internet negativity and the false activism of online petitions. Setting aside those still desperately clinging to the Democratic Party womb, well-intentioned and serious radicals, young and old, have yet to draw the lessons necessary to unify and focus the seemingly limitless committees, coalitions, and centers that constitute our dysfunctional left.

Most damaging is the mindless and groundless faith in spontaneity. Far too many of our brothers and sisters believe that political action, organization, and change will come the way it does in Hollywood horror movies. The people will emerge from their homes, recognize the danger, and rally to confront the alien threat. Danger combines with self-interest to generate a spontaneous common resistance and a common response. While it makes for entertaining fiction, it seldom if ever happens in real life.

The Occupy movement was the latest iteration of this faith. Life proved that the notion of spontaneous organization and governance would end, leaving barely a trace of its prior existence. Decades before Occupy, the so-called New Left cast its fate to spontaneity. Programs, parties, agendas, etc. were eschewed; the “Movement” would find its own way. Oracles of that flawed thinking have gone on to their life's work as professors, professionals, and Democratic Party operatives.

In the rear-view mirror of bourgeois historians, political movements are depicted as spontaneous risings-- a kind of spontaneous combustion sparked by a particularly hostile affront or violent act. The US colonial rebellion against the British was “sparked” by the Boston Tea Party or the confrontations at Lexington and Concord, never mind the years of debate, struggle, and planning by the Sons of Liberty and other evolving organizations of resistance. Similarly, popular history poses the Civil Rights Movement as a burst of activism ignited by Rosa Parks' courage and channeled by police dogs and fire hoses. The decades of organized and planned resistance that prepared for this moment are largely ignored.

Faith in spontaneous struggle, trust in an instinctive, automatic confrontation with power, spawns inaction. If the oppressed and exploited will unerringly marshal resistance, there is no need to organize and agitate among them; they will find their way without the uninvited help of organizers and agitators. Professional revolutionaries need not apply. They must simply add their bodies to the “movement” when the magic moment arises.

A logical conclusion of the faith in spontaneity is the dangerous and destructive notion that “the worse things get, the better.” When enough pain is felt, the masses will rise; until then we meet in our diverse and numerous causes, sending checks, signing petitions and reassuring each other that something big will undoubtedly erupt.

Among Marxists, the cult of spontaneity takes the form of what V. I. Lenin called “economism.” By acknowledging only the objective conditions, the unseen operations of the laws of capitalist development, the tendency for capitalism towards crisis and the “immiseration of the proletariat,” these “Marxists” see no role for agitation and organization; they see no need for a party of revolutionaries. Instead, they count on the grinding inevitability of crude determinism.

Marxists (and trade union leaders) who fall into the trap of “economism” invariably bury the Marxist principle of class struggle in the day-to-day administration of trade unionism. In writing about the Marxist “economists” of his time, Lenin charged that they “demoralized the socialist consciousness by vulgarizing Marxism, by advocating the theory of the blunting of social contradictions, by declaring the idea of the social revolution... to be absurd, by reducing the working class movement and the class struggle to narrow trade-unionism and to a 'realistic' struggle for petty, gradual reforms. This was synonymous with bourgeois democracy's denial of socialism's right to independence and, consequently, of its right to existence; in practice it meant a striving to convert the... working class movement into an appendage of the liberals.” (What Is To Be Done?)

Faith in spontaneity diminishes politics. Neither the vulgar belief that collective pain will birth action nor the “sophisticated” and distorted Marxist claim that objective laws will inexorably bring change stands the test of history. Agency-- the planned, concerted, and collective effort of organized groups-- make history.

If only we had a Lenin, Martin Luther King, Ralph Nader, etc., etc....”

A different, but closely related malady retards political action on the US left: the Knight in Shining Armor syndrome. Like spontaneity, it postpones action until something unknown and unpredictable happens; it replaces planned, concerted action with faith.

Many on the left are frozen with inaction while waiting for the next great emancipator or political super-star. This variant of celebrity worship is nurtured by the all-too-common brief appearance of prominent figures on the political stage while leaving no lasting movement or organization in their wake.

The Jesse Jackson Democratic primary campaigns of 1984 and 1988 are cases in point. Jackson offered the most progressive Democratic Party platform since the New Deal. In the first primary battle, he captured nearly 20% of the popular vote. In 1988, he ran again, establishing himself as the front runner after handily winning the important Michigan primary and finished by more than doubling his previous vote total and securing 11 states.

And then he was gone, disappearing from Democratic Party politics, leaving neither a movement nor a political impact on the Party's destiny. By 1992, the Party had moved permanently rightward to embrace right-centrist, Bill Clinton. And twenty-five years later, the progressive wing of the Party waits hopefully and patiently for another celebrity arriving fully armored and on a powerful steed!

Similarly, the Nader Presidential campaigns brought great interest to the Green Party. But the ever-earnest Ralph Nader had little interest in party-building. Though serious, he walked away, leaving others to attempt to construct an on-going political party from the good will left from his runs. Fortunately, the Green Party's latest candidate, Jill Stein, has a more developed understanding of political theory. What she lacks in celebrity status, she more than makes up for with organizational savvy and historical perspective. Her innovative, clever development of the “shadow” cabinet concept is particularly impressive.

But it's not solely the fault of Jackson and Nader--two well-meaning candidates-- that these celebrity campaigns were comet-like. Rather, it is the naïveté of the left that failed to see beyond the immediacy of these political events, that felt no urgency to subordinate an unrealistic chance to actually win to the necessity of leaving something permanent upon which to build.

Behind the Knight in Shining Armor syndrome stands the Great Man (or Woman) theory of history: great events are the work of great personalities. For example, the Pharaohs built the Great Pyramids (All by themselves? to paraphrase Bertolt Brecht). The masses are merely the obliging instruments of superior minds and talented leaders. Lenin refers to this thinking as in the “Ilovaisky manner,” referring to the author of many Russian textbooks who saw Russian history solely as the work of czars and generals.

The political expression of this in Lenin's Russia came from the Norodniks who saw themselves as the saviors of the peasants. Middle class intellectuals impressed with their own superior abilities, the Norodniks “colonized” peasant society in order to surgically implant the great leaders they felt the peasantry lacked. In the words of Soviet writer V.P. Filatov, they believed “that only 'heroes' made history” and that they could turn “the mob into the people.”

Adding the 'Conscious Element'

Lenin's writings demonstrate that there is nothing new or unique in the false ideology of spontaneity. Further, we can learn from Lenin's conclusion: “[A]ll worship of the spontaneity of the working class movement, all belittling of the role of 'the conscious element',... means quite independently of whether he who belittles that role desires it or not, a strengthening of the influence of bourgeois ideology upon the workers...” (What is to be Done?) In other words, only attention to the “conscious element” can advance our cause beyond the false path of spontaneity.

But what does Lenin mean by the “conscious element”?

Going forward depends upon a correct assessment of what constrains our progress. It requires a consciousness of the ideas essential to successfully challenge power. It requires an ideology. Moreover, that ideology must be radically different from the ideology of the forces resisting change. Nor can it compromise with the enemy ideology. Thus, it is a revolutionary consciousness.

But revolutionary consciousness must be converted into massrevolutionary consciousness. For that we need an organization. Because its mission is to take the ideology of revolutionary change to those both most in need of it and most able to use it, that organization counts as a vanguard. It is the idea of a vanguard that allows us to advance beyond the illusion of spontaneity.

Opponents of Leninism charge the idea of a vanguard with elitism, the idea that a select group of revolutionaries knows better than the masses. It is nothing of the sort. Rather, a vanguard is the transmission belt for ideas that will not and cannot arise spontaneously within the working class or broader movement.

In our time, the ideology of resistance is decidedly and necessarilyanti-capitalist. But that is not enough. A revolutionary ideology must offer an alternative to capitalism, an alternative that is neither cosmetic nor fanciful. That alternative is socialism.

Popular illusions abound: regulation can wean corporations from rapacious accumulation and dominance; small-scale “social” enterprises and cooperatives can erode the unprecedented political and economic power of monopoly enterprises. Such ideas fall far short of ideological credibility. Only socialism—the elimination of the process of private accumulation through labor exploitation-- reaches that credibility.

And who is to deliver the message of socialism; i.e., who is to serve as missionary for the revolutionary ideology?

The answer is as it was in Lenin's time: An organization dedicated to that task above all else; an organization not encumbered by the fetish of bourgeois elections; a party of revolutionaries; a Communist Party.

Zoltan Zigedy

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From Postmodernism to Postsecularism– A Review



In January of 2012, I reviewed Eric Walberg's book, Post-Modern Imperialism (Clarity Press, 2011). I enthusiastically concluded that:

Walberg has offered a welcome taxonomy of imperialism from its nineteenth-century genesis until today; he has given a plausible explanation of imperialism’s contours since the exit of the Soviet Union and Eastern European socialism from the world stage; and he has convincingly described Israel’s unique role in the continuing reshaping of imperialism’s grasp for world domination.

Further, Walberg gave a needed response to misguided leftists who were quick to label Islamic resistance to US and Israeli predation as “Islamo-fascist.” Much of the US and European left took a smug, chauvinistic posture--a posture that coincided with the interests of imperialism-- toward fighters in the Muslim world daring to defy Western intervention and interference. They ignorantly announced that religious “fundamentalism” fatally tainted their resistance. Walberg struck a powerful blow against these immature conclusions.

Now Walberg has undertaken a more ambitious project in his new book, From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization(Clarity Press, 2013). His argument can be summarized-- without too much violence to its nuances-- as:

1. The last great secular social justice project-- socialism-- has failed with the demise of the Soviet Union.
2. Islam and its attendant political-social-economic doctrines are viable alternative routes to social justice.
3. Islam is the only alternative that can deliver social justice. Therefore, Islam is the universal way to social justice.

Of course Walberg goes to great lengths to shore this argument with a detailed, fascinating history of Islam and its currents that, alone, is worth the price of admission. He explores the relative shortcomings of other religions, a brief that is factually accurate, but, like the account of Islam, tellingly selective.

Hints of this thesis were embedded in the earlier book, Post-Modern Imperialism. I noted in my review: 

In the same vein, it is an exaggeration to portray Islam (or any other religion) as inherently anti-imperialist: in his words, “The unyielding anti-imperialist nature of Islam, its rejection of the fundamental principles of capitalism concerning money, its refusal to be sidelined from economic and hence political life…”
Unfortunately, Islam has the same tortured relationship with imperialism as have all the major religions. Precisely because they possess no robust doctrinal opposition to imperialism in general, all major religions have stood on both sides of the barricades.
The Islamist movement, Hamas, for example, stands as an important component of today's anti-imperialist front.

But it was not always this way. US ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, speaking in Jerusalem on December 20, 2001, affirmed that the rise of Hamas coincided with “the promotion of the Islamic movement as a counter to the Palestinian nationalist movement... with the tacit support of Israel” as reported by Dean Andromidas in Global Outlook (Summer 2002). Andromidas quoted Kurtzer: “Israel perceived it as better to have people turn towards religion than toward a nationalistic cause [like the PLO].” PLO leader Yasser Arafat is quoted from the Italian press:

But Hamas is a creature of Israel which gave Hamas money, and more than 700 institutions, among them schools, universities and mosques. Even Rabin ended up admitting it, when I charged him with it, in the presence of Mubarek.
And

Hamas was constituted with the support of Israel. The aim was to create an organization antagonistic to the PLO. They received financing and training from Israel. They have continued to benefit from permits and authorizations.
In the same issue of Global Outlook, author Hassane Zerrouky (Hamas is a Creature of Mossad) outlines how “Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat's Fatah movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal repression and intimidation.” (reprinted in Global Outlook from L'Humanité).

Thus, while honest revolutionaries must recognize Hamas’s role in defending Palestinians from imperialism today, honesty equally demands acknowledgment of its sordid role in collaborating with Israel in the destruction of secular nationalism and the Palestinian left. It's difficult to find an “unyielding anti-imperialist nature” in this treachery.

Egyptian Communists acknowledge this vulnerability to imperialist manipulation in the August 3 statement of their Central Committee:

One of the objectives of the projects of imperialism in the Middle East is the establishment of states on religious grounds, which serves mainly Zionist plan to declare Israel a Jewish state for all Jews in the world, as well as the important results of  pushing these religious countries to inevitably get caught up in sectarian conflict. And it necessarily creates strategic divisions and fragmentations of the Arab countries and brings the conflict between Sunni - Shiite, Muslim - Christian, Muslim - Jewish to replace the Arab-Israeli national liberation conflict, to replace the social class struggle among the peoples of the Arab countries, and to replace the struggle against authoritarian regimes  allied with the imperialist global and international monopolies.
Most Arab socialists and Communists have sought unity with organized Islamic anti-imperialist organizations, sometimes successfully, as with Hizbullah and Lebanese Communists. But on other occasions that trust has been brutally betrayed, as with the slaughter of the Tudeh (Communists) in the Islamic Republic of Iran.


For Marxists, the major religions are a sometime ally in the struggle against imperialism.
Insofar as they welcome cooperation and reject collaboration with the class enemy, Islam and the other major religions will find consistent friends in Marxist-Leninists. Thus, we welcome and support the current shift in the leadership of the Catholic Church toward the cause of the poor and against the ravages of capitalism, just as we regretted the alienation of past Popes from the fate of the Catholic masses.

Contrary to Walberg's premise number two-- the centerpiece of the above argument-- Islam and the other major religions fall far short of offering an adequate ethics of social justice for today's world. The Quran, like the doctrines of the Catholic Church, forbids usury, the collecting of interest on debt. Absent usury, Walberg believes that a comprehensive practice of charity will provide Islam with a complete program of social justice for today and tomorrow.

Aside from the fact that religious practitioners and their leaders conveniently find ways to sidestep or obscure the prohibition of the collecting of interest, “usury” fails to even remotely capture the prevalence and depth of modern-day labor exploitation. The Catholic Church's condemnation of “excess” profits fails for the same reasons. To suggest that charity alone can solve the incredible poverty, unemployment, and economic inequality of, say, a country like Mali seems patently improbable. And the solution of charity seems dangerously close to the answer advocated by the apologists for unfettered capitalism.

Likewise, the Hebrew concept of “Jubilee,” as an admirable moral prescription of debt removal and property restoration and an answer to the inequities of antiquity, will not put a moral dent in contemporary capitalism. That said, the vital principles of economic justice found in the Torah, the Gospels, and the Quran suggest a posture toward the ravages of capitalism. A casual reader of the texts held sacred by the respective religions will find much encouragement for a condemnation of the process of capitalist accumulation. Should believers read those texts with earnestness, they would undoubtedly become Communists as well as believers!

My own-- perhaps eccentric-- view is that the major religions cannot escape the charge of hypocrisy unless they embrace socialism, the contemporary embodiment of the moral codes of their founders. Unfortunately, most religious leaders in our time choose to accommodate capitalism.

Walberg is not insensitive to the alternative vision of Marx and Communism. He devotes a full chapter to “Postsecularism: Marx and Muhammad,” going to great lengths to show that Islam answers the questions posed by Marxism while avoiding its “shortcomings.” 

Destructive to his argument, he misunderstands the Marxist theory of value as follows:

Kapital's weakness-- the labor theory of value-- is a materialist reductio ad absurdum, denying the 'value' of 'unproductive' labor (the elements brought to bear by the capitalist related to securing markets, research, innovations, factor management)...
This is fatally confused. Marx recognizes a value contribution in ALL necessary labor culminating in the production of a commodity, including the research, innovation, essential organizational management, etc. Further, he sees a necessary value deduction in the labor essential for a commodity's circulation. What he does not recognize is any value created or socially necessary from the mere fact of ownership. And this contradiction between ownership and labor is precisely the element missing in all of the social doctrines of traditional religions including Islam.

Walberg's confusion about Marx's value theory leads him away from the resolution of the contradiction between value created by labor and the ownership of that value by the capitalist, a contradiction only resolved by class struggle.

This error dooms his well-meant, but naive  synthesis of Islam and Marxism:

The ijtihad-jihad process is in a sense just a more comprehensive version of Marxist praxis [by] emphasizing:
social unity rather than class struggle
the family and spiritual life rather than material production
evolution rather than revolution
While the sentiment is noble, it is irreconcilable with Marxism. Capitalism's rapaciousness-- acknowledged by Walberg-- cannot be eliminated by a retreat to mere spirituality, an unconditional appeal to unity or a common destiny, or the virtue of patience. These are simple facts that religions cannot escape.

I would propose a counter synthesis:

class struggle as the path to social unity
the family and spiritual life AND material production
revolution leading to the realization of these values

which could readily open the road to a Marxist-Islamic understanding and cooperation.

Walberg's book is timely, coming in the wake of the so-called “Arab Spring.” One feels a veritable joy in his writings bursting from the optimism generated by the risings in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Unfortunately, that optimism proved short-lived. 

The Islamic governments established in Tunisia and Egypt generated great social rifts culminating in overthrow in one and growing tensions in the other. Open opposition in Libya and Syria drew the intervention of outside forces that swiftly transformed the struggle into imperialist regime change, destabilization of the regions, and enormous human and infrastructure destruction. Grievances were quickly appropriated by US and NATO meddlers who seized an opportunity to shape the outcomes.

In a little over a year, the rise of Islamic civilization that Walberg foresaw was dashed on the rocks of divisiveness and foreign intervention, just as it has in other times and places.

For the Marxist left, the Arab Spring provoked reservations and guarded sympathy, even apart from nefarious outside interference. On one hand, the rising against entrenched, reactionary authority was a welcome expression of popular will. On the other hand, the risings appeared to be more rebellions than revolutions. That is, the goals of the insurgents were neither united nor well-formed.

As events unfolded, these fears were borne out. Rather than challenge the structures of privilege and exploitation, sides were drawn around different attitudes toward tradition and “modernity,” secularism and spiritualism. While real and not fanciful, these differences do not touch the deeper relations of oppression. As with modern-day Western liberals who are occupied with lifestyle decisions and personal choices, the battles contested in the Arab Spring guaranteed that the poverty and exploitation of the masses would remain untouched.

One hopes are for the revival of a vibrant Marxist-Leninist movement in these countries to nurture these developments from rebellion to revolution.

Zoltan Zigedy


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Some Marxist Ideas Made Easy


The Ruling Class

The words “ruling class” conjure a group of older, rich, typically white, men sitting in overstuffed chairs in their private club discussing and deciding the future of US domestic and foreign policies. Better yet, images of an annual gathering in a private wooded area spring to mind, with the same wealthy codgers prancing around bonfires and indulging their fantasies before retiring to cigars and cognac and deliberation. To augment these representations, film directors like Jean Renoir (The Rules of the Game), Luis Bunuel (The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie), and Peter Medak (The Ruling Class) have sought to provide vivid, often comical narrative flesh to the manners and fashions of those who are said to decide our fate---the ruling class.

But this is not what Marxists mean by “ruling class.” They do not deny that wealth and power come together from time to time, both socially and to do business, but Marxists would be hard pressed to name all the names and locate the seats of power.

For Marxists, the idea of the ruling class is the answer to an enigma: How does a relatively small segment of the population impose its will over everyone else? How could a tiny minority advance its interests ahead of the interests of the majority? And how could that minority do it not once, not occasionally, but systematically?

By asking these questions, we open the door to envisioning an alternative arrangement, an arrangement that would place the will and interests of the majority first. But first we must provide an answer.

Behind the words “ruling class,” Marxists find the secret of elite rule in a complex system of social relations and processes that compel, control, confuse, or secure consent, while frustrating any attempt to rebel. Ingenious mechanisms-- electoral pageantry, entertainments, competitions, contrived identities, insatiable consumption, and a host of other distractions-- deflect the majority from the question of who should rule. And should some get the bold idea of rejecting this machinery of consent, there are instruments of repression: the police and the judiciary.

These systems of contrived consent and coercion are posed as elements and guardians of “civil society,” when, in fact, they protect the interests of a minority of the super rich and protect them, their minions, and servants from any challenges from the many. Money and its influence fuel these mechanisms; from elections to movies, from lifestyles to consumption, the hand of an unseen class shapes the direction.

Like an electron, the ruling class is studied from its traces. While we cannot see or touch electrons, we know they exist from their relationship and influence upon other particles and processes. That is, their footprint is evidence for their existence. Similarly, the ruling class footprint is all over the social, political, and economic world.

History teaches that nothing beneficial to the great majority comes without a struggle. Why would this be? Who stands in the way of the majority will?

The answer should be apparent: the class that rules by virtue of its accumulated wealth and the power that it buys.

Bourgeois Democracy

Bourgeois democracy” and “capitalist democracy” are terms that pose the fundamental question of “democracy for whom?” The terms remind us that the belief that there is some kind of pure democracy, a democracy that affords everyone an equal voice in decisions is only attainable when all the advantages of wealth and power are removed from decision-making processes.

Thus, in capitalist society-- what Marx meant by “bourgeois society”-- the wealthy are able to multiply the influence of their sole votes in the democratic process by “buying” elections. They use their ownership of the media, their influence over legislation, their command over political parties, and their vetting of candidates to ensure democracy for the few. The mechanisms for capturing electoral power are, of course, money and ownership.

Despite boastful claims of delivering democracy, the electoral systems of Europe and the US present outcomes that consistently favor the wealthy and their wealth-producing corporations. And when something resembling the popular will arises, it is quickly smothered with an outpouring of media demagoguery and the enticement to compromise. The rare electoral ascent of popular rule invariably faces naked, unabashed repression by the wealthy through their organs of coercion. One only has to review the fascist takeovers and military coups of the twentieth century to understand the limits of bourgeois democracy.

The deception of bourgeois democracy is not that the rules are not fair; in principle, anyone could be elected to an office. Rather, the deception is that everyone has the same possibility of winning an election. Trusted candidates supported by great corporations have an infinitely greater chance of winning against a candidate armed only with integrity and a commitment to social justice. 

And throughout the capitalist world, corporations support only candidates who are loyal to the bourgeois system. Today, the labor movement alone could marshal resources that even remotely challenge a corporate-sponsored campaign; sadly, most of the labor leadership is content to cast those resources before the corporate candidate who is less offensive to working people. And corporate candidates have the incentive to only marginally appear closer to representing the working class.

It is irresponsibly cynical to believe that nothing good can be accomplished within a regime of bourgeois democracy; and it is delusional to believe that fundamental change can be accomplished with bourgeois democracy intact. Reforms-- important reforms-- are possible with a bourgeois democratic government. But fundamental change in the balance of forces between the rich and the rest of us is impossible without fighting to replace it with working class democracy. 

Moreover, the transitional period between bourgeois democracy and proletarian or working class democracy is inherently unstable. Only one class can rule until classes are finally abolished.

Idealists and utopians constantly imagine a smooth exchange of the reins of rule through the bourgeois democratic electoral process. They see the wealthy and powerful recognize defeat and pass the keys of governance on to the representatives of working people. History knows of no such event.

That doesn't mean that working class democracy can't be approached through the bourgeois democratic process. It only means that working people must be prepared to meet every challenge, every reaction mounted to workers' power. Invariably the foes of change will react-- that's why they're called “reactionaries.”

Games of chance, like the institutions of bourgeois democracy-- representative elections, formal legal systems, decentralization of power, etc-- are not inherently unfair. In theory, they give everyone a reasonable opportunity for success. That is their appeal. But in practice, the poker player with far greater stakes will inevitably win. Similarly, bourgeois democracy guarantees that those with the great bankrolls will dominate the game of politics unless they are forced to play a different game.

State-Monopoly Capitalism

State-monopoly capitalism” is one of the least-well understood ideas of Marxism; yet it is one of the most important.

Marxists understand that for most of the last century capitalism has become more and more monopolized with a shrinking number of enterprises in all of the key industries. This process has resulted in fewer and fewer giant enterprises absorbing or dissolving smaller, less competitive rivals-- the process of merger and acquisition. Old industries like mining, steel, auto, and other manufacturing have grown more concentrated, as have newer technology-based industries like telecommunications and computers.

Some have mistakenly asserted that the Marxist theory of monopoly capital implies that only one or a few enterprises will dominate every industry in time. It does not.

It does predict that the process of greater and greater concentration of capital in the leading enterprises located within an industry will continually be a feature of capitalism. It also implies that the cost of entry-- the amount of capital needed to start up an enterprise-- will grow greater and more prohibitive over time in those industries that have achieved maturity. Thus, it is the process of concentration that is revealed by the theory and not the status of individual enterprises in the capitalist hierarchy. Marx's colleague Frederick Engels put this point well when he exposed the logic behind this process: “Competition is based on self-interest, and self-interest in turn breeds monopoly. In short, competition passes over into monopoly.” Engels affirms that competition will continue, further leading to even greater concentration.

But along with the concentration of capital, another process is at work: the continual merging of monopoly capital with the bourgeois state. The state will play a larger and larger role in the destiny of monopoly capital and, conversely, monopoly capital will obtain a greater and greater role in the operation and direction of the state.

This process-- the underlying expression of state-monopoly capitalism-- is exemplified every day and in every way. The bail-out of financial institutions while mortgagees are thrown under the bus illustrates well the “ownership” of the state by big capital and the disdain of the state for the people. The regulatory agencies of the state grease the operations of monopoly capital while paying little head to the people's interest. The coercive arms of the state function to protect and expand the corporate horizon abroad and protect property and bourgeois values at home. The state establishes secretive and undemocratic trade agreements and global institutions that protect and promote monopoly corporations from the restraints of regional and national interests. The doors of big capital and government swing both ways as their respective leaders change places.

The political Right rails against big government, laying every social and economic ill at government's doorstep. This is, of course, absurd, but not because government is a benign or neutral arbiter of the people’s interests, as liberals want to suggest. The idea that government “bureaucrats” possess some deep-seated evil intent to cause mischief on individuals, businesses, and the economy strains the last thread of credibility. They have no common interest to buttress such a conspiratorial view. The rightist anti-government position is simply the disguise for shilling for monopoly capital.

On the other hand, the liberal position that government stands as a neutral arbiter and guardian of the rights of man is an equal absurdity. Moreover, opinion polls of confidence in government institutions-- notably Congress-- show that the US population knows that it is absurd. The responses of “a great deal” and “quite a lot” of confidence in Congress together barely reach double digits in recent Gallup polls, a showing even below that of the banks.

Election reform, term limits, and the other panaceas will fail to break the solid weld of monopoly capital to the state; only the evisceration of monopoly capital will break that connection.

The Interplay of the Three Ideas

The three Marxist ideas discussed above share many features and interact profoundly with one another. Bourgeois democracy is an instrument of class rule in the era of capitalism, an instrument of the capitalist ruling class. In other eras, ruling classes sustained their rule with other mechanisms.

State-monopoly capitalism is the expression of the most recent, mature stage of capitalist development, a stage that brings with it the most corrupted, crisis-ridden expression of bourgeois democracy.

While the ruling class maintains a stranglehold on governance in this era, its democratic veneer is constantly eroded; more and more of the governed recognize bourgeois democracy as thinly disguised, but naked rule by the wealthy and powerful. At the same time, state-monopoly capitalism exhausts its means to avoid or moderate economic decline or stagnation.

The maturation of these political and economic contradictions generates a revolutionary crossroads, a moment when working people must choose between veritable slavery or taking the reins of power.

Zoltan Zigedy


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“Middle Class Revolution”: A New End of History?


The US is notoriously unkind to “intellectuals.” Popular culture portrays intellectuals as absent-minded, divorced from the everyday world, and obsessed with spinning useless, but harmless abstractions. They are good to keep contained in universities where they can give future cogs in the capitalist machine a taste, but not a passion for, impractical thought. Regrettably, those posing as intellectuals have gone far to earn contempt, favoring arcane, specialized languages and scholastic debates.

That's not to say that there is no room for thinkers in the US, but they are dubbed “pundits,” “experts,” “researchers” or “consultants,” words that ring with practicality and single-mindedness; they are purveyors of small, easily digested ideas and not the “big” ideas associated with intellectuals.

In the US, we are taught to distrust big ideas unless they are linked to religions. But then religion has been compartmentalized, shunted off to Sunday mornings or weddings and funerals. All the big ideas we need were decided with the ratification of the US Constitution.

We can thank corporate marketers and their masters for our continuing alienation from big ideas and taste for small ones. They prefer ideas that are easily and flashily packaged, readily digested, and quickly obsolesced. They select for us ideas that can go “viral,” grabbing the attention of not thousands, but millions. They select ideas that easily fit in a two-minute TV commentary or on 6 or 8 column inches of news print. Intellectuals didn't invent the term “sound bite.” Nor did they invent “twitter.” Corporate taste makers did. So what we get in the market place of ideas are small ideas, commodified ideas with shiny packages.

Thus, it may be hard to understand how Francis Fukuyama fits into the world of ideas. We know him for his celebrated 1992 book, The End ofHistory and the Last Man, an ambitious intellectual tome designed to place triumphant capitalism and its attendant bourgeois democracy at the pinnacle of a long historical, dialectical process. A big idea indeed!

Of course it wasn't that difficult to conjure a motive for this rising star of the Right. On the heels of the fall of the Soviet Union and the European socialist countries, Fukuyama saw the opportunity to mark "paid” to the theoretical foundations of Marxism by co-opting the Hegelian “dialectics” that Marx was schooled in and replacing the socialist ideal with something that looked remarkably like the socio-economic system of late twentieth-century US capitalism. Moreover, since Fukuyama had discovered the “end of history,” we needn't worry about any serious future military conflagrations or rebellions because we were entering the blissful era of market justice, parliamentary democracy, and human rights.

Fukuyama's big ideas can take small credit for the pious military crusades led by the US ruling class in the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, and recently in Libya and Syria, as well as the meddling in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Those who failed to accept the end of history soon felt the wrath of history's enforcer. At the same time, the resistance to Fukuyama's vision of history's end challenged his big idea. The intense confrontation between the US and peoples in the Middle East and Latin America shattered the idea that with the demise of the Soviet Union the world would rush to embrace the values of the US and Europe.

With the “end of history” forestalled by unforeseen events, Fukuyama knocked around the research institute/think tank/academic circuit, writing books and resisting the temptation to join the courtiers of the mass media trading in small, nasty ideas. He passed on the enormous earnings available to the likes of the O'Reilly's, Limbaugh's, or the other aristocrats of wind-baggery. Instead, he scoured the landscape to find new opportunities to float big ideas.

And now he's back with a new big idea.

Fukuyama won a think-piece in the June 28/29 weekend Wall StreetJournal entitled “The Middle Class Revolution.” He argues that “All over the world, today's political turmoil has a common theme: the failure of governments to meet the rising expectations of the newly prosperous and educated.” Cognizant of the worldwide mass risings of recent years, Fukuyama chooses this moment to offer an explanation, a theoretical explanation for those risings, an explanation palatable and comforting to US elites.

He rightly understands that linking the most recent mass upsurges requires sizable ideas. While there are many similarities, there are many differences as well. Successful exposition of their common features would tell us much about the underlying processes and likely offer a glimpse into the future. In short, it would give us a theory of contemporary social change, a decidedly big idea.

Unfortunately, he gets it all wrong.

He builds his case around reflections on events in the streets of Tunisia, Egypt, Brazil, and Turkey, a mixed collection neither reflective of all of the mass activity of our time nor sharing many common features. Seduced by recent headlines and sensationalist accounts, Fukuyama finds the “middle class” as the revolutionary agent in all cases. Besides the elusiveness of the term, he offers no evidence beyond youth, cell phones, and the presence of a vaguely sensed entrepreneurial spirit to justify the assignment of this role. And he is equally slippery in explaining what constitutes a “middle class.” Instead, he considers a series of candidates: income ($6,000-30,000 year), relative income (the middle of a country’s income distribution), and relative level of consumption (greater than the subsistence level of the poor). Rejecting these, he settles on “education, occupation, and the ownership of assets,” none of which is produced as evidence regarding any of the particular countries under review. In fact, the demographics of the four “revolutions” fail to show common attributes; nor do they demonstrate a rising of the “middle class.”

When Mohamed Bouazizi, a fruit vender in Tunisia, set himself afire in December of 2010, he became the symbol for the uprisings that pundits have dubbed “the Arab Spring.” Tunisia, under Ben Ali, was one of the success stories of neo-liberalism, a poster child for corporate-friendly “competitiveness” and foreign investment. Its industrial and service economies were relatively well developed. 

While the neo-liberal regimen delivered growth, modest GDP/capita, some social benefits (education and welfare), it was rocked by the economic crisis and the scourge of high unemployment. The youth (constituting nearly half of the population) endured one of the world's highest unemployment rates: 30.7%. As in the US, Tunisian youth are relatively well educated, but denied access to meaningful employment. The relative affluence of Tunisian elites enjoying the fruits of a growing economy and the lack of opportunity for a youthful population spurred the overthrow of Ben Ali.

Egyptpresents a different picture. While Sadat and Mubarak also embraced the tenets of neo-liberalism, they did so in the shadow of Nasser's legacy of anti-imperialism, public ownership and social welfare. Moreover, free market capitalism fared far worse in this country. Despite a large industrial base and due, in part, to a relatively large agricultural sector (56.5% of Egyptians live outside of urban areas), Egypt achieved a GDP/capita roughly only 2/3 of that of Tunisia. 

But Egypt shares with Tunisia an extremely youthful population with massive un- and underemployment. With little government educational expenditure, it is no surprise that Egyptians have a relatively low participation in higher education.

Egyptian professionals-- the social base for the Muslim Brotherhood-- could count as a “middle strata,” though they are a small part of the population. Most Egyptians, however, enjoy an income only marginally above poverty, marking membership in what would properly be considered the working class.

The global economic downturn only brought the plight of young Egyptians to the fore and prompted mass action and the deposing of Mubarak. The subsequent Morsi presidency brought a further disintegration of the economy and a spike in unemployment and poverty. The Muslim Brotherhood failed to attempt an exit from neo-liberalism and restored the foreign policy of Mubarak, even betraying the Syrian government to imperialism.

The people have again taken to the streets. In the words of Salah Adly, General Secretary of the Egyptian Communist Party, Egyptian Communists believe “that what happenedon 30thJune is asecond waveof theEgyptian revolutionthat is strongerand deeper than the first wavein 2011.It has taken placeto correctthe path ofthe revolution andseize it back from the forces ofthe extreme religious right...”

The street demonstrations in Turkey, a country that has one historic foot in the Arab world and a tentative one in Europe, is more a political struggle than an explosion of economic discontent. Turkey's demographics are similar to a European country, a poorer European country like Portugal or Poland, but with a much higher percentage of youth in the population. The Islamist president Erdogan represents cultural traditions that conflict with that of more secular youth. Of course others, including workers, who have economic demands, support the demonstrations, as do unemployed youth. But they do not challenge the structures of bourgeois democracy or monopoly capitalism. Turkish Communists recognize this fact. As Kemal Okuyan, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Turkey, states “... this is an outburst of a huge social energy. It is powerful in extent and effect. But there are some Marxist criteria for defining a situation as a revolutionary crisis. We are far from that. At least for now...”

Brazil, Fukuyama's final example of a “middle class” revolution, demonstrates its own unique demographics and weaknesses. Despite showing exceptional economic growth, Brazil counts as one of the most economically unequal countries in the world. Highly urbanized, Brazil's poverty is concentrated in city neighborhoods, with all of the attendant social problems of poverty intensified. The large and growing service sector affords enough jobs to contain unemployment below crisis levels. But grinding poverty and the contrasting extreme concentration of wealth produce a persisting tinderbox.

Brazil's social democratic government has shown occasional anti-imperialist spunk, standing up to US arrogance at different times. This, along with the government's competent management of the capitalist economy, and some social welfare initiatives, has spawned national pride. At the same time, support for the government is fragile because of its inability to dent the massive economic and social inequalities suffered by working people. This contradiction between national sentiment and contempt toward the working class was brought home by the mass objection to new soccer stadia, in a soccer-crazed country, expressed by the mass demonstrations.

Clearly what all of these countries do share is a popular response to the failure of leaders, institutions, and political parties to overcome the legacy and reality of colonialism, imperialism, and global capitalism. Fukuyama hides this failing behind the mythology of middle class dissatisfaction with the level of consumerism and cultural expression: they rebel because they want to be like us in Europe and the US. One would never guess that an almost unprecedented and persistent economic calumny has shaken the social and political foundations of nearly every country over the last five years. One would never guess that all four of the countries under discussion suffer from severe economic and political problems unsolved by their past and current leaders.

In Tunisia, Ben Ali's embrace of neo-liberal fundamentalism was a bankrupt answer to youth unemployment. In Egypt, corrupted leaders brazenly counted on the accommodation with imperialism to prop up their aloof rule over an abused people. Turkey's leader, like politico-theological leaders of other persuasions, overstepped the limits of governance and opened the door to airing the many grievances of the opposition, formerly trumped by religious commitment. And Brazil's social-democratic government learned the folly of attempting to manage capitalism while promising to rectify its inequities.

From the Indignados to the Occupy movement, from the revival of the Latin American left to the Arab Spring, authentic popular up-risings have emerged from the failure of capitalism to deliver the future and security so seemingly assured before the great crisis of 2008. Millions have been failed by the institutions, parties, and leaders that they formerly trusted. It's not as though they have been dealt a bad hand, but it is as though there is no good hand to be found in the deck.

Spinning theories based on such a corrupted sociological idea as the “middle class” guarantees failure. Of course one can't blame Fukuyama entirely for buying in on one of the great intellectual frauds of our time. Everyone, from the Chamber of Commerce to the misleaders of labor, likes to remind us that we are all members of a vast collection of people located economically between the rich and the poor. Within this distorted picture there is something for everyone. We all share home ownership, a good job, vacations, family, and comforting values, so the fantasy goes. The unfortunate poor are with us because they have failed, though they deserve our compassion and, perhaps, our charity. The rich are with us because they are successful and merit our respect. This harmonious picture is only disrupted when the rich get too greedy or the poor get rebellious.

This myth serves the ruling class, their political flunkies, and labor's class collaborationists in maintaining class peace and stability. But most importantly, it obscures the real class divide between employers and employees.

The divisions that spark genuine revolution are not between some muddy notion of a middle class at odds with an equally obscure specter of government, but between the power and dominance of capitalist corporations and the diverse and largely unrepresented workers who enrich them. This sharply drawn class division accounts for the fundamentally economic, but also cultural and spiritual alienation of youth. Whether conscious or not, this division generates discontent and outrage. Expressed in many ways, the conflict between the employers and their employees stands behind the conflicts of the twenty-first century. And only its resolution in favor of the employee class – the working class-- will bring these conflicts to a close.

It's not a new idea; it's a big, but not too big of an idea; and it’s an idea that promises an escape from the failure of capitalism: Socialism.

Zoltan Zigedy

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Anarchy in the USA– Live at Zuccotti Park


In my last posting, I deplored the state of the US left, citing the rise of utopian and reformist alternatives to socialism. Deeply ingrained anti-Communism explains the ready acceptance of the shallow and muddy alternatives to capitalism served up by academic oracles like Professor Gar Alperovitz. These wishful options come at a time when more and more US citizens, especially young people, are showing a hunger to learn more about socialism. But the thin gruel of cooperatives and other small-scale and locally owned enterprises will not satisfy that hunger. Nor does monopoly capital seem too alarmed by the prescriptions of the good Professor. The threat of one, two, three... thousands of little “socialisms” has left big business singularly unmoved in spite of Alperovitz's reach well beyond the left establishment.

Among those fans of Alperovitz who wish to slink away from Marxism and revolutionary politics it has become customary to cite Lenin's essay “On Cooperation” from 1923. This shamefully dishonest tactic rips Lenin's praise of agricultural cooperatives from its context. Writing at the time of the New Economic Policy, Lenin emphasizes that cooperatives are only viable because of Soviet power, the monopoly of “political power is in the hands of the working-class.” He is crystal clear on the cooperative movement under the capitalist state:
There is a lot of fantasy in the dreams of the old cooperators. Often they are ridiculously fantastic. But why are they fantastic? Because people do not understand the fundamental, the rock-bottom significance of the working-class political struggle for the overthrow of the rule of the exploiters. We have overthrown the rule of the exploiters, and much that was fantastic, even romantic, even banal in the dreams of the old cooperators is now becoming unvarnished reality.
Fantastic, even romantic, even banal...”
Seasoned veterans of the left know that any strategy that promises to be non-threatening and enters through the front door of the monopoly media should be received with suspicion.
Occupy Revisited
For the above reason, I read a recent The New Yorker article with a jaundiced eye. While nearly everyone acknowledges that the Occupy Movement is --if not dead --splintered and marginalized, a New Yorker“critic at large” Kelefa Sanneh, picked this moment to revisit it. Moreover, the usually attuned-to-the-cutting-edge editors indulged five full pages of copy to the movement's “godfather” and the allure of anarchism.
Just weeks ago, before the elections in Venezuela, the magazine published a long piece scathingly critical of the Bolivarian Revolution and its late leader, Hugo Chavez. No doubt with the approval of The New Yorker's dogmatic Cold War editor David Remnick, who still sees Stalin lurking under every bed, the author revived the tired canard of Chavez “preventing a coup like the one that put him in office.” [my italics] Of course Chavez didn't come to office through a coup, a fact that The New Yorkerlater acknowledged with a small correction. Certainly joining with the mainstream media to trash Chavez and his socialism doesn't dispose me to expect The New Yorkerto experience a sudden change of heart and promote any genuine alternative to capitalism. And they don't disappoint.
Paint Bombs: David Graeber's 'The Democracy Project' and the Anarchist Revival(5-13, 2013) is a stealth exercise in distraction and diversion. Where many of us saw the Occupy movement as an incipient anti-capitalist movement degraded through its failure to generate organization and focus, Sanneh sees a noble struggle against “verticals” and in defense of the procedures of the “horizontals.” Sanneh crows: “Occupy resisted those who wanted to stop it and those who wanted to organize it”.
Imagine wanting to organize the Occupy movement! The shame!
The self-styled and New Yorker-anointed guru of the “horizontal” movement is David Graeber, an anthropologist and author of an interesting, eccentric book on debt. Sanneh acclaims Graeber as “the most influential radical political thinker of the moment” (Take that, Gar Alperovitz!). The arch enemies of the “horizontal” movement are “verticals” represented by Marx, the Soviet Union, and parties, leaders, and demands. Sannah claims to see this through the prism of Occupy:
...instead of arguing about economics and ideology, the Occupiers could affirm, instead, their unanimous commitment to freedom of assembly. Occupy may have begun with a grievance against Wall Street, but the process of occupation transformed the movement , peopled by activists demanding the right to demand their rights...
Perhaps no one could say exactly what the Zuccotti Park occupation wanted, but lots of people knew how it worked.
At a critical moment in an economic crisis adversely affecting millions, the “horizontals” were able to transform a movement against Wall Street into a statement “demanding the right to demand... rights.” Thankfully, this does not characterize all Occupy experiences outside of Zuccotti Park. In many cases, Occupiers joined activists in their cities and neighborhoods fighting for health care, jobs, economic justice, and against US aggression. They found righteous demands and learned valuable lessons in organized struggle.
Sanneh concedes that the “rehabilitation of the anarchist movement in America has a lot to do with the fall of the Soviet Union, which lives in popular memory as a quaint and brutal place-- an embarrassing precursor that modern, pro-democracy socialists must find ways to disavow.”
So it's embarrassment and not ideology, disavowal and not commitment that drives the popularity of anarchism. Does this not reek of opportunism? An opportunism that prefers to swiftly and resolutely condemn and separate from the Soviet experience in the face of a “popular” inquisition rather than candidly address both the Soviet strengths and weaknesses?
However, embarrassment should be felt for the anarchist blueprint for forging a new society. Rather than the vision offered by “grim joyless revolutionaries,” Graeber wants “a kind of de-centralized socialism, with decisions made by a patchwork of local assemblies and cooperatives...” – in his own words - “something vaguely like jury duty, except non-compulsory.” Thus, the road to an other-than-capitalist future is paved with “open mics,” assemblies, cooperatives, and a fuzzy analogy.
Adding more to the anarchist strategy are the views of a fellow anthropologist and ally, Yale professor James C. Scott. Scott salutes anarchism for “its tolerance for confusion and improvisation.” He finds anarchism's foot print in such acts of resistance as “foot-dragging, poaching, pilfering, dissimulation, sabotage, desertion, absenteeism, squatting, and flight.”
Grim joyless revolutionaries” will be surprised to learn how easy is the road forward. Instead of tiresome organizing, demonstrations and marches, instead of demands and manifestos, instead of meetings and planning sessions, instead of party-building and coalition work, acts of individual and often covert defiance mark the way.
One suspects that despite the rhetoric of radical and participatory democracy advocated by Graeber, Scott, and other anarchist “influentials,” their ideas were not forged in the cauldron of struggle, their thinking was not the product of collective, “horizontal” decisions. The professors decry leadership, but contradictorily speak authoritatively for their movement with little hesitation. They are unsanctioned spokespersons for a leaderless movement. Strange.
To appropriate an old expression: Scratch an anarchist and find an angry, embittered liberal. Like all liberals, modern-day anarchists are obsessed with procedure. It's not a program that defines their agenda, but the ritual of decision making. It's no surprise that the liberals at The New Yorkerare fascinated. And it's no surprise that they take us no further from a decadent, crisis-ridden capitalism.

Zoltan Zigedy
[email protected]



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bergolio

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Quem é Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

Em 1973 ele foi nomeado o “provincial” da Argentina para a Companhia dos Jesuitas.

Nessa capacidade Bergoglio foi o mais alto dignitário da Ordem Jesuíta da Argentina durante a ditadura militar liderada pelo General Jorge Videla (1976-1983).

Mais tarde ele foi nomeado bispo e depois arcebispo de Buenos Aires. O Papa João Paulo II o consagrou Cardinal em 2001.

Quando a junta militar abandonou o poder em 1983, o devidamente eleito presidente Raúl Alfonsin abriu um inquérito, a Comissão da Verdade, para investigar os crimes relacionados com que ficou conhecidos como a Guerra Suja – “La Guerra Sucia”.

A junta militar tinha sido encobertamente apoada por Washington.

O Secretário do Estado norteamericano, Henry Kissinger, fez o seu papel nos bastidores do golpe militar de 1976.

O vice-representante mais importante de Kissinger na América Latina, William Rogers, o informou dois dias depois do golpe que “teremos que esperar uma quantia considerável de repressão, provávelmente muita sanguenta, dentro em pouco tempo.”…(Arquivo da Segurança Nacional, 23 de março, 2006)

“Operação Condor”

Um grande julgamento foi ironicamente aberto em 5 de março 2013, uma semana antes da investidura do Cardinal Bergoglio como Pontífice. O processo sendo desenvolvido em Buenos Aires tem em vista:

 “uma avaliação da totalidade dos crimes cometidos abaixo da Operação Condor, uma campanha coordenada por vários ditadores da América Latina, apoiados pelos Estados Unidos nos anos de 1970 e 1980, para caçar, torturar e matar dezenas de milhares de oponentes desses regimes militares”

Para mais detalhes veja Operation Condor: Trial On Latin American Rendition and Assassination Program By Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh,,March 10, 2013.

(Foto acima: Henry Kissinger e General Jorge Videla (anos de 1970)

NÃO CLASSIFICADO     8/3/76

DEPARTAMENTO DO ESTADO

Washington D.C.

DO:  Secretariado

PARA: ARA – Harry W. Shlaudeman

ARA RELATÓRIO MENSAL( JULHO)

A TERCEIRA GUERRA MUNDIAL E A AMÉRICA LATINA

Os regimes militares do cone sul da América do Sul veêm-se

como tendo que pôr-se em ordem de batalha:

–  de um lado pelo marxismo internacional e seus exponentes terroristas, e

– do outro lado pela hostilidade das democracias industriais que são enganadas pela propaganda marxista.

Em resposta eles estão se unindo no que se poderá tornar num bloco político de uma certa coesão. Mas, mais importante, eles estão juntando forças para erradicar a “subversão”, uma palavra que mais e mais vem se tornando num sinônimo de oposição não-violenta de esquerda, e de centro-esquerda. As forças de segurança do cone sul

–  agora estão a coordenar mais estritamente suas atividades de inteligência;

–  estão também operando nos territórios dos países uns dos outros em busca de “subversivos”;

– eles estabeleceram a Operation Condor para achar e matar terroristas do “Comité Revolucionário de Coordenação” nos seus próprios países, e na Europa. O Brazil está cooperando, mas não em operações homicidas.

A junta militar liderada pelo General Jorge Videla (a esquerda) foi responsável por incontáveis assassinatos, incluindo assassinatos de  sacerdotes e freiras que se opuseram ao domínio militar que acompanhou  o golpe patrocinado pela CIA, golpe esse que derrubou  o governo de Isabel Peron,  em 24 de março de 1976.

“Videla estava entre os generais que foram condenados por crimes contra os direitos humanos, crimes esses que incluiam  “desaparecimentos”, tortura, assassinatos, e sequestramentos. Em 1985, Videla foi sentenciado a prisão perpétua, na prisão militar de Magdalena.

Wall Street e a Agenda Econômica Neoliberal

Uma das nomeações mais importantes da junta militar (como consequência das intruções de Wall Street) foi a do Ministro da Economia, José Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, um membro do estabelecimento de negócios, comércio e investimentos da Argentina; um amigo íntimo de David Rockefeller.

O pacote neoliberal da política macro-econômica adotada sob Martinez de Hoz foi uma “cópia-carbono” daquela imposta em outubro de 1973 no Chile pela ditadura de Pinochet abaixo dos conselhos vindos dos “Meninos de Chicago”- “Chicago Boys”; política essa imposta depois do golpe de estado de 11 de setembro de 1973, e do assassinato do presidente Salvador Allende.

Os salários foram imediatamente congelados, por decreto. O poder aquisitivo real no país caiu em colápso por mais de 30 porcento, nos tres meses que se seguiram ao golpe militar de 24 de março de 1976. (Avaliações do autor, Cordoba, Argentina, julho de 1976). A população argentina ficou repentinamente empobrecida.

Abaixo da direçäo do Ministro da Economia José alfredo Martinez de Hoz, a política monetária do banco central foi em grande parte determinada por Wall Street e pelo  FMI, o Fundo Monetário Internacional. O mercado de câmbio foi manipulado. O Peso argentino foi propositadamente posto acima do seu valor real, o que levou a um débito exterior insuperável. Toda a Economia Nacional foi precipitada à falência.

(Foto acima: Da esquerda para a direita: José Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, David Rockefeller e General Jorge Videla)

Wall Street e a Hierarquia da Igreja Católica  

Wall Street esteve sólidamente apoiando a junta militar que empenhava-se na “Guerra Suja” em benefício da mesma. Por seu turno, a hierarquia da Igreja Católica teve o papel, um papel central, de manter a legitimidade da junta militar.

A Ordem dos Jesuitas  –que representava a Conservadora, mas no entanto a mais influente facção da Igreja Católica-  estava intimamente associada com a elite econômica da Argentina, e isso contra os chamados “de esquerda” do movimento Peronista.

“A Guerra Suja”: Alegações dirigidas contra o Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Condenar a ditadura militar (inclusive suas violações dos direitos humanos) era um tabú na Igreja Católica. Enquanto os altos escalões da Igreja apoiavam a junta militar, a base popular da mesma estava firmemente contra a imposição do governo militar.

Em 2005  a advogada de direitos humanos Myriam Bregman entrou com um processo judicial contra o Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, acusando-o de conspirar com a junta militar quando do sequestro de dois padres jesuítas em 1976.

Alguns anos mais tarde, os sobreviventes da “Guerra Suja” acusaram abertamente o Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio de cumplicidade nos sequestros dos padres Francisco Jalics e Orlando Yorio, assim como nos sequestros de seis membros de suas paróquias, (El Mundo, 8 de novembro de 2010)

(Foto acima: Jorge Mario Bergoglio e General Jorge Videla)

Bergoglio, que na época era o “provincial” da Companhia dos Jesuitas, tinha dado ordens para que os dois padres, jesuitas, “de esquerda”,  e oponentes do governo militar “deixassem seus trabalhos paroquiais”, o que quer dizer que foram despedidos. Isso acompanhando divisões na Companhia dos Jesuitas quanto ao papel da Igreja Católica em relação a junta militar.

Enquanto os dois padres – Francisco Jalics e Orlando Yorio – sequestrados pelos esquadrões da morte em maio de 1976 foram soltos cinco meses mais tarde depois de terem sido torturados; outras seis pessoas relacionadas a paróquia, pessoas essas que também tinham sido sequestradas na mesma operação, foram dadas como “desaparecidas”. Esses sequestrados desaparecidos eram quatro professores e dois dos maridos de duas das professoras do grupo dos seis.

De quando de sua libertação o padre Orlando Yorio acusou Bergoglio de efetivamente os terem entregue [incluindo as seis outras pessoas] para os esquadrões da morte … Jalics se recusou a discutir a queixa depois de ter entrado em reclusão num monastério alemão.” (Associated Press, 13 de março de 2013, ênfases acrescentadas).

“Durante o primeiro julgamento da junta militar em 1985, Yorio declarou: “Eu tenho certeza de que ele mesmo deu uma lista com os nossos nomes para a Marinha.” Os dois padres tinham sido levados para o centro de tortura da Escola de Mecânica da Marinha (ESMA na sigla inglesa) e mantidos lá por cinco meses antes de serem arrastados e jogados numa cidade dos subúrbios. (Veja Bill van Auken, “The Dirty War” Pope, World Socialist Website and Global Research, March 14, 2013)

Entre aqueles “desaparecidos” pelos esquadrões da morte estavam Mónica Candelaria Mignone e María Marta Vásquez Ocampo. Mónica Mignone era filha do fundador do Centro de Estudos Legais e Sociais, CELS, e María Marta Ocampo era filha da presidente das Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Martha Ocampo de Vásquez (El Periodista Online, março 2013).

María Marta Vásquez, seu marido César Lugones (veja foto)  e Mónica Candelaria Mignone alegadamente “entregues aos esquadrões da morte” pelo provincial” jesuita Jorge Mario Bergoglio estão entre os milhares de “desaparecidos da “Guerra Suja” da Argentina, a qual foi encobertamente apoiada por Washington, abaixo da “Operação Condor”.  (Veja memorialmagro.com.ar)

No decorrer do julgamento iniciado em 2005:

 “Bergoglio [Papa Francis I] por duas vezes invocou seu direito abaixo da lei argentina de poder se recusar a apresentar-se em tribunal público, e quando ele afinal testemunhou em 2010 suas respostas foram evasivas”. “Pelo menos dois casos envolviam Bergoglio diretamente. Um examinava a tortura de dois dos seus padres jesuitas – Orlando Yorio e Francisco Jalics – que tinham sido sequestrados em 1976 em bairros pobres onde eles defendiam a teologia da liberação. Yorio acusou Bergoglio de efetivamente os terem entregue aos esquadrões da morte … do quando recusando-se a declarar ao regime que ele endossava o trabalho desses dois seus padres.  Jalics recusou-se a comentar o caso depois de ter se retirado para um monastério alemão.” (Los Angeles Times, 1 de abril, 2005)

Santa comunhão para os ditadores

As acusações dirigidas contra Bergoglio em relação aos dois padres jesuitas e aos seis membros das paróquias dos mesmos, seriam sómente a ponta do icebergue. Conquanto Bergoglio fosse uma pessoa importante da Igreja Católica, ele não seria o único a apoiar a junta militar.

De acordo com a advogada Myriam Bregman:   “As próprias declarações de Bergoglio provam que representantes oficiais da igreja sabiam, e isso logo do começo que a junta estava torturando e matando seus cidadãos” e ainda assim endossaram publicamente os ditadores. “A ditadura não poderia ter agido dessa maneira sem esse apoio chave,” (Los Angeles Times, 1 abril de 2005, ênfases acrescentadas.

(Foto acima: General Jorge Videla comungando. A data e o nome do padre não confirmados)

Toda a hierarquia católica estava apoiando a ditadura militar patrocinada pelos Estados Unidos. Vale a pena recordar que em 23 de março de 1976, na véspera do golpe militar:

Videla e outros conspiradores receberam a benção do arcebispo do Paraná, Adolfo Tortolo, que também serviu como o vigário das forças armadas. No próprio dia da tomada do poder, os líderes militares tiveram um longo encontro com os líderes da conferência dos bispos. Quando ele saiu dessa conferência o arcebispo Tortolo declarou que mesmo que “a igreja tenha sua própria missão específica … há circunstâncias nas quais ela não pode deixar de participar, mesmo quando isso relacione-se a problemas da ordem específica do estado.” Ele fez mesmo pressão moral para que os argentinos “cooperassem duma maneira positiva” com o novo governo.”   (The Humanist.org, janeiro de 2011, ênfases acrescentadas)

Numa entrevista conduzida pelo El Sur, o General Jorge Videla, que agora está servindo uma pena de prisão perpétua, por causa dos seus crimes contra a humanidade confirmou que:

 “Ele tinha mantido a hierarquia católica do país informada quanto a “fazer desaparecer” oponentes políticos, e que os líderes católicos tinham oferecido conselhos de como “conduzir” a política de desaparecimentos.

Jorge Videla disse que ele tinha tido “muitas conversações” com o Cardinal Raúl Francisco Primatesta, da Argentina, a respeito da guerra suja do governo contra os ativistas da esquerda. Ele disse que também havia havido conversações com outros bispos líderes da conferência episcopal na Argentina, assim como com o núncio papal do país na época, Pio Laghi. “Eles nos aconselharam a respeito da maneira de como lidar com a situação,” disse Videla” (Tom Henningan, Former Argentinian dictator says he told Catholic Church of disappeared, Irish Times, 24 de julho de 2012, ênfases acrescentadas)

É de valor o observar-se, que de acordo com uma declaração do arcebispo Adolfo Tortolo, os militares deveriam sempre consultar com alguma membro da alta hierarquia católica no caso de “prisão” de algum membro nas alas mais baixas da hierarquia do cléro. Essa declaração foi feita especialmente em relação aos dois padres jesuitas sequestrados, dos quais as atividades pastorais estavam abaixo da autoridade do “provincial” da Companhia Jesuita, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. (El Periodista Online, março de 2013).

Em endossando a junta militar, a hierarquia católica foi cúmplice de tortura e de morte de massas, num estimado de “22.000 mortos e desaparecidos, de 1976  a 1978. …  Milhares de outras vítimas foram mortas entre 1978 e 1983, quando os militares foram forçados a deixar o poder.” (Arquivo da Segurança Nacional, 23 de março de 2006).

O papel do Vaticano

O Vaticano abaixo da direção do Papa Paulo VI e do Papa João Paulo II fez um papel central em apoiando a junta militar argentina.

Pio Langhi, o Núncio Apostólico do Vaticano na Argentina admitiu o conhecimento a respeito de tortura e massacrres.

Langhi tinha contatos pessoais com membros da direção da junta militar incluindo o General Videla e o Almirante Emilio Eduardo Massera.

O Almirante Emilio Massera, em próximo contacto com seus dirigentes americanos, foi o mentor “Da Guerra Suja”. Abaixo dos auspícios do regime militar ele estabeleceu:

“um centro de interrogatório e tortura na Escola Naval de Mecânica – Naval School of Mechanics, ESMA [perto de Buenos Aires], … Esse era um estabelecimento sofisticado, para muitos fins, vital ao plano militar de assassinar cerca de 30.000 “inimigos do estado”. …Muitos milhares dos prisioneiros da ESMA, incluindo, por exemplo, duas freiras francesas, foram de maneira rotineira torturados brutalmente sem misericórdia, antes de serem assassinados ou jogados de algum avião no Rio de la Plata.

(Veja foto acima: O Nuncio do Vaticano Pio Langhi e o General Jorge Videla)

Massera, o membro mais vigoroso do triunvirato, fez o seu melhor para manter seus elos com Washington. Ele participou no desenvolvimentoo do Plano Condor, que era um plano de colaboração para coordenar o terrorismo sendo praticado pelos regimes militares sulamericanos. (Hugh O´ Shaughnessy,   Amiral Emilio Massera: Naval officer who took part in the 1976 coup in Argentina and was later jailed for his part in the junta’s crimes,  The Independent, 10 de novembro de 2010, ênfases acrescentadas)

Relatórios confirmam que o representante do Vaticano Pio Laghi e Amiral Emilio Massera eram amigos.

(Foto: Almirante Emilio Massera, o arquiteto da “Guerra Suja” sendo recebido pelo Papa Paulo VI, no Vaticano)

A Igreja Católica: Chile vs Argentina

Tem valor por si mesmo o notar-se que nas águas do golpe militar no Chile, em 11 de setembro de 1973, o Cardinal de São Tiago do Chile,  Raul Silva Henriquez, tinha condenado abertamente a junta militar liderada pelo General Augusto Pinochet. Em forte  contraste com a Argentina, a posição da hierarquia católica no Chile foi eficaz em pôr freio as ondas de assassinatos polítiocs, assim como conter a extensão das violações dos direitos humanos cometitas contra os apoiantes de Salvador Allende e os oponentes do regime militar.

O homem atrás do ecumênico, e não-partidário, Comité Pro-Paz era o Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez. Logo depois do golpe, Silva… tomou o papel de “atores” – “upstander”, esse sendo um termo em inglês que a autora e ativista Samantha Power criou para distinguir pessoas que se levantavam contra a injustiça – muitas vezes a custo de grandes riscos pessoais – dos que denominava então, de “expectadores”.

… Logo após o golpe, Silva e outros líderes da igreja do Chile publicaram uma declaração condenando as ações dos golpistas e exprimindo dor e desgosto pelo derramamento de sangue. Esse foi um ponto fundamental de reversão para muitos membros do cléro chileno … O Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez visitou o Estádio Nacional, e escandalizado pela escala da violência desintegradora, instruiu seus auxiliares a começarem a documentar os acontecimentos reunindo informação das milhares de pessoas que voltavam-se as igrejas, para refúgio.

As ações do Cardinal  Silva o levaram a um conflito aberto com Pinochet, que não hesitou em ameaçar a igreja e o Comité Pro-Paz (Taking a Stand Against Pinochet: The Catholic Church and the Disappeared – pdf)

Se a hierarquia católica na Argentina e Jorge Mario Bergoglio tivessem tomado uma posição semelhante a do Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez, milhares de vidas teriam sido salvas, também na Argentina.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio não era, nas palvras de Samantha Powers um expectador, “bystander”. Ele foi cúmplice em crimes contra a humanidade, crimes esses que foram muito abrangentes.

O Papa Francis I não é “um homem do povo” cometido a “ajudar os pobres” nas pegadas de São Francisco de Assis, como retratado em côro pela mantra da mídia ocidental. Muito pelo contrário: os seus esforços durante a junta militar, consistentemente atacando progressivos membros do cléro católico, assim como os ativistas empenhados em salvaguardar dos direitos humanos, ativistas esses envolvidos em implementar programas contra a grande miséria e pobreza.

Em apoiando a “Guerra Suja” argentina, José Mario Bergoglio violou abertamente os próprios dogmas e doutrinas da moralidade cristã, dogmas e doureinas esses que dão grande valor a vida humana.

“Operação Condor” e a Igreja Católica

A eleição do Cardinal Bergoglio pelo conclave do Vaticano para servir como Papa Francis I terá repercussões imediatas em relação ao corrente julgamneto  “Operação Condor”, em Buenos Aires.

A Igreja estava envolvida em apoiar a junta militar. Esse é um fator que irá emergir no decorrer dos procedimentos do processo judicial. Não há dúvidas de que lá haverá esforços para obscurecer o papel da hierarquia católica e a recente nomeação do Papa Francis I, que serviu como chefe da Ordem Jesuita da Argentina durante a ditadura militar.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio: O Papa de Washington no Vaticano?

A eleição do Papa Francis I tem grandes implicações para toda a região da América Latina

Nos anos de 1970, Jorge Mario Bergolio apoiou a ditadura militar patrocinada pelos Estados Unidos.

A hierarquia católica da Argentina apoiou o governo militar. O programa militar de tortura, assassinatos e “desaparecimentos” de milhares de oponentes políticos foi apoiada e coordenada por Washington, durante a “Operação Condor”, da CIA.

Os interesses da Wall Street foram sustentados através do gabinete de Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz no Ministério da Economia.

A Igreja Católica na América Latina tem influência política. A Igreja também exerce um  controle sobre a opinião pública. Isso é sabido e compreendido pelos arquitetos da política exterior dos Estados Unidos, assim como dos sectores de inteligência dos mesmos.

Na América Latina onde governos estão agora desafiando a dominância dos EUA, se pode esperar – dado os antecedentes de Bergoglio –  que o novo Pontífice Francis I, como líder da Igreja Católica na América Latina irá, de facto,  desempenhar um papel político discreto e as encobertas, mas a favor de Washington.

Com Jose Mario Bergoglio, Papa Francis I no Vaticano – homem esse que fielmente serviu os interesses dos Estados Unidos no dias de apogeu do Generla Jorge Videla e Almirante Emilio Massera – a hierarquia da Igreja Católica na América Latina poderá mais uma vez ser efetivamente manipulada para underminar governos “progressistas”, ou seja, de esquerda, não só na Argentina (em relação ao governo de Cristina Kirschner) como também através de toda a região sulamericana, incluindo Venezuela, Equador e Bolívia.

A instalação de “um papa pro-EUA” ocorreu uma semana após a morte do presidente Hugo Chavez.

“Troca de Regime” no Vaticano  

O Departamento do Estado dos Estados Unidos como uma questão de rotina faz pressão sobre membros do Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas com o fim de influenciar os votos pertencentes as resoluções do Conselho de Segurança.

Também como uma questão de rotina as operações encobertas assim como as campanhas de propaganda dos Estados Unidos são empregadas com o objetivo de influenciar eleições nacionais, em diferente países ao redor do mundo.

A CIA de maneira similar também tem tido uma longa relação encoberta de afinidade com o Vaticano.

Teria o governo dos Estados Unidos tentado influenciar o resultado da eleição do novo pontífice?

Fortemente envolvido em servir os interesses da política exterior dos Estados Unidos na América Latina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio era o candidato preferido de Washington.

Teriam discretas pressões encobertas sido exercidas por Washington dentro da Igreja Católica, pressões essas que direta ou indiretamente, poderiam ter caido sobre os 115 cardinais, membros do conclave do Vaticano?

Notas do Autor

No começo do regime militar em 1976, eu estava trabalhando como professor visitante no Instituto de Política Social da Universidade Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina. O ponto focal da minha pesquisa, nesse tempo, era a investigação dos impactos sociais das mortais reformas macro-econômicas adotadas pela junta militar.

Eu era professor na Universidade de Cordoba  durante a onda inicial dos assassinatos, a qual também mirava membros progressivos da bases populares do cléro católico.

A cidade industrial de Córdoba, localisada no norte da Argnetina,  era o centro do movimento de resistência. Eu fui testemunha de como a hierarquia católica, activa e de maneira rotineira apoiava a junta militar, criando uma atmosfera de intimidação e medo através de todo o país. O sentimento geral nesse tempo era de que a Argentina tinha sido traida pelos altos escalões da Igreja Católica.

Tres anos antes quando do golpe militar no Chile em 11 de setembro de 1973,  o qual levou a derrubada do governo da Unidade Popular de Salvador Allende, eu estava trabalhando como professor visitante no Departamento de Economia da Universidade Católica do Chile, em Santiago do Chile.

Nas imediatas consequências do golpe do Chile eu fui testemunha de como o Cardinal de Santiago, Raul Silva Henriquez –  agindo em nome da Igreja Católica -  confrontou a ditadura militar.

Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research (atualizado em 16 de março de 2013)

14 de março de 2013-03-18

Artigo em inglês :

bergolio

“Washington’s Pope”? Who is Pope Francis I? Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina’s “Dirty War”, March 16, 2013

Tradução Anna Malm – *Licenciatura: Economia e Psicologia; Bacharelado: Ciência Política e Economia.

 

 

 

Conclave Begins: Meet The Papal Candidates

Today is the day all Robert Langdon fans have been feverishly waiting for: the 115 voting cardinals of the Catholic church begin today their secret conclave to choose the successor to Pope Benedict XVI.

As Bloomberg puts it succinctly, "he who enters the conclave a pope exits as a cardinal" and it is notoriously tricky to try to handicap the papal vote. In processional next steps, the Cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel, hailing from as far as the Philippines, and may hold a single vote today with as many as four ballots on succeeding days. Politically, this conclave has been presented as a "struggle between cardinals looking to overhaul the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia, and those trying to maintain its influence, according to Vatican analysts. Electing a non-European, while a novelty, would not necessarily presage a change of course for the millennia-old institution shaken by the abdication of German-born Benedict. Pope Benedict XVI was chosen on the second day of the last conclave in 2005, while John Paul II was selected on the third day of the 1978 conclave." Realistically, it will be a free for all for the scandal-riven church, and it is very much an open question who the next pope will be.

So while we await the puffs of white smoke, courtesy of Bloomberg here are brief biographies of some of the men who may be in the running, based on betting websites and consulting Vatican watchers.

Francis Arinze (Nigeria)
 

Francis Arinze (Nigeria):

Born: Nov. 1, 1932.

Arinze would be the first black pope and the first African pope for more than 1,500 years -- the last was Gelasius I, who reigned at the end of the fifth century and was from North Africa of Berber origin. A social and theological conservative, Arinze’s views on celibacy, women priests, homosexuality and contraception are considered close to those of Benedict XVI.

Christoph Schonborn (Austria)

Christoph Schonborn (Austria):

Born: Jan 22, 1945.

The cardinal has guided Vienna through church scandals including allegations of priests using pornography and engaging in pedophilia. Considered a brilliant conservative theologian, he speaks French, English, Italian, Spanish and Latin, and has traveled widely on behalf of the Vatican, including trips to Moscow and Istanbul. He studied under Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, who became Benedict XVI, after becoming a priest at the age of 25. He is in favor of dialog between Catholicism and Islam, and was the highest-ranked church official to visit Iran after the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

Peter Turkson (Ghana)

Peter Turkson (Ghana):

Born: Oct. 11, 1948

Turkson, who studied theology in New York, is younger than Arinze and was called “one of Africa’s most energetic church leaders” by The Tablet, an influential British Catholic magazine, and in 2009 said that “if God would wish to see a black man also as pope, thanks be to God.” He has engaged with contemporary issues, including the global economic crisis by calling for more oversight of financial institutions and he has denounced the “idolatry of the market.”

Marc Ouellet (Canada)

Marc Ouellet (Canada):

Born: June 8, 1944

The cardinal from Quebec is an accomplished theologian whose writings were admired by Benedict, whose concerns about the modernization of the church he shared. “It would seem that, in the name of secularism, the Bible must be relativized, to be dissolved in a religious pluralism and disappear as a normative cultural reference,” Ouellet said in 2011 in his powerful role as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. Ouellet became a priest in 1968 in the very church that his father built in La Motte, Quebec. He later taught at a seminary in Bogota, Colombia and served as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, making him well known among Spanish-speaking clergy.

Leonardo Sandri (Argentina)

Leonardo Sandri (Argentina):

Born: Nov. 18, 1943

The man who announced the death of John Paul II to the world in 2005, is a native of Buenos Aires who was born to a family of Italian immigrants. He rose to the heights of the church hierarchy to occupy the third most-important position in the Vatican between 2000 and 2007 as de facto chief of staff to the secretary of state. He now has a lower profile as head of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. He has served in Madagascar, Venezuela, Mexico and the U.S. and as the Vatican’s representative to the Organization of American States.

Angelo Scola (Italian)

Angelo Scola (Italy):

Born: Nov. 7, 1941

The Archbishop of Milan is the front-runner among the Italians, who until the 1970s had a virtual lock on the papacy. With Benedict he shared philosophical and theologian interests and his writings on a range of topics from bio-ethics to sexuality have been published in different languages.

Odilo Scherer (Brazil)

Odilo Scherer (Brazil):

Born: Sept. 21, 1949

A Brazilian of German descent, Scherer is Archbishop of Sao Paolo and as such oversees 6 million Catholics in the country’s biggest archdiocese. In the birthplace of liberation theology, he struck a moderate tone by seeing worth in focusing on social injustice and poverty while reserving criticism for the movement’s “Marxism.”

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Chomsky: The Corporate Assault on Public Education

Our kids are being prepared for passive obedience, not creative, independent lives.

March 8, 2013  |  

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The following is Part II of the transcript of a speech Noam Chomsky delivered in February on "The Common Good." Click here to read Part I.

Let’s turn to the assault on education, one element of the general elite reaction to the civilizing effect of the ‘60s. On the right side of the political spectrum, one striking illustration is an influential memorandum written by Lewis Powell, a corporate lawyer working for the tobacco industry, later appointed to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon. At the other end of the narrow spectrum, there was an important study by the Trilateral Commission, liberal internationalists from the three major state capitalist industrial systems: the US, Europe and Japan. Both provide good insight into why the assault targets the educational system.

Let's start with the Powell memorandum. Its title is, “The Attack on the American Free-Enterprise System." It is interesting not only for the content, but also for the paranoid tone. For those who take for granted the right to rule, anything that gets out of control means that the world is coming to an end, like a spoiled three-year-old. So the rhetoric tends to be inflated and paranoid.

Powell identifies the leading criminals who are destroying the American free-enterprise system: one was Ralph Nader, with his consumer safety campaigns. The other was Herbert Marcuse, preaching Marxism to the young New Leftists who were on the rampage all over, while their “naive victims” dominated the universities and schools, controlled TV and other media, the educated community and virtually the entire government. If you think I am exaggerating, I urge you to read it yourself (pdf). Their takeover of the country, he said, is a dire threat to freedom.That's what it looks like from the standpoint of the Masters, as the nefarious campaigns of Nader and the ‘60s popular movements chipped away very slightly at total domination. 

Powell drew the obvious conclusion: “The campuses from which much of this criticism emanates are supported by tax funds generated largely from American business, contributions from capital funds controlled or generated by American business. The boards of trustees at universities are overwhelmingly composed of men and women who are leaders in the business system and most of the media, including the national TV systems are owned and theoretically controlled by corporations which depend on profits and the enterprise system on which they survive.”

Therefore, the oppressed business people who have lost all influence should organize and defend themselves instead of idly sitting by while fundamental freedoms are destroyed by the Marxist onslaught from the media, universities and the government. Those are the expression of the concerns elicited by '60s activism at the right end of the mainstream spectrum.

More revealing is the reaction from the opposite extreme, the liberal internationalists, those who staffed the Carter administration, in their study called "The Crisis of Democracy." The crisis that they perceived was that there was too much democracy. The system used to work fine when most of the population was silent, passive, apathetic and obedient. The American rapporteur, Professor Samuel Huntington of Harvard, looked back with nostalgia to the good old days when “Truman had been able to govern the country with the cooperation of a relatively small number of Wall Street lawyers and bankers,” so that democracy flourished, with no crisis.

But in the ‘60s, something dangerous happened. Special interest groups began to try to enter the political arena and press for their demands. The special interests were women, minorities, young people, old people, farmers, workers. In other words: The population, who are supposed to sit obediently while the intelligent minority runs things in the interest of everyone, according to liberal democratic theory – and this is no exaggeration either. There's one group omitted in the lament of the liberal internationalists: The corporate sector. That's because they don't comprise a special interest; they represent the national Interest. Therefore their dominant influence in what we call democracy is right and proper, and merits no mention or concern.

Vatican Changing of the Guard

In April 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected Pope Benedict XVI. At the time he said: "Dear brothers and sisters. After the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the lord." He hid his dark past. More on that below.

The Paradoxes of Pope Benedict XVI

The Paradoxes of Pope Benedict XVI

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Posted on Feb 11, 2013
Pope Benedict XVI
Fabio Pozzebom / Agencia Brasil

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.

WASHINGTON—Pope Benedict’s resignation shouldn’t have surprised us as much as it did. As an institutionalist who believes in the Roman Catholic Church as the carrier of truth in a sinful world, he would worry a great deal about the impact of his own infirmities on the institution’s capacity to thrive.

He is a traditionalist who was nonetheless much affected by modernity. He would therefore not be troubled that he had to reach far back to find a precedent for papal resignation. He knows that a pope hobbled by sickness and weakness would be a dispiriting symbol in a media age.

Then again, perhaps his very traditionalism inclined him to this decision. After all, he wouldn’t have looked for only recent precedents. He’d have gone back through the church’s 2,000-year history and noted that several popes have abdicated—the most recent being Gregory XII, who left office in 1415. Father Tom Reese, a scholar of Vatican politics, points out that Gregory left at the request of the Council of Constance to help end the Great Western Schism. You wonder: Does Benedict see his resignation as an occasion for pulling together a very divided church?

I have always seen Benedict as a kind of neoconservative—not in his foreign policy attitudes but in sociological terms. Like the original neoconservatives of more than 40 years ago, Benedict was a moderate progressive before he became a conservative. He was pushed to the right, as so many neoconservatives were, by a visceral reaction to the rebellions of the 1960s.

When I was writing a profile of then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger for The New York Times Magazine in 1985, he granted me a written interview in response to questions that proved surprisingly revealing.

The student revolts of 1968 deeply alarmed him. “At the time,” he wrote, “I was dean of the faculty of theology at [the University of] Tubingen, and in all the university assemblies in which I participated, I could notice all kinds of terror, from subtle psycho-terror up to violence.”

He described how he initially regarded Marxism as a potential corrective to certain strains of modern thought. But he came to identify it with “terror.” He added: “I think that in those years, I learned where discussion must stop because it is turning into a lie and resistance must begin in order to maintain freedom.”

From this, it’s possible to see how a one-time liberal became an ardent critic not only of Marxism but of liberalizing trends in the church, including the epochal reforms of the Second Vatican Council and Pope John XXIII. As Ratzinger put it in a famous series of interviews with the Italian journalist Vittorio Messori before he became pope, “one has encountered dissension [in the church] which ... seems to have passed over from self-criticism to self-destruction.” Benedict was thus intent on pressing the most conservative interpretations of the meaning of Vatican II.

Liberal Catholics (myself included) thus greeted Benedict’s election as pope in 2005 with concern. In the end, Benedict was somewhat less conservative than liberals feared—and somewhat less conservative than conservatives hoped. His most important encyclicals were decidedly progressive on economic matters, and he put far more emphasis on God’s love than on his judgment.

The paradoxes of Benedict—and perhaps of Catholicism itself—were visible in two statements he made at Christmastime. Progressives could only welcome an op-ed piece he wrote for the Financial Times on Dec. 19 in which he declared that “Christians fight poverty out of a recognition of the supreme dignity of every human being, created in God’s image and destined for eternal life.”

Yet he followed this with a Christmas sermon denouncing gay marriage, insisting that that gays and lesbians were turning their backs on the “essence of the human creature” and denying “their nature.”

As Michael Sean Winters noted Monday on his National Catholic Reporter blog, resignation was “the most modernizing decision Pope Benedict has taken,” since it emphasizes the responsibilities of a pope as a leader and not the “aura” of the papacy itself. His move opens up a period of soul-searching that Roman Catholicism badly needs.

Catholics believe that the Holy Spirit inspires the papal conclaves that choose successors to St. Peter. In prompting this much-needed debate now rather than hanging on to office and presiding as his energies failed him, Benedict has made what can be seen as an inspired choice that will give the church a chance to confront its crises—and its opportunities.


E.J. Dionne’s e-mail address is ejdionne(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2013, Washington Post Writers Group


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Why the Ideas of Karl Marx are More Relevant Than Ever

Capital used to sell us visions of tomorrow. At the 1939 World's Fair in New York, corporations showcased new technologies: nylon, air conditioning, fluorescent lamps, the ever-impressive View-Master. But more than just products, an ideal of middle-class leisure and abundance was offered to those weary from economic depression and the prospect of European war.Although he did not explicitly use the phrase, Karl Marx is credited with explaining the 'creative destruction' of capitalism. (Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis)

The Futurama ride even took attendees through miniature versions of transformed landscapes, depicting new highways and development projects: the world of the future. It was a visceral attempt to renew faith in capitalism.

In the wake of the second world war, some of this vision became a reality. Capitalism thrived and, though uneven, progress was made by American workers. With pressure from below, the state was wielded by reformers, not smashed, and class compromise, not just class struggle, fostered economic growth and shared prosperity previously unimaginable.

Exploitation and oppression didn't go away, but the system seemed not only powerful and dynamic, but reconcilable with democratic ideals. The progress, however, was fleeting. Social democracy faced the structural crisis in the 1970s that Michal Kalecki, author of The Political Aspects of Full Employment, predicted decades earlier. High employment rates and welfare state protections didn't buy off workers, it encouraged militant wage demands. Capitalists kept up when times were good, but with stagflation – the intersection of poor growth and rising inflation – and the Opec embargo, a crisis of profitability ensued.

An emergent neoliberalism did curb inflation and restore profits, but only through a vicious offensive against the working class. There were pitched battles waged in defense of the welfare state, but our era has largely been one of deradicalization and political acquiescence. Since then, real wages have stagnated, debt soared, and the prospects for a new generation, still wedded to a vision of the old social-democratic compact, are bleak.

The 1990s technological boom brought about talk of a light and adaptive "new economy", something to replace the old Fordist workplace. But it was a far cry from the future promised at the 1939 World's Fair.

The 2008 recession shattered those dreams, anyway. Capital, free of threats from below, grew decadent, wild, and speculative.

For many in my generation, the ideological underpinnings of capitalism have been undermined. That a higher percentage of Americans between the ages of 18 and 30 have a more favorable opinion of socialism than capitalism at least signals that the cold war era conflation of socialism with Stalinism no longer holds sway.

At an intellectual level, the same is true. Marxists have gained a measure of mainstream exposure: Foreign Policy turned to Leo Panitch, not Larry Summers, to explain the recent economic crisis; and thinkers like David Harvey have enjoyed late career renaissances. The wider recognition of thought "left of liberalism" – of which the journal I edit, Jacobin, is a part – isn't just the result of the loss of faith in mainstream alternatives, but rather, the ability of radicals to ask deeper structural questions and place new developments in historical context.

Now, even celebrated liberal Paul Krugman has been invoking ideas long relegated to the margins of American life. When thinking about automation and the future of labor, he worries that "it has echoes of old-fashioned Marxism – which shouldn't be a reason to ignore facts, but too often is." But a resurgent left has more than worries, they have ideas: about the reduction of working time, the decommodification of labor, and the ways in which advances in production can make life better, not more miserable.

This is where what's evolving, however awkwardly, into the 21st-century socialist intellectualism shows its strengths: a willingness to present a vision for the future, something deeper than mere critique. But intellectual shifts don't mean much by themselves.

A survey of the political landscape in America, despite Occupy's emergence in 2011, is bleak. The labor movement has shown some signs of life, especially among public sector workers combating austerity, but these are at best rearguard, defensive struggles. Unionization rates continue to decline, and apathy, not revolutionary fervor, reigns.

Marxism in America needs to be more than an intellectual tool for mainstream commentators befuddled by our changing world. It needs to be a political tool to change that world. Spoken, not just written, for mass consumption, peddling a vision of leisure, abundance, and democracy even more real than what the capitalism's prophets offered in 1939. A socialist Disneyland: inspiration after the .

“Green Socialism” and the Left

“Another grand, left-wing concept with an adjective… Shouldn’t we rather work on concrete social-ecological projects – on initiatives for conversion, a process of ‘energy transition,’ or free public transport?” Undoubtedly, many problems of the left have resulted from its tendency to create grand utopias and attempt to bring social reality in line with them. Transformation starts with concrete entry projects, but where does this road go to? What is the common ground, the common direction of manifold initiatives? Ultimately, we need an antidote to pragmatism – American activists call it a ‘vision.’

What does this imply for green politics? One of the core tasks of left-wing politics is to constantly work on connecting the social and the ecological question. The left is credible on the social question – and there are promising attempts to become more convincing on ecology, even if the mainstream media does not seem to notice this much. There is the notion of ‘social-ecological transformation,’ which belonged to the agenda of the green parties in the 1980s. Today, it is used from the left as a paradigm for the ‘mosaic left’ in formation. But how can we make sure that it remains rooted in a counter-hegemonic project? How far is the profile of the socialist left different from that of Friends of the Earth? It is surely right to build bridges between diverging approaches to social change, but in the process, contradictions are often covered up, and a debate on contentious issues like property and the state is avoided. In this article, we are experimenting with the concept of ‘green socialism.’ We want to discuss whether it could fill the void of a left-wing, ecological, feminist imagination.

Background

If we consider the present relations of forces, the ‘green’ question does not appear to be a contentious issue – ‘socialism’ is what is controversial. The idea of ‘eco-socialism’ failed because its intervention coincided with deep ruptures in global history, namely the collapse of state socialism and the rise of neoliberalism. Socialism was no longer en vogue; it was seen as an ossified and defeated project. The eco-socialist current of the left shrank into a friendly cult, which emphasized what ought to be but rarely intervened in concrete social-ecological struggles. Around the same time, green issues became fashionable, not least because of the 1992 global summit in Rio de Janeiro. There was a “passive revolution” (Gramsci) divorcing the ecological from the social question. The ecological question was absorbed into neoliberal strategies of managing globalization. This happened through the institutionalization of environmental policy and global climate summits, as well as through the integration of green parties and NGOs into mainstream politics. From an ecological standpoint, the successes of the passive revolution were limited; there is an unbroken trend toward deepening ecological and social crises; the ecological crises have accrued considerable social costs and vice versa. Consequently, ‘green socialism’ has to be linked up with concrete struggles such as struggles over energy production and projects of conversion based on a ‘just transition.’

In the midst of the great crisis of neoliberalism and the authoritarian imposition of austerity throughout Europe, the prospect of a transition to ‘green capitalism’ (Fücks/Steenboom 2007; for a critique see Candeias/Kuhn 2008) or a ‘green economy’ (Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung 2012; for a critique see Brand 2012) raises the hopes of many people. The underlying political strategy focuses on channelling investment toward a process of ‘energy transition’ and kick-starting ecological modernization with the help of new technologies and an accumulation strategy that is supposed to create millions of jobs. The notion of a ‘green economy’ promotes growth and an increase in exports; it is not about limiting the use of resources. In contrast to older approaches, which were centred on ‘sustainability,’ it does not aim to overcome the contradiction between the economy and ecology. Rather, it advocates the commodification of nature and environmental protection, which means that the political management of the ecological crisis becomes a factor in, and a driver of, capitalist accumulation. In sum, the ‘green economy’ approach is about reproducing capitalist hegemony by taking on board ecological interests – it represents an elite consensus garnished with the vague hope that there will be a few new jobs.

Recently, the predominance of the politics of austerity in Europe has restrained the momentum behind the push for a green economy. And yet, there are debates whether the ‘growth components’ of the European Fiscal Compact should include incentives for, and investment in, ecological modernization. In this context, capitalist interests converge with those of social democracy and the trade unions (and this even applies to clearly left-wing appeals such as “Founding Europe Anew!,” which emerged out of the German trade union movement).

‘Green socialism’ is about taking a stand against – not for a long time realized – ‘green capitalism.’ The concept is about linking up a range of interests and movements in the name of “revolutionary Realpolitik,” ensuring that “their particular efforts, taken together, push beyond the framework of the existing order” (Rosa Luxemburg, Marxist Theory and the Proletariat). In the process, many of the old socialist themes – e.g., redistribution, power and property, planning and democracy – are updated and linked up with new issues. It is necessary to link ‘green socialism’ to real contradictions and conditions – to real social forces and movements that are tackling different issues, getting involved in different conflicts and developing concrete, experimental practices.

The Example of Redistribution

Redistribution is a key aspect of any kind of left-wing politics. It does not figure at all in the present conceptions of a ‘green economy’ and only plays a subordinate role in the project of a ‘Green New Deal’ even in times of austerity. This suggests that the issue is not taken seriously. For the German Green Party, softening the demand for redistribution is an act of “being straight” with the population, they say. From the neoliberal point of view, the debts of the financial institutions bailed out by the state have to be serviced. Social Democrats and Greens tend to go along with this: they want to regain the “trust of the markets,” which is why most of their party organizations in Europe have agreed to the ratification of the European Fiscal Compact. The pact will not only bring a new wave of ‘bottom-up’ redistribution, but it will also exacerbate the economic crisis and drive entire countries into depression. Importantly, it will not lead to a permanent reduction in debt.

It is necessary to discuss the illegitimate debt weighing down on many European countries. This issue requires democratic consultation and decision-making and serious attempts to design a procedure for a debt audit (cf. Candeias 2011b). A comprehensive cancellation of debt, comparable to a currency reform, would be needed – not just for Greece. This should be combined with a just tax policy based on forcing the capital – and asset-owners to contribute more to financing the public sector, which would be an act of returning some of the social surplus product to the general public. This would put a stop to processes of “bottom-up” redistribution and open spaces for a politics based on social-ecological concerns. The people in Europe are prepared for a political intervention along these lines because they are currently exposed to the existential threat posed by debt. Numerous forces from civil society agree to it, for example the CDTM (the Greek campaign for a debt audit, cf. LuXemburg 2/2012) and left-wing parties like SYRIZA and Izquierda Unida. These organizations intervene in the current wave of European protests against the effects of the crisis and demand a debt audit, the taxation of assets, a financial transactions tax, a levy on banks etc.

The Socialization of Investment

Over the medium-term, it is necessary to socialize the investment function, which is an old Keynesian demand. Who in society should determine the use of (physical and social) resources, and who should decide which types of work are socially necessary? The market – purportedly the most efficient mechanism for the allocation of investment – has embarrassed itself. The over-accumulation of capital is regularly producing financial bubbles, followed by the destruction of capital and jobs. At the same time, the number of sectors of social reproduction that are deprived of funding and neglected until they collapse is constantly increasing. Childcare, education, environmental protection, the general infrastructure and public services are all affected. The “green economy” focuses on commodification and the market. Yet the market takes too long to resolve problems, and the big corporations behind “fossil capitalism” want to get a foothold in the “green economy” at the same time as keeping their fixed capital.

What is needed is financial regulation, the nationalization of “systemically relevant” banks, a network of public banks, and the introduction of participatory budgeting at all levels of society. The socialization of investment and participatory investment decisions are two of the preconditions for a left-wing and socialist project of structural transformation. ”

There will not be a smooth passage to a restructured economy: it is impossible to meet the challenge of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 per cent and catapulting the entire economy from the 150-year old age of “fossils” into the “solar future” without ruptures and crises. If the transition is pursued with tenacity, it is unavoidable that some of the old branches of industry and their capital will come under attack, which in turn will trigger resistance. If the markets prove incapable of ensuring investment, this has to become, to a much stronger degree, a public project. What is needed is financial regulation, the nationalization of “systemically relevant” banks, a network of public banks, and the introduction of participatory budgeting at all levels of society. The socialization of investment and participatory investment decisions are two of the preconditions for a left-wing and socialist project of structural transformation. Without them, the gains made through successful policies of redistribution can be reversed easily.

Reclaiming the Public Sphere

It is necessary to transform the mode of production and living. This should not be done through the commodification and privatization of natural resources, but through the preservation of the universal and public character of the natural commons and other public goods, and through the expansion of collective public services that are cheap and eventually free. For example, free public transport networks should be expanded while subsidies for car-makers should be stopped. Green socialism focuses on the public sector; it is about “remunicipalizing” key parts of the infrastructure and guaranteeing democratic decision-making on issues concerning the transformation of the mode of production and consumption. Moreover, it is based on promoting collective forms of consumption rooted in the social infrastructure and universal, solidarity-based forms of social security. Demanding their expansion would also allow us to respond to the fixation of some left-wing trade unionists on wage increases and material consumption – and would do so without forcing us to get involved in debates on the need to rein in consumption. Besides, an expansion of the public sphere not based on commodification would also amount to markets and processes of privatization being pushed back.

In contrast, the idea of a “green economy” favours technological fixes based on private property, for example large-scale projects such as Desertec,[1] huge offshore wind parks, and monopolized, transcontinental super-grids for long-distance energy exports. Strong fractions of capital are already gathering behind the project. Their strategies undermine the potential for de-centralization inherent in the new technologies; they produce “false solutions” that create social-ecological conflict.

In light of this, the demands of social movements and local initiatives have started to converge with those of left-wing politicians operating at the local and the regional level. Both sides are fighting against attempts by big corporations to impose a process of “energy transition” from above; they are advocating de-centralized, local solutions, for example the remunicipalization of services of general interest and the establishment of energy cooperatives and bio-energetic villages. A variety of movements and groups are using the concept of “energy democracy” in order to create a shared perspective.

Focussing on Economies of Reproduction

For a successful socio-ecological transformation, it is necessary to focus on reproductive needs; existing, growth-oriented capitalist economies should be transformed into “economies of reproduction,” which know both how to limit themselves and to produce new wealth (cf. Candeias 2011a, 96). Sectors that are captured by a broad conception of “reproduction work” or “care work” would be at the heart of this transformation. There would be an expansion of needs-oriented social services such as healthcare, elder care, childcare, education, research, nutrition, environmental protection and others. In these areas, evrybody has been complaining about shortages for years; at the same time, they are the only sectors in the industrialized countries where employment is on the rise. They should remain under public control and should not be exposed to the market. This would be a contribution to the “ecologization” of the existing mode of production (working with people usually does not lead to environmental destruction), and to addressing the crises of wage labour and unpaid reproduction work. A process of transformation along these lines could contribute to shape gender relations in an emancipatory fashion.

This includes redefining and redistributing what we understand by “socially necessary labour” (4in1-perspective by Frigga Haug). This could be achieved by reducing labour time and expanding publicly funded, collective work processes. Such interventions are emphatically not about increasing surplus value, but about reducing the consumption of energy and raw materials, as well as assessing work on the grounds of its contribution to human development and the overall wealth in social relations.

In this context, it is important to see that the poor’s experience of being ruled and exploited by others coincides with the desire for participation and solidarity of the left-libertarian sections of the middle class. There is potential for a convergence of the demands of social movements critical of growth, feminist organizations, and service-sector unions like the German ver.di. Besides, the reorientation toward reproductive needs entails an economic shift toward domestic markets and production. Global chains of production have been overstretched for a long time, and they are wasting resources. This assessment should not be taken as a reflection of “naïve anti-industrialism” (Urban). It is motivated by the need to envisage an alternative production (the term used in the debates on conversion in the 1980s). It would be wrong to assume that continuing the export-oriented strategy of German car makers by promoting electric cars contributes to the emergence of an alternative form of production. After all, the production of the batteries needed for electric cars consumes considerable amounts of energy and raw materials and pollutes the environment because it involves a number of highly toxic substances. Moreover, the switch to electric cars does not do anything about the enormous use of space and the soil sealing caused by the construction of roads. Rather than talking about electric cars, we should discuss how the conversion of car makers into green service providers can be achieved, and how they can be transformed into companies dedicated to facilitating public mobility on the grounds of regionally rooted conceptions of transport.

Against the backdrop of such discursive shifts, trade unions like German metal union IG Metall, which are entangled in the export-oriented strategies of German corporations and in forms of “crisis corporatism,” could start to develop independent strategies. As a result, they would not constantly find themselves at loggerheads with other sections of the “mosaic left” – or appear as victors in a crisis that badly hits sister organizations in other parts of Europe.

A new focus on reproduction could trigger a process of economic de-globalization and re-nationalization. This would contribute to the reduction of current account imbalances and alleviate the pressure on countries in the global south to become part of global chains of production and policies of extraction. They would no longer have to accept the global flows of raw materials and the imperial way of life in the global north. In other words, spaces for independent development would emerge. This would have to be complemented by the development of global planning in the area of raw material and resources, which would guarantee a just distribution of wealth, limit consumption and address reproductive needs. In sum, an economy of reproduction means that people’s needs and the economy in general develop in qualitative not in quantitative ways.

Just Transitions

Transformation is not an easy path but produces a lot of social problems. Therefore the great transformation has to be combined with a just transition. This entails the shrinking of some sectors (e.g., those with a high turnover of raw materials), and the growth of others (e.g., the entire care economy). In any case, economic growth should be de-coupled from material growth. Temporarily, qualitative growth is necessary. After all, various national economies have deficiencies in the area of reproduction, especially those in the so-called global south. As a result, it is counterproductive to operate on the grounds of a simple juxtaposition of “pro-growth” and “post-growth” positions. The recent debates in the global south about Buen Vivir (“the good life,”) and social-ecological modes of development that go beyond western life-styles transcend standard conceptions of growth and modernization. In this context, it also important to avoid false juxtapositions: “Development” and “modern” civilization are not problematic concepts as such. They become problematic once they are bound up with certain forms of capitalist (or state socialist) expansion and the corresponding social relations of nature. At the political level, we have to work on “translating” the experiences of actors from different contexts. This will create opportunities for linking up social-ecological and transformative struggles in the global south with those in the north.

Just transitions are about creating new perspectives for the people worst affected by the climate crisis. But they also take into account the situation of the workers, communities and countries faced with increases in cost of living and a fundamental restructuring of employment, which may be caused by the switch to renewables and the conversion of certain industries, for example the arms industry. In this sense, the initiatives for a just transition try to bring together the movement for climate justice and the labour movement. In any other scenario, social and ecological interests are either played off against each other or the interests of the working classes and of employees more generally (a better environment, a conscious way of consuming, more jobs) are simply not considered. These are some criteria for a just transition to green socialism: It should be assessed whether the measures taken contribute to

  • a reduction in CO2 emissions;
  • a drop in poverty and vulnerability;
  • a decline in income inequality and other forms of inequality;
  • the creation of jobs and the promotion of “good work”; and
  • the democratic participation of individuals.

Obviously, this list can be extended endlessly. Nevertheless, these points are crucial for developing a provisional method of quantitative evaluation, which can be used for political interventions.

Participatory Planning

The need to instigate quick structural change under conditions of “time pressure” (Schumann 2011) also means that it is necessary to phase in participative planning, consultas populares, people’s planning processes and decentralized democratic councils. (The introduction of regional councils formed part of the recent German debate on the crisis of car manufacturing and the export industries, cf. IG Metall Esslingen 2009, Lötzer 2010, Candeias/Röttger 2009). There are some historical instances where planning proved highly effective in bringing about social change that had to be achieved quickly (e.g., the New Deal in the U.S. in the 1930s and 40s). Joseph Schumpeter was passionately in favour of the “creative destruction” caused by capitalism; nevertheless, even he spoke of the “superiority of the socialist central plan” (1942, 310ff). Considering the need for a quick transition, socialists have a strong case for planning – but this time it should be participatory planning (Williamson 2010). This approach to planning is the only one capable of establishing a mode of societalization that breaks with the obsolete relations of power and property in capitalism. In the light of negative experiences with authoritarian and centralized planning mechanisms, experimenting with participatory planning at the regional level might be the right entry point. Another potential entry point is the democratization and decentralization of existing transregional processes of planning, for example in healthcare, energy, the railways, education etc. The global allocation of raw material and resources is a more difficult issue: it seems hard to envisage the democratization of the modes of planning used by international organizations and transnational corporations.

Real Democracy

The crisis of representation and legitimacy of the political system is in many ways linked to the fact that the political system does not take into account the essential needs of the people, and that they are not invited to participate in decision-making. The public sphere should be extended with the aim of creating a “provision economy,” but this should be accompanied by the radical democratization of the state. The ‘benevolent,’ paternalistic and patriarchal welfare state from Fordist times; authoritarian state socialism; the neoliberal restructuring of public services on the grounds of the principles of competition and managerial efficiency – none of these ventures had an emancipatory character. A left-wing state project has to instigate the extension of participation and transparency demanded by the new movements for democracy and to work for the absorption of the state into civil society, as Gramsci put it. Participation does not just mean that people are able to voice their opinion, but that they are able to influence decision-making. This is where the movement against Stuttgart 21 converges with Occupy and the [email protected] The authoritarian-neoliberal mode of crisis management, in contrast, is at odds with this principle.

Yet democratization is not just about the public dimension of the state, but also about the economy. Today, there are serious doubts about the socio-economic “contribution” of management strategies based on shareholder value. This is due to their short-termism and their part in the financial crisis, in excessive remuneration for senior managers, tax evasion, mass redundancies and environmental destruction. Similarly, the classic forms of firm-level co-determination have proven incapable of challenging the pressure of transnational competition and of the dominance of finance. Sometimes, co-determination bodies became entangled in practices of collaboration and corruption. Therefore, it is time for a democratization of the economy that goes beyond co-determination and the in-depth participation of employees, trade unions, the consumers and the wider population in firm-level decision-making (along the lines of the entire transnational chain of production).

It is vital that all the mechanisms discussed become part of a wider project that amplifies collective agency. In other words, they should enable individuals to become the protagonists of their own (hi)stories. It is “the task of every one of us to unify the divergent” (Peter Weiss [1975] 1983, 204). The resulting association should be seen as a political association – as a left-in-transformation, which is aware of the fact that its political goals can only be achieved through fierce struggles (Goldschmidt et al. 2008, 836ff). •

Translated from the German by Alexander Gallas.

Mario Candeias is a political economist, senior researcher at the Institute for Critical Social Analysis at Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin, and co-editor of the journal LuXemburg where this article first appeared (3/2012).

Brand, Ulrich, 2012, Schöne Grüne Welt. Über die Mythen der Green Economy, LuXemburg argumente series, no. 3, Berlin

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Lötzer, Ulla, 2010: Industriepolitische Offensive – Konversion, Zukunftsfonds, Wirtschaftsdemokratie, in: LuXemburg 3/2010, 86–93

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Williamson, Thad, 2010: Democratic Social Planning and Worker Control, in: LuXemburg

MLK: Why I Am Opposed to The War in Vietnam

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As part of the process of creating imagery in this video, the speech was edited for length. The whole speech is reprinted below. Sections in bold were omitted in the video. Once you've watched the video, we urge you to read the speech in its entirety.

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Martin Luther King Jr.: "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" 

Sermon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church on April 30, 1967:

 

[The sermon which I am preaching this morning in a sense is not the usual kind of sermon, but it is a sermon and an important subject, nevertheless, because the issue that I will be discussing today is one of the most controversial issues confronting our nation. I'm using as a subject from which to preach, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam."

 

Now, let me make it clear in the beginning, that I see this war as an unjust, evil, and futile war. I preach to you today on the war in Vietnam because my conscience leaves me with no other choice.]

 

The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war.

 

[In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free."]

 

 Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal.

 

The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom [and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexing, as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we're always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty. But we must move on. Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony. But we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for in all our history] there has never been such a monumental dissent during a war, by the American people.

 

Polls reveal that almost fifteen million Americans explicitly oppose the war in Vietnam. Additional millions cannot bring themselves around to support it. [And even those millions who do support the war [are] half-hearted, confused, and doubt-ridden]. This reveals that millions have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism, to the high grounds of firm dissent, based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Now, of course, one of the difficulties in speaking out today grows the fact that there are those who are seeking to equate dissent with disloyalty. It's a dark day in our nation when high-level authorities will seek to use every method to silence dissent. But something is happening, and people are not going to be silenced. The truth must be told, and I say that those who are seeking to make it appear that anyone who opposes the war in Vietnam is a fool or a traitor or an enemy of our soldiers is a person that has taken a stand against the best in our tradition.

 

[Yes, we must stand, and we must speak. [tape skip]...have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam.] Many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. [At the heart of their concerns, this query has often loomed large and loud]: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King? Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" Peace and civil rights don't mix, they say. And so this morning, I speak to you on this issue, because I am determined to take the Gospel seriously. [And I come this morning to my pulpit to make a passionate plea to my beloved nation.

 

This sermon is not addressed to Hanoi, or to the National Liberation Front. It is not addressed to China or to Russia. Nor is it an attempt to overlook the ambiguity of the total situation and the need for a collective solution to the tragedy of Vietnam. Nor is it an attempt to make North Vietnam or the National Liberation Front paragons of virtue, nor to overlook the role they must play in a successful resolution of the problem. This morning, however, I wish not to speak with Hanoi and the National Liberation Front, but rather to my fellow Americans, who bear the greatest responsibility, and entered a conflict that has exacted a heavy price on both continents.

 

Now, since I am a preacher by calling, I suppose it is not surprising that I have seven major reasons for bringing Vietnam into the field of my moral vision.] There is...a very obvious and almost facile connection between the war in Vietnam and the struggle I and others have been waging in America. A few years ago there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed that there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the Poverty Program. [There were experiments, hopes, and new beginnings.] Then came the build-up in Vietnam. And I watched the program broken as if it was some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money, like some demonic, destructive suction tube. And you may not know it, my friends, but it is estimated that we spend $500,000 to kill each enemy soldier, while we spend only fifty-three dollars for each person classified as poor, and much of that fifty-three dollars goes for salaries to people that are not poor. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor, and attack it as such.

 

Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons, and their brothers, and their husbands to fight and die in extraordinarily high proportion relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with a cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same school room. So we watch them in brutal solidarity, burning the huts of a poor village. But we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago or Atlanta. [Now, I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.

 

My third reason moves to an even deeper level of awareness, for it grows out of my experience in the ghettos of the North over the last three years--especially the last three summers.] As I have walked among the desperate, rejected, and angry young men, I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. [I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through non-violent action;] for they ask and write me, "So what about Vietnam?" They ask if our nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems [to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home,] and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without first having spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government.

 

[For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence I cannot be silent. Been a lot of applauding over the last few years. They applauded our total movement; they've applauded me.] America and most of its newspapers applauded me in Montgomery. And I stood before thousands of Negroes getting ready to riot when my home was bombed and said, we can't do it this way. They applauded us in the sit-in movement--we non-violently decided to sit in at lunch counters. The applauded us on the Freedom Rides when we accepted blows without retaliation. [They praised us in Albany and Birmingham and Selma, Alabama.] Oh, the press was so noble in its applause, and so noble in its praise when I was saying, Be non-violent toward Bull Connor; [when I was saying, Be non-violent toward [Selma, Alabama segregationist sheriff] Jim Clark.] There's something strangely inconsistent about a nation and a press that will praise you when you say, Be non-violent toward Jim Clark, but will curse and damn you when you say, "Be non-violent toward little brown Vietnamese children. There's something wrong with that press!

 

[As if the weight of such a commitment to the life and health of America were not enough,] another burden of responsibility was placed upon me in 1964. And I cannot forget that the Nobel Peace Prize was not just something taking place, but it was a commission--a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for the brotherhood of Man. This is a calling that takes me beyond national allegiances. But even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ. To me, the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war. Could it be that they do not know that the Good News was meant for all men, for communists and capitalists, for their children and ours, for black and white, for revolutionary and conservative. Have they forgotten that my ministry is in obedience to the One who loved His enemies so fully that he died for them? What, then, can I say to the Vietcong, or to Castro, or to Mao, as a faithful minister to Jesus Christ? Can I threaten them with death, or must I not share with them my life? [Finally, I must be true to my conviction that I share with all men the calling to be the son of the Living God. Beyond the calling of race or nation or creed is this vocation of sonship and brotherhood. And because I believe that the Father is deeply concerned, especially for His suffering and helpless and outcast children, I come today to speak for them. And as I ponder the madness of Vietnam and search within myself for ways to understand and respond in compassion, my mind goes constantly to the people of that peninsula. I speak not now of the soldiers of each side, not of the military government of Saigon, but simply of the people who have been under the curse of war for almost three continuous decades now. I think of them, too, because it is clear to me that] there will be no meaningful solution until some attempt is made to know these people and hear their broken cries.

 

[Now, let me tell you the truth about it. They must see Americans as strange liberators. Do you realize that the Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation. And incidentally, this was before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. And this is a little-known fact, and these people declared themselves independent in 1945. They quoted our Declaration of Independence in their document of freedom, and yet our government refused to recognize them. President Truman said they were not ready for independence. So we fell victim as a nation at that time of the same deadly arrogance that has poisoned the international situation for all of these years. France then set out to reconquer its former colony. And they fought eight long, hard, brutal years trying to re-conquer Vietnam. You know who helped France? It was the United States of America. It came to the point that we were meeting more than eighty percent of the war costs. And even when France started despairing of its reckless action, we did not. And in 1954, a conference was called at Geneva, and an agreement was reached, because France had been defeated at Dien Bien Phu. But even after that, and after the Geneva Accord, we did not stop. We must face the sad fact that our government sought, in a real sense, to sabotage the Geneva Accord. Well, after the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come through the Geneva agreement. But instead the United States came and started supporting a man named Diem who turned out to be one of the most ruthless dictators in the history of the world. He set out to silence all opposition. People were brutally murdered because they raised their voices against the brutal policies of Diem. And the peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States influence and by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem's methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown, they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace.] And who are we supporting in Vietnam today? It's a man by the name of general Ky [Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky] who fought with the French against his own people, and who said on one occasion that the greatest hero of his life is Hitler. This is who we are supporting in Vietnam today. Oh, our government and the press generally won't tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning. The truth must be told.

[The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support] and all the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. [They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps, where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women, and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the towns and see thousands of thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals.] They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. [They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers.] We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. [We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation's only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the United Buddhist Church.] This is a role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible but refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. I'm convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.

 

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. [On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be changed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway.] True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation. It will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

 

[Oh, my friends, if there is any one thing that we must see today is that these are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression, and out of the wounds of a frail world, new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. They are saying, unconsciously, as we say in one of our freedom songs, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around!"] It is a sad fact that because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries. [This has driven many to feel that only Marxism has a revolutionary spirit. Therefore, communism is a judgment against our failure to make democracy real and follow through on the revolutions that we initiated.] Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. [With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo, we shall boldly challenge unjust mores, and thereby speed up the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the rough places shall be made plain, and the crooked places straight. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."]

 

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies. This call for a worldwide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one's tribe, race, class, and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing, unconditional love for all men. This oft misunderstood and misinterpreted concept, so readily dismissed by the Nietzsches of the world as a weak and cowardly force, has now become an absolute necessity for the survival of mankind. [And when I speak of love I'm not speaking of some sentimental and weak response. I am speaking of that force which all of the great religions have seen as the supreme unifying principle of life. Love is somehow the key that unlocks the door which leads to ultimate reality. This Hindu-Muslim-Christian-Jewish-Buddhist belief about ultimate reality is beautifully summed up in the first epistle of John: "Let us love one another, for God is love. And every one that loveth is born of God and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us and his love is perfected in us."]

 

Let me say finally that I oppose the war in Vietnam because I love America. I speak out against this war, not in anger, but with anxiety and sorrow in my heart, and, above all, with a passionate desire to see our beloved country stand as the moral example of the world. I speak out against this war because I am disappointed with America. And there can be no great disappointment where there is not great love. I am disappointed with our failure to deal positively and forthrightly with the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism. [We are presently moving down a dead-end road that can lead to national disaster. America has strayed to the far country of racism and militarism. The home that all too many Americans left was solidly structured idealistically; its pillars were solidly grounded in the insights of our Judeo-Christian heritage.] All men are made in the image of God. All men are bothers. All men are created equal. Every man is an heir to a legacy of dignity and worth. Every man has rights that are neither conferred by, nor derived from the State--they are God-given. Out of one blood, God made all men to dwell upon the face of the earth. What a marvelous foundation for any home! What a glorious and healthy place to inhabit. But America's strayed away, and this unnatural excursion has brought only confusion and bewilderment. It has left hearts aching with guilt and minds distorted with irrationality.

 

It is time for all people of conscience to call upon America to come back home. Come home, America. [Omar Khayyam is right: "The moving finger writes, and having writ moves on.]" I call on Washington today. I call on every man and woman of good will all over America today. I call on the young men of America who must make a choice today to take a stand on this issue. Tomorrow may be too late. [The book may close]. And don't let anybody make you think that God chose America as his divine, messianic force to be a sort of policeman of the whole world. God has a way of standing before the nations with judgment, and it seems that I can hear God saying to America, "You're too arrogant! [And if you don't change your ways, I will rise up and break the backbone of your power, and I'll place it in the hands of a nation that doesn't even know my name. Be still and know that I'm God."]

 

Now it isn't easy to stand up for truth and for justice. Sometimes it means being frustrated. When you tell the truth and take a stand, [sometimes it means that you will walk the streets with a burdened heart.] Sometimes it means losing a job...means being abused and scorned. It may mean having a seven, eight year old child asking a daddy, "Why do you have to go to jail so much?" And I've long since learned that to be a follower to the Jesus Christ means taking up the cross. And my bible tells me that Good Friday comes before Easter. Before the crown we wear, there is the cross that we must bear. Let us bear it--bear it for truth, bear it for justice, and bear it for peace. Let us go out this morning with that determination. And I have not lost faith. [I'm not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order.] I haven't lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. [I can still sing "We Shall Overcome" because Carlyle was right: "No lie can live forever." We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant was right: "Truth pressed to earth will rise again." We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell was right: "Truth forever on the scaffold, wrong forever on the throne." Yet, that scaffold sways the future.] We shall overcome because the bible is right: "You shall reap what you sow." [With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.] With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when the lion and the lamb will lie down together, and every man will sit under his own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid because the words of the Lord have spoken it. With this faith we will be able to speed up the day when all over the world we will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we're free at last!" With this faith, we'll sing it as we're getting ready to sing it now. Men will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. And nations will not rise up against nations, neither shall they study war anymore. And I don't know about you, I ain't gonna study war [no more].

 



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UNDERSTANDING THE CRISIS




For a student of Marxist political economy, one of the last year’s highlights was the seven-part discussion of the global economic crisis, its causes, and consequences which was featured in Socialist Voice, the excellent monthly publication of the Communist Party of Ireland. Beginning in January with the review of a book on the crisis, two interlocutors—identified as NC and NL-- surveyed the landscape of radical and Marxist explanations of economic crises and their meaning for the working class movement.

Several features of the discussion were remarkable.

First, the discussion was conducted in a comradely and respectful manner. Much of the academic “Marxist” dialogue is about scoring points and splitting hairs. The SV exchange, on the other hand, sought to construct and unify.

Second, the articles were free of jargon and pretension. Too often self-styled Marxist economists feel compelled to package their views in fashionable or “sophisticated” language to create an aura of profundity.

Third, the dialogue owes little to bourgeois economics. Outside of a few distinguished Marxists like Maurice Dobb, Ronald Meek, and Victor Perlo, in the English-speaking world, training in mainstream bourgeois economics has been more of a hindrance than a help in grasping and advancing Marxism. Likewise, formalism—the fetish of mathematical and logical constructs-- has elevated issues like the so-called transformation problem or the “Okishio Theorem” to center stage at the expense of pursuing and elaborating the insights of Marx, Engels, and their successors. In most cases, the formalists and academicians would be well advised to return to a study of the opening chapters of Capital, an exercise that would render much of their exercises pettifoggery.

The Socialist Voice contributions cover briefly, but clearly and seriously, the theories of crisis ranging from the tendency-of-the-falling-rate-of-profit through underconsumptionism, stagnation, long cycles, and the general crisis of capitalism. They draw on a diverse group of theorists from Andrew Kliman and the Monthly Review adherents through Nikolai Kondratiev and Hans Heinz Holz.

The articles are to be found in the January, April, May, June, October, November, and December issues of Socialist Voice or online at:     http://www.communistpartyofireland.ie/sv/index.html.

I urge everyone interested in Marxist political economy to read them. Hopefully, this discussion will generate further research and debate over the many issues addressed. Developing a clear and full Marxist account of the current crisis is a work in progress. My own thoughts, offered in the same comradely spirit, are below:

SYSTEMIC CRISIS
1. Capitalist economic crises are of two types: cyclical and systemic. In the course of capitalist economic activity, imbalances occur between various departments of production, between suppliers and producers, between production and consumption, etc. These imbalances result in slumps or slowdowns in productive activity. Bourgeois economists refer to these as “business cycle” events, meaning that they are cyclical or self-correcting; recovery is on the horizon, perhaps the distant horizon, but on the horizon. Generally, bourgeois politicians apply conventional nostrums—interest rate adjustments, state spending, incentives or inducements—to adjust these cycles to their political ends. Even though these are episodic events, the ensuing damage generally falls on the backs of working people.

2. Systemic crises, on the other hand, are reflective of deep contradictions inherent in the capitalist system. As such, they are not subject to either patience or the usual menu of remedies. Capitalism, like a perpetual motion machine, violates the laws of nature. A system cannot continue forever that depends upon increasing complex social interactions while awarding the riches produced by those interactions to a few who are dissociated from the same social processes. In the long run, the accumulation of private, concentrated wealth tends to choke off the further accumulation of that wealth.

3. Systemic crises do not pass, but are temporarily suppressed or resolved through transformative change. That is, policy makers may blunt or postpone the harshest consequences of systemic crises, but eventually systemic changes are necessitated to exit the crisis. For example, despite New Deal boasts about resolving the Great Depression in the US, the Depression’s demise only came with the vast systemic changes that accompanied a world war— socialist-like economic planning, organization, investment, and production in war supplies and the massive destruction of material assets. In our time, the full impact of the 2001 technology crisis was suppressed only to exacerbate the 2008 crisis. The underlying dynamics of capitalist crisis remained, and still remain. 

4. Systemic crises are, in the final analysis, crises of accumulation. What cripples the mechanism of capitalism most decisively is the inability to generate sufficient profit. Conversely, those factors which restrain the growth of accumulation-- retard the rate of profit-- largely account for systemic crises. Thus, broadly speaking, crises are caused by a tendency within the system for the rate of profit to fall.

5. Basing systemic crisis on failing accumulation and not imbalances or unrealized consumption has the following political consequence: it cannot be overcome with liberal or social democratic panaceas. Wealth redistribution, public sector jobs programs, social insurance etc. will not directly restore profitability unless these programs are actually subterfuges for surplus transfer. Only the restoration of profit growth will stabilize the economy. We saw this in the US after mid-2009 when profits rebounded sharply (generated by intensified exploitation!). But even then earnings began to recede again by mid-2012. Thus, for the working class, the choice is really only between helping the capitalists restore profit or working to eliminate the capitalist system!

6. Paradoxically, the crisis exists because the accumulation process is overwhelmed by the huge pool of surplus in the hands of the few, the owners of the means of production, distribution, service, and finance. Just as before the Great Depression, investment opportunities in productive activities are outstripped by the sheer weight of accumulated surplus. The rate, as well as the expected rate, of profit sinks against the aggregate capital held by corporations, banks, and the rich.  They turn to speculation in scarce resources, property and financial schemes, the ever-active “hunt for yield.” And they take on debt which amplifies the folly of this ceaseless search for a return on available capital.

7. The systemic crisis should not be understood as foretelling an ultimate breakdown of the system. Henryk Grossmann’s pioneering work on Marx’s tendency of the falling rate of profit—because of its strict logical exposition—mistakenly led some to believe that capitalism would implode by its own logic. Similarly, academic Marxists divorced from the working class movement lean heavily on projected stagnation to force the departure of capitalism from the world stage. But capitalism always has extreme measures to fall back on for its self-preservation: a re-shuffling of the cards through war, forced-march capitalism through fascism, and many forms of direct and indirect enslavement. The only escape from capitalism is through the efforts of the most advanced, organized elements of the working class armed with an understanding of capitalism. 

MONOPOLY AND STATE-MONOPOLY-CAPITALISM

1. The theorists at Monthly Review are correct to persistently point to the never-ending concentration of capital into fewer and fewer hands as evidence for the rise of monopoly capital. Mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, and integration ensure that leading corporations grow stronger and fewer. At the same time, they understate the resiliency of capitalism to create and re-create new arenas of competition. Frederick Engels stated it well in the very first Marxist tract on political economy (Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy): “Competition is based on self-interest, and self-interest in turn breeds monopoly. In short, competition passes over into monopoly. On the other hand, monopoly cannot stem the tide of competition—indeed, it itself breeds competition…” It is this seemingly small point that eludes the “Monopoly Capital” (MC) school associated with Monthly Review.

2. Even in a hugely capital-intensive industry and a paragon of monopoly like automobile production, competition persists with new producers entering the industry through new technologies (e.g., electric cars) or national initiatives (Japan, Korea, and today China and India). While price competition persists (contrary to the MC school), competition is also expressed through technological features, fuel consumption, performance, warranty protection, and a host of other differences. Moreover, these differences are based in the techniques of production and costs of production and not merely sloughed away as “the sales effort” as Sweezy and Baran do in Monopoly Capital. They equally sidestep the competition between old and new, mainstream and alternate industries.

3. Despite the persistent concentration of capital, competition among capitalists and the thirst for a return on capital stocks will always steer the system towards systemic crisis.

4. Of greater use to the working class movement is the theory of state-monopoly-capitalism. While monopolization may bend, but not break the logic of capitalism, enormous monopoly corporations have succeeded in merging their interests with the functions of the state. The enormous power and reach of monopoly enterprises have commandeered all organs of the state and harnessed the state’s actions to the promoting of capital accumulation. While the theory of state-monopoly-capitalism has been dismissed in left circles since the demise of European socialism, the priority by the state given to the US/European bank bailouts surely underscores its validity and makes the critics pause to reconsider. The theory is an essential tool for understanding the behavior of EU and US policy-makers through the course of the crisis.

“FINANCIALIZATION” AND DEBT

1. “Financialization” is an unfortunate term—fashionable, but adding little light to our understanding. The growing role of finance has been noted since before the time of Lenin. The process culminated in finance accounting for over 40% of corporate profits in the US by the early twenty-first century—in part by its increasing absorption of stampeding surplus and in part by the decline and departure of manufacturing that formerly accounted for a far greater share of US profits.

2. Unquestionably finance took on a leading role in the US, the UK, and a few other advanced capitalist countries with the creation of a vast new pool of low-wage workers available to manufacturing after the destruction of Eastern European socialism, its socialist-oriented allies and the PRC’s opening to global markets. This reflected the new national division of labor in the global economy— manufacturing and export in the East and South and finance, management, and services in the West and North.

3. As the leading financial center, the US became the Mecca for those with pockets overflowing with cash and fewer investment opportunities in an era of low interest rates and cheap money.

4. Unlike in the world of commodity production where value is produced in real time, finance offers opportunities to appropriate future value through contractual instruments like mortgages, bonds, futures, and, in our era, even more exotic creations. These instruments trade in future value, hence challenging capitalism to find even more marginal investment opportunities to absorb surplus and potential surplus.

5. Debt—the offspring of easy credit and low interest rates—serves as an amplifier of financial investment, the critical bridge to ever-more reckless speculation. Thus, finance served up its many “innovations” designed to absorb the ocean of surplus accumulated over decades and in search of another round of accumulation in an environment of diminishing returns. In this manner, the tendency for accumulation to retard its own re-production found its expression in the financial crisis that broke out in the US in 2007-2008.      

OTHER CRISIS THEORIES

1. Wave theory-- the notion that economic activity exhibits a wave-like trajectory from boom to bust and back to boom again—enjoys an almost mystical, spiritual attraction for many. Associated with the views of Nikolai Kondratiev in Marxist circles, the theory of a regular, periodic wave—long or short—is flawed for two distinct, but fatal reasons.

2. From an empirical perspective, it is impossible to settle on those features of economic history that are decisive in expressing the upturns and downturns of regularcycles. That is to say, the dependent variables are illusive and hazy. Moreover, when they are clearly stipulated—GDP, labor productivity, profits, etc—no incontrovertible pattern is revealed. Instead, only intuitive patterns are seen by those already disposed to see them.

3. From a theoretical point of view, there is no candidate for an independent variable that demonstrates a consistent and regular wave-like behavior throughout economic history (or the history of capitalism). Neither technological innovation, cultural or demographic change, nor any other candidate for the cause of cycles exhibits the kind of wave-like nature that would account for regular, periodic waves in the historic record. And where we find wave-like motion in nature (eg. Lunar cycles), there is no obvious causal connection with economic life.

4. In short, long cycles are impossible to discern without appealing to Rorschach-like impressionism and impossible to explain without assuming what it sets out to illustrate. When you want to see a face on the moon, you’ll see one.

5. We owe a great debt to Hans Heinz Holz, the late German Marxist philosopher, who brought new life to the long-standing Communist concept of the General Crisis of Capitalism (GCC). As Holz points out, Soviet social science mechanically and empirically attached the GCC to the historical stages ushered in by the Bolshevik revolution and the Second World War. This was a misleading interpretation dissolved by the setbacks to socialism.

6. Holz is correct in rehabilitating the GCC as a truly general crisis generated by capitalism’s internal mechanisms independently of important, but external events. He is correct to conceive of the GCC as a total crisis, not limited to the economic sphere but including social life, culture, ideology, and all other human relations.

7. Thus the GCC is not a theory of economic crisis. Instead, the systemic crisis of capitalism is one element—one causal element-- in the General Crisis of Capitalism.

8. Much more work needs to be done in developing a full theory of the GCC with its consequences in every aspect of everyday life.

Zoltan Zigedy

Where have All the Profits Gone?




Mid September marked the fourth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, widely viewed as the final trigger of the global economic collapse, a shock that remains the dominant factor in global economic life. Friday, October 19 brought a dramatic drop in US equity values, caused, commentators speculate, by dismal reports of US corporate earnings. The most observant of these commentators did not fail to point out that Friday was also the twenty-fifth anniversary of the largest US one-day percentage drop in stock values. The fact that such an anniversary came to mind reflects a general and widespread fear that more economic turbulence is forthcoming.

The growing gloom overshadows the glowing September report of retail sales released earlier in the week. Despite stagnant or slipping incomes, the US consumer turned to the credit card to boost purchases at retail stores, online, and in restaurants. Signs of an improving housing market also fueled optimism.

Opinions change quickly. A week earlier---Tuesday, October 9---the International Monetary Fund released its World Economic Report. While raising fears of a global downturn, the report cut the probability of a US recession by nearly a quarter from its April forecast!

Taken together, the sentiments of the last two weeks demonstrate widespread confusion and uncertainty.

Big Problems, Little Ideas

Most of the conversation about the global economy, about capitalism, is shaped by ideological bias, academic dogma, distorted history and wishful thinking.

The global economy has never “recovered” from the shock of 2008. Nor does it teeter on the edge of another recession. In fact, it is fully in the grip of a profound systemic crisis, a crisis that has no certain conclusion. In this regard, the crisis is very much like its antecedent in the 1930s. The popular picture of The Great Depression as a massive collapse followed by the New Deal recovery is myth. Instead, like our current economic fortunes, it was like climbing a metaphorical grease pole— repeatedly advancing a few feet and then slipping down. Serious students of the Great Depression understand that its “solution” was World War II, with its state-driven, planned, military “socialism.”

Of course war itself is no solution, but the organized, collective, and social effort that capitalism only countenances for violence and aggressionis a solution. Similarly, the success of the People’s Republic of China in sidestepping the harsh edges of the 2008 collapse is due to the remaining features of socialism—public ownership of banks, state enterprises, and economic planning. Never mind that much of the PRC leadership hopes to jettison these features, the advantages are there for all to see. Yet few see.

Distorted history begets foolish theory. The two ideological poles that dominate economic discussion—classical liberalism and Keynesianism—both owe their claimed legitimacy to favored, but mistaken views of the source and solution to the Great Depression. While expressions of these poles are found across the political policy spectrum, classical liberalism—often called neo-liberalism—is generally associated with the political right. 

Political liberals and the left, on the other hand, often advocate for the analyses and prescriptions of the school associated with the views of John Maynard Keynes.

Since classical liberalism has been the dominant economic philosophy governing the global economy for many decades, common sense would dictate that, after four years of economic chaos and general immiseration, neo-liberalism would be in disrepute. But thanks to the tenacity of ruling elites and the profound dogmatism of their intellectual lackeys, the market fetish of neo-liberalism still reigns outside of Latin America and a few other outliers. 

But Keynesianism—broadly understood as central government intervention in markets—enjoys a growing advocacy, particularly with liberals, leftists, and, sadly, “Marxists.” Centrist Keynesians advocate intervention in markets from the supply side, most often through credit mechanisms and tax cuts that encourage investment and corporate confidence. Liberal and left interventionists argue for stimulating economic recovery and stability by generating consumption and expanding demand from government-funded projects or government-funded jobs.

The panic of 2008 turned most policy makers toward flirtation with supply-side intervention and generally meager demand-based stimulus, a fact that liberal Keynesians like Paul Krugman are fond of pointing out. Only China adopted a full-blown demand-oriented stimulus program. Yet that tact also brought a host of new contradictions in its wake.

Austerity versus Growth

Pundits like Krugman and politicians like Francois Hollande posture the theoretical divide as one between austerity and growth, a choice between rational growth stimulation and the irrationality of shrinking government spending to reduce debt. In an idealized classless world, this point would be well taken—austerity is an enemy of growth. However, it is naïve and misleading to fantasize such a world.

In our era of global capitalism, the idea of cutting government spending and lowering taxes makes all the sense in the world to the ownership class. The resultant transfer of value counts as a significant element in restoring profit growth and expanding accumulation. In a real sense, the popular and apt anti-austerity slogan-- “we will not pay for your crisis”-- tells only half the story. The other half should be “we will not pay for your recovery.”

In the end, it is profit that determines the success and failure of the capitalist system. Accumulation of economic surplus—the value remaining after the bills are paid--is the engine of capitalism, necessary for its motion and its trajectory. The dramatic drop in the Dow Jones industrial stock averages resulting from poor earnings this past Friday only underscores this point. Those who see consumption as the critical element in growth and recovery should recognize that this loss of momentum is independent of, as well as more decisive than, the September report of strong retail demand. 

The Tendency of the Falling Rate of Profit

The central role of profit, its growth and momentum in understanding capitalism and its recurrent structural crises has been overshadowed, even among most Marxists, by the infection of left thought with Keynes’ crisis theory. Theories of crisis that rest on underconsumption, overproduction, or imbalances reflect this infection and reduce political economy to the study of business cycles and avoidable and terminable economic hiccups—consumption can be expanded, production can be regulated, and balance can be restored. These are the assumptions of social democratic theory and what divides it from revolutionary Marxism.

Marx saw crisis as fundamentally embedded in capitalism’s structure. Processes in the capitalist mode of production unerringly bring on crises. And he locates the most basic of these processes is the mechanism of accumulation, a process that tends to restrain the growth of the rate of profit.

While it is good to see a rebirth of interest in and advocacy of Marx's law of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall, most of its worthy supporters remain needlessly confined to Marx’s expository formulae that serve well in revealing the anatomy of capitalism, but less so in exposing its disorders.

Yet the intuition behind Marx’s law is easily grasped. When unmediated by the encroachment of working class forces, the capitalists’ accumulation of surplus results in the extreme concentration of wealth, a concentration that reduces the opportunities to gather the expected return in the next and each successive cycle. Whether restrained by the physical limitations of workers, the potential length of the work day, diminished return on physical investment, rapacious competition, super-inflated investment reserves, or the myriad other possible forces or factors, the rate of profit is under constant and persistent duress.

Leading up to the 2007 economic slowdown that presaged the 2008 collapse, the enormous pool of capital available for profitable investment was acknowledged by all reporters. Its sheer volume alone depressed interest and profit rates in the face of limited productive investment opportunities. The desperate search for a rate of return drove investors toward riskier and riskier ventures that generated the financial collapse which has been well documented. It was the pressure on profits—an expression of the tendency—that drove the investor class to a lemming-like indulgence in arcane financial wizardry.

The neglect of Marx’s tendential law since the popularity of Keynes and underconsumption/overproduction crisis theories has retarded Marxist and Communist understanding of capitalist crisis while bolstering reformist policies within the Communist movement. Happily, there is a renewed interest in Marx’s law, though a full and satisfactory understanding of its application to and operation within contemporary capitalism is yet to be given.

At any rate, the decline of earnings now emerging in the latest financial news indicates that counter-crisis and counter-tendency measures are now exhausted in the US. Despite the euphoria of rising consumption spending and housing sales, the profit-driven engine of US capitalism is slowing, likely allowing the US economy to drift closer to the whirlpool already drowning the European economies.

Tough times are ahead, but a fertile period to plant the seeds of socialism. 

Zoltan Zigedy


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