Category: Marxism-Leninism Today (MLToday.com)
Beating Up on Russia: History Tells Why

by W. T. Whitney, Jr.

May 30, 2017
Book Review: The Plot to Scapegoat Russia by Dan Kovalik.  New York:  Skyhorse Publishing, 2017.  Print ISBN:  978-1-5107-3032-8, Ebook ISBN: 978-1-5107-3033-5. $18.99.  Pp.199.       .Lawyer and human rights activist Dan Kovalik has written a valuable book. He looked at a recent U. S. political development in terms of history and then skewered it. His new book, “The Plot to Scapegoat Russia,” looks at mounting assaults against Russia that increased  during the Obama administration and that spokespersons for the Democratic Party, among others, are promoting.

The CIA, he claims, without going into specifics, is engaged in anti-Russian activities. For Kovalik, “the CIA is a nefarious, criminal organization which often misleads the Ameri­can public and government into wars and misadventures.”

Kovalik devotes much of his book to what he regards as precedents for the current dark turn in U.S. – Russian relations. Toward that end, he surveys the history of U.S. foreign interventions since World War II. He confirms that the United States government is indeed habituated to aggressive adventurism abroad. That’s something many readers already know, but Kovalik contributes significantly by establishing that U.S. hostility against Russia ranks as a chapter in that long story.

But what’s the motivation for military assaults and destabilizing projects? And, generally, why all the wars? The author’s historical survey provides answers. He finds that the scenarios he describes are connected. Treating them as a whole, he gives them weight and thus provides an intellectual weapon for the anti-imperialist cause. Kovalik, putting history to work, moves from the issue of U.S.-Russian antagonism to the more over-arching problem of threats to human survival. That’s his major contribution.

His highly-recommended book offers facts and analyses so encompassing as to belie its small size. The writing is clear, evocative, and eminently readable; his narrative is that of a story – teller. Along the way, as a side benefit, Kovalik recalls the causes and outrage that fired up activists who were his contemporaries.

He testifies to a new Cold War. Doing so, he argues that the anti-communist rational for the earlier Cold War was a cover for something else, a pretext. In his words: “the Cold War, at least from the vantage point of the US, had little to do with fighting ‘Communism,’ and more to do with making the world safe for corporate plunder.” Once more Russia is an enemy of the United  States, but now it’s a capitalist country.

That’s mysterious; explanation is in order. Readers, however, may be hungry to know about the “plot” advertised in the book’s title. We recommend patience. History and its recurring patterns come first for this author. They enable him to account for U. S. – Russian relations that are contradictory and, most importantly, for the U.S. propensity for war-making. After that he tells about a plot.

Kovalik describes how, very early, reports of CIA machinations from former agents of the spy organization expanded his political awareness, as did a trip to Nicaragua. There he gained first-hand knowledge of CIA atrocities, of deaths and destruction at the hands of the Contras, anti- Sandinista paramilitaries backed by the CIA. His book goes on fully and dramatically to describe murders and chaos orchestrated by the United States and/or the CIA in El Salvador, Colombia, and in the South America of Operation Condor. Kovalik discusses the U.S. war in Vietnam, occupation and war in Korea, nuclear bombs dropped on Japan, nuclear testing and dying in the Marshall Islands, and the CIA’s recruitment of the anti-Soviet Mujahedeen in Afghan­istan. He recounts U. S. – instigated coups in Iran, 1953; Guatemala, 1954; and Chile, 1973.

These projects were about keeping “the world safe from the threat of Soviet totalitarianism” – in other words, anti-communism. But then the USSR disappeared, and the search was on for a new pretext. The Clinton administration evoked “humanitarian intervention,” and continued the intrusions: in Ruanda, Democratic Republic of the Congo (on behalf of “US mining interests”), Yugoslavia, and Libya.

In Kovalik’s telling, the U. S. government eventually settled upon the notion of “American exceptionalism,” that is to say, “the belief that the US is a uniquely benign actor in the world, spreading peace and democracy.” Thus armed, the U. S. military exported terror to Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen (via its Saudi Arabian proxy), and Honduras, through a U. S. facilitated military coup. The book catalogues other episodes, other places. Along the way on his excursion, Kovalik contrasts U. S. pretensions and brutal deeds with the relatively benign nature of alleged Russian outrages.

Good relations with Russia, he says, would be “simply bad for business, in particular the business of war which so profoundly undergirds the US economy … As of 2015, the US had at least 800 military bases in over 70 nations, while Britain, France and Russia had only 30 military bases combined.” And, “under Obama alone, the US had Special Forces deployed in about 138 countries.” Further, “The US’s outsized military exists not only to ensure the US’s quite unjust share of the world’s riches, but also to ensure that those riches are not shared with the poor huddled masses in this country.”

Kovalik highlights the disaster that overwhelmed Russia as a fledgling capitalist nation: life expectancy plummeted, the poverty rate was 75 percent, and investments fell by 80 percent. National pride was in the cellar, the more so after the United States backed away from Secretary of State Baker’s 1991 promise that NATO would never move east, after the United States attacked Russia’s ally Serbia, and after the United States, rejecting Russian priorities, attacked Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011.

The author rebuts U. S. claims that Russian democracy has failed and that Putin over-reached in Ukraine. He praises Putin’s attempts to cooperate with the United States in Syria. The United States has abused peoples the world over, he insists, and suffers from a “severe democracy deficit.”

By the time he is discussing current U. S. – Russian relations, readers have been primed never to expect U.S. imperialism to give Russia a break. The author’s instructional course has taken effect, or should have done so. If readers aren’t aware of what the U. S. government has been up to, the author is not to blame.

Kovalik condemns the  Obama administration and particularly Secretary of State Hilary Clinton for intensifying the U. S. campaign against Russia. He extends his critcism to the Democratic Party and the media. The theme of anti – Russian scheming by the CIA comes up briefly in the book  in connection with hacking attributed to Russia and with WikiLeaks revelations about the Democratic Party. Nothing is said about possible interaction between personnel of the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Kovalik’s historical excursion took in the Soviet Union. Clearly, many of the U. S. military interventions described in this valuable book wouldn’t have occurred if the Soviet Union still existed. Beyond that, Kovalik says, “the Soviet Union, did wield sizable polit­ical and ideological influence in the world for some time, due to the appeal of its socialist message as well as its critical role in winning [World War] II.”

Kovalik acknowledges “periods of great repression.” He adds, however, that “the Russian Revolution and the USSR … delivered on many of their promises, and against great odds. …. In any case, the goals of the Russian Revolution—equality, worker control of the economy, universal health care and social security— were laudable ones.” And, “One of the reasons that the West continues to dance on the grave of the Soviet Union, and to emphasize the worst parts of that society and downplay its achievements, is to make sure that, as the world-wide economy worsens, and as the suffering of work­ing people around the world deepens, they don’t get any notions in their head to organize some new socialist revolution with such ideals.”

Ultimately, Kovalik sides with Martin Luther King, who remarked that, ‘The US is on the wrong side of the world-wide revolution’ – and with Daniel Ellsberg’s clarification: ‘The US is not on the wrong side; it is the wrong side.’”

Toward a Socialist Ireland

Toward a Socialist Ireland

– from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Irish history shows one what a misfortune it is for a nation to have subjugated another nation. All the abominations of the English have their origin in the Irish Pale. F. Engels to Marx, 10-24-1869

If Britain was the template for colonial imperialism, then Ireland was, along with aboriginal inhabitants of the New World, its first victims and, assuredly, its longest suffering. When British elites once proudly proclaimed that the sun never set on the British Empire, they neglected to mention that it first cast the ugly shadow of colonial oppression over Ireland.
But there, once things are in the hands of the Irish people itself, once it is made its own legislator and ruler, once it becomes autonomous, the abolition of the landed aristocracy… will be infinitely easier… It is not only a simple economic question, but at the same time a national question, since the landlords there… [are]… the mortally hated oppressors of the nation… K. Marx to L. Kugelmann 11-29-1869
Thanks to an invitation to participate in the annual James Connolly Festival (May 8-14) in Dublin, Ireland, my MLT colleague Joe Jamison and I had the pleasure of the better part of a week of education and comradeship with a number of friends of Marxism-Leninism Today. The annual festival is seven days of music, art, film, theater, poetry, and politics, concluding with a ceremonial wreath-laying at the Arbour Hill Cemetery in honor of James Connolly and the other martyrs of the 1916 Easter Uprising. Organized by the Communist Party of Ireland and its friends, the annual festival welds culture with politics in a way that is both entertaining and educational.
The festival stresses the long history of Irish struggle against imperialism, a struggle that continues today against British colonial influence over the northern six counties, against the supranational reign of the European Union, and against the economic exploitation of US multinational corporations that, for example, use Ireland as a tax haven.
Understandably, James Connolly occupies a central place of honor and inspiration for Irish Communists and their allies. Connolly’s grasp of the dialectics of national liberation and socialism was unparalleled for his time. As few others did, he saw the struggle for an independent Irish state as organically linked to the emancipation of Irish workers. As he wrote with great eloquence in 1897:
 
If you remove the English army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle, unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts would be in vain. England would still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs.
The clarity of Connolly’s understanding of imperialism and his prescient grasp of neo-colonialism anticipates Lenin and the Bolsheviks in many respects.
Our comrades and friends advised us of the Communist and left support for the demands of the Right2water campaign for free and clear public ownership and use of Ireland’s water resources by all of its citizens, a campaign that included a national demonstration in Dublin in April.
We learned of the role of Irish Communist leaders and allied militants in support of striking employees of the national bus service, Bus Éireann. Irish Communists are militantly active in the country’s trade union movement.
We met comrades who physically shut down Shannon International Airport in order to deter US imperialism’s affront to Irish sovereignty. When US planes land with troops, supplies or captives, to deliver torture, death, and destruction to other parts of the world, these dedicated militants attempt to block runways and accept arrest as a result.
On the ideological front, the Communist Party offers a fine monthly paper– Socialist Voice, maintains an excellent bookstore in the heart of Dublin– Connolly Books, publishes numerous books and pamphlets, and operates a multimedia operation, Connolly Media Group.
The bookstore regularly hosts a series of public discussions and debates on questions relevant to socialism and the working-class movement, a series dubbed Connolly Conversations.
In addition, the Communist Party has sparked a fruitful conversation with the left wing of the Irish Republican movement, a conversation that seeks to restore socialism to its place in the tradition of radical Republican thought. Organized as the Peadar O’Donnell Socialist Republican Forum, it pays tribute to a man who was a socialist, union organizer, IRA leader, editor, author, and internationalist– once described as “the greatest agitator of his generation.” Forums are held throughout Ireland.
One of the leaders of the Forum, Tommy McKearney, spoke passionately on May 14 at the solemn ceremony held in the courtyard of Kilmainham Gaol where James Connolly was executed on May 12, 1916. The event was sponsored by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions. In his address, McKearney stressed the unity of Republicanism and socialism. Having spent 16 years in prison as a leader of the struggle against British imperialism and participating in the 1980 prison hunger strike, he is a most suitable spokesperson for the Republican cause. McKearney is one of Ireland’s leading Marxists as well. His book, The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament is an indispensable analysis of the dynamics of the late-twentieth-century struggles against injustice in the six counties.
We concluded our visit that afternoon by participating in the Communist Party’s commemoration of James Connolly’s execution at Arbour Hill Cemetery, where the martyrs of the 1916 rebellion are buried. Jimmy Doran, Dublin District Chairperson of the Communist Party, gave an inspirational oration:
 
Lots of political parties and groups claim James Connolly as their inspiration. James Connolly was a socialist—a Marxist, an anti-imperialist, an internationalist, and a trade union organiser. James Connolly would have had no hand, act or part in the 1990 Industrial Relations Act, or “social partnership.” He certainly would have nothing to do with the prosecution of children for peaceful protest. Connolly was always on the side of the oppressed, not the oppressor.
 
He would be down on the runway in Shannon with the anti-war movement, defending our neutrality and stopping the American war machine turning Shannon into an aircraft carrier for their genocidal wars.
He would have no truck with the imperialism of the European Union, and he would laugh at the deluded suggestion of using Brexit and membership of the European Union as a means of uniting the country by surrendering our national sovereignty and democracy to the imperialism of the European Union.
 
James Connolly fought and died for a socialist republic, not for the gombeen [a gombeen is a small-time wheeler dealer, a con man] partitioned country with a divided people that the counter-revolution installed.
Doran concluded:
 
What would James Connolly say? James Connolly would say that if humanity is to survive in Ireland and the world, there is no alternative to the common good. There is no alternative to public housing. There is no alternative to public health care. There is no alternative to peace. There is no alternative to ending world poverty. There is no alternative to this environment. There is no alternative to decency and dignity for our people.
 
Comrades, there is no alternative.
It’s socialism or barbarism.
 
We only want the earth!
We thank Eugene McCartan, General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, for inviting us to share the warm, generous hospitality of the Irish comrades.
 
Greg Godels (Zoltan Zigedy)
The centennial of the 1917 October Revolution to be commemorated in New York (Left Forum, 2-4 June)

Friday, May 26, 2017

The centennial of the 1917 October Revolution to be commemorated in New York (Left Forum, 2-4 June)

 https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/05/the-centennial-of-1917-october_26.html

Marxism-Leninism Today is co-organizing a panel commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution at the Left Forum in New York City.

Jointly co-sponsored with the Party of Communists USA, the panel is entitled: “The Russian Revolution and its Indelible Stamp on the Course of World History”  
The event will take place on Sunday, June 4th at 10:00 AM. Room 1.124 John Jay College, 899 10th ave (between 58 & 59th Sts.).
Featured panelists include Zoltan Zigedy and Joseph Jamison both members of the Editorial Board of Marxism-Leninism Today;  George Gruenthal an officer of the PCUSA; and Grover Furr Professor at Montclair State University and author of  several volumes , including “Khrushchev Lied“; “Yezhov vs Stalin” and “Trotsky’s Amalgams”.
Communists of France: Macron or Le Pen, Either Way More Struggle

https://mltoday.com/article/2743-communists-of-france-macron-or-le-pen-either-way-more-struggle/90-frontpage-stories

Via International Communist Press, 25 April 2017

The declarations of the Revolutionary Communist Party of France (PCRF), the Revolutionary Party-Communists (PRC), the Pole of the Communist Rebirth in France (PRCF) and Pierre Laurent on behalf of the French Communist Party (PCF) on the first round of the presidential elections in France

Following the first  round  of the presidential elections that were held on April 23, Emmanuel Macron of the Forward! (EM) movement and Marine Le Pen of National Front (FN) qualifying to the second round, we share some extracts of the declarations of the Revolutionary Communist Party of France (PCRF), the Revolutionary Party-Communists (PRC), the Pole of the Communist Rebirth in France (PRCF) and Pierre Laurent on behalf of the French Communist Party (PCF). The second and final round of the elections will be held on May 7.

PCRF: ‘The results of the elections manifest itself by a 4% increase of the stock market CAC 40’
PCRF calls ‘the workers, as well as the democrats worried about the last five-year term, to refuse the Macron-Le Pen swindle by voting neither for one nor for the other’ at the second tour of the presidential elections. The party underlines that ‘[t]he challenge of the second round is not bourgeoisie democracy or fascism’.

‘…the candidate chosen by the grand bourgeoisie, the banker Emmanuel Macron, launched by François Hollande, the chargé d’affaire of the Capital, took first place ahead of Marine Le Pen, of the National Front. The latter represents the increasing strength of the ultra-reactionary current of the public opinion, the reserve force of the bourgeoisie and its mass of maneuver.’

‘… contrary to what the media bangs on about, we take into account the political character of the abstention and blank vote and spoilt vote, which concerns the popular strata, who do not feel represented since the betrayal of the directors of PCF. It is a question of the first “party” of France.’

PRC: ‘There is nothing good to expect from these two candidates, the candidates of the capital’
PRC calls ‘voting for none of the candidates’ or put the ballot paper in the name of the party’s unofficial candidate Antonio Sanchez in the ballot-envelope at the second tour of the presidential elections.

‘We say it once again that in France there are economic, financial, cultural and social means to apply a large-scale policy of economic and social development in the service of the people to create hundreds of thousands of jobs, to increase the minimum wage and all the salaries, the pensions. France should stop participating in imperialist wars and develop a large-scale policy of peace in order to insure the security of the people.’

PRCF: ‘It is not question of awarding Macron with a certificate of anti-fascism’
PRCF stated that ‘[b]y relentlessly campaigning among the popular strata in order to decrease the votes of the National Front, we have to make this party of hatred retreat as much as possible…’ and ‘for all that, while the Right (Fillon, Juppé etc.) and PS call already for vote Macron, PRCF will not back this candidate whose ultra-maastrichtian politics that aim for dissolve the nation, accompanying the wars of the US, pulverizing all the social acqusitions…hence, nourishing National Front which thrives on all these social and national betrayals in order to usurp and pervert the reference to the nation’

‘The militants of the PRCF will react in the field in order to reduce the score of National Front in labor class districts since this party dishonors France, divides the labor class, pushes the country to an intercommunity war and fascisation, even the road to the police state that was largely paved by the governments of Republicans (LR) and Socialist Party (PS) (which, still, no long time ago, tries to ban mass union demonstrations) since decades.’

PL: ‘This situation is extremely grave for our country’
Pierre Laurent, Secretary General of PCF, made the declaration below:

‘The second round of the French presidential election will be a contest between the racist and xenophobic candidate of the far right, Marine Le Pen, and Emmanuel Macron, the candidate selected by the financial world to reinforce the liberal policies afflicting our country for the past 40 years.

This situation is extremely grave for our country. The far-right reached the second round and the left has been eliminated. However, for the first time in decades, millions of citizens, striving for social change, nearly succeeded in carrying their candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon to the second round. Voters who were betrayed by the policies of Hollande and Valls and who worked hard to bring Jean-Luc Mélenchon to the second round are today experiencing mixed and sometimes contradictory feelings.

At this writing and given the first results available to us, we would like to say to these voters that the nearly 20% score obtained by Jean-Luc Mélenchon raises a new hope for the future, for the reinvention of the new left our country has been waiting for, to unlock the political system and democracy. This result is remarkable and is the first time since 1981 that a candidate representing social transformation has achieved such a score.

The struggle continues for millions of young people, women and men who aspire to a new society free from the tyranny of profitability; people seeking the true left and policies of justice and social progress that refuse austerity, unemployment and social insecurity.

We are entering a completely new and exceptional period in the history of our country. Notwithstanding the diversion of “presidentialisation” and its traps, the event is momentous: the two parties, the Socialists and the Républicains, who have dominated French political life for 40 years, were eliminated in the fist round of voting.

Aspiration for change, for a new choice of society, will continue to grow inexorably. The mobilisation of youth and working-class neighbourhoods is a promise for the future.

For us, this is the essential lesson of the campaign: nothing is more urgent than to continue to remain open to these new aspirations for a genuine citizens’ democracy, to seek the path that will enable us to join forces to build a new social, ecological Republic of solidarity, respectful of diversity and the expectations of our people.

This is a struggle that the Communist Party intends to pursue with all political, social and citizen forces available. We have unprecedented advantages going forward.

We applaud the campaign of Jean-Luc Mélenchon, all activists from the Communist Party, the Front de Gauche, la France insoumise, elected representatives from the Communist Party and the Front de Gauche, and all the citizens who were engaged and voted. This result belongs to you.

The commitment of our party, our activists, and elected officials representing the values of the Republic to Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s campaign brought about promising new alliances. Jean-Luc Mélenchon achieved very good results in cities, cantons and districts where the Communist Party is well established and has a significant network of activists and representatives.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s results demonstrate a deep desire for change, for greater honesty in politics, more social justice, solidarity, genuine democracy, peace, and respect for the environment.

The French left has opened a new page in history with this campaign. It is a new era for the left. The Communist Party is completely invested in this revitalization through our project, La France en commun, and fully focused on the challenges of the 21st Century.

At this time, aware of the huge battles to come and the responsibilities that our party bears, for the second round of voting on 7 May we call for a vote that will block Marine Le Pen’s bid for the presidency and thwart the menace she and her clan represent for democracy, the Republic and peace; unfortunately, there is only one ballot that can be used to that effect.

Marine Le Pen seeks a society of hatred, the rejection of others, racism and xenophobia; a society that would divide those with common interests to benefit her own clan and financial powers; a society that would scorn the fundamental principles of equality and fraternity in the Republic in favour of discrimination among the French, among people who live and work in our country, based on their origins and nationality. We do not want this.

Marine Le Pen wants a dangerous world where all types of war would become possible, where nationalist rivalries would be encouraged. With Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, and the European far-right movements as allies, she would threaten world security if she were president of France, one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. We do not want this.

It is our duty, for today and for future generations, to prevent her from becoming president of our Republic, which would mean that the far-right would have control of all of the instruments of the State.

Our appeal for 7 May is obviously in no case a show of support for the neoliberal, anti-social programme of Emmanuel Macron, which we opposed when he was a minister and which we will continue to fight without concession whenever workers and their rights and public services are under attack.

Appeals will be made on the occasion of the 1st of May demonstrations by trade unions, and we call for broad participation in International Workers’ Day events to express our mobilisation against the far right and in support of peace, democracy and social progress.

Faced with the ballot choices of the second round of presidential elections, the legislative elections to be held 11 and 18 June are of crucial importance. Citizens who carried the banner for social transformation by voting Jean-Luc Mélenchon must now persevere and break through with the legislative elections. The National Assembly can act as a counter-weight to the policies advanced by the government following the second round of the presidential election on 7 May.

On the strength of the result obtained this Sunday, we can elect numerous honest députés, representatives who will be close to you and defend the interests of the people, as Communists MPs have done for five years, in particular against the so-called Macron and El Khomri laws. These representatives will resist the right and the far right, will not make alliances with MPs from Macron’s party to approve anti-social laws. These MPs will be a force of resistance and hope in the face of financial greed, fighting hatred and division.

Communists are fully invested in this legislative battle, which we have understood to be essential from day one; it is as important as the presidential election. The French Communist Party is presenting and supporting a new generation of candidates, an equal number of men and women, to bring the people’s voice into the National Assembly.

As of this evening, and in the next 48 hours, the Communist Party calls on the forces of the left and progress, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s team and those from la France insoumise, all of the forces engaged in the campaign, supporters of Benoît Hamon, Socialists and Greens, women and men who want to rebuild a dynamic force on the left for social transformation, to meet, to debate publically and prepare for these decisive elections together: the second round of the presidential election and the legislative elections to be held on 11 and 18 June.

The French Communist Party is ready to engage at once in this effort.’

A Painful Anniversary

A Painful Anniversary

– from Zoltan Zigedy is available at:
http://zzs-blg.blogspot.com/

Exactly ten years ago this past April 7, I posted an article on Marxism-Leninism Today entitled Tabloid Political Economy: The Coming Depression (for those who missed it, it is reproduced below). It was my first and only attempt at economic prognostication, always a challenging and risky venture. The “Tabloid” in the article’s title was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the headline in the April, 2007 issue of a now defunct supermarket tabloid, Weekly World News. Featured between Virgin Mary Slaps Boy and Jews Invented Pizzoh was the shrill admonition: Surviving the Next Great Depression! It’s Coming This Summer!

It didn’t come in the summer of 2007.
In fact, the Dow Jones Industrial Average continued to climb seemingly with no limit, reaching a new peak in the fall of 2007. The pundits continued to extol the virtues of unbridled capitalism.
While the folks at WWN built their case on scant evidence (“Skyrocketing gas prices, escalating war, crashing housing prices, calamitous weather and freefalling stock prices…”), there were many other good reasons to take their prediction seriously, reasons which I offered in my article. Unfortunately, the print edition did not survive to see the collapse that rocked the foundations of the global capitalist economy the following year. Nonetheless, the zany supermarket tabloid proved to be far more prescient than the Nobel laureates, academics, and popular pundits who postured as learned economists yet never saw the collapse coming.
Ten Years On

The global economy never fully recovered from the crash of 2008. Instead, it has stumbled along from one setback to another, with economic growth only marginally topping population growth. When both the enormous loss of wealth from the crash and the obscenely unequal distribution of the wealth recovered since the crash are configured, it is fair to say that the vast majority of the world’s population have seen little or no recovery. In fact, the casualties from the crash continue to pile up.

The US economy is neither healthy nor without serious symptoms. Despite the market euphoria that surprisingly accompanied the Trump election, the Atlanta Federal Reserve has lowered its growth expectations for the first quarter to .5% from an earlier forecast of 3%. Other projections have similarly dropped.
For three months in a row, since January, durable goods orders (excluding volatile transportation orders) have dropped. Industrial production fell .1% in January and was unchanged in February. Factory output dropped .4% in March from February and was only up .8% from a year earlier.
Bank loan growth has slowed.
Retail sales slowed by .3% in February and .2% in March. Inflation, as a measure of consumer demand, dropped .3% in March. Retail stores are closing in unprecedented numbers and retail employment growth has slowed.
Sales of new cars– the principal driver of consumption growth since the crash– has fallen for three straight months. Auto dealers are now offering buyer incentives that are greater than the labor costs of production (labor costs are less than $2500 per car, on average). Incentives account for 10.5% of average sticker price ($31, 435). Yet the average car sits for over 70 days on the lot.
Used car prices were down 8% in February, another sign of declining demand. And auto loan defaults are on the rise.
The US trade gap– the difference between imports and exports– reached a 5-year high in February.
In stark human terms, the US economy is failing working people. Between January 2016 and January 2017, average hourly earnings slipped .1% and the hours of the average workweek dropped .3%. This calculates to a .4% loss in real average earnings for those twelve months.
With reduced earnings, more and more workers are drawing on their retirement savings: 20% of 401(k)s have been reduced through self-loans.
Not surprisingly, household debt in 2016 grew the most in a decade. Unlike in the lead-up to the crash, mortgage debt is growing modestly, still below the explosive growth rate of that time. Instead, the growth in debt is in credit cards, auto loans, and student loans. Auto loan debt has reached $1.2 trillion, while student debt has risen to $1.3 trillion.
Student debt is particularly crippling. There are 42 million outstanding loans. The average student loan debt jumped from $26,300 in 2013 to $30,650 in 2016. Defaults went from 3.6 million in 2015 to 4.2 million in 2016.
And senior citizens are saddled with growing debt as well. In 1998, 30% of people 65 and older were in debt. In 2012, the percentage of seniors in debt reached 43.3. Growing debt comes in the wake of the collapse of net worth since 2005, when it topped $300,000 among those 55 to 64. By 2013, average net worth within that group dropped to $168,900 (even below the net worth of $175,300 reached in 1989).
Talking heads and media “experts” hail the job market. But they seldom delve deeply into its performance. Put simply, capitalists are hiring additional workers, rather than purchasing labor-saving equipment, because labor is cheap and flexible. The failure of organized labor to defend or advance labor’s relative position has served as a disincentive for capitalist investment in new technologies and equipment. They see no need to do so, when labor power can be used on demand, with no restrictions, and at low costs.
That trend is clearly reflected in the most recent period’s historically poor growth in productivity, among the lowest periods of productivity growth since the Second World War. Contrary to the widespread hawking of the idea that most workers are in danger of being replaced by robots, corporations are showing little interest in the introduction of new or old technologies. They are spending very little on equipment. While the technology may be there, capitalists have shown little need for it, given low labor costs.
As Shawn Sprague shows in a recent BLS paper, since 2009 the growth of aggregate hours-worked has grown more quickly than the growth of non-farm business output. This fact demonstrates that US capitalists feel little pressure to “save” labor while restoring profits during the so-called “recovery.” Rather than having existing workers work more hours, they are hiring more workers at low wages and contingently. Profits rebounded nicely because the working class had been slammed by the downturn, rendering the employment costs so low that there was no need to invest in labor-saving equipment.
This harsh truth has been ignored by economists and labor leaders alike because it shows the complete bankruptcy of class collaboration as an approach to social justice for workers.
US capitalists have enjoyed a decade of low labor costs, no pressure to invest retained earnings, and high profits (corporate after-tax profits dipped in 2015, but came back smartly in 2016). By securing labor power at low costs, they have foregone the purchase of labor-saving instruments and achieved modest growth by expanding employment. Today, capital is profoundly afraid that, with reduced unemployment, competition for labor power will drive up the costs of labor and erode profits. The Trump tax change package, favorable to corporations and the repatriation of profits, is one ruling class response to this anticipated problem.
Despite the return of an overheated housing market with escalating prices (lagging new construction is fueling demand), no systemic accumulation crisis comparable to that of 2007-2008 appears on the immediate horizon. Instead, the post-collapse era of stagnation and deteriorating living standards continues for the working class. As the shrinking income and mounting debt of working people erodes aggregate consumption, the possibility of a business cycle contraction grows more and more likely. The long, tepid expansion transferred nearly all its gains to the wealthy few, leaving little but debt or asset cannibalization for the majority. With declining retail sales, especially auto sales, and the growing weight of personal debt, the likelihood of further consumption growth is in doubt.
A business cycle contraction will only further weaken the position of working people, setting them up for a further dose of sacrifice and pain.
Isn’t it time to get off the capitalist roller coaster?
Zoltan Zigedy

 

“Trump will be a disaster for the US working class” – Interview with Zoltan Zigedy

Friday, February 3, 2017

“Trump will be a disaster for the US working class” – Interview with Zoltan Zigedy

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/02/trump-will-be-disaster-for-us-working.html

On the occasion of the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency and the recent anti-Trump demonstrations throughout the United States, we asked from the US-based blogger and activist Zoltan Zigedy* to share his views. 

* * * 
 
Q: Generally speaking, how do you think Trump’s Presidency will affect the U.S. working class?
 
ZZ: Thank you for inviting me to discuss these questions with you. While the views are mine, they benefit from extensive discussions with my comrades at  Marxism-Leninism Today. We believe that the election of Donald Trump reflects a multi-faceted crisis of growing inequality and insecurity, of systemic economic instability, and of the two-party electoral charade. Unfortunately, the broad US left– a potential counterforce to the crisis– is ideologically immature and organizationally splintered. Because of its failure, other forces have leaped in to address the crisis. We see Trump’s right-wing populism as such an attempt to offer an alternative.
 
In our view, the Trump phenomenon is very much akin to the radical right-wing populist parties that have emerged in Europe, where a similar bankruptcy of existing “left” parties has driven many desperate workers towards demagogues and false friends.

Trump will be a disaster for the US working class. He has surrounded himself with a cabal of counselors, advisors, and cabinet members who count as the most rapacious and anti-worker elements in the upper echelons of capitalism. The idea of a worker-friendly bourgeois billionaire and his billionaire colleagues as a savior to working people is an absurdity. The corporate leaders recently called to the White House to meet Trump have all left with a confident smile. In the short run, Trump, a master at public relations, will secure some moral points with gestures in the direction of workers, but that will fade quickly.

We are confident that Trump will fail to pull the US out of its deepening crisis.
 
Q: On Trump’s inauguration day, as well as in the following days, we saw numerous mass demonstrations throughout the States against him. How do you evaluate this “anti-Trump movement”? Is it a temporary reaction without any class characteristics or it could possibly have further development in the future?
 
ZZ: The anti-Trump movement is complex and contradictory. On the one hand, it has produced demonstrations and marches unprecedented in size. It has brought many people with no previous engagement with activism into the streets. The movement has shown some resilience and sustained passion.
 
On the other hand, it has yet to surface any advanced positions. It has drawn mainly from the white, urban middle strata. It’s leadership has been moderate and centrist. And it has lacked working class leadership and the embrace of working class issues.
 
Some see the not-so-hidden hand of the Democratic Party and its enormous resources actively hijacking the anti-Trump movement.
 
Still others sense a whiff of Maidan and the Color Revolutions in the anti-Trump mainstream media hysteria, the activities of George Soros, and the intervention of US security services in recent politics.
 
Nonetheless, the mass actions offer an occasion to engage those new to or returning to activist politics. Like the earlier “anti-globalization” movement, the Occupy Movement, and other movements hostile to organization and ideology, it is up to Marxist-Leninists, our friends, and allies to liberate as much of this political development as we can from opportunism or hijacking.
 
Q: Do you think that the US labor movement needs a strong Communist Party and how the existence of such a vanguard party can be achieved?
 
ZZ: We believe that a strong, revolutionary Communist Party is vital, essential to restoring class struggle unionism to the US labor movement. The purging of Communists from the labor movement during the McCarthy period left the working class movement in the US harnessed to class collaboration, a yoke that the movement has not cast off to this day.
 
The absence of an authentic, revolutionary Marxist-Leninist party is felt in every arena of struggle, on every political moment. We believe that only a militant Communist Party can deliver working people from the labor misleaders and from the “Scylla and Charybdis” of two party tyranny, as our Greek comrades so aptly say.  
 
The legacy of McCarthyism and the lure of “American Exceptionalism” have infected the left with opportunism, making the task of building a new, militant Communist Party a formidable task.
 
We look to create a pole of resistance to the reformist, opportunist left that vacillates on US imperialism and its wars, on class struggle unionism, on not-for-profit health care, on the two-party system, and, of course, on socialism.
 
At the same time, we are seeking unity-of-action with individuals and some organizations of a Marxist-Leninist orientation. While differences exist and surely will further surface in the future, we feel that practice and dialogue will determine the next steps in founding a revolutionary vanguard party in the US.
 
While we see this as a pre-party period, we recognize the urgency of providing our working class with a beacon for its liberation. We are optimistic that we are on that path.
 
* “Zoltan Zigedy” is the nom de plume of Pittsburgh-based writer Greg Godels who serves on the editorial board of Marxism-Leninism Today where many of his articles appear. You can read his personal blog here.
 
IN DEFENSE OF COMMUNISM ©.
On the Death of Fidel Castro

http://mltoday.com/article/2597-jose-fidel/90-frontpage-stories

From the  Editors of  Marxism-Leninism Today:

Like many around the world we mourn the death of Fidel Castro. We  express our condolences to Raul Castro and the rest of Fidel’s family, the Cuban people and the Communist Party of Cuba.

However, with that mourning comes a celebration of a life well lived in the service of humanity.

Bertoldt Brecht wrote:

There are those that struggle for a day, and they are good.
There are those that struggle for a year, and they are better.
There are those that struggle for many years, and they are better still.
But there are those that struggle all their lives.
These are the indispensable ones.

Fidel Castro was one of the indispensables ones. While there are those, as in Miami, celebrating his death, those “celebrations” amount to just “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” The leader of the Cuban Revolution accomplished his work and passed away naturally after retiring.

Castro led the first socialist revolution in the Americas, which evolved from a struggle to defeat the U.S.-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The armed revolt against the dictatorship was itself a fight for national liberation struggle against U.S. domination.Fidel Castro led the Cuban people in creating a socialist society with the means of production in the hands of the working class and farmers. Cuba became the first country in the Western Hemisphere to have a 100 percent literacy rate, free education and healthcare for all.

The Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro himself irked U.S imperialism for having lost control of that island nation and they attempted to thwart the socialist project through subversion, and actual invasion and an economic embargo that is still in place.. They attempted to destroy the revolution by getting rid of its leader. The US through the the CIA orchestrated over 600 plots and attempts to murder him.

Perhaps the time that Fidel Castro’s revolutionary leadership was most tested was with the counter-revolutionary defeat of the socialist camp in Europe.With the implementation of glasnost and perestroika, Mikhail Gorbachev, introduced bourgeois ideas and bourgeois relations of production, thus opening the door to pro-capitalist elements and the counter-revolutionary overthrow of socialism. This counter-revolution spread through the other European socialist states.

Many communist leaders, both in the socialist and capitalist countries, left their Marxism-Leninism behind,  becoming social-democrats. Others became outright proponents of capitalism.

The Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, an economic organization of member-states that worked for the economic integration of socialist countries, of which Cuba was a member was disbanded.  With that, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Cuba lost its most important trading partners.

However, Castro maintained a staunch defence of Marxism-Leninism and the socialist system. Being a committed Marxist-Leninist, Castro was a committed anti-imperialist and led Cuba in that direction. This was an anti-imperialism that was not just words, but action. Cuba has a long list of political, military and material support for countries fighting against imperialism.  The military defence of Angola against the US-backed intervention, the support for Puerto Rican independence, and the support for the countries of Latin America to free themselves from US control comprise just a short list of the examples of Cuba’s anti-imperialism under the leadership of Fidel Castro.

While he will be missed, especially by the peoples of the world fighting for social justice and the new socialist world, his life’s work will endure as a lasting memory of  one of humanity’s indispensable persons.