Western Russophobia in Psychotic Phase
| February 22, 2017 | 8:11 pm | Analysis, political struggle, Russia | No comments
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Western Russophobia in Psychotic Phase

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Western irrational fear of Russia – Russophobia – is no longer a random prejudice. It has become endemic pathological thinking among Western states.

Divorced from reality this mindset has become psychotic.

Western politicians, military leaders and corporate news media increasingly blame Russia for all manner of perceived transgressions. Whether it is alleged interference in national elections or alleged aggressive military maneuvers, the unremitting demonizing of Russia is astonishing.It is all the more astounding because the anti-Russia accusations are leveled with such high-handedness and yet with so little evidence to support.

This week saw outlandish claims in British media of Russia sponsoring a coup in the Balkan state of Montenegro and of trying to assassinate the country’s prime minister. No evidence provided. Just sensational, irresponsible innuendo. The gravity of this slander is enough to start a war, and yet it is spouted with reckless abandon. Only a few weeks ago, US media were also calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a “killer”.

Then we have American lawmakers intensifying investigations into unfounded allegations of Russian hacking of the US presidential election and of “treasonous” contacts with the new Trump administration. Rabid US politicians have even labelled the alleged Russian misconduct an “act of war”.

That has in turn led to British, French and German claims that Russia is interfering in their elections. Similar fears of Russian hacking and “influence campaigns” have been issued for elections in the Netherlands, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and Estonia, among other places.

Sometimes, reality intrudes on fantasy, when for example German state intelligence concluded recently that there was actually no evidence that Russia was involved in any kind of subversive hacking.Most of the time, however, the impetuous accusations and feverish speculation continue unbridled.

Britain’s Independent this week ran the headline: “Clear evidence Russia interfered in 2015 UK election, says former minister”.

But on reading the article, there is no “clear evidence” presented to back up the tendentious anti-Russian claims. Indeed, no evidence at all. The whole allegation was based on claims made by anonymous “security sources” and reference to other unproven stories, such as the alleged hacking of the US election.

This kind of fake, unethical journalism that has become a staple in Western media with regard to Russia. Whether it is allegations of Russia probing electoral processes or probing territorial air space and waters, the entire thrust of the Western media relies on innuendo, prejudice and disinformation. All told in a relentless, unquestioning fashion by the gamut of Western mainstream media outlets.In plain language, this is nothing but anti-Russian propaganda disguised as public information.

When such propaganda becomes a systematic form of public discourse then it can be said that the mindset has moved dangerously beyond a condition of reprehensible Russophobia, to one of collective psychosis.

And this affliction among Western states seems to be worsening. The appointment by US President Donald Trump this week of Lt General HR McMaster as his National Security Adviser was greeted with applause among hawkish lawmakers in Congress.The cause for their celebration is because McMaster is seen as having staunch “anti-Russian views” – unlike his ousted predecessor, Michael Flynn, who reportedly wanted to restore friendly relations with Moscow.

McMaster’s appointment marks a “100 per cent threat to Russia,” said Franz Klintsevich, the First Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security.

Klintsevich added that “Washington’s Russophobia is increasing, not weakening.”

Not surprisingly given the relentless anti-Russian “news” saturating Western media, a new Gallup poll found that favorability among ordinary Americans towards Russia has plummeted. Four years ago, some 50 per cent of Americans had a friendly view of Russia. Now, the figure is down to 28 per cent.

This is a clear example of “perception management”, whereby a constant flow of negative, fear-mongering information results in a diminished view of Russia. This is exactly how a propaganda system is supposed to work.

Again, all the allegations against Russia are either baseless or completely fabricated. For instance, Russia did not invade Ukraine, as claimed. It was the US-led NATO alliance that orchestrated the violent overthrow of an elected government in 2014. The Western-backed regime that seized power in Kiev has been waging a genocidal war of aggression on ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine ever since. Yet Western media and governments upturn reality and accuse Russia of “destabilizing Ukraine”.When people are so prone to powers of persuasion against all reason and reality then that is proof of brainwashing.

When a Russian communications naval vessel in international waters off America’s east coast is hysterically portrayed as sinister, yet US warships are daily patrolling Russia’s Black Sea without a hint of disquiet among Western media then, again, the dissonance should raise skepticism.

Or when Russia is constantly accused of electoral interference in Western countries and of broadcasting “fake news” yet Western media themselves pump out fake news on Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran and much more, and don’t even ponder that the United States is documented to have illegally interfered in the elections of over 80 nations – then we should at least suspect there is something wrong with this informational picture.Russophobia has become such a pathological condition in Western discourse it’s not even recognized.

This week, the London-based rights group Amnesty International published its annual report. It deplored “powerful narratives of blame, fear and scapegoating” spreading across the globe. And it attributed rising political populism across the West as being responsible for all sorts of ills, mentioning “Islamophobia, racism, sexism, xenophobia and misogyny”.

Amazingly, perhaps the single most dangerous “powerful narrative of blame, fear and scapegoating” operating in the world is Russophobia – and it is not even mentioned by Amnesty. Of course, being a pro-Western lobby group no doubt conditions the rights organization to being blind to or indeed complicit in the mindset of Russophobia. That it could ignore such a destructive, insidious phobia shows how effective the Western propaganda system is.

Contained in Russophobia is demonization and aggression towards the planet’s second-biggest nuclear power. Also contained is an induced acquiescence among Western public to accept this recklessly provocative mindset as somehow normal.Granted, there are many people within Western states who dissent from the systematic slander of Russia. Many of these people are no doubt switching off traditional Western news programming (sic) and turning on Russian alternatives – despite Western disparagement of Russian outlets.

Nevertheless, what we have are entire Western states, their governments and media ranting day in, day out about alleged Russian malfeasance around the globe. Defeating Western-backed terror groups in Syria is traduced to become “supporting a tyrant dictator”. Helping oppressed ethnic Russians in Donbas is twisted into “destabilizing Ukraine”. Protecting Russian sovereign territory against aggressive NATO escalation on its borders is inverted to become “threatening Europe”.

Not even the most authoritarian regime imaginable could invent such an efficacious propaganda system, ironically managed by an information market that declares itself “free and independent news”.

Western Russophobia has become psychotic because the fake news and lies are not even recognized as such. Indeed they are believed to be the “truth”. Instead of setting free, this “truth” is enslavement into accepting anything – even a nuclear war.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Review of ‘Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges’, by Clarity Press, October 2016

Review of ‘Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges’, by Clarity Press, October 2016

February 19, 2017 by jackrasmus

As I predicted in the book reviewed below, the Greek Debt Crisis is about to emerge again (4th time). The Troika have launched a repeat of their 2016 maneuvers to force Greece into more austerity concessions. Last year it was to put to rest a possible Greek debt crisis in summer 2016, before the Brexit vote might lead to unknown Greek follow up efforts to reject the austerity. This year a repeat is in progress, with IMF, German ministers, and ECB suggesting another austerity increase is necessary–this time before French, Dutch, and Italian elections this coming April-June (and German elections thereafter).

The following accurate review of my late 2016 book, ‘Looting Greece’, just appeared in the Winter 2017 edition of New Politics journal. It’s a fair assessment of the themes and predictions of the book (notably another Greek debt crisis was inevitable). The review by Aaron Amaral is offered here below. (watch this blog in coming weeks for my follow up article on the coming next Greek debt crisis, as well as forthcoming articles on the French elections).

“By Aaron Amaral
Aaron Amaral is a New York City-based labor lawyer and socialist activist. He is a member of AKNY-Greece Solidarity Movement (New York), writes for Socialist Worker and the International Socialist Review, and is a member of the New Politics editorial board.

Reflections on Opportunity Lost
Greece and the Syriza Experience

Looting Greece: A New Financial Imperialism Emerges
By: Jack Rasmus
Clarity Press, 2016, 315 pp., $24.95.

Stylistically, Looting Greece departs sharply from the memoir-like quality of Helena Sheehan’s book. Yet in writing such an analytically clear, historical account of the European and Greek debt crises, Jack Rasmus also has made a valuable contribution.

The book is divided into ten chapters, the first five of which deal with the evolution of the debt crisis prior to the coming to power of the Syriza government in January 2015. Chapters six through nine offer a blow-by-blow account of the failed strategy of Syriza in its dance with the creditors. The last chapter provides a broader overview and comparative analysis of how and why the Troika prevailed. Finally, in an extended conclusion, Rasmus puts forward an argument for financial imperialism as a new and growing form of imperialism.

For Europe, the creation of the European Monetary Union (EMU) and European Central Bank (ECB) in 1999, and the Lisbon Strategy, mark the origin of the current debt crisis. The ECB embarked on a devaluation of the EMU that led to external devaluation, which boosted trade.

Simultaneously, internal devaluation occurred through labor market flexibility, that is, reducing labor security, wages, and benefit costs. Germany was the first to engage in neoliberal policies, with internal labor market changes known as Hartz reforms undertaken by a Social Democratic government; these kept German wages stagnant for nearly a decade and created a base for the production of cheap exports. With the German Bundesbank essentially dictating policy to the ECB, and cheap money and cheap goods flowing into the European periphery, the structures of the European economies were transformed. And so long as the money flowed back to the European central economies, primarily Germany, it was a virtuous circle for European capital. However, with onset of the 2008 economic crisis, this dynamic changed:

In addition to bank-provided money capital, German private foreign direct investment into Greece also rose from 1.4 billion euros in 2005 to more than 10 billion by 2008. As the money and capital to Greece was recycled back to Germany and the northern core economies in the form of exports, Germany got business profits, economic growth, and its money capital returned to it. In addition, as financial intermediaries in the recycling of money capital, both core and Greek banks got interest payments from the Greek loans and Greek bonds, Greeks got German and core export goods for a few years, but loaded up on credit and debt in the process for what appears will remain an interminable period of debt repayments well into the future (63-64).

When the banking and financial systems froze up in the aftermath of 2008, the cycle and flow of credit and money stopped between the European core and periphery. And when the peripheral (Spanish, Portuguese, Greek, and other) economies started to slow down, German exports and investment began to shift overseas. This further slowed the flow of credit. As Greece had been running an internal trade deficit with Germany, the initial impact of the credit crunch in Greece was that private banks became loaded with debt, monies that had been borrowed to facilitate imports from Germany.

Rasmus does a good job of showing that this trade deficit was caused neither by higher wages to the Greek working class nor by escalation in Greek consumer spending. Rather the debt was driven up by European Union and ECB policy, in the interest of European capital.

Looting Greece then takes the reader, in exacting if painful detail, through the distinct though compounding circumstances that led to each of the three austerity memoranda.

The first memorandum provided that a total of 110 billion euros was “lent” to the Greek government, 91 percent of which went to bailing out the banks that had been left with bad loans following the 2008 crash. The initial austerity measures demanded by the Troika were premised on unrealistic economic projections of growth but caused very real cuts in wages, pensions, and social security. And the result was a shifting of the massive debt load, mainly from the private banks onto the Greek government.

Then the second memorandum, argues Rasmus, “was primarily to refinance, pay off, and reduce Greek debt held by … private investors” (99), many of whom had already taken advantage of the bond markets to ramp up interest rates paid on Greek debt. Looting Greece does a great job in explaining the ways in which both the rules adopted by the ECB and the neoliberal ideology of “the German Hypothesis” (91), which drove their adoption, played a role in the cycle of debt and austerity that led to a humanitarian catastrophe in Greece.

Chapters five through nine offer an account of the rise of Syriza and a blow-by-blow telling of their approach to the problem of debt and austerity and the process of negotiations once the party came to power in January 2015. Rasmus’ account of the “institutional taming” of the Syriza government is painful to relive, but offers strong support for his argument that in the run up to the third Greek debt restructuring deal of 2015, Syriza and Tsipras would discover there was no option to return to social democracy and social democratic policies without austerity. The choice was either to leave the euro and the neoliberal regime, or remain caretakers for that regime on the system’s periphery, condemned to some degree of perpetual indebtedness, austerity, and long-run negative economic growth (118).

The last chapter provides an explicit assessment of the relative strategies of Syriza and the Troika and the structural/institutional straitjacket within which Syriza was attempting to negotiate. It also unequivocally answers yes to the likelihood of a fourth memorandum, given the logic of indebtedness and austerity and the current strategic course of the Greek government:

To have succeeded in negotiations with the Troika, Syriza would have had to achieve one or more of the following: expand the space for fiscal spending on its domestic economy, end the dominance and control of the ECB by the German coalition, restore Greece’s central bank independence from the ECB, or end the control of its own Greek private banking system from northern Europe core banks. None of these objectives could have been achieved by Syriza alone. Syriza’s grand error, however, was to think that it could rally the remnants of European social democracy to its side and support and together achieve these goals (228-29).

An extended conclusion to Looting Greece is entitled “A New Financial Imperialism Emerges.” In part, Rasmus argues that the views found in Lenin, Bukharin, and Hilferding, that finance capital is subordinate to industrial capital, need to be revised. The space devoted to this argument, however, is limited. While he argues that Greece has become a state dominated by the supra-national imperialist state of the Troika, given the degree to which sections of the Greek left have historically argued for Greece as a neo-colony, or one for which national oppression is primary, the full implications are not untangled by Rasmus.

Massive rallies in Greece: Thousands of people demonstrated against government-EU policies

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Massive rallies in Greece: Thousands of people demonstrated against government-EU policies

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/02/massive-rallies-in-greece-thousands-of.html
With militant rallies in Athens, Thessaloniki and other Greek cities, thousands of workers, pensioners and young people gave their powerful response to the antipeople policies of the SYRIZA-ANEL government and the EU.
Headed by the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME), numerous trade unions from the public and private sector, mass organizations, people’s committees, self-employed associations, the Federation of Greek Women, the Students’ Struggle Front, student unions expressed their their determination to fight against the new measures which come as a result of the so-called Eurogroup’s “evaluation” and which will be added to those which have led the country’s working class to poverty and misery.
“We are not going to compromise. We are not going to step down. We will not accept all these measures that the government brings now with the evaluation” said Giorgos Perros, member of PAME’s Executive Committee, during his speech at Omonia square.
The demonstration in Athens was attended by the General Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) Dimitris Koutsoumbas who made the following statement to the Press:
KKE GS Dimitris Koutsoumbas talking to journalists.
“While the government writes, directs and plays in this new episode of Greek people’s deception, we are here, in the struggle, by the side of the working class and the peoples’ movement in order to shout that this is enough, our people can’t stand any more measures against their income, against their own life and the lives of their children. Here lies the hope, in the struggle, along with the KKE for the opening of better road for us, for our children, for the Greek people as a whole”.
Militant rallies took place also in Thessaloniki and other major cities.
PHOTOS (Source: 902.gr)
 
In Thessaloniki:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Cruz Meets With Protesters, Declines Invitation to Town Hall

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017

Contact: Eli Magaña

520-549-4212 , emagana@seiutx.org

Feb. 21 – Sen. Ted Cruz Meets With a Handful of Protesters Inside His Office,

Declines to Have Town Hall Meeting

Today, about 250 Houston-area residents staged a “Town Hall Without Ted Cruz” outside his Houston office

on 808 Travis Street where they discussed their concerns about the Trump administration’s recent actions

that threaten the middle-class, working people, immigrant families, refugee protections, the environment and

civil rights.

Protesters made prearranged appointments to send up three delegations to Cruz’s office to deliver

invitations to a “Recess Town Hall,” which was scheduled to take place the same day at 6pm at Axelrod on

1517 Alabama Street in Houston. Each of the 51 invitations had handwritten questions on the back for the

Senator from protesters outside the building.

None of the delegation groups knew beforehand that the Senator was upstairs waiting.

“He met with each delegation separately,” said Christy C. Callahan, a Galveston resident who was in the last

of the three delegations. “The meeting was cordial, and our group spoke with him for about 40 minutes. We

will continue to hold demonstrations outside of his office every Tuesday at noon during the first 100 days

since the Women’s March or until he agrees to meet with the public for a free and open town hall meeting

about the issues.”

Cruz declined the invitation to the town hall meeting at Axelrod, and would not commit to any town hall

meetings with constituents this year.

Rallies and delegations also occurred at the offices of Congressman Will Hurd (R-23) in Socorro and San

Antonio on the same day. Participants were told that Hurd was outside the country, and staff would not

commit to town hall meetings in the District.

Today’s demonstrations were part of a nationwide #ResistanceRecess movement during the Congressional

recess that is calling on Washington D.C. politicians to show voters their plans for healthcare,

comprehensive immigration reform, environmental protections and other policies that impact families in our

county.

 

José Martí and Fidel Castro: Two Lifetimes Connected by the Same Revolution

RESUMEN
José Martí and Fidel Castro: Two Lifetimes Connected by the Same Revolution

By: Luis Toledo Sande on February 10, 2017

Had both Cuban leaders not followed that rule, they would have fallen into a vacuum that sterilizes thought and action; they would have waited and seen if the metropolis of the world provided them with the necessary answers to interpret and confront the grave challenges they faced instead of solving them with creativity.

These challenges were not only from Cuba—they also pertained to the rest of Latin America, from North American and even the rest of the planet. Both leaders created a guide against cultural colonialism—no matter where it came from.

A voracious reader like José Martí, Fidel Castro could very well have written the words the former wrote about himself: ‘Napoleon was born on a carpet that depicted the European war. I must have been born on a pile of books’.

In another manuscript, Martí made another confession that’s equally applicable to Fidel, ‘the book that interests me the most is the book of life, which is the hardest one to read, and the one that must be consulted the most in politics—which is nothing more than the art of guaranteeing humankind the full exercise of its faculties in a pleasing existence”.

The way to accurately assess the importance Martí had for Fidel—who called him ‘the most brilliant and universal Cuban politician’ and the ‘eternal guide of our people’— is not to seek similarities in their personalities, and even less to merely compare their written word. Because, as they knew, ideas are important, but their most important aspect is how they inform and change reality.

This explains why, when he was prosecuted for leading the revolution, Fidel declared Martí the intellectual author of the liberation of Cuba he carried out on July 26, 1953, and therefore, of all the revolutionary stage that exists until today. This was more than just quoting, it was a continuation of the purposes of the national hero.

Inherited goals

 

Fidel’s revolution sought  to accomplish Martí’s project for the country. Fidel avidly read Martí’s writings during his time in jail, underlining and annotating them profusely.

The regime that Fidel attempted to overthrow in 1953 was a tool of the US imperial power, one that Martí had already stopped in its plans to take control over Cuba and Puerto Rico to dominate the entire American continent.

Twenty years later, in 1973, Fidel said: “Martí gave us his ardent patriotism, his passionate love for freedom, dignity and decency, his rejection for despotism and his unlimited faith in the people. In his revolutionary preaching was the moral basis and historic legitimacy of our armed action.

That’s why we say he was the intellectual author of July 26 [1953].” And on the path that Martí had signaled the Cuban Socialist Republic followed, guided by Fidel and by a Constitution presided by Martí’s will: ‘May the first law of the Republic be the respect of Cubans to the unconditional dignity of man’.

Words, ideas, action

 

Martí had a conviction he expressed until the very day before he fell in combat, in a letter to his Mexican friend Manuel Mercado: it was urgent to prevent the expansionist plans of the United States, and he was going to act against them, as he told Mercado: ‘Everything I did to this day, and everything I will do, is to that end,’ although in practice he was fighting the Spanish army.

This global strategy was also followed by Fidel, who, in Sierra Maestra, reacted to the destruction of a peasant’s house by a US bomb dropped from a plane. Then, the rebel leader made a confession to a comrade, Celia Sánchez, and it wasn’t just an emotional outlet but a political program: once the tyrant was defeated, he would fight against imperialism.

He eradicated the misery that most of the Cuban people lived in, and created the conditions for educational development and cultural flourishing that Martí enshrined: ‘To be educated is the only way to be free’. This notion of education was inseparable from reading, but also required independent thought.

The famous phrase Fidel pronounced in his defense, ‘history will absolve me’, references the speech Martí pronounced on February 17, 1982, known as the Tampa and Cayo Hueso Prayer. With conviction, he referred to the work towards unity that would lead him to create the Cuban Revolutionary Party: ‘history won’t declare us guilty!’.

The memory of the heart

 

That’s how organically Fidel embraced Martí. In Spanish, the etymology of the verb ‘to remember’ (recordar) comes from ‘what’s brought back to the heart’, and in other languages, ‘to memorize’ is ‘to know by heart’. That’s how Fidel embraced Martí’s ideas.

Both had the humbleness that characterizes the great.  Martí used to say: ‘A man in and of himself is nothing, and what he is, he is thanks to his people. The privileged gifts that Nature gives to some of its children are worth nothing if they aren’t shared with the people, but if they are, they will be exalted by it, like the flowers on the top of a mountain.’

The people can only deposit its energy and trust on those who have the strength to carry it. This relationship between the individual and the masses, between leader and people, explains why Martí remained alive in the memory of Cubans and why Fidel will remain there as well.

Both were living examples of that which Martí wrote to Henríquez and Caravajal, ‘one must give respect and a human and kind nature to sacrifice’.

http://bohemia.cu/opinion/2017/01/jose-marti-y-el-abrazo-de-fidel-castro/

Source: Bohemia, English translation by The Dawn

Standing together in protest: Unity will Trump hate
| February 20, 2017 | 8:24 pm | About the CPUSA | No comments

BY:John Bachtell|December 14, 2016

Standing together in protest: Unity will Trump hate 

Below is the text of a report delivered by John Bachtell, national chair of the Communist Party USA, to a meeting of its National Committee on November 19, 2016 in Chicago.

The road to human freedom and preserving life on Earth is a long one, full of twists and unexpected turns. And reverses.

There’s no sugar coating it. The election of Donald Trump as president and a Republican Senate and House was a bitter and sweeping defeat with far-reaching consequences that will ripple for years and even decades to come. It has put our nation and Earth, already in a precarious state, in a far more dangerous place.

Everything has changed as of Nov. 8. With the takeover of the Republican Party by white supremacists, a new kind of right-wing and authoritarian danger has emerged, one that if unchecked threatens basic democracy.

Our multi-racial working class and people and all democratic movements are immediately on the defensive and our nation and Earth, already in a precarious state, will be in a far more dangerous place. Tens of thousands will die as a direct result of the cruel and ruthless Trump and GOP Congressional policies.

The broad democratic movements cannot allow this defeat or the fear of authoritarian rule to lead to paralysis. It is not the end of the road. As the Rev. William Barber III said, “We must remember how our ancestors responded to disappointment without allowing it to deter them on the march toward justice.”

After all, political fortunes can reverse quickly. Upon winning a narrow re-election in 2004, Pres. George W. Bush, in his hubris, launched a campaign to privatize of Social Security. A huge mass movement rose to block it, and the unraveling of his administration, already in retreat, began.

Remembering this now is especially important because Trump’s victory did not represent a mandate for his policies. By voting for Hillary Clinton, the majority rejected hate and attacks on democratic rights. Even though the U.S. is deeply polarized politically, majorities of people support taxing the rich, taking money out of politics, expanding Social Security and Medicare, labor unions, a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, abortion and reproductive rights, criminal justice reform, LGBTQ rights, and urgently addressing the climate crisis. These issues and their moral implications form the basis for broad unity against the Trump policies.

After past election defeats, people were demoralized for a time. Already thousands are taking to the streets, campuses, and online to show their opposition. People are overcoming shock, demoralization, and fear through community, mutual support, and solidarity. It’s an important first step in regaining voice, hope, and determination to forge ahead.

“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back,” said Dr. King.

Many protests have been self-organized on social media, initiated by youth declaring, “We reject Trumpland and the dystopian future it has in store for us.” Tens of thousands are wearing safety pins to declare their opposition to the Trump policies.

Defiance is taking place on a much larger scale, too. States, counties, and cities are assuring fearful residents, “We will oppose Trump. We stand for tolerance. We are a safe place for immigrants, Muslims, people of color, women and the LGBT community.”

Several protests are being organized to coincide with the inauguration, including the Women’s March on Washington on January 21. This protest grew out of Pantsuit Nation, a Facebook group that has grown to 3.7 million members.

No one will walk alone. And it will take tens of millions, the majority of Americans, to block the Trump agenda. As Lenin said, “Politics begin where the masses are, not where there are thousands, but where there are millions, that is where serious politics begin.”

Broad all-people’s unity: resistance, solidarity, and tolerance

This is a fight to defend democracy and humanity. Trump and everything he stands for must not be allowed to be seen in any way as normal or “just another GOP administration.” This is a fight for the moral heart of the nation. Everything Trump and the GOP stand for is immoral and repugnant.

What is absolutely necessary now is building a united multi-class, multi-racial, multi-gender identity, multi-generational, interfaith movement of every organization, network, institution, and political persuasion in opposition to the Trump agenda, without condition.

Such a movement already starts with a mass base. Trump assumes office as the most reviled and deeply unpopular president in history. Over half the electorate voted against him.

Unity must be built with every conceivable ally – starting with the people’s coalition led by labor, communities of color, the Civil Right Movement including #blacklivesmatter, climate justice, the immigrant rights movement, including the Dreamers, LGBTQ community, Muslims and Jewish Americans, women’s equality organizations, and youth and students.

All these organizations, networks, and movements will have to work in alliance with the Democratic Party, including its corporate wing and all parts of what was the Hillary Clinton electoral coalition, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and those inspired by the Bernie Sanders campaign, particularly the millions of youth.

It will include those who sat on the sidelines during the elections or who voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

At times and depending on the issue, it might include moderate Republicans and sections of the GOP establishment, former government officials, and independents. Because the GOP majority in the Senate has shrunk, some GOP senators may join with Democrats to oppose particular Trump policies.

It will embrace the interfaith religious community, including some currently influenced by right-wing fundamentalism. Catholic Bishops have already expressed their opposition to Trump’s immigration policies.

It includes public schools, universities, and media – particularly independent media – who will be under attack. It is too early to tell if major corporate media will buckle under the Trump threats or the fear of losing access to the president and favorable regulatory decisions.

It includes artists, cultural performers, celebrities, and athletes. The weekend after the election, David Chappelle, a Tribe Called Quest and cast turned Saturday Night Live into a protest. And Jalen Rose said NBA players would likely boycott the White House as long as Trump is president, and many NBA teams have announced boycotts of Trump hotels.

It will have to include millions who voted for Trump but who oppose Republican attacks on specific programs like Obamacare, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, reproductive rights, public school funding, and their unions and other mass organizations.

It already includes governing entities and democratic institutions, entire states, counties, and municipalities.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared, “Whether you are gay or straight, Muslim or Christian, rich or poor, black or white or brown, we respect all people in the state of New York. It’s the very core of what we believe and who we are… We don’t allow a federal government that attacks immigrants to do so in our state.”

New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and San Francisco have reaffirmed their commitment as Sanctuary Cities and vowed not to cooperate with ICE, despite threats by Trump to cut funding. They can become places of solidarity, tolerance, and resistance in defense of Muslims, immigrants, women, and unions while defending democracy and the path of sustainable development to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

No one should be left standing on the sidelines. And assembling this powerful opposition will be the first step toward regrouping for the 2018 elections.

Role of the CPUSA, the left, and progressives

The CPUSA, the non-sectarian left, and progressive activists can play a vital role in building this broad multi-racial, multi-class united people’s movement to block Trump. Every organization and individual can play a vital role in building the movement to block Trump. Sectarian pressures to narrow the scope and scale of the movement must be resisted.

First, movements are arising spontaneously in response to Trump. Everyone can initiate or help build these grassroots responses on a neighborhood, city, and state level.

Secondly, help to build the labor-led people’s coalition component of this alliance. The multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-generational working class in alliance with communities of color, women, and youth should put their stamp on the broader united people’s movement to defend democracy by pushing forward the issues and helping build its breadth and depth. We should assist in defending and building the labor movement, and all the democratic movements intersecting with it.

Thirdly, at the core of this is the fight for multi-racial, multi-gender unity, so deeply under assault by the white supremacists. Efforts should be redoubled to combat the racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia, and Islamophobia that are aimed at splintering the working class and people.

Fourthly, the people’s coalition led by labor should continue to advance a program of economic, democratic, and sustainable restructuring combined with addressing structural racial and gender inequity. We will not be deterred from the march toward a sustainable, multi-racial, multi-cultural, inclusive society of economic, racial, and gender equity.

Fight and resist now!

Trump must be fought at every turn and in every arena: in the streets, the legislative, political, and electoral arenas and in the battle of ideas.

Without a broad and vigorous resistance from every conceivable sector on every conceivable front, descent further into authoritarianism or worse is possible. Without a fight, those who voted for Trump based on an appeal to white supremacy can be drawn into an organized and full blown white supremacist and fascist movement.

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross,” goes a saying that is widely attributed to the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, Sinclair Lewis. And we could add, its bearer will be a reality TV star.

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.

We are guided by the words of the great Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov in his famous speech to the 7th World Congress of the Communist International in 1935:

“[B]efore the establishment of a fascist dictatorship, (capitalist) governments usually pass through a number of preliminary stages and adopt a number of reactionary measures which directly facilitate the accession to power of fascism. Whoever does not fight the reactionary measures of the (capitalists) and the growth of fascism at these preparatory stages is not in a position to prevent the victory of fascism, but, on the contrary, facilitates that victory.”

Or as Dumbledore, the wise elderly headmaster of Hogwarts, warned, “It was important to fight, and fight again, and keep fighting, for only then could evil be kept at bay, though never quite eradicated.”

Solidarity with targets and the most vulnerable

The Trump victory has emboldened the forces of bigotry and unleashed a wave of hate, harassment, and violence. There have already been over 900 reported incidents. This moment calls for an immediate and unambiguous response: not here, not now, not ever.

The scapegoating, discrimination, and violence against Muslims, immigrants, people of color, the LGBTQ community, women, unions, and other democratic organizations will only increase as the new administration seeks ways to divide the working class and people and ram through its reactionary policies.

It begins with extending solidarity to the immediate targets – beginning with Muslims and undocumented immigrants. A registry for Muslims is being floated which is aimed at picking off the most vulnerable target first and dividing the people. This must be fought at every step. Attacks on Muslims and undocumented immigrants will result in racial profiling, the targeting of entire communities, and the undermining democratic rights for all.

An attack on one is an attack on all.

We are reminded of the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller,

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

 Muslims, immigrants, women, and the LGBTQ community are not the only ones at the point of attack. Mass organizations that form the bulwark against attacks on democratic rights – the entire organized labor movement and organizations like Planned Parenthood – are in the crosshairs.

Historic democratic gains including public education, the entire legislative and legal edifice of the New Deal, Great Society, Voting Rights, Civil Rights, Disability Rights, reproductive rights, and environmental rights are under assault. Basic constitutional rights are under assault along with violations of international law reauthorizing waterboarding and other forms of torture.

The ACLU stated of Trump’s plans, “These proposals are not simply un-American and wrongheaded, they are unlawful and unconstitutional. They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.”

Depending on how he separates himself from his business empire, Trump will enter office already violating the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution by accepting favors for his foreign investments and with foreign dignitaries staying at the opulent new Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Defense of labor

The multi-racial, multi-gender identity, multi-generational, labor movement played a leading role in the electoral coalition backing Clinton. There is no doubt were it bigger she might have won. The labor movement was also the most effective organizer in the communities of white workers, dispelling lies and challenging the Trump demagogy.

But the labor movement has been crippled and in some cases decimated through plant closings, layoffs, and anti-labor legislation in key Midwest battleground states won by Trump, especially Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.

A central and strategic aim of this administration will be the destruction of the labor movement. They will draw on Republican success at the state level to pass a national right-to-work law and attempt to destroy public sector unions.

The timely death of Justice Antonin Scalia was the only thing that prevented the Supreme Court from deciding against unions in Friedrichs v California Teachers Association.

Trump’s proposed $1 trillion infrastructure bill may be used to split the labor movement and consolidate his support, while rewarding investors through privatization of projects. We join with labor to insist workers be paid prevailing wages, the work be done by union members, and affirmative action guidelines implemented. There should be no privatization of finished projects.

Engaging with Trump voters; exposing the GOP

Trump won among white voters across the board and these voters must be engaged in cities, suburbs, small cities, rural areas, “red states,” and “red districts”.

There is no avoiding engaging and winning these voters if Trump and the right wing are to be defeated and social progress achieved. They too will feel the lash.

During the election, Working America, the community affiliate of the AFL-CIO held effective “porch conversations” in largely white communities. They were counteracting right-wing influence among white workers who were being misled to abandon multi-racial working class unity.

The Moral Movement in North Carolina led by the Rev. William J. Barber III has assembled a labor-civil rights-immigrant rights-religious coalition that is reaching deeply into the small towns and rural areas of the state. It is modeled on the idea that a united multi-racial working class and people are necessary for all social advances.

This requires building movements and coalitions, including the electoral coalition that works in and with the Democratic Party, on the ground in such places to oppose the assault on Social Security, Medicare, healthcare, etc. – winning people on the basis of self-interest, common destiny, and morality.

It means ramping up engagement in the “battle of ideas” through expanding the reach of the People’s World and independent progressive mass media to millions now getting their news and information from right-wing media sources.

Wolf at the door

Tens of millions awoke Nov. 9 terrified by the realization the wolf is not only at the White House door, but has entered the Oval Office. Trump has brought the most extreme political forces from the political fringes into the mainstream and into the White House. GOP elected officials are normalizing the existence of these forces at the center of government as they stumble in line behind Trump. They are getting an assist from sections of the corporate mass media that are treating this like a normal conservative GOP administration.

Contrary to his claims though, Trump is no anti-establishment outsider. Right-wing billionaires, the Heritage Foundation, and corporate lobbyists back him. They will stock his cabinet and are providing policy blueprints and lists of names to stack departments and the judiciary at all levels.

These forces, along with ALEC and the Koch Brothers, now control 33 governorships and two-thirds of state legislative chambers. They have been ruthlessly unfolding their wrecking agenda in these states. Reactionary policy will now unfold in foreign affairs as well, including withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord and the Iran Nuclear Agreement and reversing normalization of relations with Cuba.

Authoritarianism and corruption

The authoritarianism and corruption of this new regime will deepen the inherent crises and contradictions of capitalism, between society and nature, and the existential crisis the planet faces due to climate change. The new balance of power will usher in instability and unpredictability, greatly aggravating class, racial, and social tensions, as well as economic and social inequality.

Trump arose amidst the divisions within the GOP. As Dimitrov noted, “In reality, fascism usually comes to power in the course of a mutual, and at times severe, struggle against the old bourgeois parties, or a definite section of these parties.”

Authoritarian regimes are historically unstable and characterized by infighting, jockeying for the leader’s ear, corruption, enemy lists, and ruthless retribution. We are seeing that all play out in the Trump transition.

This administration will have features of both a kleptocracy (rule by thieves) and a kakistocracy (a form of government in which the worst and least qualified persons are in power). These forces now have full access to the state security apparatus, which they also utilized during the campaign by colluding with right-wing rogue elements in the FBI.

This administration will have features of both a kleptocracy (rule by thieves) and a kakistocracy (a form of government in which the worst and least qualified persons are in power).

They will govern the way they campaigned – through division, fear, and intimidation. This is the meaning of the appointment of the white supremacist, anti-Semite, and former CEO of Breitbart News, Steve Bannon as White House chief strategist.

Breitbart News, the mouthpiece of the so-called alt-right, a white supremacist movement, will be a de facto state mass communication arm of the Trump presidency – its ministry of information, marshaling supporters and attacking opponents.

During the administration of Pres. George W. Bush, the neo-cons arrogantly declared, “We create our own reality.” They were in for a rude awakening.

Trump will also confront new global and climate realities, economic integration, regional trade pacts, treaties, and alliances. In today’s world, the U.S. is a descending power and China and other countries are ascending powers. In addition to the domestic resistance movement, these will all act as countervailing forces to his unfolding policies.

The American people face difficult and ugly days ahead. The ferocity of the attack and suffering will be enormous, but the fight against it will stir hearts too. With unity, solidarity, and steadfastness, the Trump menace can and will be defeated.

Causes of defeat – Not just economic populism

However bitter this year’s election defeat, the broad electoral coalition that backed Hillary Clinton should not despair. Despite the unprecedented forces arrayed against her, she received the majority of votes. Trump did win 61.4 million votes though – a sobering indication of the extent of the mass right-wing Republican base.

Trump won 1.5 million more votes than Mitt Romney, indicating the right wing base has grown, but not substantially. However, the most extreme part of it has grown stronger, allowing white supremacists to take over the Republican Party apparatus.

Clinton received almost 65 million votes, nearly as many as President Obama in 2012. However, that’s still 4.5 million votes less than in 2008. And while Clinton assembled much the same coalition that twice carried Obama to victory, those voters turned out in lower percentages across the board.

And after voting for President Obama in 2008 and 2012, a section of white voters in Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania shifted their support to Trump. How was it that Trump, a corrupt, selfish billionaire, who flies around in a private gold-plated jet, was able to portray himself as an anti-establishment outsider?

For sure, the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party establishment bears their own measure of responsibility for this defeat, which I will discuss below. But I don’t think the argument Clinton was a “weak” candidate is convincing, considering her tenacity and all she overcame. There is more than an element of sexism in that statement.

Defeat cannot simply be laid at the doorstep of the Clinton campaign. It takes an electoral coalition to win an election in our two-party system, and the winning coalition is different in each election, even if just by degrees. How those coalitions are built depends on specific circumstances.

Take the 2008 election for example. The U.S. was in the midst of the biggest economic freefall since the Great Depression. Pres. George W. Bush was universally despised and blamed for the mess. Millions wanted change. They chose Obama, a once-in-a-lifetime candidate, over John McCain. Because many whites voted for Obama in 2008, some observers argue that it therefore can’t be true that these same voters were influenced by racism in 2016 when they changed course and voted for Trump.

But the situation in 2016 is different. Millions are fed up with politics as usual. They are angry at Wall Street, political institutions, and candidates associated with economic elites. Many saw Clinton as a representative of that world, but they gave the billionaire Trump a pass.

They are frustrated and cynical about gridlock, corruption, and corporate domination of government. Much of this so-called anti-establishment vote was influenced by the steady drumbeat of anti-government rhetoric and developed against the backdrop of the eight-year sabotage of the Obama administration by the extreme right in Congress.

Nevertheless, I don’t think this was primarily an economic populist revolt or a protest against political elites. If that were the case why did African Americans, the most sophisticated portion of the electorate, and Latino and Asian Americans overwhelmingly vote for Clinton? After all, communities of color are also experiencing great economic distress, compounded by racism.

This was not primarily an economic populist revolt or a protest against political elites.

Voters in these communities feel the same alienation to political elites, but they still voted for a Democratic Party establishment candidate connected to Wall Street to block a billionaire tycoon. Millions of working families – black, brown, and white – are all experiencing economic pain, declining living standards, debt, joblessness, poverty, discrimination, and bigotry. They are fearful and desperately want change.

While millions of whites stood with their black and brown sisters and brothers, some 58 percent voted for Trump. They voted against their own economic interests. Trump won a majority of every category of white voters.

The question is, why? We have to dig deeper into the larger economic, social, and political context.

Rooted in the brutal enslavement of millions of Africans and genocide against Indigenous peoples, racism has been a central thread throughout our nation’s history. It was instrumental in maintaining the slavocracy and after that, capitalist class power more generally. It has been used to extract super profits and to justify economic, social, and institutional inequality. It has been a central part of the story of growing right wing power over the past 60 years.

The “Southern Strategy” employed by Richard Nixon and later by Ronald Reagan succeeded as part of the backlash by reactionary forces to the vast social changes of the 1960s. The election of the nation’s first African American president was met by unprecedented obstruction by the GOP and reactionary sections of capital based on racism challenging his legitimacy as president. To this day, a large section of this right-wing base is so influenced by the racism of the “birther” movement led by Trump that they still believe Obama is not a U.S. citizen.

The demographic character of the U.S. is rapidly changing, with cultural and social mores shifting along with it. A new role for women and the LGBTQ community is emerging. All are shaping a new multi-racial, multi-national, multi-gender identity, multi-cultural, multi-lingual people and nation.

And these changes are taking place over the span of just a few decades. Since 1965, the immigrant population has grown from 9.6 million to 45 million, accounting for 55 percent of U.S. population growth. Between 1980 and 2008, the foreign-born Latino population grew four-fold from 4.2 million to 17.8 million.

These economic, demographic, cultural, and social changes (and the pace at which they are occurring) are unsettling to many whites. The backlash represented by a significant portion of the Trump vote is a reaction against the new multi-racial, multi-cultural society embodied in Obama and the Obama coalition.

In that sense, there are parallels with the Brexit vote. The tremendous social and economic stresses brought on by massive and rapid immigration on top of economic austerity and crisis were unsettling to millions.

The election has to be understood within the wider context of neoliberal capitalist globalization, which has brought massive social change and dislocation. Since the 1970s, unfair trade pacts, outsourcing, and automation have produced deindustrialization and left communities devastated. Death rates, suicides, and use of opiates are up. Economic stagnation, declining real wages, and a soaring wealth gap have left millions feeling left out, angry, and hopeless.

The same process of hollowing out industrial centers, creating highly segregated deep pockets of poverty in African American communities, is also causing deep poverty in rural areas and small industrial cities of segregated white communities. Many whites, particularly men, are among the victims of plant closings, wage cuts, home foreclosures, and economic dislocation – particularly in the Upper Midwest states.

Mass layoffs and plant and mine closings have heightened competition for jobs in the working class, sharpening racial anxieties and tensions, sexism, and xenophobia. Many whites feel their dignity and self-worth disappear as their economic status declines and the world and their place in it rapidly changes. They and their communities are up against powerful global economic forces they cannot fathom and feel helpless to fight.

The rapidly changing multi-racial character of the working class, growing multiculturalism, the changing role of women and growth of religious diversity – all of these challenge the world of white domination, patriarchy, and dominant Christianity, leaving many unsettled. They are used to the relative advantages stemming from race, gender, and citizenship.

Growing multiculturalism, the changing role of women and growth of religious diversity – all of these challenge the world of white domination.

When they are united with their class brothers and sisters in struggle, these workers experience the power of multi-racial, male-female class unity. They understand their advance is tied to expanding democracy for all. However, with deindustrialization also comes the destruction of the one organization that has united them with other communities – their union. They can become ideologically disarmed and have no way to understand these changes from a working class perspective. Instead of multi-racial class unity, the void is filled with something else – racial identity politics.

They wanted change, but in this case, it was regressive change.

“When workers were in unions alongside others who had different color skin, holding together a viable multiracial working class coalition was possible,” says a study by the New School for Social Research. “But unions have been destroyed [in the rust belt states]…and stunning economic decline has made it easy for narratives of zero-sum competition between different social groups to take hold. This is why so many are vulnerable to a demagogic appeal to ‘take back our country.’”

“With his tirades against nonwhites and foreign others, (Trump) reopened the argument,” wrote Jamelle Bouie in Slate. “In effect, he gave white voters a choice: They could continue down the path of multiracial democracy – which coincided with the end of an order in which white workers were the first priority of national leaders – or they could reject it in favor of someone who offered that presumptive treatment. Who promised to ‘make America great again,’ to make it look like the America of Trump’s youth and their youths, where whites – and white men in particular – were the uncontested masters of the country.”

For many whites, Trump taps into resentment against “distant elites” and speaks to their fear of a rapidly changing multi-cultural world along with new social mores and non-sectarianism.

“But it’s not an accident that Trump and the European far right surged at roughly the same time. Both of them, in different fashions, figured out a core fact of the world: There are a lot of white people in the West who blame distant elites for allowing – or accelerating – their loss of economic and political power. [Populists’] greatest support is concentrated among the older generation, men, the religious, majority populations, and the less educated – sectors generally left behind by progressive tides of cultural value change,” wrote Zack Beauchamp in Vox.

Through such appeals, a campaign based on white supremacy was able to win a majority of white voters. This helps explain also how, over the past few decades, as the white vote as a percentage of the electorate has decreased, white support for GOP candidates has increased. There has occurred a qualitative shift; the time was ripe for a white supremacist takeover of the GOP.

The time was ripe for a white supremacist takeover of the GOP.

People are constantly being influenced by opposing ideas. They are often of multiple minds. Whites can simultaneously be influenced by both racist and anti-racist ideas. They respond to events depending on experience and their depth of consciousness. With higher levels of class, anti-racist, and anti-sexist consciousness, they can resist the poison of racism.

The same dynamic contributed to the lower level of resistance to voter suppression laws – which were especially aimed at disenfranchising African Americans, low-income workers, and youth. The result this year was an estimated 3 to 5 million disenfranchised voters.

These factors all show that it was not just class issues and economic populism that were at play in this election, but also broad democratic questions around gender, nationality and race. And incidentally, one can’t ignore how those issues played out in the Democratic Party primary either.

Bernie Sanders conducted a historic and unprecedented campaign, energized young and first time voters, and brought advanced ideas and socialism into the discussion. Certainly Sanders had a central role in shaping the Democratic Party platform.

But so did the Fight for $15, Black Lives Matter, the Dreamers, the climate justice movement, the LGBTQ community, and others who have helped shift mass public opinion over the past few years. And the deep support for

Clinton also shaped the platform including by advancing equal pay for equal work, criminal justice reform, etc. Her deep support among women, African Americans, and Latinos cannot be ignored. After all, she got 3 million more votes than Sanders.

What was needed coming out of the primaries was the broadest possible unity on the issues, keeping forces backing both candidates as united as possible for the general election battle.

Right-wing influence

The right-wing mass media, often uncontested, influences wide swaths of the country. Millions, including working people, get their news and opinion, much of it based on lies and conspiracy theories, from Fox News, hate talk radio, and white supremacist and hate groups. Those living in racially segregated communities, suburbs, small cities, and rural areas are especially vulnerable.

Breitbart “News,” the platform of the so-called alt-right, reaches millions. Such outlets acted as a free mass communications arm of the Trump campaign. There was also the deluge of false news and conspiracies spread by the right wing on social media. And of course the major cable TV networks cannot be forgotten; it is estimated Trump received over $2 billion in free coverage from them.

The Republican Party apparatus in the various states, the National Rifle Association, and the right-wing Christian fundamentalist churches all got out the vote for Trump. Right-wing religious institutions and networks, especially conservative evangelicals, have been a key part of the modern extreme right movement. Twenty-six percent of the electorate were Christian evangelical voters; 81 percent of white evangelicals voted for Trump, the highest vote for a Republican since 2004.

While Clinton’s unfavorable rating was 55 percent among voters overall, it was 80 percent among evangelicals. The key issue for evangelicals appears to have been abortion. For 21 percent of voters, abortion was a bottom line issue, up from 13 percent in 2008.

“The American Renewal Project representing right wing Christian Evangelical churches spent over $10 million and organized an extensive get-out-the-vote operation among Evangelicals in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and Iowa. Trump won five of the six,” bragged right-wing blogger David Brody.

The payoff to these forces will be the appointment of a U.S. Supreme Court Justice who will vote to repeal Roe v. Wade, outlaw abortion, and perhaps undermine same-sex marriage by ensuring legal protections for religious conservatives to discriminate.

Pervasive misogyny

 Hillary Clinton conducted a historic campaign. The election of the first woman president was a material force, a motivating and inspiring cause for millions. Had she won, it would have been an advance for democracy, as was the election of Barack Obama. As a public figure shaped by the turbulent 1960s, Clinton has been a leader of the movement to advance women’s rights. She embodies the rapidly changing status of women in society and, consequently, has been the object of every form of misogyny and hate.

Millions were inspired by her history-making campaign. Not surprisingly, she won by the highest gender margin ever, with women of color leading the way. Sexism and misogyny in their most blatant forms, however, were at the center of the election. They prevented millions from voting for the first woman president. Instead they voted against their class interests and advancing gender equity – a basic democratic issue.

Influences of sexism on the left, and even in the Party, were also all too prevalent during the election and the primaries. There is no other plausible explanation for the deep hatred and venom directed at Clinton including by many on the left. There is no other explanation for the characterizations that she “can’t be trusted,” is a “serial liar,” “coldly ambitious,” and was a “weak” candidate.

Influences of sexism on the left, and even in the Party, were also all too prevalent.

Aside from the women’s equality movement, gender issues were too often downplayed or pitted against other concerns by the left. The movements and society overall pay for these “sins of omission.”
Nevertheless, Clinton’s candidacy was historic and, despite her defeat, many women, including women of color, were elected to Congress. This year’s campaign provoked the most wide-ranging public discussion about misogyny and the pervasiveness of sexual assault that I can recall. Perhaps the thing I am most self-critical about is not fighting even harder and speaking out more forcefully against the misogyny and sexism that pervaded this campaign.

If we are to advance, the interconnections between class, race, and gender need to be deepened. It would do us all well, especially men, to reflect more deeply on this.

It’s really up to white people and especially white men – and furthermore, communists, socialists and those with broad awareness – to take the lead in reaching those who were misdirected and are under the sway of reactionary ideology.
Reviled by the right

During Bill Clinton’s administration, Hillary Clinton forged her own role, stood up to right-wing efforts to destroy her husband’s presidency, and became a political force in her own right. The extreme right never forgave her for it and she has been vilified ever since.

Republicans transformed her use of a private email server and unproven allegations of corruption in the Clinton Foundation into criminal acts in the public mind. Chants of “Lock her up!” dogged Clinton at every step. Days before the election, FBI director James Comey, at the behest of a right-wing gang within the Bureau, revived suspicions of criminality when he reopened the email investigation. The damage was done. Many voters, including suburban white women on the fence, decided to vote for Trump.

In addition to the FBI interference, the Clinton candidacy was also up against Julian Assange, working in unison with the Russian oligarchy and probably the Putin government. Wikileaks’ constant email dumps created chaos on the eve of the Democratic Party convention, kept Clinton on the defensive throughout the campaign, and cast a shadow implying that she was hiding something.

This kind of interference, especially by a foreign government, is unprecedented. The criminalization of Clinton overshadowed her program and allowed some voters to give in to false equivalencies. To them, she was no better than Trump. Many of these voters either sat out the election or voted third party.

Mistakes of the campaign

The Clinton campaign certainly made mistakes and had some built-in flaws. Clinton was the face of the Democratic Party corporate establishment, part of the political and economic power structure at a time of growing anti-corporate outrage.

She opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but because of Pres. Obama’s support for it, her previous backing of the pact, and the free trade agreements negotiated by the Bill Clinton administration, she could not escape association with the TPP. Her paid speeches at Goldman Sachs gave further credence to the image of her being Wall Street’s candidate.

Clinton ran, however, on the most progressive platform of any major party in history. She addressed class, race, and gender issues, yet her economic message still didn’t resonate strongly with enough voters. The campaign too often chose to focus on the unfitness of Trump as commander-in-chief rather than on day-to-day economic concerns.

It did not effectively build on Bernie Sanders’ call to change the “rigged economic system.” His candidacy tapped into mass thinking, energized millions of voters, especially young people, and was instrumental in shaping the Democratic platform.

The Democratic Party and the campaign failed to reach out to large swaths of small towns, cities and rural areas that were largely populated by whites. It relied too much on demographic changes alone to win a progressive governing majority. The temptation to write off white communities and the fifty-state strategy was a fatal flaw.

The 2016 elections were a huge setback for social progress and pose an enormous danger to democracy and life on Earth. However, the defeat is rich in lessons upon which greater unity can be forged. Without that, we will be powerless to block the coming assault on truth, social programs, basic democratic rights, peace, and the environment.

Growing the CPUSA and PeoplesWorld.org while building unity

The CPUSA can be proud of its involvement in the 2016 elections. We were deeply immersed throughout and unfolded our work within the strategic framework of defeating the extreme right. We understood the stakes, the authoritarian and fascist danger, and the need to build the broadest possible unity to defend democracy and the environment.

We saw the need to help build a multi-class alliance – with the people’s coalition led by labor, our multi-racial, multi-gender identity, multi-generational working class at the center – that united broad left and center political currents. We saw the interrelationship between economic and class issues and other democratic questions, including racial and gender equity.

We had and have no illusions about the class character of the Democratic Party, but we also understood the composition of its social base and the nature of the electoral coalition working in and with it – a coalition which is radically different from the Republican Party.

We had and have no illusions about the class character of the Democratic Party.

We understood the dynamics of the class and democratic struggle being waged within the developing all-people’s coalition amassed within the Democratic Party. We saw the need to build structures of political independence, beginning with the labor movement.

During the primaries, our approach allowed for being critical of the Clinton and Sanders campaigns when required. Both responded to the impact of events and rising movements.

While we saw the historic importance of the Sanders campaign, and most of our members were active in it, our approach allowed for much more flexibility. Like the AFL-CIO, our approach gave space for those supporting Clinton.

It also recognized the historic importance of the Clinton campaign and saw electing the first woman president as an advance for democracy. It recognized substantial parts of labor, the African American and Latino communities, and women were backing her.

The CP saw the historic importance of the Clinton campaign and saw electing the first woman president as an advance for democracy.

It recognized Clinton was the target of 25 years of right-wing venom, misogyny, and sexism. Defending her was also defending democracy.

The Sanders’ candidacy provided the basis for a mass public discussion of socialism, made many advanced programmatic contributions, and mobilized and energized millions of voters particularly youth. While Sanders moved Clinton to adopt more advanced positions, he was also giving voice to movements that were already in motion shaping issues and public opinion.

Meanwhile, Clinton was also responding with advanced overtures of her own, such as equal pay for equal work, criminal justice reform, and campaigning with Mothers of the Movement. All of these helped shape the Democratic platform and came in response to rising movements.

Some say the CPUSA’s strategy has been an ineffective one and point to Trump’s victory is proof. Some say history proves multi-class alliances opposing the most reactionary sections of capital actually heighten attacks on democracy (an anarchist assertion).

I disagree. We were one of the few organizations that recognized the early right-wing danger and called for all-people’s unity to defeat it. This concept is widely accepted today.

It is the only strategy capable of mobilizing millions. It is premised on ascertaining the current stage of the democratic struggle and identifying and amassing all the key class and social forces for that stage which will result in victory.

The Party’s work, of course, was not without shortcomings. We had differences in emphasis – sharp ones at times. There were pressures to narrowly focus on the role of the left, rather than building broad, flexible left-center unity. There were pressures to abandon the idea of multi-class alliances in favor of class versus class. There were pressures to aim fire at Clinton rather than the extreme right danger. That would have resulted in distancing us from the broad electoral coalition backing Clinton.

Some of our members were influenced by these ideas and were never convinced of the anti-extreme right strategy. They saw no significant difference between Clinton and Trump, insisting both were creatures of Wall Street, and leaving it at that. Some were influenced by misogyny. Some saw no reason to engage in the electoral arena of struggle. Most of these members sat out the elections.

We could have done better explaining and popularizing our strategic policy and helping people understand how this stage of struggle is related to advancing to more radical economic, political, and social reforms.

Embracing what is new

The anti-extreme right strategy is not a static concept. It should be seen in light of new developments, especially changes in the balance of class and political forces.

Much has changed since 1981 when the Party first introduced this concept, rooted in the Popular Front and United Front strategies from the fight against fascism in the 1930s and 1940s, as well as in Lenin’s concept of the democratic struggle.

The political balance has to be constantly assessed and new factors taken into account. They include the growing wealth gap, the re-emergence of an oligarchy and its increasingly reactionary character, long-term wage stagnation, job loss, and deepening social inequality.

It has to take into account the advance of capitalist globalization and neoliberalism, the falling barriers to the movement of capital and labor, and massive demographic shifts. Reactionary trends in response to the deepening crisis of U.S. imperialism and its declining global status also have to figure in our calculations.

The climate crisis has grown to become an existential threat, and there is a clear connection between rising greenhouse gas emissions and the fossil fuel industry – one of the key support bases for the extreme right.

The climate crisis has grown to become an existential threat.

The emergence of the new labor movement which we can now observe followed the election of a left-center leadership in 1995. It facilitated the emergence of the multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-generational labor movement as a leader of social movements overall through its alliances with other core forces.

Labor has also suffered tremendous losses in membership and reach, however, due to anti-labor attacks, outsourcing, automation, and plant closings.

The people’s coalition led by labor has greatly matured politically and ideologically through many battles. Many new social movements have arisen – including the LGBTQ movement, Black Lives Matters, Dreamers, Fight for $15, climate justice, and more.

Public opinion has shifted in a progressive direction on some key issues. What is new is the growth of broad left thinking, including a growing number who embrace radical economic and social restructuring and ideas of socialism.

Simultaneously, the right has grown, including its base and its grip on government at all levels. What is new is the mainstreaming of white supremacy and takeover of the Republican Party by these forces. The danger of a full-fledged fascist movement is emerging.

The U.S. electorate is deeply polarized and right wing obstruction has led to increasing political gridlock. The stage of defeating the extreme right and building a broad united multi-class, multi-racial, multi-gender, multi-generational coalition, with the people’s coalition led by labor at its core is needed now more than ever. There will be no social progress, no saving planet Earth, without breaking right-wing domination of government and politics.

Party unity

Given the victory of Trump and GOP control over all branches of government, the need for unity is greater than ever. The need for our strategic and tactical concepts, analysis and vision, also indicates the need for a bigger more influential CPUSA.

The need for party unity is greater than ever too if we are to be a factor in building this united multi-class alliance and movement, especially within the people’s coalition led by labor. This is a responsibility of every leader and member.

Disunity in the face of defeat can have catastrophic consequences. The setbacks around 1991 are a reminder. The collapse of socialism in the USSR and Eastern Europe represented a global defeat for socialism and the working class. It created demoralization and confusion.

Its ramifications spilled over into U.S. politics and impacted the party, contributing to deep divisions, an organizational crisis, and a split that both sides paid a heavy and lasting price for.

At such times, confusion can ensue and passions can be inflamed. Danger arises when sharp differences are allowed to become cleavages and evolve into something far worse.

Space for disagreement

How we handle differences has huge consequences. We need greater patience, flexibility, communication, and trust to freshly and soberly assess our experience. We need to avoid drawing lines in the sand.

We need to be flexible and leave plenty of space for disagreements and have what could be called a “big tent” approach. In other words, sometimes we have to live with differences while we continue to discuss and re-examine questions based on fresh experience. We also have to leave space for people to change.

We should also be conscious how non-party allies, including those interested in joining, view this process. Many are asking, “How will I be viewed if I don’t agree with this position or that? How much space is there for differences?”

We can only resolve differences constructively by respecting the integrity of collective channels, bodies, and democratic processes. No one should have to hear things via the grapevine. Healthy collectives make it possible for anyone to raise concerns, questions, issues, complaints, or criticisms and create the atmosphere for a comradely exchange of views and experiences.

We can only resolve differences constructively by respecting the integrity of collective channels.

There is far more that unites the party, including: our understanding of the revolutionary role of our working class; our strategy and tactics in the 2016 elections; the fight for racial and gender equality; the urgency of addressing the existential threat of climate change; our socialist vision rooted in economic and political democracy; and our understanding of the essence of a revolutionary party rooted in the ideas of Marx, Lenin and our own American revolutionary democratic tradition.

A few weeks ago, we phone banked over 1,000 new members and had many wonderful conversations. This was their first direct contact for most, and they were excited to receive the call. They love the Party and are eager to be more involved. These new members are precious, a part of the future that unites us. They are counting on us.

Current differences

Over the last few years, we have experienced some sharp differences on: the role and nature of the party; the approach to youth; the centering of resources around People’s World and mass communications; organizing our theoretical work; and most recently, election tactics and the resignation of Sam Webb, the former national chair of the CPUSA.

(The work of PeoplesWorld.org, cpusa.org, our approach to youth, and membership engagement and outreach were addressed in remarks by others to the meeting.)

I want to address some rumors and outright falsehoods that have created confusion, distractions, and suspicion. There is a lot of misinformation that has contributed to unnecessarily sharpening differences. Because these rumors and “fake news” have circulated outside collectives and on social media, it is very difficult to address them forthrightly.

First, there is no proposal to dissolve state organizations or clubs. A few members raised this idea during the 2014 pre-convention discussion period and even in the post-convention period.

For many years we have advocated building a network of vibrant grassroots action-oriented clubs. This is why we created a new assignment, which Rossana Cambron agreed to undertake, called Membership Engagement Coordinator. Her job is to assist building clubs and state organizations and encourage ways to involve members in activity. This is also why we hold National Schools for club and district activists and provide forums for exchanging experience.

However, this comes with a caveat: we should not be limited by past conceptions of how clubs are organized. We should be flexible and open to different forms of organization, i.e. neighborhood, citywide, workplace, campus, via teleconference or Skype, or based on interest. We should experiment with anything that brings people together in common collective action.

Secondly, it is not the case that we are only for building the Party online or “in the cloud.” On the contrary, online and in-person organizing are interconnected. One cannot be a viable organization today without mastering modern mass digital communications, social media, and social networking. Each complements the other.

Thirdly, we are not dropping Leninism or the ideas of Lenin. This includes Lenin’s concept of the revolutionary party rooted in the working class with the aim of socialism – a party devoted to developing strategy and tactics, studying stages of struggle, following the democratic path, and centered around the press (in the current day, this means the digital media, i.e. PeoplesWorld.org).

However, this also comes with a caveat. Life and the class struggle didn’t end with Lenin. To be relevant and viable we have to embrace developments and the wealth of experience since then, including what is new in the class and democratic struggles, politics and culture, and strategy and tactics – especially in the U.S. revolutionary democratic tradition. The Party has to constantly, creatively, and non-dogmatically elaborate Marxism and adapt itself to new realities.

Fourth, there is no proposal to sell the New York building. That idea was raised in the National Committee last year and effectively addressed at that time. We are doing everything we can to safeguard assets and resources for both present and future generations.

However, we must do more to maximize use of our assets, reduce deficits, and expand fundraising to reduce reliance on them.

Fifth, there is no proposal to change the name of the party. I don’t think name is a principled question, but given current differences, discussing such a proposal would be polarizing and harden divisions.

However, it’s unfortunate an atmosphere doesn’t prevail where we can discuss such questions from all sides. We have to concretely assess anti-communism, whether its impact on people and our work is changing and the degree to which it is a marginalizing pressure. The image of communism from a previous era often becomes a caricature, attracting some new members for the wrong reasons. They have misconceptions of our program and how we see the revolutionary process unfolding.

Sixth, there is no proposal to change the essence of the Party program. Although I’m sure given all the developments since our 2014 National Convention, we could find a lot that needs updating.

Finally, Sam Webb’s resignation caused some confusion, concerns, and brought some differences to the surface. We’ve discussed them in the National Board, National Committee, and also held face-to-face discussions with leadership collectives in New York and Ohio. We are happy to have them anywhere else.

Given the gravity of the new political situation, in my opinion, it is far better to focus our efforts on developing our strategy and tactics and moving the entire party into action, rather than attempt to arrive at a consensus over why Sam Webb resigned or his legacy.

He should be counted amongst our socialist and democratic allies and our attitude, as with any ally, should be to work together where we can for the betterment of the movement overall.

Sam may have left, but we remain to continue the collective project of building the party, elaborating our Marxist analysis, broadly applying our strategy and tactics, engaging with a larger audience through People’s World and cpusa.org, and immersing ourselves in building the people’s coalition led by labor and the broadly based all-people’s alliance to defend democracy and contest Trump and the GOP at every turn.

 

What kind of party are we building?

I’d like to end by reaffirming our vision of the party. I hope we can be collectively self-critical, and adopt changes that will enhance and expand our role and influence – especially in the context of the titanic battle before us to defeat the Trump agenda.

We should reaffirm:

We are building a modern, vibrant, mass party of 21st century socialism rooted in our multi-racial, multi-gender identity, multi-generation working class and communities of color, women, youth, and democratic movements.

A party that continues to deepen its understanding of oppression based on class, gender, sexual orientation, and other forms. A party that fosters the interlocking connections between these, their manifestation in the realm of ideas and practice, and thereby bolsters our ability to fight for a united working class and people.

A party that continues updating its politics, applies Marxism to changing realities, and addresses urgent new questions as they arise.

A party that adjusts and updates its strategy and tactics to assist building the broadest possible unity against Trump and the extreme right and to defend democracy and reverse the climate crisis.

A party that continues to assess the class and political balance of forces, elaborates its approach to stages of struggle and their interconnection, and gains a deeper understanding of the democratic path toward a socialist-oriented society.

A party that continues refining and elaborating its vision of a modern, vibrant, green, peaceful, democratic socialism for the U.S. – one imbued by the deepest sense of humanism and the highest moral values.

A party that contributes to building a larger, more broadly appealing, and united left.

A party that deepens and elaborates its collective Marxist analysis, provides education opportunities, and widely popularizes the ideas of Marxism; that convinces through persuasion rather than administrative measures.

A party that expands its capacity to engage in the battle of ideas by centering work around People’s World and mastering the power of modern mass communications; always adapting to the new ways people consume their information.

A party that adapts organizationally to the impact of mass communications including social media and social networking.

A party that continues to root its assessments, decisions, and work in concrete reality and promotes accountability for its decisions.

This is the kind of party we are creatively building, modernizing, and adapting. This is the type of organization growing numbers are looking to join and be associated with. If we continue to do this, we will become a bigger, stronger, and more influential force in the difficult and challenging days to come.

Image: Creative Commons 3.0

Africa/Global: Agribusiness Giants on Merger Path
| February 20, 2017 | 8:10 pm | Africa, Analysis, Economy | No comments

AfricaFocus Bulletin
February 20, 2017 (170220)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor’s Note

“If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved, the new merged company
will control almost 30% of the global commercial seed market and
25% of the agrochemical market – making it the world’s largest
supplier of seeds and chemicals. In South Africa, it would control
about 30% of both markets. Already today, Monsanto is one of two
companies in South Africa that employs 80% of the private sector
breeders in maize and 100% of the breeders in soybean and sunflower
breeders. ” – African Centre for Biodiversity

For a version of this Bulletin in html format, more suitable for
printing, go to http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/ag1702.php, and
click on “format for print or mobile.”

To share this on Facebook, click on
https://www.facebook.com/sharer/sharer.php?u=http://www.africafocus.org/docs17/ag1702.php

The dominance of giant agribusiness multinational companies in the
supply of seeds and chemicals is not new, whether at the national
level in both developing and developing countries or on a global
scale. The vast influence of these companies is felt in policies
imposed on national governments damaging to small farmers as well as
to the environment and human health, as well as in control of
pricing for agricultural inputs.

Recent years, however, have seen a further escalation of mergers
which is accelerating concentration in the industry, of which the
merger of Bayer and Monsanto is currently under review by national
regulatory agencies in South Africa and other countries. This new
report highlights the negative consequences of this trend,
particularly for smallholder farmers.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on biodiversity and related
issues, documenting this and other related critical analyses on
policies in African agriculture, visit
http://www.africafocus.org/intro-ag.php

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor’s note+++++++++++++++++

The Bayer-Monsanto merger: Implications for South Africa’s
agricultural future and its smallholder farmers

February 2017

The African Centre for Biodiversity (http://www.acbio.org.za) Rosa
Luxemburg Stiftung (http://www.rosalux.co.za)

[Excerpts only: Full paper available at http://tinyurl.com/z4pkxb9]

About This Paper

This paper explores the likely implications of an approved Bayer-
Monsanto merger for the South African agricultural system. It
outlines the trend of consolidation occurring within the seed and
agrochemical industries, provides a background to the merger,
criticises the rationale given for the merger by Bayer and Monsanto
and outlines concerns should the merger be approved in South Africa.
These concerns focus on the implications for South African farmers,
smallholder farmers in particular. The paper argues that further
consolidation of an already corporate- controlled seed sector is not
needed and that it undermines the emergence of an alternative system
that would support smallholder farmers in contributing to food
security in an egalitarian agricultural economy.

Key Findings

Context

* The proposed Bayer-Monsanto merger takes place in a context of
megamergers: China National Chemical Corporation (ChemChina)-
Syngenta; DuPont-Dow. If approved, just three corporations would
control about 60% of the global patented seed market and 64% of the
agrochemical market.

* If the Bayer-Monsanto merger is approved, the new merged company
will control almost 30% of the global commercial seed market and
25% of the agrochemical market – making it the world’s largest
supplier of seeds and chemicals. In South Africa, it would control
about 30% of both markets. Already today, Monsanto is one of two
companies in South Africa that employs 80% of the private sector
breeders in maize and 100% of the breeders in soybean and sunflower
breeders.

* The merger will need to be approved by regulatory authorities in
more than 30 countries. Authorities are viewing the merger
activities in totality to assess possible implications for the
market, farmers and consumers. They will look at whether reduced
competition will lead to reduced innovation, lowered spending on
research and development and implications for increased input costs
and reduced choice for farmers and other consumers (although the
market is already significantly consolidated).

* Merger activity is being driven by the global economic downturn
and reduced demand for products by farmers because of low commodity
prices. It is also driven by the desire to reduce operational
costs, particularly for research and development processes, and to
access proprietary knowledge enclosed in intellectual property
rights, such as patents. The merger and acquisition trend is
supported by the historically low interest rates (close to zero)
being offered in the United States, the Euro zone, Japan and the
United Kingdom.

* Both Bayer and Monsanto are already engaged in big data projects
in the agricultural sector. Bayer notes that one of its prime
reasons for acquiring Monsanto is because it owns The Climate
Corporation, which has the most powerful data science engine and
the most extensive field research network. In addition, Monsanto
has its foot in several important Genome Editing initiatives: it
owns one of the two existing CRISPR licenses and has started two
joint ventures on precision agriculture with the agrotech giants
CNH and AGCO.

* Both companies would benefit from sharing patents on genetically
modified crops and existing network and distribution models as they
both plan to expand into the African market, with a particular
focus on smallholder farmers. Bayer has been in the plant genetic
engineering arena since the early 2000s and holds more patents on
transgenic plant traits (206) than Monsanto (119) in the European
Union). Having access to each other’s proprietary knowledge would
provide them with significant cost savings, particularly as the
biotech industry shifts towards using CRISPR genome editing
technology, which revolutionises transgenic interventions through
the rewriting of whole DNA-sequences, but is not yet subject to a
comparable degree of regulatory oversight as the first generation
of genetic engineering. Both traits and germplasm is needed to
remain competitive in this market.

* South Africa is the most important African market for both
companies in terms of sales and for providing a base for African
expansion. The recent request by GrainSA, Agbiz Grain, the South
African National Seed Organization (SANSOR) and the Agricultural
Research Council for a breeding and technology levy to be imposed
on winter cereals in South Africa – with the possibility of
expanding this to other crops – would effectively mean that public
resources would be used to collect royalty payments for these
companies.

* Both Bayer and Monsanto sit on industry representative bodies,
giving them a significant degree of influence on the industry – a
combined company would enjoy benefits of greater influence.

Implications

The merger between Bayer Crop Science and Monsanto would have
possible implications for the agricultural sector and the food
system in South Africa:

* It would further reduce the competition within the South African
seed sector. Evidence from the US seed market shows that mergers of
this size will change key parameters of the seed market. Bayer-
Monsanto’s dominant market position will be further enhanced, as
will both companies’ control over traits-germplasm-crop protection
products in the country.

* Quite contrary to the claims of Bayer and Monsanto managers, the
merger is likely to decrease the amount of investment and the range
of innovations. This paper argues that the potential merger must be
analysed in the larger context of a rapid privatisation of research
and development. A particularly important tool of the potential
Bayer-Monsanto seed giant would be the instrument of licensing
rights, and increased pressure on farmers through the collection of
levies is expected.

* Serious impacts are anticipated for farmers and food consumers
alike. For farmers, evidence from the last few years at both the
South African seed market and the US seed market shows that a
further increase in seed prices is very likely. The choice of
available inputs will further decrease. Given the high amount of
sunk costs that particularly Monsanto invested in the development
of partly unsuccessful genetically modified organisms, there is a
threat that the South African market will be used as a strategic
point from where to ‘dump’ old genetically modified (GM)
technologies onto the African market. On the other hand, available
micro data from households in South Africa show how any price
increase in staple food prices might affect the income poor. An
indirect effect on food prices from the merger cannot be excluded.

* A closer look at the drivers of the Bayer- Monsanto merger reveals
that the ‘efficiency argument’ put forward by the corporations
might lead to a benefit to their shareholders, but cannot be
expected to spill over to external groups, such as farmers and food
consumers.

Seed and Agrochemical Markets

Global agricultural input markets (seed, fertiliser, crop protection
products, farm machinery and agri-tech markets) are already
significantly consolidated, having experienced a series of
horizontal and vertical mergers and acquisitions over the past two
decades (Figure 1).

The global and regional seed market

In 1994, the four biggest seed companies controlled 21% of the
global market (AgriPortal, 2016); today just ten companies own
about 65% of the world’s proprietary seed (seed registered for
legal protection) for major crops (Wattnem, 2016). It must be noted
that in Africa 65-100% of seed used by smallholder farmers is
farmer-saved and exchanged (varies by crop and geography) (Wattnem,
2016). The global commercial seed market has an estimated value of
about US$53 billion and is expected to grow to US$113 billion by
2020 (Marketsandmarkets, 2016) with the African market contributing
less than 2% to the current value (CTA, 2015). This presents a
potentially lucrative market, but many obstacles have to be
overcome to carry out a sustainably profitable business. Some of
the bigger ones include lack of infrastructure, specialised
knowledge, institutional arrangements and political bureaucracy.

The genetically modified seed market was worth US$15.6 billion in
2011 and is expected to grow to US$30.2 billion in 2018 (AGPRO,
2013). However, a recent market report notes that conventional
seeds are expected to be the fastest growing segment of total seed
sales (Marketsandmarkets, 2016). …  Africa presents an untapped
market but with very slow processes of regulatory and institutional
development to allow GM crops to be grown. In the meantime, market
expansion will be based on conventional certified seed and
agrochemicals.

Maize and horticulture are the two biggest seed markets on the
African continent, with the maize market valued at about US$500
million and horticulture at US$250 million; most seed company
activity takes place in this space (ACB, 2015). There is more
recent interest in commercialisation of legume seed on the
continent.

The South African seed market

South Africa has a dominant commercial seed industry, which is
primarily geared to serving the needs of large-scale commercial
farmers, with a dominant focus on hybrid, improved and genetically
modified seed (DAFF, 2015). South Africa’s marginal smallholder
farmers also rely on commercial seed as a significant source of
planting material, especially for maize and horticulture, although
indigenous crops and farmer seed varieties are also used.
Multinational corporations dominate the seed industry: Pioneer Hi-
Bred/Pannar, Sakata, Monsanto and Syngenta (GrainSA, 2015). …

The value of the South African seed market was estimated at R5.62
billion in 2012/13 (TASAI, 2015). The focus of both Bayer and
Monsanto is on commodity crops: maize, sunflower, soybean, cotton
and wheat. The value of the seed market in grain and oilseed was
about R3.9 billion (about US$285 million) for the 2014/15
production season (GrainSA, 2015). …

Maize dominates the national variety list – there are 546 maize
varieties on the official list; 308 are protected by plant
breeders’ rights and 162 are genetically modified (TASAI, 2015).
There are 41 genetically modified soybean varieties on the list and
35 non- genetically modified ones, including 19 with plant
breeders’ rights protection (TASAI, 2015). Monsanto and
DuPont/Pioneer Hi-Bred/Pannar own at least 85% of the seed business
for the big commodity crops – maize, soybean (the second largest
agronomic crop in the country) and sunflower. There is intense
competition between them (TASAI, 2015). DuPont is planning to merge
with Dow, which puts pressure on Monsanto to increase its scale to
continue competing in seed and agrochemical markets. Bayer’s
strength is in agrochemicals, although it has a small seed
footprint in South Africa. Bayer introduced its cotton seed to
South Africa in 2014 and a new canola seed variety in 2015
(Breytenbach, 2015). It reportedly introduced these new varieties
into South Africa in response to a direct call from farmers asking
for alternative products (Breytenbach, 2015).

Syngenta, Monsanto, Pannar-Du Pont Pioneer and Dow form SANSOR’s
committee on genetically modified organisms (SANSOR, 2016). Any
activity that is likely to increase Monsanto’s influence in this
market in South Africa is significant given the extent of
genetically modified maize planted, the country’s staple food crop.

The global and regional agrochemical market

The global agrochemical market is estimated to be worth about
US$33.4 billion (Macaskill, 2016) with the African market valued at
around US$1.1 billion (R15-20 billion) in 2014 (Odendaal, 2014).
The agrochemical market is dominated by Monsanto (US$15 billion),
Syngenta (US$13.4 billion), Bayer (US$10.4 billion), DuPont (US$9.8
billion), Dow (with sales of US$6.38 billion in 2015) and BASF
(US$5.8 billion); Chinese-owned ChemChina doesn’t make divisional
sales figures available, but total sale figures for all divisions
(of which agrochemicals is just one) were US$45 billion in 2015
(Alessi, 2016).

The South African agrochemical market

South Africa uses more agrochemicals than any other African country,
mostly for grain crop production (PR Newswire, 2015), yet it
comprises less than 2% of the global market (Macaskill, 2016).
South African farmers spent R2.3 billion on agrochemicals in the
2014/15 season (GrainSA, 2015). The South African agrochemicals
market is estimated to grow at a compound annual growth rate of
4.5% by 2020 (PR Newswire, 2015). Major agrochemical companies
operating in the country range from Bayer Cropscience and Syngenta
to Adama, Dow Agrosciences, Philagro South Africa, BASF South
Africa, Sipcam, Monsanto and Chemtura Corporation (GrainSA, 2015).
Companies such as Bayer, Syngenta SA, Dow, DuPont and Monsanto
South Africa sit on the executive council of CropLife SA, an
industry representative body (CropLife SA, 2016).

Bayer and Monsanto in South Africa

Both Bayer and Monsanto are major manufacturers of agrochemicals,
seeds and genetically modified seed (Court, 2016). Company
confidentiality makes it difficult to ascertain market-specific
market shares for any company.

Bayer Crop Science in South Africa

Most of Bayer’s African sales are generated in South Africa, and a
key part of Bayer’s strategic focus for its business in southern
Africa is ‘expanding our seed footprint – especially for soyabeans
and wheat – through further acquisitions, in-licensing agreements
and partnerships’ (Bayer, 2016). It owns a manufacturing plant in
South Africa, has established a maize competency centre in KwaZulu-
Natal (Bayer Crop Science, 2016e) and has opened its first African
SeedGrowth Centre near Johannesburg (one of 16 in the world)
(Bayer, 2016c). The Centre will train seed company production
staff, support seed companies in upscaling processes, act as a base
for research in optimising seed treatment technologies and
demonstrate how Bayer’s equipment works (Bayer, 2016c).

It is focusing on both the large-scale commercial and small-scale
farming sectors. In March 2016 Bayer launched its ‘Committed to the
Future Pledge’ at the South African Grain Congress, in which it
promised to continue to invest more than 10% of turnover into
developing new compounds (it should be noted that this is their
core business and so does not qualify as an added benefit for South
Africa). It also promised to invest in further initiatives, like
its Bayer Forward Farms project, a knowledge platform that
facilitates the sharing of knowledge between selected farms and the
combined expertise of the broader industry (Bayer, 2016d).

It is also actively pursuing the small-scale farming market. Bayer
uses demonstration farms and training centres set up by
organisations, such as the United States farm machinery giant AGCO
to showcase its inputs (Maritz, 2016). It is involved in other
projects like this in South Africa, Ghana, Ethiopia and Morocco
(Maritz, 2016). …

Monsanto in South Africa

Monsanto is a pioneer of genetic modification of agricultural crops
(ACB, 2005) and the largest maize seed company in the country by
sales (DAFF, 2015); it also supplies 90% of soybean planted
commercially in South Africa (ACB, 2016). It has been operating in
South Africa since 1968 and has licensed its genetic modification
technology to other seed companies operating in the domestic
market. In the late 1990s it purchased domestic seed companies
Sensako and Carnia, thereby taking up a major stake in local seed
and grain markets (ACB, 2005). Monsanto sells seed for alfalfa,
canola, corn, cotton, sorghum, soybean, sugarbeets and wheat
(Stucke and Grunes, 2016). Monsanto’s purchase of global seed
company Seminis gave it ownership of plant breeders’ rights to a
range of South African vegetable seed varieties (ACB, 2005) and
access to germplasm. The Sensako purchase gave Monsanto about 45%
of the South African agrochemical market for field crops (ACB,
2015b).

In November 2016 Monsanto opened its renovated breeding centre in
Petit near Benoni, South Africa (Van Wyngaardt, 2016). The 300
hectare plant breeding farm uses imported and local germplasm to
establish new breeding crosses (Van Wyngaardt, 2016). Monsanto also
pursues the small-scale farming sector through projects, such as
Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) (Monsanto, n.d.[2]). …

ACB has extensively critiqued this programme for its use of
Monsanto’s genetically modified drought tolerant maize because the
product has not been successful in the United States, and it is
inappropriate for smallholder farmers, due to its reliance on the
use of synthetic fertilisers and agrochemicals (ACB, 2015a). The
project, which is supposedly meant to benefit small-scale farmers,
leads them onto a technological treadmill with known environmental
consequences and one that is difficult to escape. Farmers have
drought tolerant varieties of their own, which are freely saved and
thus always available and adapted to localised conditions.
Genetically modified crops were also trialled in eight African
countries in 2015 (SeedWorld, 2016a) with Monsanto’s drought
tolerant maize from the WEMA project expected to be released in
field trials in Tanzania and Mozambique in 2017.

2016 – The year of the mega-mergers

* July 2014: Monsanto tried to buy Syngenta for US$46 billion, but
the deal was rejected by shareholders.

* November 2015: Chinese state-owned ChemChina made a US$43 billion
bid for Syngenta, which was accepted by shareholders in February
2016. This was the largest purchase of a foreign firm in Chinese
history.

– ChemChina owns Adama (formerly Maktheshim Agan Industries), the
world’s seventh largest agrochemical company.

– The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approved
the deal in August 2016 (Bloomberg 2016b), South Africa in
September 2016 and Australia in December 2016 (Food Ingredients
First, 2016). South Africa attached the condition that Syngenta’s
formulation plant could not be relocated outside of the country for
an undefined period to avoid job losses (CCSA, 2016a). The deal was
also approved by the Common Market for East and Southern Africa
(COMESA) Competition Commission in September 2016 (Comesa
Competition Commission, 2016).

– The European Commission has requested additional information from
both companies and will announce its decision on the ChemChina-
Syngenta merger on 12 April 2017 (Produce Business UK, 2017).

– A possible obstacle to approval is ChemChina’s plans to acquire
another Chinese state- owned fertiliser company, Sinochem, which
was not mentioned in the applications for approval of its
acquisition of Syngenta (Noel and Baghdjian, 2016).

* December 2015: DuPont and Dow announced a merger that will give
the combined company an estimated value of US$130 billion.

– The deal was approved by the COMESA Competition Commission in
September 2016 (Comesa Competition Commission, 2016a), but still
awaits approval in Australia, the United States, Brazil and South
Africa.

– The deal is being held up by the European Commission, which has
launched a full investigation on the basis that insufficient
information has been provided (Reuters, 2016a). The Commission will
announce its decision on 6 February 2017 (Investopedia, 2016).

* May 2016: Bayer started the bidding process for Monsanto. The $66
billion bid was accepted in December 2016. If approved, the merged
company will be the world’s largest seed and agriculture chemicals
company. If the merger is not approved by competition regulators,
Bayer will pay a US$2 billion termination fee to Monsanto
(Begemann, 2016).

– The European Commission will decide on this merger by 15 March
2017 (European Commission, 2016).

– It has not yet been submitted to South Africa’s regulators.

* August 2016: Canadian Potash Corp. started negotiations to buy
fertiliser producer Agrium for US$30 billion. The deal is expected
to close in mid-2017 and will create the largest fertiliser company
in the world; it also plans to expand into seeds and crop chemicals
(Skerritt and Casey, 2016).

BASF has been left out of the scramble to consolidate and may well
have to buy up smaller companies, or sell, because it will not have
the strength to take on the concentrated power of its competitors
(ETC Group, 2016). Or it could benefit from forced divestitures of
the mergers. If all the proposed megamergers are approved, these
three companies (ChemChina-Syngenta, DuPont-Dow, Bayer-Monsanto)
will own and sell about 60% of the world’s patented seeds and
pesticides/herbicides (AgriPortal, 2016).

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