Category: Local/State
New Orleans passes boycott and divestment resolution!

First victory of its kind in the South! Is Houston next?

 

As you may have read in The Intercept, the New Orleans City Council made history last week by unanimously passing a resolution calling for a process to avoid contracting with or investing in companies that profit from abuses of human rights, civil rights, labor rights, and other violations.

The resolution was spearheaded by USCPR member group New Orleans Palestine Solidarity Committee (NOPSC). It is an important step toward implementing boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) in New Orleans to hold Israel accountable for its violations of Palestinian rights, and to stand with other communities struggling for their rights. 

The resolution was introduced by the New Orleans Mayor-elect and Councilmember, Latoya Cantrell, following an inspiring, year-long campaign by NOPSC. This is among the strongest municipal wins to date, encompassing both boycotts and divestment, and is the first of its kind in the South. We celebrate this victory today, on Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, remembering the critical role of boycotts used in the Civil Rights Movement in protest of apartheid policies in the Jim Crow South.

This type of support – municipal BDS campaigns – is critical for putting pressure on Israel. Only two weeks into 2018, Israel has killed three 16-year old Palestinian boys, arrested scores of Palestinian men and boys in night raids, announced the construction of over 1,000 new housing units in the illegal settlements, extended the detention of teenage activist Ahed Tamimi, and issued a blacklist of organizations supporting BDS.

Israel has to know that its impunity will not continue. BDS wins, like the one in New Orleans last week, show that the tide is turning and Israeli apartheid’s time is running out.

Municipal campaigns similar to the one in New Orleans are underway nationwide, and this is just the beginning of what’s to come in 2018. Be a part of it: start a municipal campaign in your community! Click here for more information, including a webinar and toolkits on implementing municipal campaigns.

Make the change you want to see in your community, and know that standing up for Palestinian rights also involves standing up for other marginalized communities. As NOPSC organizer Tabitha Mustafa explained, “New Orleans is a city that has a tragic history with human rights. Whether in Honduras or Palestine or Vietnam, companies that profit from the misery of New Orleanians and our families abroad should not do business with the City of New Orleans.”

From North Carolina to Oregon, from Missouri to Colorado to, now, New Orleans, municipal campaigns are a powerful tool to expose oppression and hold the perpetrators accountable. Learn how you can bring a municipal campaign to your community!

ANNA BALTZER

Director of Organizing and Advocacy

P.S. Be sure to share the great news on Facebook and Twitter too!

Connect with Us
US Campaign for Palestinian Rights PO Box 3609 Washington, DC 20007 (703) 312-6360
March against Trump, Sexism, Racism, Class Exploitation, and War on Saturday, January 20, at 1 pm
| January 10, 2018 | 7:40 pm | Announcements, Donald Trump, Local/State | No comments

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

 

During his first year in office, Trump has proved to be the most brazen white supremacist, misogynistic, and anti-working class U.S. president in decades. He has praised Nazis in Charlottesville, encouraged police brutality, stopped federal oversight of murderous police departments, slandered Black athlete/activists, pardoned the anti-Hispanic former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, ended DACA, increased arrests of migrants, begun planning a wall on the southern border, and tried to implement a Muslim travel ban.

 

Trump has stopped funding comprehensive global family planning programs, appointed anti-choice federal judges, supported an alleged child molester in a recent Senate race, tried to drive trans people out of the military, sought to gut legal protections for workers and consumers, supported a $1 trillion-plus reduction in taxes for capitalists, ended U.S. participation in the Paris climate accords, sent U.S. military forces to Syria, increased drone bombing in other countries, and threatened to attack North Korea.

 

It is imperative to drive Trump and his supporters from power now. But we all need to recognize that Trump is only the symptom of a grave underlying disease–and that disease is capitalism. Voting for centrist or liberal “lesser-evil” Democrats is not enough. Only the masses of people can put an end to:

 

* the Trump-Pence regime

* patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia

* white supremacy, xenophobia, and the persecution of immigrants

* the exploitation of workers

* political repression and police brutality

* nuclear threats and imperialist wars

 

–and open the door to fundamental social change. 

 

A March against Trump, Sexism, Racism, Class Exploitation, and War will be held on Saturday, January 20. We will assemble at 1 pm (after the Houston Women’s March is over) in Hermann Square, 900 Smith St., between the Reflecting Pool and the mid-block exit to Smith St. Beginning at 1:30 pm, we will march down Smith St. to the Leland Federal Building at 1919 Smith St. The rally at the Leland Federal Building will include speakers, chants, spoken word artists, and more.

 

This action is being organized by Brown Berets de TejAztlan, Houston Socialist Movement, Justice 4 All, Party for Socialism and Liberation, and Refuse Fascism (list in formation). If your organization would like to help with this event or if you would like more information, please call 832.692.2306 or 832.438.3785. We hope to see you on January 20. All power to the people!

 

In Solidarity,

 

HSM

Texas prisons ban ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ but not Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’

https://www.rt.com/usa/412449-texas-prisons-ban-books/

Texas prisons ban ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ but not Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’

Texas prisons ban ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ but not Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’
Thousands of books are considered prohibited reading for inmates doing time in Texas prisons. The list of banned and permissible material, however, has raised some eyebrows.

The Texas prison system has banned more than 10,000 selections from the shelves of their on-site libraries, yet it is sometimes difficult to find the logic behind the decision-making process.

For example, Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple,’ which was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, will not be found in Texas prisons. Yet inmates may cuddle up at night with a copy of Adolf Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf,’ the notoriously anti-Semitic tract that Hitler began writing, ironically, while behind bars.

‘The Color Purple’ is forbidden because it describes a rape scene.

Other selections with completely innocuous titles – including ‘Hello Kitty,’ ‘Harry Potter Film Wizardry’ and ‘The Amazing Spider Man’ – are prohibited not because of their content, but because they may contain pop-up sections or multilayer pages with which it may be possible to conceal contraband.

Other books are banned from prison libraries in Texas because they may provide certain information that prison officials would prefer not to be disseminated. For example, the ‘History of Pubs and Pubs Signs’ got blacklisted because it contains a section outlining the manufacture of alcohol.

Not everyone, however, agrees that there should be a blacklist for certain controversial books.

“To block access to ‘Where’s Waldo’ on the one hand, and Shakespeare on the other, doesn’t preserve order,” James LaRue, the director of the Office for Intellectual Freedom of the American Library Association, told the New York Times. “It preserves ignorance and imprisonment. All too often, prison censorship, in addition to being an arbitrary abuse of authority, denies the incarcerated the chance to get out of jail and stay out.”

Nevertheless, some of the titles from the lengthy banned list – including ‘Concealed Carry Handguns,’ ‘The Complete Survival Guide,’ ‘The Idiot’s Guide to Kickboxing’ and ‘FBI Handbook of Crime Scene Forensics’ – seem like obvious choices to keep out of the hands of the general prisoner population.

At the same time, one may wonder how ‘My Awakening’ by David Duke, an American white nationalist, got the green light.

Novels of an erotic nature are only banned if the sexual behavior is unlawful, which explains why some of E.L. James’ ‘Fifty Shades’ books were deemed inappropriate.

“If the book does not violate the uniform offender correspondence policy, then offenders are allowed to have it,” Clark, a spokesman at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told The New York Times. “Offenders have access to thousands of publications.”

Prisoners serving time in the Texas prison system have access to more than 248,000 titles, which were detailed by the Dallas Morning News in November.

According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, a publication may be banned because it contains:

– Information on the manufacture of explosives, weapons or drugs.

– Material that a reasonable person would construe as written solely for the purpose of communicating information designed to achieve the breakdown of prisons through offender disruption, like strikes, riots.

– Graphic presentations of illegal sex acts, “such as rape, incest, sex with a minor, bestiality, necrophilia or bondage.”

– Sexually explicit images. “Naked or partially covered buttocks” does not necessarily mean automatic disapproval. Staff review required for publications containing nudity on a case-by-case basis.

– Information on criminal schemes or “how to avoid detection of criminal schemes.”

– Contraband that cannot be removed.

Response to Dave Mack
| November 26, 2017 | 7:42 pm | About the CPUSA, Local/State | 1 Comment

by the Editor

John Stanford

Many thanks are due to Dave Mack who posted a comment to a video of an African-American music group posted on this website. His comment is as follows: “Ya’ll have been pretty ‘uneven’ and I can understand ‘factions’ but what is it with “All points of View”? We do not accept the views of Nazis or Trots and that sounds so damn liberal!”

Thanks for giving us a chance to respond and explain the recent changes we have made to the website.

To understand the name “All Points of View”, please review the article that appears just before this one on the website entitled “Gentle Giant.” It is the story of a Texas born communist, John Stanford, who fought for justice his entire life. All Points of View was the name of his bookstore which was raided by the US government. He filed a lawsuit against the government and won.

John’s bookstore sold many books concerning social justice issues and some of them were published in the Soviet Union. He was a contemporary of Gus Hall and was an advocate for “Bill Of Rights Socialism” to include freedom of speech.

In 2012, after this writer met with John Stanford, he received an email from John Bachtell which was a notice of expulsion of Houston communists from the CPUSA. At that time, the leadership of CPUSA sought to deny club members the right to free speech based on a distorted concept of “Democratic Centralism.” Mr. Sanford died on September 13, 2013.

Mr. Mack is certainly correct that we are uneven. We seek to fight for freedom of speech among communists who want to fight for a better world and want to make socialism a reality in the USA.

I would issue a challenge to Mr. Mack to find any articles on this website which are in any way laudatory of Nazis. However, I would point out that at some point it might be useful to publicize the views of Nazis on this website to provide a forum in which socialists and communists could critically analyze Nazi ideology. You cannot fight your opponent effectively if you have no knowledge of their ideology.

Although there are some articles on this website about Trotskyism, the vast majority are critical of this ideology. However, it is important to recognize the contributions of Leon Trotsky to the 1917 Russian revolution. It is extremely unfortunate that he became a counterrevolutionary, as many Russian revolutionaries did, following the revolution. Similarly, it may be useful to post the views of Trotskyites on this website so that this flawed ideology can be critically analyzed.

The post that Mr. Mack made a comment to was a video of an African-American band. It is the plan of this website to publicize and remind people of the great talent of African-American musicians and their contributions to the culture of the US. We have done this and will continue to do this unashamedly and proudly.

Again, many thanks to Mr. Mack for his comment. “All Points of View” will strive to be a forum for progressive, working-class people. We will seek to be a voice for the voiceless. We will fight against sectarianism and opportunism in all its ugly forms.

 

Gentle Giant

https://www.sacurrent.com/sanantonio/gentle-giant/Content?oid=2268857

GENTLE GIANT

At 79, he has outlived his most outspoken critics and several spans of public scorn. Most of those who know his name today are activists or labor liberals — and they have only praise for him, despite his long and entirely public or “open” membership in the Communist Party, USA.

“He’s a true organizer, of a dying breed,” says Graciela Sanchez, director of the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center.

Those who have dealt with Stanford over the years say that rather than pose as a militant, he speaks in the voice of consensus and prudence.

 Tom Flower, a Vietnam-era protester, now an Anglican minister better known for work among the homeless, argues that, “actually, John is pretty conservative about doing things that might upset people. He doesn’t like to put leaflets on people’s windshields, for example.”

But Stanford wasn’t always viewed as the mild character that he seems to be today. There was a time when he was seen as a threat to the free world.

In 1950, he entered the peace movement by circulating the Stockholm Peace Petition, which called for banning nuclear weapons, and was roundly viewed as a conspirator in a global plot to further Stalin’s aims.

Stanford says that the joined the Party on the day after his discharge from the U.S. Navy in 1946. He became an activist within weeks, soon after re-enrolling at the University of Texas at Austin. Late that year, the Houston Informer reported that Stanford gave a speech in the basement of a Baptist church, under the sponsorship of the youth wing of the NAACP.

“White students are learning that it is time for them to fight for the rights of the Negro people,” he declared, characteristically throwing in a bit of wishful thinking. “If we increase our unity, we can make of the South a place where everyone can have a decent living, health, and education facilities.”

Stanford, who is white, delivered his Houston speech to support a lawsuit by Heman Sweatt, a black postal worker, to gain admission to the University of Texas law school. It was not the kind of speech that ordinary white men gave in that era of poll taxes and statutory segregation.

“In the South in the 1930s and 1940s, there were very, very few whites who spoke out for racial equality,” explains Maurice Isserman, the nation’s leading scholar on American communist affairs. “To do so was to put your life at risk.

And in many instances, the white Southerners who were willing to take that risk were in, or close to, the Communist Party.”

Sweatt’s legal challenge, won in 1950, is today seen as a precedent to the more-famous 1954 ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education, which ordered the integration of all public schools.

Because of his victory, Sweatt posthumously became a Texas hero, his portrait displayed at the Institute of Texan Cultures, a scholarship and college campus named in his honor.

feat-stanford-0944_330jpg
John Stanford was one of the few whites who spoke out for racial equality in the 1930s and 1940s. Photos by Mark Greenberg

The Meerschaum pipe Members of the Communist Party customarily don’t reveal the names of members or former members who are still alive. But Sweatt’s death has freed Stanford to declare that at the time of the suit, Sweatt, too, was a Communist Party member. Unlike Sweatt, Stanford was never closeted, even if it was because he had little choice, thanks to the Texas Legislature and the Houston police. He moved to the Bayou City following his graduation from UT, and on September 16, 1948 — El Diez y Seis de Septiembre, Mexican Independence Day — the bilingual agitator was arrested for distributing Party leaflets decrying “the ruthless economic, political, and social oppression of the Mexican-American people.”

In 1951, Texas passed a Communist Control Act that required Party members to register with authorities, and prescribed a two- to 10-year prison term for failure to comply with the law. The Party decided to challenge the law’s dubious constitutionality, and Stanford, who was by then living in San Antonio, volunteered to be the test case, mailing an open letter to officials in 1952, declaring his membership. According to the plan, he was to refuse to register when the authorities responded.

But the 1950s were tough times for even the Party’s bravest members. Eleven national leaders of the group had been indicted under federal anti-communist laws, and some of them were already behind bars. After Stanford mailed his statement, the Party’s leadership found that it didn’t have the resources to pursue the Texas challenge, and ordered him to go underground.

“The Party had made a big mistake,” Stanford observes today. “It thought that fascism was coming.” He doesn’t remember everything that happened afterwards, partly because aging takes a toll, and partly, he says, because he tried to forget.

“I used to keep photo albums,” he recalls, “but when I went underground, I cut the faces out of the pictures, so that the FBI wouldn’t harass my friends. But the thing is, then I forgot, too, and can’t match names with faces now.”

To avoid arrest, he fled to Alabama, and knowing no one, found a job as a waiter at a diner and tried to lay low. But he couldn’t; it wasn’t in him to sit on the sidelines. After a few weeks in Birmingham, Stanford began attending meetings of a committee that was opposing fare hikes on city buses. Alabama bus fare activists, however, were wary of the Texan who showed up as if from nowhere; they thought that he was an FBI agent.

Stanford’s arrangement with the Party — like a scene from a movie about the French Resistance — was that he was to stay out of view for six months, then place a classified ad in the leading daily newspaper, saying that he had lost a meerschaum pipe. The person who called to report the discovery of the meerschaum, the plan went, would become his contact with the Party.

Stanford placed the ad and a young woman called. He asked her to meet him at the diner on a Sunday morning, when business was slow. Joanna Tylee walked in, she recalls, and upon seeing the Texan whom she remembered from the bus fare meetings, thought that she had walked into a trap.

The pipe plot had a happy ending: Joanna Tylee is today Jo Stanford. Following their marriage, John returned to San Antonio, and with her, reorganized the city’s frightened Communists and raised two children in the Jefferson neighborhood.

A Rosewood raid Back in Texas, prosecutors hadn’t forgotten Stanford. Through informers, they and the FBI kept eyes on the quiet-spoken protester, and as late as September 1963, San Antonio Express and News headlines assured its readers that “D.A. Still Studying Stanford.”

Officials had plenty of authority under which to act against him: Augmented by new measures, Texas laws by then prescribed 30-year prison terms for unregistered Reds. But the feds asked that Texas officials wait to nab Stanford until he could be designated as a Communist by the federal Subversive Activities Control Board, which delivered its finding on December 26, 1963.

Hours later, search warrant in hand, seven men from the district and state attorneys offices knocked on the door of the Stanford home, which was then on Rosewood Street, in the Beacon Hill area. John Stanford wasn’t home; Jo admitted the raiders and promptly telephoned the press. Meanwhile, her visitors began boxing some 2,000 books and various papers, including the couple’s marriage license, insurance policies, and mortgage schedule. The raid lasted for five hours. When reporters arrived, according to the Express and News, Jo welcomed them with, “Come on in and join the party!” But then she caught herself. “Or should I use another word?” she joked. The searchers claimed that the raid was necessary to prove that Stanford was imperiling public safety by selling Communist books and tracts through a mail-order bookstore in his home called All Points of View, which he had been operating since 1961.

In the months that followed, Stanford and his attorney, the late Maury Maverick Jr., were frequent subjects of the local press, whose handling of the affair betrayed an acquired admiration for the suspect. Reporters described Stanford as “affable,” and “pipe-smoking,” a designation that, in days before bongs, connoted “reflective” and “calm.”

Litigation over the book seizure wound up before the U.S. Supreme Court, where Maverick pointed out that among the confiscated items were copies of legal opinions on anti-communist laws penned by Justice Hugo Black.

“The reference to Justice Black’s opinion brought chuckles from the bench and several humorous exchanges that brightened the hushed dignity of the marble courtroom,” Express writer Ned Curran reported from Washington when the Court heard the case.

To almost no one’s surprise, the Court ruled the raid on Rosewood invalid, and the DA’s men, driving a borrowed red-and-white pickup, returned Stanford’s books to Rosewood.

They probably didn’t intend to aid or encourage the unarmed Stanford to overthrow the government, but the lawmen also gave him a gun, a .38-caliber pistol that had been taken for evidence in an unrelated case. Stanford, who has always claimed that he is for “socialism by peaceful and democratic means,” promptly returned the weapon.

Lingering suspicions Stanford’s victory before the Supreme Court kept him under public glare even after the ruling was old news. In 1965, an Express reporter grilled Stanford, who attended a demonstration to protest the killing of Reverend James Reeb during the Selma-to-Montgomery march led by Martin Luther King Jr.

Perhaps hoping to tarnish the voting rights movement, the reporter asked Stanford to justify his presence at the event. “I participated for the reason tens of thousands participated across the country — as a protest against the brutality being practiced against the Alabama Negroes,” Stanford shot back.

Six months later, his activities were again assailed in the local press when he sent anti-war leaflets to a mailing list that he had compiled, drawing a complaint from a soldier’s mother — not in San Antonio, but in distant El Paso.

“I believe the wars in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic endanger the lives of all American servicemen — including this woman’s son,” he told an inquisitor from the Express.

In the years since Vietnam, Stanford has taken part in dozens of other causes: the unionization of Valley farm workers, the campaign to Free Angela Davis, protests over U.S. involvement in Central America, and since 2001, Thursday peace vigils at the San Fernando Cathedral.

At protests against the U.S. occupation of Iraq, he is saying much the same thing today that he has said since 1946. “Capitalism doesn’t have a future,” he maintains. He insists that Soviet interests were only a marginal concern of his. “We weren’t concerned about Stalin’s policies during the 1950s, we were fighting against the poll tax,” he says.

Young demonstrators may dismiss Stanford as too old, and his trademark causes too dated to be relevant now, but they don’t suspect him, as their forerunners did, of joining their protests with a hidden agenda in mind. The ironies of history are endless, and one of them is that it’s not because he has spent more than 50 years on the barricades, but because there is no longer a Soviet state, that nobody questions Stanford’s sincerity today.

It’s Raining – Allen Toussaint & Irma Thomas- RARE -Final Performance – 10 -21-15

Inescapable Contradictions

Inescapable Contradictions

– from Greg Godels is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Marxists favor the term “contradiction.”

A discussion of “contradiction” as a Marxist technical term can become quite tangled and obscure, particularly when the discussion proceeds to Hegelian philosophy. But some clear and simple things can be said about contradictions without delving deeply:
  • Marxists use the term to indicate a conflict between elements, social forms, forces, processes, or ideas that expresses a fundamental opposition rather than a conflict that arises by accident or happenstance.
  • Contradictions are not resolvable without an equally fundamental or qualitative change in the antagonists or their relations (Mao Zedong, in his writings, chooses to allow for conflicts [“contradictions”] that are non-antagonistic as well).
Thus, the conflict between dominating and dominated social classes (the capitalists and the working class, for example) represents a contradiction since opposition is fundamental to the nature of the classes and cannot be resolved without a radical and qualitative change in their relations. The dominated class must become dominant or it must eliminate the relationship of domination.
In Marxist revolutionary theory, the class contradiction is the most important contradiction, the contradiction that informs social analysis and socialist strategy.
But other contradictions exist in capitalist society, in politics, in economics, in culture, in foreign policy, and in virtually every aspect of life under capitalism. When class contradictions become particularly acute, they manifest in the sharpening of contradictions in every other aspect of the dominant social form. When the contradictions, the underlying conflicts, result in dysfunctionality, Marxists recognize a systemic crisis.
Contradictions Abound!
Today, in the US, in the wake of the greatest economic downturn since the Crash of 1929, contradictions are found in every aspect of public life. The increasingly apparent class contradiction is exemplified by growing inequality, poverty, and social chaos. The explosive opioid epidemic (recognized only because it has crossed the racial and class “railroad tracks”) generates initiatives from all factions of bourgeois politics. Pundits cry out for punitive action or enhanced social service support, sometimes both. But they fail to locate the causes of the epidemic, causes that are located under the surface of bourgeois society. They fail to recognize that desperate acts accompany desperate circumstances. Wherever poverty and social alienation increase, anti-social, harmful behavior rises as well.
The contradiction between a brutal, uncaring, social regimen and the most fragile, the most marginalized people is as old as class society and the thirst for wealth. The economic ravage of the small towns and cities scattered across the Midwest attest to this contradiction. Capitalists exploited the workers for their labor until they could wring no further profit; then they tossed them aside and left them with no good jobs and no hope. Crime and other destructive behaviors will only increase, unless the contradiction is resolved with a departure from the profit-based system, an alternative profoundly alien to the two major political parties.
They, too, are fraught with contradictions. Both the Democratic and Republican Parties score low in poll approval (see, for example, CNN Poll: Views of DemocraticParty hit lowest mark in 25 years); since 2008, both have failed to advance their programs even when enjoying complete legislative and executive dominance (2009-2010, 2017-); and both parties are afflicted with dissension and division.
The fundamental contradiction in US politics arises from the fact that the two dominant political organizations, the Democratic and Republican Parties, are capitalist parties, yet they pretend to represent the interests of the 70-80% of the US population that have nothing in common with the capitalist class and its loyal servants. While the two parties have skillfully posed as popular while unerringly serving elites, the economic crisis, endless wars, and growing inequality have unmasked their duplicity.
Consequently, factions have broken out in both parties. The Republicans have sought to contain the nativists and racists, the religious zealots, and the isolationists and nationalists within the party while maintaining a corporate agenda. The Democrats have similarly attempted to hold the social liberals, the neo-New Dealers, the social democrats, the environmentalists, and the minorities in a party fundamentally wedded to promoting capitalism and market solutions. Neither strategy can escape the contradictions inherent in a system of two capitalist parties.
The Tea Party movement, Trump, and the Bannonites threaten to shatter the Republican Party. The slick corporate Republicans have lost their magic, unloading vitriol on the vulgar, crass Trump, who deviates from the corporate consensus. The Republican infighting exposes the damage in the party.
The Democrats are exposed as well by the fissure between the Sanders followers and those who are so fearful of working people and wholly beholden to Wall Street and corporate money that they can’t even co-exist with Sanders’ mild reformism. The schism is so great that fundraising has nearly collapsed. And the revelations of DNC collusion with Clinton’s campaign confirmed by Donna Brazile, a long-time ranking insider, demonstrate the rigid, undemocratic nature of the organization. The fact that Brazile also improperly fed debate questions to Clinton only serves to highlight the corruption of the Party and its leaders.
While both Parties are expert at diversion and deflection, the depth of the political crisis, the sharpness of the contradictions, have generated levels of hypocrisy and hysteria unseen since the height of the Cold War. After the debacle of the Clinton Presidential campaign, the Democrats, in collusion with many elements of the security services and most of the monopoly media, mounted a shrill anti-Russia campaign. Crudely, they have relied on the emotional remnants of anti-Sovietism to lodge a host of unsubstantiated charges and a campaign of guilt-by-association. To anyone awake over the last half century or so, the charge of “meddling in the US election” is laughable for its hypocrisy. Have we forgotten Radio Free Europe or Radio Marti? Or a host of other examples?
The high flyers of the stock market– the social media giants– added ridiculous claims of Russian sneakiness to appease the powerful investigative committees and deflect from their own profitable, but vile and socially harmful content.
Reminiscent of the worst days of the so-called McCarthy era, the targeted party– in this case the Republicans– recoiled from the struggle for truth and tried to out-slander the Democrats. Today, they are ranting about an obscure, meaningless uranium deal swung by the Democrats with the wicked Russians.
The first fruits of the farcical Mueller Russian fishing expedition– the Manafort indictment– say nothing about Russia and everything about the corruption infecting US political practices. At best, we will discover that Ukrainian and Russian capitalists are just as corrupt as our own.
Other cracks in capitalist institutions signal intractable contradictions. Both the widespread charges of sexual impropriety in the entertainment industry and the tensions between the players and owners in professional football are symptoms of weaknesses in two of capitalism’s most effective instruments of consensus. Both sports and entertainment are critical mechanisms of distraction that dilute political engagement.
The ever-expanding charges of sexual abuse within the giant entertainment monopolies are spreading to other workplaces, like the government and the news media. While the media are aggressively pursuing the prominent actors, directors, producers, government officials, and other high profile suspects, they wittingly ignore the contradiction that underlies these offenses. In most cases, the malignant behavior grows out of the power asymmetry of employer to employee. Invariably, in these instances, the employee’s reluctance to resist, to come forward, to fight back springs from the fear of retaliation, loss of employment, blacklisting, etc. In other words, it is not akin to other sexual abuses that come from misuse of physical power. Instead, these crimes are possible because of economic power, the power afforded by capitalist economic relations. Indeed, these crimes and similar exercises of employer power exist in many more workplaces and far beyond the world of celebrities. Of course, the corporate media are unwilling to explore the general question of employer abuse that extends beyond celebrities to millions of powerless victims.
Similarly, the conflict over standing for the national anthem is a battle between employees– admittedly among the highest paid in the world– and their employers, the owners of the professional football teams. When Houston Texans owner Robert C. McNair called the players “inmates” it was a not too subtle, vulgar reminder to the players that they are subservient to the owners. What emerged as a legitimate protest against the blacklisting of quarterback Colin Kaepernick has been reshaped by management into a battle over workplace rights and the terms and conditions of employment, a fundamental class contradiction.
Who Rules the World?
As long as capitalism has existed in its mature, monopoly form, it has demonstrated an inherent, relentless global predatory tendency, a form of exploitation that Lenin dubbed “imperialism.” For most of the twentieth century, imperialist governments were obsessed with smashing the leading anti-imperialist force, the socialist countries, while, at the same time, maintaining– often with force– colonial and neo-colonial relations with other nations and nation-states. Thus, the leading contradiction of that era was the opposition between the socialist community, along with its allies in the national liberation movements, and its capitalist adversaries (most often led by the US) and their military blocs (NATO, SEATO, etc.). In mid-century, the capitalist offensive took the virulent form of fascism.
With the demise of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the socialist community, the US and its most powerful allies declared global victory. Far too much of the unanchored left accepted this declaration, failing to see the various and varied resistance to US and capitalist hegemony springing up throughout the world as fundamentally and objectively anti-imperialist. Far too many disillusioned leftists retreated to vague, moralistic, and decidedly class-blind notions of human rights or humanitarianism, a “leftism” that squared all too neatly and conveniently with the decidedly self-serving concept of “humanitarian interventionism” concocted by the ideologues of imperialism.
But what many foresaw as an “American 21st Century” proved to be an illusion. The basic contradiction between the US and anti-imperialist forces of resistance and independence and the historic contradiction between US imperialism and its imperialist rivals operate as profoundly as they have at any time in the history of imperialism. The dream of “Pax Americana” dissolved before endless wars and aggressions and the emergence of renewed, new, and undaunted oppositional centers of power.
The long-standing Israeli-US strategy of goading and supporting anti-secular, anti-socialist, and anti-democratic movements in emerging nations, especially in predominantly Islamic nations, has failed, even backfired. Though recruited to stifle anti-capitalist movements, these politically backward forces have turned on their masters to stand against occupation and aggression.
The imperialist reaction to these developments has left failed states, environmental disaster, economic chaos, and disastrous conflict in its wake.
In addition, US and NATO destruction has generated a refugee crisis of monumental proportions, flooding the European Union with immigrants and fueling both a surge of anti-immigrant sentiment and the ensuing growth of nationalist politics. Anti-EU and anti-US sentiment grow accordingly.
While the US has not lost its ability to wreak havoc and destruction, it has clearly failed to secure the stability that it had long sought in order to cement the global capitalist order.
Indeed, there are significant sectors of the ruling class that now benefit from the chaos. The military-industrial sector is undergoing a dramatic revival of production and arms sales thanks to the fear and chaos stoked since the end of the Cold War, particularly with newly invented fears of Russian design and aggression along with constantly rising tensions.
The US energy sector, revitalized by new technologies, is now looking to wrestle markets from their traditional suppliers. Many of the sanctions against Russia and the isolation of Qatar and Iran are about capturing natural gas markets in Europe. In this regard, US capitalism benefits from instability and hostility in the Middle East and Africa, where volatility in energy production can only redound to the more stable US suppliers, protected by US military might. The conflict in Nigeria, continued chaos in Libya, the tension between former Iraqi and Kurdish allies, the confounding and disruptive moves by the traditionally staid Saudis, the destabilizing of Venezuela, and, of course, the sanction war with Russia all advantage US energy production.
This contradiction between the post-Cold War avuncular role of the US in guaranteeing the pathways toward global corporate profits and the contrary role of accepting a multi-polar world and forging US policy solely to advantage US capitalism is intensifying. It is a product of the failure of the US to impose what Kautsky (1914) called “ultra-imperialism,” the illusion of collaborative imperialism.
By employing the Marxist conceptual tool of “contradiction,” we are afforded a coherent picture of the crisis facing the capitalist order, particularly in the US. The picture is revealed to be one impervious to the theoretical programs (or anti-programs) favored by the social democrats or anarchists who dominate the US left (and much of the European left). Without a revolutionary left, the forthcoming debates will only be between defending the idealized “peaceful” global order of a stable, regulated capitalism or those salvaging an inward-looking, vulgar nationalism; it will only be between those dreaming of a mythical kingdom of class harmony with a generous net to capture the most disadvantaged and those leaving fate to market forces. All are roads that have long proved to be dead ends.
The intensifying contradictions of capitalism call for another option: a revolutionary movement for socialism.
Greg Godels
zzsblogml@gmail.com