Important Political Actions in Houston This Week
| February 16, 2019 | 7:15 pm | Houston Socialist Movement, struggle against fascism, struggle against racism | Comments closed
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
We know of several important political actions in Houston this week and urge you to participate in as many of them as you can.
Tomorrow, Sunday, February 17, at 2 pm, there will be an emergency demonstration against Trump’s national emergency declaration and plan to build a racist wall. Participants will assemble at Hermann Square, 900 Smith St., near the mid-block exit to Smith St., then march to the Leland Federal Building, 1919 Smith St. This action is being organized by Consejo Migrante Por Un Cambio, United Front against Fascism, and Refuse Fascism.
On Monday, February 18, at 12 pm, there will be a protest against HPD’s recent killing of Rhogena Nicholas and Dennis Tuttle on Harding St. and HPOU leader Joe Gamaldi’s subsequent threats against local activists. This action will be held at HPD headquarters, 1200 Travis St. and is being organized by People’s New Black Panther Party and other groups..
Also on Monday, February 18, at 5 pm, there will be an emergency demonstration against the opening of Southwest Key’s child detention center at 419 Emancipation Avenue. This action is being organized by Free Los Niños Coalition.
On Tuesday, February 19, at 2 pm, supporters of Drag Queen Story Time will speak to City Council during public comments. Prior registration with the City Secretary at 832.393.1100 is required for those who wish to speak.  
 
On Saturday, February 23, at 1 pm, supporters of Drag Queen Story Time will have welcoming activities for children and parents, a strong positive message about the LGBTQ communities, and security arrangements at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library, 4100 Montrose Blvd. Participating organizations include Transform Houston, Space City Sisters, Pantsuit Republic, Moms Demand Action, Indivisible Houston, Houston United Front Against Fascism, Houston Socialist Movement, Houston Democratic Socialists of America, and Black Lives Matter-Houston
We hope to see you at some of these events!
In Solidarity,
Houston Socialist Movement
832.692.2306
ON THE ATTEMPT OF A COUP D’ETAT IN VENEZUELA
| January 31, 2019 | 8:31 pm | Venezuela | Comments closed

Communiqué of the Communist Party of Spain (M-L), CPE(m-l)

ON THE ATTEMPT OF A COUP D’ETAT IN VENEZUELA

Venezuela is experiencing an extremely serious period due to the attempt of its oligarchy to force a coup d’état, openly sponsored by Yankee imperialism and its allies, taking advantage of the deep economic and social crisis that the country is experiencing and the weakness of the Maduro Government.

Behind this new attempt is the US, which has always considered Latin America and the Caribbean as its back yard. The list of reactionary coups sponsored by Yankee imperialism and its partners is endless. Throughout the second half of the 20th century and up to today, the imperialist hand has been behind a long series of violent protests that have caused countless suffering to the working class and fraternal peoples: Brazil and Bolivia (1964), Peru (1968) , Chile and Uruguay (1973), Argentina (1976), Paraguay (1989), Haiti (2004), etc., are some examples. The imperialist army itself intervened directly in Cuba (Bay of Pigs, 1961), the Dominican Republic (1965-66) and Panama (1989).

Today, the worsening of the capitalist crisis is causing the sharpening of the commercial, political and also military struggle among the great imperialist powers to gain spheres of influence. They have never left Colombia, and in Chile, Argentina, etc., the most reactionary right-wing that is submissive to the Yankee dictates is again occupying the governments, taking advantage of the profound contradictions that have ended up overturning the experiments of social transformation led by the reformist bourgeoisie, which in no case put in question the power of the national oligarchies.

However, despite the serious contradictions of the extensive reformist movement that promised a new direction for the Latin American laboring classes from one end of the subcontinent to the other, without actually changing the power structure in their countries, what is at stake now is the submission of the brotherly peoples to the dictates of US imperialism, their submission to the Yankee boot, and the imposition of the stark dictatorship of capital in all of them.

No, it is not Bolsonaro, Macri, Piñera, Duque or Guaidó who will bring social justice and peace to the region; its objective is different: to put an end to the dreams of the small and middle bourgeoisie and to re-impose the open dictatorship of capital. The example of Cuba proves that it is only possible to sustain social changes when the instruments of control of the economy are snatched from the oligarchy, and only insofar as they are subjected to popular control.

In Spain, monarchist governments have never been neutral in Venezuela: the friendship between Felipe González and the champion of corruption, Carlos Andrés Pérez, who led the privatization of Venezuelan public enterprises causing a social crisis with dramatic consequences, had its continuity in the support of the Aznar Government for the Military Coup attempt that Venezuela suffered in 2002. Nor are they neutral n these dramatic hours that the Venezuelan people are going through.

We Spanish workers cannot, therefore, be neutral. The statement of the reactionary Minister of Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, subjecting the position of the monarchist state to the decision of the EU, negates once again the sovereignty of the Venezuelan people and sanctifies the imperialist interference in the affairs of that brother country, in order to leave its people alone to face the forces of reaction and imperialism. For his part, the reactionary national leader Casado, President of the PP [People’s Party, Spain], who a few weeks ago offered Trump the use of Spanish soil as a permanent base for the Southern Command and African Command of the Yankee army, has declared his full support for the reactionary coup in progress, expressly requesting imperialist intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela. The declarations of these and other servants of capital aim to give a veneer of legitimacy to what is nothing but a new interference by Yankee imperialism.

We must fight this new attempt at a reactionary coup and express our solidarity with the Venezuelan workers and people, whom they want to subject once again to the dictates of imperialism and the open dictatorship of their corrupt oligarchy.

Our Party expresses its full support to the Venezuelan workers, to the revolutionary organizations and, in particular, to our sister party (Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Venezuela – PCMLV), which under the harshest conditions is promoting a real change that guarantees popular control of the State.

STOP THE IMPERIALIST INTERFERENCE IN VENEZUELA!

STOP THE COUP D’ETAT!

SOLIDARITY WITH THE WORKING CLASS AND THE PEOPLE OF VENEZUELA!

January 24, 2019

Executive Committee of the PCE (m-l)

The PCMLV Regarding the Complex Scenario of Venezuela and Its Consequences
| January 31, 2019 | 8:28 pm | Venezuela | Comments closed

As the leadership of our party has been stating in various national and international documents and places, the fundamental contradictions are becoming sharper. This has been seen with greater impudence in recent days by the action of the US government and its lackeys. Every moment the imperialist policy becomes clearer, which makes it possible to remove any possible doubt about the effects of the interventionist, aggressive and anti-popular action against the peoples of the world, of the region, and now against the Venezuelan people. This politics has caused serious damage to the economy and the population, relying for its implementation on the native bourgeoisie, the local and regional instrument that affects, in the first place, the working majorities.

The administration of the ultra-reactionary Trump has counted on the support of some sell-out governments that act against the right to self-determination, endorse the condemnable action of the puppet Almagro in the OAS, as well as of all the instruments at the service of the monopolies. Meanwhile they apply anti-people measures designed by the IMF to increase the exploitation and repression against the majorities in their countries. This makes it clearer every day to all revolutionaries on which side we should be at this moment.

The main contradiction in this regional situation is, in general, between imperialist oppression and the struggle for liberation from this dependence. In particular this becomes a struggle between imperialism, mainly US imperialism, which has traditionally maintained its domination, and the interests of the exploited majorities. These sometimes support reformist, revisionist projects and other times support the revolutionary line. This depends in large part on the application of the correct tactics, which for the true communists is the line of the Third International. At 100 years since its foundation, this remains in full force, with the tactic that promotes the unity of forces to confront the great imperialist capital and the embryos of fascism, unifying the proletarians in the march towards the total liberation of the oppressed of the world.

In Venezuela, the struggle against the US-EU imperialist bloc is progressing well, with ever increasing direct struggles involving different social classes. Mainly this is expressed in the major media in the struggle between the traditional pro-Yankee bourgeoisie, which intends to retake control of the government at all costs, and a many-sided tendency, with manifestations of national demands. This has shown itself close to the China-Russia bloc, leaving the objective of the proletariat and the popular masses in second place. But we must state that we are on the street, in the main struggles, in the debate and mobilization. This opens up great possibilities to strengthen the popular line of struggle for national liberation and socialism. It poses an immense challenge to the forces revolutionary; we are working continuously to consolidate higher levels of organization and mobilization of the revolutionary popular movement.

We Marxist-Leninists have the duty to continue gaining the confidence of the people for the consolidation of the political current of class independence. This demands the accumulation of its own forces and in alliances to organize resistance against the US-EU imperialist bloc, as well as in the struggle to improve the living conditions of the popular majorities. This helps them to identify their enemies, capitalism and imperialism as its higher phase, as the cause of their hardship, as well as internal and foreign accomplices. The Venezuelan proletariat is advancing under various difficulties, being clear on the achievement of the strategic objectives of the working class, the peasants and the people, with a position of critical support together with demands on a government under attack by imperialism.

We are adjusting our tactics with the most objective view of the circumstances, and our party, from the very terrain of the struggle, has understood that we are not only living through a complex political situation, marked by the consequences of the economic crisis, an increasing imperialist aggression, by errors of past and present government policy, by weaknesses of the revolutionary movement. Despite this the revolutionary movement has grown over the past 20 years, but in addition to the present situation, there is a structural problem of the bourgeois state. This state has shown a process of decomposition, which can be seen in the inability of the contestants to subdue their opponent and the emergence of a parallel power. This shows us that this conflict of the structural base will not be solved in the short term and that it opens the possibility for fundamental changes. That is why we must also work on the strategic perspective.

The events of these last days affirm our thesis on the decomposition of the State, as well as the role of the US-EU imperialist bloc and its lackeys. Even with contradictions, as a result of their internal struggles, they maintain a line of conduct to take advantage of the economic, political and social disturbances that Venezuela is experiencing, contributing to the process of decomposition of the State. This process is deepening every day, leading to a negotiation to distribute the country’s wealth among the imperialist powers, to foreign aggression, a coup d’état or even a revolutionary situation. This is a consequence of the struggle among the different tendencies in conflict and the emergence of popular actors, as happened at other periods in the history of the country.

Faced with these scenarios, which are leading to situations of violence, we call on all revolutionaries, patriots and democrats, on the workers of the world, on the peasants and worthy people, to prepare the conditions of concrete solidarity, being certain that the Venezuelan people are resisting and struggling. They will continue resisting and fighting under any scenario; the working class, we Marxist-Leninists and especially our party are working to organize the defense, based on the legitimacy of the actions that the proletariat will take to safeguard their interests and those of the majorities, convinced that the contradictions present in the region are creating the conditions for a struggle that is expanding, and to work for the unity of the working class and peoples on the basis of tactics of a regional character in order to confront the main and common enemy of our peoples without dispersing the forces by attacking scarecrows.

Socialism Is Only Built with the Worker-Peasant Alliance in Power and the People in Arms

Political Bureau of the Marxist-Leninist Part of Venezuela

Caracas, January 2019

No To War In Venezuela – U.S. Peace Council
| January 31, 2019 | 8:23 pm | Nicolas Maduro, Struggle for Peace, US Peace Council, Venezuela | Comments closed
PLEASE CIRCULATE WIDELY!

SIGN THE STATEMENT HERE —–> nowaronvenezuela.org

Desplácese hacia abajo para leer la versión en español.

 

No U.S. War on Venezuela!

Support National actions on Saturday, February 23 – the one month anniversary of U.S. attempted coup.

 

We cannot be silent in the face of the latest U.S. aggression against the Venezuelan people.

 

Nicolás Maduro is the president of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, chosen twice by the people as part of an internationally observed electoral process. Since the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez, the United States has been relentless in its pursuit of regime change in Venezuela. With Donald Trump in the White House, these efforts have escalated to threats of all-out military violence, the plundering of billions of dollars in wealth from the Venezuelan people and pushing a multitude of outrageous lies in the global media.

 

For hundreds of years, the U.S. has waged war against the people of the world through coups, invasions and economic warfare. Juan Guaidó is a U.S. puppet. He is not a representative of the Venezuelan masses. The idea that a person can swear themselves in as president at a rally in the interest of “defending democracy” is laughable. The right wing in Venezuela claim the Bolivarian elections are rigged because they refuse to participate in them. Instead they engage in voter intimidation using violence reminiscent of Jim Crow terrorism against African-Americans in the Deep U.S. South.

 

U.S.-led sanctions and currency manipulation are responsible for the suffering in Venezuela. Marco Rubio and right-wing media guide the Venezuelan opposition from Miami. The U.S. cannot stand for any country on the planet to enjoy its natural wealth or the fruits of its labor independent of Wall Street and the Pentagon. Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world and is rich in gold and other mineral wealth. Iraq war architect John Bolton said that regime change in Venezuela would be a tremendous opportunity to gain more profits for Wall Street. We believe him.

 

Since the Bolivarian Revolution in 1998, massive strides have been taken to uplift the working class, Afro-Venezuelans and Indigenous populations in Venezuela. The working poor have made tremendous gains because the government implemented policies and passed laws to fight racism, sexism, homophobia and economic inequality. Despite sanctions and sabotage, Venezuela has maintained a transparent and democratic system through many elections. Venezuela provides aid to struggling people worldwide through subsidized fuel and by leading the way with progressive labor laws. Their gains are part of the global struggle waged by workers and the oppressed against the wealthiest and most powerful capitalists on the planet.

 

Therefore, we demand:

 

● The U.S. immediately cease all hostile actions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela — lift all sanctions, stop backing a coup, cease efforts to destroy the Venezuelan economy and respect the right of the Venezuelan people to self-determination.

● All countries involved in the plunder of Venezuelan wealth immediately return what they have stolen to the democratically elected government of Venezuela and its people.

● Wall Street must immediately pay reparations to the Venezuelan people for their suffering under genocidal sanctions and currency manipulation.

 

In the internationalist and liberatory spirit of Simón Bolívar, we pledge to mobilize and fight on the side of Venezuela’s right to sovereignty, understanding that the gains won under the Bolivarian Revolution are gains for all the world’s workers and oppressed.

———————–

¡No a la guerra de EE.UU. contra Venezuela!

 

No podemos permanecer callados ante la última agresión de los Estados Unidos contra el pueblo venezolano. 

 

Nicolás Maduro es el presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela, elegido dos veces por el pueblo como parte de un proceso electoral internacionalmente observado. Desde la elección de Hugo Chávez en 1998, Estados Unidos ha sido implacable en su búsqueda del cambio de régimen en Venezuela. Con Donald Trump en la Casa Blanca, estos esfuerzos han escalado a amenazas de violencia total militar, el saqueo de la riqueza de miles de millones de dólares del pueblo venezolano y el impulso de una multitud de escandalosas mentiras en los medios de comunicación globales.

 

Durante cientos de años, los Estados Unidos han librado una guerra contra los pueblos del mundo a través de golpes de estado, invasiones y guerras económicas. Juan Guaidó es un títere de los Estados Unidos. No es representante de las masas venezolanas. La idea de que una persona puede auto juramentarse como presidente en un mitin en interés de “defender la democracia” es risible. La derecha en Venezuela afirma que las elecciones bolivarianas están amañadas porque se niegan a participar en ellas. En vez, se involucran en la intimidación de los votantes mediante el uso de la violencia que recuerda el terrorismo de Jim Crow contra los afroamericanos en el sur de los EE. UU.

 

El llamado al “diálogo” entre el gobierno venezolano elegido democráticamente y la oposición respaldada por los Estados Unidos oculta la verdadera naturaleza de esta guerra. Las sanciones lideradas por los Estados Unidos y la manipulación de la moneda son responsables del sufrimiento en Venezuela. Marco Rubio y los medios de comunicación de derecha guían a la oposición venezolana desde Miami. Los Estados Unidos no puede tolerar que ningún país del planeta pueda disfrutar de su riqueza natural o del fruto de su esfuerzo laboral independiente de Wall Street y el Pentágono. Está comprobado que Venezuela tiene las reservas de petróleo más grandes del mundo y es rica en oro y otros minerales valiosos. El arquitecto de la guerra de Irak, John Bolton, dijo que el cambio de régimen en Venezuela sería una gran oportunidad para obtener más ganancias para Wall Street. Le creemos.

 

Desde la Revolución Bolivariana en 1998, se han dado pasos masivos para elevar la clase trabajadora, los afrovenezolanos y las poblaciones indígenas en Venezuela. Los trabajadores pobres han logrado enormes avances porque el gobierno implementó políticas y promulgó leyes para combatir el racismo, el sexismo, la homofobia y la desigualdad económica. A pesar de las sanciones y el sabotaje, Venezuela ha mantenido un sistema transparente y democrático a través de muchas elecciones. Venezuela brinda ayuda a personas con dificultades en todo el mundo a través de combustible subsidiado y liderando el camino con leyes laborales progresivas. Sus logros son parte de la lucha global emprendida por los trabajadores y los oprimidos contra los capitalistas más ricos y poderosos del planeta.

 

Por lo tanto, exigimos:

 

● Los Estados Unidos cese de inmediato todas las acciones hostiles contra la República Bolivariana de Venezuela: levanten todas las sanciones, dejen de respaldar un golpe de estado, cesen los esfuerzos para destruir la economía venezolana y respeten el derecho del pueblo venezolano a la libre determinación.

 

● Todos los países involucrados en el saqueo de la riqueza venezolana devuelvan inmediatamente lo que han robado al gobierno elegido democráticamente de Venezuela y su pueblo.

 

● Wall Street debe pagar de inmediato reparaciones al pueblo venezolano por su sufrimiento bajo las sanciones genocidas y la manipulación de la moneda.

 

En el espíritu internacionalista y liberador de Simón Bolívar, nos comprometemos a movilizarnos y luchar por el derecho a la soberanía de Venezuela, entendiendo que los logros y beneficios obtenidos durante la Revolución Bolivariana son ganancias para todos los trabajadores y oprimidos del mund

The butcher washes his hands before weighing the meat
| January 3, 2019 | 7:29 pm | Bertolt Brecht, class struggle, Fascist terrorism | Comments closed

Union of Soviet Surrealism Republics, Viktor Mogilat, 2017

The butcher washes his hands before weighing the meat

The Forty-Fourth Newsletter (2018)

https://mronline.org/2018/12/29/the-butcher-washes-his-hands-before-weighing-the-meat/#lightbox/0/

Originally published: The Tricontinental (December 28, 2018)   | 
Dear Friends,

Greetings from the desk of the Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research.

It has been almost a year since we got off the ground. Our offices across the world humming with activity. You have received forty-four newsletters from us, eleven dossiers and one notebook and one working document. More is on the way as we enter our second calendar year.

Over the course of these newsletters, we have laid out some of the broad outlines of our concerns and our hopes. We have tried to confront the reality that we live in the Age of the Strongmen–the time of authoritarianism. The broad smiles of the neoliberals have faded. They had their moment to squeeze society and produce prosperity for the few. When the neoliberals squeezed society, wealth travelled upwards to the few and left the many bereft. It was in this condition of unbearable inequality that the Strongmen appeared. They promised jobs and an end to corruption, but what they actually delivered was social toxicity. It was easier to blame minorities for broad social problems than to actually try and solve them. The Strongmen continued the agenda of the neoliberals, but this time without a smile on their faces. They promised violence and they delivered violence. These are ugly times.

In 1935, the German Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht wrote a short note on capitalism and fascism:

Those who are against fascism without being against capitalism are willing to eat the calf, but they are against the sight of blood. They are easily satisfied if the butcher washes his hands before weighing the meat. They are not against the property relations which engender barbarism; they are only against barbarism itself.

‘Property relations’ referred to capitalism–in which a small minority of the world’s population holds the vast mass of social wealth (land, labour and capital). This social wealth is used homeopathically to hire human beings and exploit nature not for any other reason than to make money from money, namely for profit. Concern for humans and nature does not drive the investment of this capital, greedy by its nature.

This capital stands apart from human life, eager to accumulate more and more capital at all costs. What drives the few–the capitalists–is to increase their profits by seeking higher profitability.

In cycles, capitalists find that there are no easy and safe investments that would guarantee profits. This crisis of profitability, as we showed in our first Working Document, leads to two kinds of strikes:

  1. First, a tax strike, where the capitalists use their political power to reduce the tax burden on themselves and increase their wealth.
  2. Second, an investment strike, where the capitalists cease investing in the productive sector but instead park their wealth speculatively to preserve it.

These strikes by the capitalists draw social wealth away from social use and dry up the economic prospects of very large numbers of people. With increases in automation and productivity, capitalists begin to substitute machines for workers or else displace workers by the efficiencies of the production process. In this case, investments are made–into machines and into workplace efficiencies–but these have the same impact on society as the investment strike, namely that there are less people employed and more people become permanently unemployed.

High rates of income and wealth inequality alongside dampened aspirations for a better life amongst large sections of the population create a serious crisis of legitimacy for the system. People who work hard but do not see their work rewarded begin to doubt the system, even if they cannot see an exit from the ‘property relations’ that impoverish them. Mainstream politicians who champion the ‘property relations’ and who call upon the desperate to become entrepreneurs are no longer seen as credible.

We hope to provide examples of a possible future that is built to meet people’s aspirations, share glimmers of this future that exist today. Examples of this can be found in our dossiers on housing cooperatives in Solapur (India) built at the initiative of women beedi workers and on the reconstruction of Kerala (India) after the flood. Look out for our work on the excluded workers of CTEP (Argentina) and on the cooperatives of the MST (Brazil).

The Strongmen enter where no such future seems possible. They belittle the mainstream politicians for their failed projects, but then they do not offer a coherent solution to the escalating crises either. Instead, the Strongmen blame the vulnerable for the dampened aspirations of the vast majority. Amongst these vulnerable are social minorities, migrants, refugees, and anyone who is socially powerless. The fangs of the Strongmen are flashed at the weak, who earn the anger of those who have high aspirations but cannot meet these aspirations.  The Strongmen draw on the frustrations of people without offering any reasonable exit from a situation of high inequality and economic turbulence.

One theory to explain the problem is that of underconsumption. The general tenor of this theory is that the goods being produced cannot be purchased by the mass of people, since these people do not have enough income to buy them. This is a problem of the demand-side. If there is a way to increase the money given to the mass of the people, then they can increase consumption and save capitalism from its crisis.

One approach toward this underconsumption problem is to increase the delivery of private credit to people who will then be urged–via advertisements–to live beyond their incomes. They will go into debt, but their consumption–it is hoped–will stimulate the economy out of a crisis. Eventually, these people will not be able to pay off their debts. Their debt will balloon and will create serious social problems. Governments will be forced to borrow to lift the burden off the backs of the banks–when the borrowers go bankrupt. The fact of this borrowing pushes the neoliberal governments to create further austerity programmes against social spending. The delivery of private credit to solve the problem of underconsumption typically ends up with social austerity.

A second approach toward this underconsumption problem is for the government to give an economic incentive to consumers through tax cuts or through a direct cash transfer scheme. Either way, the government turns over its money to the people and encourages them to buy goods and stimulate the economy. Once more, it is the government that goes into debt to solve capitalism. Once more, the debt will balloon, and the government will have to go into an austerity programme to appease the creditors and the IMF (when the IMF comes calling, little good results–as Celina della Croce, the Coordinator of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research makes clear in this recent article). Once more social austerity will result, and it will once more dampen the buying power of the public.

The cycle will continue.

Either individuals and families or the state go into debt so as to increase aggregate consumption and save capitalism from itself. By this method, capital itself is not asked to sacrifice anything. It is allowed to pursue the strategy of profitability.

Capital seeks to increase its profitability by various means, such as:

  1. Substitute machines for people or make people more efficient. This allows firms to hire less people, to take advantage of automation and productivity gains and to leverage their effective competition to wipe out their competitors.
  2. Transfer factories to areas where wage rates are lower and where regulations of the workplace and of the environment are suppressed.
  3. Decrease the tax burden by going on a tax strike, transferring their money to tax havens.
  4. Move capital from productive activities into finance, trade and rent-seeking activities.
  5. Buy up public assets at low costs and monetarise them for profit.

These strategies allow capitalists to increase their wealth, but at the same time impoverish other people and society.

People are asked to be patriotic. Capital is only asked to be profitable.

For the Left, this situation poses serious challenges. The first set of challenges is to find a way to organise people who find their society shattered and their expectations confounded. The second set of challenges include how to find a policy exit from this system and its limitations.

What are the challenges before us to organise the people against the intractable system?

Aspirations. Over the course of the past five decades, the capitalist media and the advertising industry have created a set of aspirations that have broken the culture of the working-class and the peasantry as well as the traditional cultural worlds of the past. Young people now expect more from life, which is to the good, but these expectations are less social and more individual, with the individual hopes often attached to commodities of one kind or another. To be free is to buy. To buy is to be alive. That is the motto of the capitalist system. But those who cannot afford to buy and who go into debt for their aspirations are also constantly disappointed. It is this disappointment that the Strongmen channel towards hatred. Can left movements channel this disappointment into productive hope?

Atomisation. State cuts of social services, the increased privatisation of social life and the astronomical increase of interaction with the digital world has increased atomisation of human interaction. Where people had previously exchanged ideas and goods, helped each other and inspired each other, now there are less and less venues for such face-to-face interactions. The fragmentation of society and the exhaustion of people to find survival has made it harder for the left to bring people together to create social change. Television and social media now dominate the world of communication. These are venues that are owned by monopoly capitalist firms. The left has always relied upon institutions of society to be its transmitters. As these social linkages fragment, the left dissolves. Can left movements help rebuild these institutions and processes, this society that is our basis?

Outsider. The Strongmen point their fingers at the ‘outsider’–the social minorities, migrants, refugees, and anyone who is socially powerless. It is against these people that the far right is able to build its strength. There can be no left resurgence without a firm and complete defence of the ‘outsider’, a total rejection of the fascistic ideas of hatred and biology that saturate society. It is harder to build a politics of love than a politics of hate. Can left movements develop a politics of love that attracts masses of people?

Confidence. Politics of the people is rooted in confidence. If the people do not feel confident in their activity to either reform or to change the system, then they will not be active. Waves of unrest often lead to increased confidence, but even here the point of emphasis is not the last person to join a protest but the first few people who built the network to build the protest. Social decay leads to a lack of confidence to make political change, particularly when the aspirational society suggests that the only necessary change is for everyone to become entrepreneurial. Can the left produce the sensibility that a future is possible and to engender confidence amongst people to fight to build that future?

Democracy Without Democracy. In societies where there is no democracy, this problem is not immediate. In such places, the immediate task is to win the fullest democracy. In those societies where democracy is the main form, or where there is at least an illusion of democracy, the oligarchy and imperialism have used many methods to undermine democracy, to dominate society without suspending democracy. The methods used are sophisticated, including to delegitimise the institutions of the state, to disparage elections, to use money to corrupt the electoral process, to use social media and advertising to destroy opposition candidates and to utilise the least democratic institutions in a democracy–such as an unelected judiciary–to erode the power of elected officials. Can the left defend the idea of democracy from this attrition without allowing democracy to come to mean merely elections and the electoral system?

Our research institute–Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research–is conducting investigations along these five lines.

Once you have organised people to push for a new world system, what is the policy framework that needs to be adopted? It is here that intellectuals must put their heart and soul into action. We need to think hard about the many creative ways to use our social wealth to solve the immediate problems of humanity–hunger, sickness, climate catastrophe. We need to find ways to uproot the basis of wars. We need to use our creativity to reconstruct the productive sector around forms such as cooperatives. We need to use social wealth to enrich ourselves culturally, making more physical places for us to interact, to produce culture and art. We need to use our social wealth to produce societies that do not force people to work to survive but that subordinate work to human ingenuity and passion.

It is cruel to think of these hopes as naïve. It tells us a lot that it is easier to imagine the end of the earth than to imagine the end of capitalism, to imagine the polar ice cap flooding us into extinction than to imagine a world where our productive capacity enriches all of us.

Our entire staff joins me in wishing you a happy new year.

Warmly, Vijay.

PS: (see below) we celebrate the birth of Manuela Sáenz y Aizpuru (1795-1856), the revolutionary who was born in Quito (Ecuador) and who would fight for Latin America’s independence alongside Simón Bolivar. After she saved his life, she was known as the Liberator of the Liberator.

Coarse Politics
| January 3, 2019 | 7:22 pm | Donald Trump, Syria | Comments closed

Coarse Politics

 – from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/
How can it happen that an unpopular right wing US President can, in effect, call to end seven years of an undeclared war against the government of Syria, a UN member nation, inducing most of the liberal establishment to recoil and challenge the prospect of peace?

How is it that a Marine General who earned the sobriquets “Mad Dog” and “the butcher of Fallujah” can be canonized by large sectors of the left as a role model for reasoned sobriety and judgement?
How can US left icon, Noam Chomsky, often an outspoken opponent of US aggression, oppose the removal of US troops from Syria when the troops have no legitimate role in that country?
Surely, these sensible questions signal that some political thinkers have lost their way, that widely accepted, firmly planted political alignments have become unmoored.
On the surface, the Trump presidency and the intense, sharply divided response to it have forced all events or actions– from the most innocuous to the most menacing– into ill-fitting, pro- or anti-Trump boxes.
For example, the recent deaths of two young migrants in Federal custody have been laid at the doorstep of Donald Trump with his loud, vulgar, and racist anti-immigrant banter. While no tears should be shed for Trump, singling Trump out exculpates the bi-partisan, near-universal support for creating the draconian ICE in 2002. Further, it neglects the prior documented questionable deaths at the hands of ICE (107 deaths from 2003 to 2007, for example). Nor do the self-righteous Trump foes acknowledge the long enduring corruption and no-bid contracts plaguing ICE. Much of the anti-Trump crowd were silent during the Obama years when 2.4 million immigrants were deported by the “Deporter-in-Chief.” Of those deported in 2015, around 40% had no criminal convictions. Apparently, the plight of immigrants is only of interest to “resistance” liberals and their media cheerleaders when it can be used against Trump and his gang.
The current government shutdown– snagged on Trump’s insistence of funding for an anti-immigrant wall– has generated howls of indignation from the Democratic Party’s “resistance” fighters and the cable television warriors. They rightly see the Trump wall as a draconian affront to the dignity of immigrants and an hysterical response to exaggerated fears. And yet these same human rights indignados fail to acknowledge the infamous wall constructed by the Israelis to deny access to their Palestinian neighbors, stripping them of their dignity and their well-being. The parallel escapes them, achieving no traction in the corporate media.
Similarly, the brutal killing of Khashoggi, the Washington Post writer, at the hands of Saudi officials has become– thanks to Trump’s clumsy, outrageous defense of the Saudi Crown Prince– a stick to beat Trump.
Trump’s pathetic defense of Saudi criminality coincided– a remarkable coincidence– with the release of a study by a CIA-linked organization that announced that 85,000 children had been killed by the Saudi military and its allies in Yemen’s civil war. The shock wave rolling through the corporate media was worthy of Claude Rain’s wry movie discovery of gambling in Casablanca’s Rick’s Cafe.
Never mind that independent, but marginalized media has been chronicling Saudi atrocities in Yemen for the war’s nearly four-year duration. Never mind that US support for Saudi intervention, as well as actual clandestine US intervention, pre-date the Trump administration.
And there is the big lie of RussiaGate: unsubstantiated charges of interference in US domestic affairs lodged by the same US intelligence agencies and their cohorts that have mounted large-scale subversion, influence-peddling, corruption, and even military intervention in the affairs of uncounted governments for decade after decade.
The interminable Mueller investigation still gives hope to the liberals that Trump can be linked to the evil Russians as well.
It is easy to dismiss the inconsistencies, the selective blindness of US liberals as mere hypocrisy. Undoubtedly, it is that. But something deeper is behind the hypocrisy that commits liberals to side with the neo-conservatives, the FBI, the CIA and the other intelligence agencies that spy on our citizens, the war-mongering generals, and the monopoly media that gave us “weapons of mass destruction” and fairly elected Venezuelan “dictators.”
The hypocrisy emerges from the deeply embedded bi-polarity of the US political system and its ill-fit with the political realities of today. The two bourgeois parties that define US politics constitute a narrow continuum that can neither confine nor give coherent meaning to the ongoing crisis of decadent US capitalism. And two-party thinking casts little light on the crisis.
In today’s terms, the permitted political norms fail to explain and address Trumpism without resorting to conspiracy theories and bizarre alignments. Trump’s rise requires a wholesale examination and possible exposure of the profound corruption and dysfunctionality of the two-party system and its monopoly capitalist base. To explore Trump’s meaning (beyond his raging ego, his country club bigotry, and his unbounded ignorance) and delve into his administration’s restore-the-empire nationalism, its faux populism, and its inconsistent foreign policy requires a commitment to candor that the political leadership and the corporate media are not prepared to make.
The dramatic loss of legitimacy by the media, the two parties, the judicial system, the Congress, the banks, and other institutions over the last decade is a well-established fact substantiated by numerous polls. Yet poll respondents still show confidence in the military and the intelligence services. It is no wonder that political leaders and the corporate media cling to these institutions like long lost lovers. It is no wonder that politicians seek out veterans for office, wave flags at every opportunity, and promote unceasing militarism. It is no wonder that the media rely on stables of ex-generals and retired intelligence operatives. Rather than address the collapse of legitimacy, US rulers choose the road of sleazy opportunism.
The once widely touted and grudgingly accepted post-Cold War US global dominance is now challenged on many fronts. PRChina and Russia and other countries and blocs defy US demands and policies and assert their own interests. It’s a different world– less compliant than the world that GHW Bush found in rallying allies to the first war with Iraq. The ever-increasing number of international sanctions attest to the desperate attempts by the US to stem the tide of defiance. US elites in both parties and in the media refuse to recognize a world without US hegemony. Instead of striving for global parity, US elites resort to contriving aggressive, irredeemably evil villains.
Neither the political parties nor the corporate news/entertainment complex acknowledge the devastation wrought by the long continuing march of economic inequality and the catastrophic destruction rendered by the 2007-2008 crash upon the security and well-being of working people in the US. Blinded by stock market euphoria and class arrogance, elites in both parties neglected the interests of millions of voters who proved pivotal in the 2016 election. They prefer to dismiss grievances and lecture the working class on accommodating the stark, new realities of market morality.
Shrewdly, Trumpism advances its dishonest, unrealistic promises to the forgotten, its pledge to restore the US to greatness, its demand of global leadership, and its caricaturized scorn of real political cynicism and media shallowness. It appeals to a constituency unrecognized and unrecognizable by the liberal elites who have reduced political discourse to a very narrow conversation uncritically friendly to both monopoly capitalism and its institutions.
In the political void left by Democratic Party barrenness, the Trump circus thrives. With a Democratic Party beholden only to corporate interests. along with the issues troubling the bourgeoisie and petite-bourgeoisie, the attack upon the Trump malignancy takes the absurd forms that we witness daily.
While another election may send Trump packing, it will not magically reverse the many decades of bankrupt and decadent politics that opened the door to Trumpism. It is foolish to count on a corrupted Democratic Party leadership to pave a new course different from the tragic road travelled by both parties from Reagan to Trump.
Recall that many in Europe longed for a time when the embarrassing absurdity of Silvio Berlusconi would vacate the electoral scene. But without an authentic and committed movement against monopoly capital, Italy is today saddled with the equally ugly and perhaps even more dysfunctional Lega and Five Star Movement.
The lesson should not be lost on the US liberals who are prepared to sell their integrity to the enemy to secure the exit of Donald Trump.
Greg Godels
Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
| December 23, 2018 | 9:24 pm | USSR | Comments closed

https://sputniknews.com/photo/201812231070940050-ussr-celebrating-new-york/

  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
  • Back in the USSR: How People Used to Ring in the New Year
© Sputnik / Lev Ustinov
People dance at the New Year’s ball in 1974.

New Year was a special, long-awaited holiday for a Soviet person, as the preparations for the festivities turned into an almost heroic effort, which many people now remember that painstaking work with nostalgia.

The Soviet Union officially celebrated the New Year holiday for the first time in 1935. New Year’s traditions also appeared during Soviet times, people bought tangerines, made Olivier salad, and listened to the Kremlin’s chimes, during which it was obligatory to make a wish. Later, the tradition of the state leader addressing the country’s citizens a few minutes before midnight appeared.