Category: class struggle
65 years later, California abandons McCarthyism by repealing shameful anti-communist law

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

65 years later, California abandons McCarthyism by repealing shameful anti-communist law

100 years after the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917 and almost 65 years since the end of McCarthyism’s terror, the state of California may soon lift ban on communists working in the government. 

The California state assembly narrowly approved on May 8th the repealing an anti-communist discriminatory law which had been enacted during the second “Red Scare” (McCarthyist hysteria) of the 1940s and ’50s that banned Communists from holding jobs in government. That period of McCarthyism led to the dismissal of thousands of workers in government positions, education, and unions. The bill must now pass through the state Senate for approval.

More specifically, the 1953 California law warns of “a clear and present danger, which the Legislature of the State of California finds is great and imminent, that in order to advance the program, policies and objectives of the world communism movement, communist organizations in the State of California and their members will engage in concerted effort to hamper, restrict, interfere with, impede, or nullify the efforts of the State…and their members will infiltrate and seek employment by the State and its public agencies.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the repeal bill was sponsored by the member of the California assembly Rob Bonta (Democratic Party) of Oakland. “It’s an old and archaic reference,” said Bonta of the specific language about communism. He said his bill was “really just a technical fix to remove that reference to a label that could be misused or abused, and frankly, has been in the past, in some of the darker chapters of our history in this country.” According to Bonta part of having a functioning democracy and a fair and equitable society is to make sure you’re actually basing your decisions to take someone’s job away … based on their actual conduct, their actual behavior and actual proof and evidence, not just some loose label that could be applied overbroadly in a way that is unfair and unjust.”

However, showing his anti-communist reflexes, assemblyman Randy Voepel of the Republican Party, urged his colleagues to vote no, arguing that military veterans fought wars against communists, a political ideology he said “is still a threat.” “The whole concept of communism and Communist Party members working for the state of California is against everything we stand for on this floor”, Voepel said. The bill has now moved to the Senate.

Michael Parenti lecture (1986)

Michael Parenti: “Globalization and Terrorism”

People Rise Up: Greece’s Labour movement prepares for national General Strike on May 17

Monday, May 15, 2017

People Rise Up: Greece’s Labour movement prepares for national General Strike on May 17
A nationwide General Strike is scheduled to take place on May 17, 2017 with rallies and demonstrations in Athens-Piraeus, Thessaloniki, Patras and all major cities of the country.
On the occasion of the General Strike, the All-Workers Militant Front (PAME) calls the people to rise up against the new harsh measures imposed by the bailout agreement of the SYRIZA coalition government and the creditors (EU-IMF). More specifically, the PAME statement writes:
All together, workers, Unemployed, self-employed, scientists, small farmers, young workers, we must stop the continuous destruction of our lives.
We must demand the recovery of all our losses
We must fight for new demands, based on our contemporary needs
The new Agreement-4th Memorandum of the SYRIZA Government-Capital-EU is:
  • Further destruction of the branch level Collective Contracts. Further attack on the already cut National Minimum Wage and the division between young and older workers. They destroy our wages
  • Liberalization of massive layoffs and legalization of Lock Out
  • New brutal taxation to the people which will cost additional 1.5 salaries every year in taxes.
  • New pension cuts! They steal from the pensioners up to 2 pensions every year.
  • They abolish Sunday as a day off from work. They turn the workers into slaves of the multinationals, who will work 7 days a week. They take us back into the dark ages.
  • They cut whatever rights and benefits were left, as the unemployment benefit. With more than 1.000.000 unemployed and less than 1/10 of them receiving any financial support from the unemployment agency, they cut further €1.5 million a year from unemployment funding.
  • More cuts are imposed to a series of benefits that existed to support the most vulnerable and poor workers.
  • New privatizations are imposed in state companies in Electricity, Gas, Water, Oil. This will also lead to higher costs for the workers.
  • They open the door for auctioning off and foreclosures of people’s homes etc
  • Under the demand of the “big investors”, they want to block trade union action. To block the foundation and activity of unions, to stop the organization of struggles.
  • We must stop the new attack against our lives
  • The new measures are the 4th Memorandum, which will burden the working class. It includes new privileges and funding to the big business groups, new misery for the workers.
We can see clearly what is the meaning of the so called “fair development”. It is growth and development for the benefit of the capitalists, that is built over the destruction of the workers’-people’s rights. Development based on extreme exploitation. Growth which means huge profits for the few, poverty for the many.
For these profits the SYRIZA Government, also, promotes the participation of Greece to the geopolitical bloodbath that we witness in our region. Their goal of “geostrategic upgrade” of Greece is why they participate in the imperialist interventions and wars.
We demand no participation in the imperialist plans
The workers, the unemployed, the young workers, we demand the recovery of our losses, our contemporary needs.
We condemn the unified line of the political parties (social democratic, liberal, centrist, etc) that supported the 3rd Memorandum., who support the policy of the monopolies and the exploitative system. They are responsible for our situation.
We take the responsibility for the organizations and success of the General Strike in our hands.
We overcome the obstacles and the undermining of the forces of class collaboration, the trade union forces controlled by the Government and the employers. We overcome the ETUC members in Greece (GSEE-ADEDY), who are the most stable ally of the capitalists.
We have the right on our side!
We have the power!
May 17 – National General Strike
May 18 Demonstrations and Rallies in All Greek Cities.
ATHENS, Kotzia square at 10.00 am.
THESSALONIKI, Venizelos’ statue at 10.30 am.
PIRAEUS, Karaiskaki square at 10.00 am.
PM Alexis Tsipras in China: Promoting the interests and aspirations of Greek capitalists

Saturday, May 13, 2017

PM Alexis Tsipras in China: Promoting the interests and aspirations of Greek capitalists

The role of Greece as a “bridge” between China and the EU is the major aim of the Greek government, in an effort to promote and expand the aspirations of the country’s bourgeoisie. The visit of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in Beijing, on the occasion of the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (May 14-15) serves this purpose.

Greece is at a crossroads of three continents, it constitutes an important hub in the economic, energy and cultural sectors and can serve as a bridge between China and Europe, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Saturday in a meeting with the Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Tsipras underlined that Greece has worked hard over the last year to upgrade the relation between the two counties which is based on the two ancient civilizations. He added that Greece is overcoming the crisis, has returned to positive growth rates and will soon tap the markets. The prime minister said that Greece aims at further strengthening the cooperation with Beijing as China’s strategic vision coincides with that of Greece.

On his part, the president of China stressed the particular dynamism and vigor that is now recorded in the two countries’ relationship. Jinping added that the Greek-Chinese relationship would be further strengthened. (ANA-MPA, 13/5/2017).

The visit of PM Tsipras in Beijing coincides with agreements between Chinese and Greek monopoly groups on energy projects. Here is an example:

China’s state Shenhua Group Corp Ltd., the largest coal producer in the world and one of the largest energy producers of conventional and renewable sources in the country, and Copelouzos Group, one of the largest investment groups in Greece, signed on Friday an agreement for cooperation and development in the green energy sector and in the environmental upgrading of energy generating units in Greece and other countries.

The estimated amount of the investments will total 3 billion euros, Copelouzos Group said in a press release.

“Our Group believes in green energy and the prospects of Greece. We are confident that the cooperation with Shenhua Group will act as a catalyst for the conclusion of important investments and will promote the energy industry in Greece, with an emphasis on green energy and the environmental upgrading of energy producing units,” the head of Copelouzos Group, Dimitris Copelouzos, said on the deal. (ANA-MPA, 12/5/2017).

According to the Reuters report from Beijing:

Chinese President Xi Jinping offered the prime minister of deeply indebted Greece strong support on Saturday, saying the two countries should expand cooperation in infrastructure, energy and telecommunications. Xi told Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras that Greece was an important part in China’s new Silk Road strategy.

“At present, China and Greece’s traditional friendship and cooperation continues to glow with new dynamism,” China’s Foreign Ministry cited Xi as saying. Cooperation in infrastructure, energy and telecommunications should be “deep and solid”, Xi added, without giving details. Tsipras is in Beijing to attend a summit to promote Xi’s vision of expanding links between Asia, Africa and Europe underpinned by billions of dollars in infrastructure investment called the Belt and Road initiative.

Greek infrastructure development group Copelouzos has signed a deal with China’s Shenhua Group to cooperate in green energy projects and the upgrade of power plants in Greece and other countries, the Greek company said on Friday. The deal will involve total investment of 3 billion euros ($3.28 billion), Copelouzos said in a statement, without providing further details. China has been investing heavily in Greece in recent years.

Its biggest shipping company, COSCO Shipping, bought a majority stake in Piraeus Port Authority last year under a plan to turn Greece into a transhipment hub for rapidly growing trade between Asia and Eastern Europe. Xi said China and Greece should focus their efforts on turning the Piraeus port into an important international transhipment hub and key part of the new Silk Road, the Chinese ministry said.

China State Grid also agreed last year to buy a 24 percent stake in power grid operator ADMIE for 320 million euros. Greek government borrowing costs hit their lowest level in more than five years this week as the troubled euro zone state looks close to clinching a deal with its creditors to release new loans to it. After six months of tense talks, Athens and its international lenders – the European Union and International Monetary Fund – reached a provisional deal last week on the reforms needed to release new loans. (13/5/2017)

On the sidelines of his Beijing visit, PM Tsipras met with Turkish President Tayip Erdogan earlier today, while a meeting with the IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde is on the schedule.


Αναρτήθηκε από In Defense of Communism

Greed and Inequality, Not Marxism, Are the Threat to British Society in 2017
British voters

Greed and Inequality, Not Marxism, Are the Threat to British Society in 2017

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John Wight

Well now we know: Karl Marx’s famous (or infamous, depending on your viewpoint) admonition at the very beginning of his equally famous/infamous Communist Manifesto – i.e. that “a specter is haunting Europe” – should be amended to read “a specter is haunting the UK general election.”

The specter of Marx in an election to decide whether the current Tory Party incumbent Theresa May will remain Britain’s prime minister on June 8, or whether Jeremy Corbyn will replace her, has featured prominently recently, employed to paint the Labour Party — specifically Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell — as dangerous Marxist radicals intent on turning the UK into a Soviet Union mark II.

It would be laughable if not so serious in the context of a British establishment and political culture that has lurched so far to the right in recent years that any party or politician that articulates even a tincture of leftist views or ideas is regarded as the enemy within.

Marx, as most reading this will be aware, is one of the most important, if controversial, thinkers who every lived. In this respect, he belongs up there with Democritus, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Erasmus, Spinoza, Locke, Adam Smith, and David Hume. His ideas have inspired millions since they came to prominence at the end of the 19th century, along with revolutions and anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggles across the world. It is no surprise that even now, despite the Soviet-led Communist bloc having passed into history almost three decades ago, and with China having abandoned hard-line communism with the passing of Mao, Marx’s ideas continue to strike fear into the hearts of elites in the UK and throughout the West.

German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. Late 1870s. Reproduction
© Sputnik/ A. Sverdlov
German philosopher and economist Karl Marx. Late 1870s. Reproduction

A philosopher, historian, economist and social critic, Marx dedicated his life to the revolutionary transformation of a world dominated by capitalism — in which workers (the proletariat) were treated as chattel, their labor exploited by the bourgeoisie in return for a miserly existence underpinned by poverty, immiseration and truncated lives — into a world underpinned by socialism in which material abundance would be distributed not according to human greed but human need.

In his most famous work, the previously mentioned Communist Manifesto of 1848, Marx writes:

“The modern worker… instead of advancing with industrial progress, sinks ever deeper beneath the circumstance of his own class. The worker becomes a pauper, and pauperism develops more quickly than population and wealth.”

Though the above passage concerns the condition of workers in mid-19th century Britain, at the height of the country’s Industrial Revolution, who could argue with Marx’s analysis when applied to the condition in which working families and the poor across the UK in 2017 find themselves? Foodbanks, zero hours contracts, poverty wages, record levels of poverty, homelessness — this is the lived reality for increasing numbers of the country’s citizens, many of them in work. Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, according to the annual Sunday Times Rich List the UK’s 1000 richest people have seen a 14% increase in their wealth since 2016.Surely such a disjuncture between the poor and the rich is incompatible with a country’s right to consider itself civilized?

Where Marx got it wrong was not in his analysis of the history and inner workings of capitalism, but with his analysis that capitalism had reached the end of its historically progressive role when it came to innovation and dynamism as a mode of production responsible for the production of such a surplus of wealth and material goods that it had lifted humanity out of the realms of necessity into the epoch of abundance. However, private ownership of production and the surplus produced needed to be transformed into social ownership in order to organize its distribution for the benefit of all rather than allow it to remain in the hands of the few. For him this meant revolution.

What he failed to predict was the ability of working people to interdict in the capitalist system of production, distribution, and exchange by organizing themselves into trade unions in order to exercise their collective bargaining power against the bosses. Moreover the trade union movement in the UK produced the Labour Party at the turn of the last century, whose founding principles were based on the political advancement of the rights and interests of the country’s working class.

The politics and worldview championed by Labour, which came to be known as social democracy, brought into being the welfare state, National Health Service, state pensions, council housing, and full employment after the Second World War. Yes, even under these radical reforms you still had rich people, just not as rich in comparison to ordinary working people.

Returning the Labour Party to something resembling its founding principles is, in sum, the reason the establishment in Britain has extended itself in slandering and attacking Jeremy Corbyn so aggressively. In truth, the Labour leader’s politics have far more in common with Fabianism (soft socialism) than they do Marxism. Indeed, if anything, Theresa May and the Tories have more in common with Marx than Corbyn does, considering the class war they have unleashed against working people under the rubric of austerity — rolled out in response to the 2007-08 economic crisis and which has more to do with ideology than economics.

What this right-wing British establishment need to understand is that while you have nurses being forced to resort to foodbanks in order to feed themselves and their families in the sixth richest economy in the world, the ideas of Karl Marx will retain their relevancy. Indeed, along with the Sunday Times Rich List, such a state of affairs reveals that the threat to British society in 2017 lies not with Marxism but greed and inequality.

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

Manuel “Tirofijo” Marulanda: Colombia’s legendary guerrilla leader remembered

Friday, May 12, 2017

Manuel “Tirofijo” Marulanda: Colombia’s legendary guerrilla leader remembered

On the occassion of the 87 years since the birth of the Colombian guerrilla leader, founder of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army (FARC-EP) Manuel “Tirofijo” Marulanda (1930-2008), we remember some basic aspects of his life. 

Manuel “Tirofijo” Marulanda: Father of the FARC.

Manuel Marulanda Velez, founder of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and its leader until his death, was a man firmly and decisively committed to the campesinos of Colombia and their liberation.
It is said that Marulanda was so thoroughly a man of the countryside that in his entire life he never set foot in the Colombian capital of Bogota.
He died of natural causes eight years ago today, March 26, 2008.
Born Pedro Antonio Marin, he adopted his new moniker in honor of one of the founders of the Colombian Communist Party.
The adoption of a fallen comrade’s name is an old tradition amongst the Latin American Left. Famed Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa took the name of a murdered colleague. Subcommandante Marcos of the Zapatistas would follow this tradition, abandoning that name in favor of Subcomandante Insurgente Galeano in 2014 after a member of the rebel group killed by paramilitaries.
Marulanda’s legend predates the founding of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – Army of the People, as the FARC is formally known.
He was also known as “Tirofijo” or “Sureshot” for his shooting acumen.
Marulanda was among those caught up in the conflict between Liberals and Conservatives known as La Violencia. He would come to be a leading figure in the “Independent Republic of Marquetalia,” a remote rural enclave under the influence of the Communist Party.
After the end of La Violencia, the government viewed Marquetalia and other so-called independent republics as a threat to the state’s hegemony and sent the army to crush it.
Marulanda, along with 48 others, narrowly escaped this military operation. He would turn this small group of rebels into one of the largest and longest-lasting guerrilla armies in the world.
It was the way that Marulanda carried himself that made him such an effective organizer of campesinos. They saw themselves in him, though others in the FARC were dedicated to the ideological development of the rebel group, it was Marulanda that made it grow.
At its peak and under Marulanda’s leadership the FARC counted on 20,000 fighters and controlled an estimated 40 percent of the country, primarily in the countryside, but also held considerable influence in the poor neighborhoods of Colombia’s cities.
Marulanda was a veteran of two unsuccessful peace efforts between the FARC and the government. He was famously asked during negotiations in the 1980’s what he would do if peace was achieved. Marulanda’s answer was, “I will go back to my childhood farm in Genova, if it is still there.”
In some ways it is as a result of his loyalty to the countryside and the campesino that Marulanda is not a well-known figure, even among the Left.
Though in the capital of revolutionary Venezuela there is a plaza named after him, which also features a bust of the FARC founder, located in the historically combative working-class neighborhood of 23 de Enero.
The campesino roots of the FARC remains within the rebels today, which has emphasized during peace talks, above all else, the need for agrarian reform to benefit the campesinos.
Marulanda was so reviled by the Colombian political elite that the state on countless occasions proclaimed his death, only to be disproved later.
Manuel Marulanda finally did die on March 26, 2008, as a result of heart failure but his legacy lives on, as the song by FARC songwriter Julian Conrado, states, “Now Colombia is full of Manueles.”
From Poor Campesino to Colombia’s Most Wanted.
Source: Telesur.
The U.S. military led a mission to Colombia in the early 1960s that warned its government that it was ill-prepared for the “communist threat” facing the country. In 1964, following the military guidelines advised by the U.S., the Colombian state launched a fierce military mission to bomb and destroy Marquetalia, a self-governing communist campesino community. Amongst those who survived the attack, where napalm bombs were used, was a young campesino leader named Pedro Antonio Marin Marin, later known by his noms de guerre, Manuel Marulanda.
The following year two French documentary makers entered Colombia and convinced the authorities to allow them to film rare birds in the Colombian mountains of the Huila department. What they actually recorded was the first film appearance of the young Marulanda — or Tirofijo, Sureshot, due to his accuracy with firearms — by then the most wanted man in the country.
Unable to defeat him and his modest but capable guerrilla group, the country’s press was used as a tool to characterize them as bandits rather than revolutionaries. Marulanda used his appearance in the French documentary to clarify to the world that the Colombian press was being used as a propaganda machine by the state and that the campesinos were, in fact, defending themselves from the violence employed against them by the military.
In spite of the government and the national media doing all they could to vilify Marulanda and his guerrilla group, he became a legend to the multitudes of poor campesinos and within left organizations in the cities. In their desperation to stop his becoming a personality like Fidel Castro or Che Guevara, he was reported as having been killed in combat several times throughout his long life, only to reappear as defiant as ever. In one of the last interviews he gave before dying of natural causes in 2008, he mockingly recounted, “It has been reported that I have been wounded several times, but even those are false.”
Once the armed campesinos began to go on the offensive against military forces and sought to take power under the name of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia in 1964, it became a tool of the state and the mainstream media to effectively characterize the insurgents as criminals, narcos and terrorists. These labels have been consistently used throughout the decades, including up to today. Notwithstanding, an investigation commissioned by Colombia’s public prosecution office in 2014 concluded that the FARC should not be labeled narcos nor terrorists.
For centuries ruling oligarchs in Latin America have attempted to portray political leaders and revolutionaries as bandits, criminals and terrorists. When Micaela Bastidas and Tupac Amaru II organized an insurgency against the Spanish colonialists, they too were treated and labeled as criminals and their dismembered bodies were exhibited around Peru as traitors.
Revolutionary leaders Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata were also made out as bandits looking out for their own interests by the Mexican political elite. In more recent history Fidel Castro’s characterization as a ‘violent dictator’ by the right-wing in Miami inspired them to celebrate his death. All of these historical figures were committed to achieving social justice for the oppressed masses. During their lives, each one was portrayed as an enemy of progress and the people.
In his career as the FARC’s leader for almost half a century, Marulanda persistently sat down with different Colombian administrations in an attempt to bring about a peaceful solution to the conflict. The first major peace process started in 1982 under president Belisario Betancur and culminated with the signing of an agreement in 1984 that was supposed to guarantee the political rights of the left opposition. Out of these talks emerged the Patriotic Union, a political party founded by the FARC and the Colombian Communist Party.
What followed was the genocide of more than 5,000 of its leaders and members, in what has been described as the political extermination of an entire political party. This incredibly violent outcome from the “peace deal” undoubtedly gave Marulanda zero confidence in the promises made by the Colombian state and set the tone for all the talks that followed. Nevertheless, the present peace deal which is now being implemented is, according to the FARC, a result of Marulanda’s long struggle to achieve revolutionary peace in the country.
Paramilitary death squads, on the other hand, were designed and maintained to protect the established power of the political, capitalist and landowning elite. In fact, it was during the early years of the campesino uprisings in the 1960s that the U.S., through Colonel William Yarborough, advised the Colombian government to create and train death squads to combat the threat of communism. These groups continue to terrorize and kill campesinos and social leaders in the country.
These two armed groups are so antithetical to each other, that with the demobilization of the FARC there have been increasing reports of paramilitary repression and murder of campesinos who have been left exposed by the void left by the guerrilla forces.
Manuel Marulanda with Alfonso Cano.
Manuel Marulanda was neither the cause nor the aggressor in the more than 50-year war that has plagued Colombia. He was part of the response of the oppressed campesinos against a government that has always insisted in prioritizing capitalist and imperialist interests above those of its people. The “Warrior of Peace,” as he is known to radicals in Latin America, has left a legacy that may indeed be smeared by mainstream media, but that continues to inspire revolutionary change in Colombia and the entire region.
His more than 50 years of struggle in the mountains and jungles of Colombia have greatly influenced the peace accords and its trajectory that puts forward a radical proposal for change with social justice and participation that would not have been possible if Manuel Marulanda had not devoted his life to the Colombian people.