Category: political struggle
Russia’s New Communist Candidate: Friend or Foe of Vladimir Putin?

Russia’s New Communist Candidate: Friend or Foe of Vladimir Putin?

December 25, 2017 – Fort Russ –
By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold –
Pavel Grudinin
On December 18th, the presidential election race kicked off in Russia. The date of elections, March 18th, was not chosen lightly, as it harkens back to the historic State Council meeting of 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Crimea and Sevastopol had been accepted into the Russian Federation.
Several days ago, it still seemed like the main intrigue of the elections would center around Putin’s running. As it turns out, Russia’s communists are the ones with the surprise up their sleeves. For quite some time, discussions have been ongoing as to whether the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) should nominate a different candidate than its leader, Gennady Zyuganov, a genuine veteran of Russian politics and one of the founders of the party who has run in every election since 1996. 
For some time now, the idea has been floated around that the director of the Lenin Sovkhoz (a form of collective farm founded in the Soviet era), Pavel Grudinin, should run on behalf of the communists. Nevertheless, until literally just the other day, it seemed like the CPRF would stick to tradition with its usual presidential candidate, Zyuganov. 
But now a real sensation has captured headlines. 
At a meeting of the CPRF’s Central Committee Presidium on December 21st-22nd and amidst heated discussions, the party’s leaders voted for several candidates. Deputy Central Committee Chairman for ideology, Dmitry Novikov, stated in an interview with Russian media that the presidium had discussed more than one candidate. Earlier, Zyuganov had proposed a list of more than two dozen people for party branches to decide who is suitable for nomination. According to Novikov, half of the list was discussed. 
It has since been reported that Zyuganov led the vote by a huge margin, but ultimately refused to run in the elections. Thus, the victory went to Pavel Grudinin, for whom the majority of regional party organizations voted. According to Grudinin, the CPRF displayed a high level of inner-party democracy.
The Central Committee Presidium recommended Grudinin’s candidacy at the CPRF congress held on December 23rd, at which Zyuganov confirmed that the congress would support Grudinin in Russia’s presidential elections. Meanwhile, the leading organs of the party have been in close communication, with Zyuganov announcing that he will head Grudinin’s campaign headquarters.
Grudinin (Left) and Zyuganov (Right)
Thus, the CPRF is going to the polls with a new face. This is significant insofar as the higher echelons of Russian politics are dominated by old-time veterans, and presidential elections usually feature the same longstanding candidates – Zhirinovsky from the LDPR, Zyuganov from the CPRF, Yavlinsky from Yabloko, etc. Now, however, there is a distinct tiredness of the old politicians and a demand for new faces. 
Vladimir Putin has felt this surge as well. Hence why the nature of his announcement to run demonstrated an innovative approach. The autocratic LDPR, meanwhile, is once again running with its adroit and shocking Zhirinovsky. 
Alas, the traditional Russian troika of presidential candidates – Putin, Zhirinovsky, and Zyuganov – has been shockingly broken with the replacement of the latter candidate. This carries definite risks, but also offers tangible benefits. Overall, I believe that the CPRF Presidium has made a strong and bold move. Russia’s communists have long been expected to work on rejuvenation and renewal, a process which they have now kicked off with a new presidential candidate who could, given competent work, easily take second place after Putin. 
Now a little about the candidate. Pavel Grudinin is 57 years old and is, by education and professor, a farmer and engineer. Grudinin founded the Lenin Sovkhoz in the Moscow region which is now a thriving agricultural holding successfully operating on collectivist principles and boasting strong, social-oriented business. The CPRF presents this as a beautiful sample of the triumph of socialist economics in agriculture. Grudinin himself, meanwhile, can be called a patriot and statist. 
The Lenin Sovkhoz
In 2000, Grudinin represented Vladimir Putin’s candidacy and, in his own testimony, supported the latter’s fight against the oligarchy. Most interesting of all, perhaps, is that Grudinin is not a member of the CPRF, and until 2011 he was a member of United Russia. 
Pavel Grudinin’s personality evokes considerable interest and sympathy, but also gives rise to a number of questions. Judging by some of his statements, Grudinin is a man who has his own opinion; he is non-conformist and charismatic. In my opinion, some of his expressions can even be said to reveal inexperience and excessive radicalism. Nevertheless, Grudinin will not be an easy competitor for Vladimir Putin. 
Russian politics is now dominated by demands to address socio-economic problems. Despite indisputable and sometimes striking successful military development – which indeed deserves Boris Johnson’s apt comparison to Sparta – Russia’s economic and social development leaves much to be desired. This fact has confronted Vladimir Putin, for whose presidential campaign socio-economic issues will be key. 
Meanwhile, the only candidates with any chances of obtaining serious results are those who belong to what I call the “Crimean consensus,” or the camp of patriotic politicians who support President Putin and the results of the referendum in 2014 in Crimea and Sevastopol. 
Russian society has demonstrated a high demand for development and social justice. But it has also demonstrated patriotism and nationalism not of an ethnic, but civic nature (which in Russia is called “statism” – gosudarstvennichestvo or derzhavnost). Some small percentage of voters will cast their ballots against patriotic values, but only the statist candidates will collect any noteworthy results. 
The CPRF’s candidate, Pavel Grudinin, is totally capable of taking second place. The CPRF’s traditional electorate as well as new voters who do not personally take a liking to Zyuganov or the Communist Party will vote for Grudinin, as will many of my friends. In another situation, they would all vote for Vladimir Putin, who is seen as the leader of the nation, but the gross failures of the economic and social policies pursued by the liberal government of Dmitry Medevedev, with whom Putin is associated, have provoked growing, almost universal irritation. 
The best case scenario for these elections would, in our view, be the establishment of a government of public trust headed by President Putin with a cabinet of ministers including accountable professionals aiming for long-term development, not blindly coping Western liberal dogma. 
The CPRF, without a doubt, could become a solid base for such cooperation, as its very program has long called for forming such a “government of popular trust.” Hence why Pavel Grudinin is potentially not only a competitor, but a comrade of Vladimir Putin. 
Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public Initiatives. 

Jafe Arnold is Special Editor of Fort Russ, Special Projects Director of the Center for Syncretic Studies, and the founding Editor-in-Chief of Eurasianist Internet Archive. Holding a Bachelors in European Cultures from the University of Wroclaw (Poland), Arnold is currently undertaking his Masters in Western Esotericism at the University of Amsterdam. 
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS regarding the current political situation in Greece

Friday, December 22, 2017

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS regarding the current political situation in Greece
Odigitis International Edition
(October 2017) Front Page.
The following article is republished from the International Edition (October 2017) of “Odigitis” monthly, Organ of the CC of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE).
It is reasonable for a youngster following international developments to wonder about the situation in Greece and to express interest precisely for the last two years that the government of Greece has been assigned to a “left” party. That party (SYRIZA) added 2 new memorandums and additional barbaric measures crashing the rights and conquests of the people. Finally, after so many measures voted, they declare that “we are approaching growth, from which all of us are going to benefit”. However, is it like this? In this article we are trying to give answers about the real situation in Greece, about the way out in favor of the people, the one that KKE proposes, through three questions that often people make. 
In Greece, over the past 2-3 years, a new government with left-wing roots has emerged. Hasn’t it got a difference in the country’s governance ? Isn’t this an opportunity for faster growth in the country, in a more “fair way”?
It is true that the SYRIZA (new socialdemocracy) – ANEL (nationalist party) government is doing everything in order to give its credentials to the Greek bourgeoisie that it is as capable as the previous governments, ND (liberal party) and PASOK (classic socialdemocracy), to take measures in favor of the capital. The famous “we are coming out of the memoranda,” which the government says now, is not true because, on one hand, the Commission will continue for several years and, on the other hand, because all anti-people laws that have been taken in time of memorandums will not be abolished, since they are measures that will urge the bourgeoisie to come out of the crisis, to bring growth to the country.
But is this growth the same with the one that Mr Tsipras (Greek prime minister) and his partners are evangelizing about the working class and the poor strata? We put the question of “growth for whom”. On the one hand, monopoly groups enjoy tax breaks, subsidies, growth measures, free labour, and on the other hand the people are faced with lοw wages and pensions, labour and insurance rights cuts, unemployment, tax increase. All of this is evidence that the growth has a class character. It can be a growth for monopolies or for the people.
The most recent example of this reality is the sinking of a tanker in Piraeus, the largest port in the country, which has led to oil pollution on the coasts of the Saronic Gulf. This government, as well as the previous ones, advertised the port of Piraeus as an “entry gate” and as a “transit hub”, but the situation in ship navigation and the recent pollution of the area highlight government responsibilities, which with ministerial permits give alibi to the shipowners to utilize old ships. At the same time, however, local residents face the tragic consequences of environmental pollution, such as the food problem that has been created.
The KKE also within the Parliament highlighted the issue of the widespread marine pollution caused and asked for the blame to be placed. The party’s organizations in the region were mobilized from the very beginning and supported the mobilization of PAME in Piraeus against the crime committed.
* * * 
However, there are sectors where Greece is experiencing significant growth, such as tourism, as evidenced by the millions of tourists been welcomed each year.
Every year the number of tourists is increasing, with data showing that the first half of 2017 an increase of 6.6% compared to last year was recorded, while the tourist season has already been lengthened. It is a fact that benefits particularly a part of the big capital, such as hoteliers, shipowners, because of the ferry tickets, the chains of restaurants and so on. However, for the popular family holidays continue to be a luxury, while a very large proportion of youth works “seasonally” for up to 7 months in hotels, restaurants, most of the time without any day off, staying in the worst accommodation. Millions of tourists literally pass over the bodies of workers in the sector.
The growth of the tourism sector in Greece shows crystal clear that there are “two Greeces”; Greece of luxury, wealth, unforgettable holidays in the most popular islands, and Greece of labor which is either working all year round and cannot afford the summer holiday, or working in the worst conditions in the tourism “industry”, with more and more flexibility in the last years.
During the summer, KNE held a Pan-Hellenic Day of Action for Workers in Food, Tourism and Hotels. With their joint initiative, 36 sectoral and business trade unions organized mobilizations and interventions, focusing on issues of collective labour agreements and protecting the unemployed in parts of the country.
Archive Photo: KKE electoral rally in Athens.
* * * 
Isn’t furthering flexibility of labour relations an opportunity to reduce unemployment? The government speaks openly about the fact that it managed to reduce unemployment rates.
This is an argument that the SYRIZA – ANEL government uses to present flexibility and mobility in workplaces as positive. Of course, other bourgeois parties are advocates of this policy, such as ND which, at the time it was in the government, had introduced forms of such employment. Flexibility cannot be considered as a measure of combating unemployment, because the worker is actually consumable by the system and most of the time the salary he gets does not even cover his most basic needs, food and housing. This is a “recycling” of unemployment. The reality actually cancels what the government says, trying to implement the anti-labour measures it took in view of the Memoranda, promoting EU guidelines.
Archive Photo: KNE Odigitis-Festival.
In the summer, Rizospastis published a survey that revealed that businessmen in the tourism industry can utilize 14 different forms of “flexible” work to ensure that their profits are increasing. Capitalists continue to profit from the tourist “fever” experienced by our country, but most of the youth working in this sector are now returning to their homes and facing the unemployment fund, if and when allowed, based on the stamps collected. As for unemployment, it is here and continues to bust amongst the youth with, according to the official Eurostat rates, one in two young people being unemployed (45.5%).
As the flexible forms of employment and unemployment are “privileges” that are more enjoyed by youth, KNE this year at the 43rd KNE – Odigitis Festival on September 21- 23, organized an event in the Spot of Young Workers and Unemployed at the site of the festival, having as a speaker the president of the Food and Tourism Trade Union, on the subject: “From a generation of flexibility, unemployment, exploitation, to become the Generation of Overthrow!”
The KKE is the only party that makes legislative proposals in the Parliament to protect the unemployed, provide decent allowances, provide access to health care and always supports any measure that can even alleviate the people. However, we always point out that this system, which not only generates unemployment but also poverty, wars, exploitation, needs to be and must be overthrown.
In Fight for Judiciary Slot, Democrats Broach the ‘I’ Word: Impeachment
| December 21, 2017 | 6:56 pm | Donald Trump, Impeachment, political struggle | 1 Comment

In Fight for Judiciary Slot, Democrats Broach the ‘I’ Word: Impeachment


Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York has pitched himself to be the top-ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committe. Credit Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York has a bold pitch to take over the top Democratic spot on the House Judiciary Committee — that he is best positioned to lead impeachment proceedings against President Trump.

“As our constitutional expert, and with his demonstrated leadership on impeachment in the 90s, Nadler is our strongest member to lead a potential impeachment,” Mr. Nadler wrote on a pocket-size leaflet outlining his record.

Not so fast, says Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, his main opponent for the slot. Not only was she on the committee when Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998, but she was a part of its staff during the proceedings against Richard M. Nixon two decades earlier — a better model, she argues, for taking on Mr. Trump.

Democrats have no shortage of priorities before the Judiciary Committee, which handles a range of hot-button issues, including immigration, guns, abortion and domestic surveillance. But with Democrats increasingly bullish about their chances of retaking the House next year, the candidates fighting for control of the committee have dispensed with niceties and are openly campaigning on the “I” word: Impeachment.

“It may never come to that. We have no idea what Bob Mueller will provide,” Ms. Lofgren said in an interview last week, referring to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is investigating links between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia.

House Democrats will choose between the two seasoned Democrats on Wednesday, when they vote to replace Representative John Conyers Jr., who held down the top Democratic seat on the panel for a quarter century before accusations of sexual misconduct forced him into unexpected retirement earlier this month. And as rumors sweep through the Capitol that Mr. Trump could soon fire Mr. Mueller, Democrats have whipped themselves into a frenzy, seeing themselves as possibly the last line of defense.

“We’re in the fight of our lives in 2018 and the rule of law is at the center of all the controversy,” said Representative Jamie Raskin, a freshman from Maryland who is a constitutional law scholar. “The position is central to our ability to stand up for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”

Given its broad policy portfolio, the committee tends to attract some of the most partisan members from both parties, and over the years the committee has earned a reputation as one of the most cutthroat in Congress. Impeachment hearings in 1998 devolved into partisan brawls, and the Judiciary Committee chairman at the time, Henry Hyde of Illinois, became the chief prosecutor of Mr. Clinton in his Senate trial. Mr. Hyde also became a target of Democratic partisans, accused of his own marital infidelity three decades before Mr. Clinton’s sex-charged proceedings.

That experience is clearly informing the fight now for the Democratic top slot.

Mr. Nadler, 70, who represents parts of Manhattan’s Upper West Side and Brooklyn, pitches himself as a fighter with a lifelong commitment to civil rights and civil liberties and an expertise in constitutional law — a distinction he argues will count should the House explore an impeachment case against Mr. Trump.

He also has a claim on being one of his party’s oldest Trump foils: In the 1990s, he was a prominent opponent of Trump projects on the West Side of Manhattan. His crusade against Mr. Trump earned him little love from the New York developer. Mr. Trump, then a frequent Democratic donor, called Mr. Nadler one of the three worst politicians in America.

“No, I don’t relish having a constitutional crisis,” Mr. Nadler said in an interview in his office last week.

He continued: “Yes, I do relish fighting to protect the constitutional order, to protect people, to protect our democratic system. Yes, if we have to have that fight, I want to be a leader here.”


Representative Zoe Lofgren of California has made the case that her state is underrepresented in top committee posts and that she is better positioned to advance immigration reform. Credit J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press

Ms. Lofgren, 69, an immigration lawyer from the south San Francisco Bay Area and one of the most senior female Democrats in the House, has tacked a slightly different course. She has made the case that California is underrepresented in top committee posts and that she is better positioned to advance immigration reform — a claim that got a boost last week in the form of a letter of support from Representative Luis V. Gutiérrez, an Illinois Democrat who is viewed as one of the foremost immigration reform advocates among Democrats.

But Ms. Lofgren has also argued that she can offer the committee something Mr. Nadler cannot — a woman as its leader.

The issue has taken on added weight at a time when revelations about and changing views of sexual misconduct are rapidly reshaping Congress and the committee itself. Mr. Conyers, 88, resigned amid accusations that he had sexually harassed former employees and reached a confidential settlement with one who said she was fired after rejecting his advances. At the same time, Democrats have moved quickly and assertively to try to claim the mantle as the party of women.

“This is part of the whole panoply of how we show to the country we are listening,” Ms. Lofgren said, pointing out that women occupy only five of the top Democratic slots on the House’s 20 standing committees.

House Democratic leaders have elected to keep quiet, fearing accusations of undue influence at an inopportune moment. Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, is thought to be supporting Ms. Lofgren, a fellow Californian and longtime confidante, but her silence has been received by at least some lawmakers as a sign that they should be free to vote for Mr. Nadler.

The Democrats’ steering committee is scheduled to vote on Tuesday and will make a recommendation to the party caucus, ahead of its full vote on Wednesday. Mr. Nadler may have a structural advantage because Democrats tend to give weight to seniority and he has served on the committee two years longer than Ms. Lofgren.

But Democratic lawmakers and senior party aides said they expected the results to be close — in part because both Mr. Nadler and Ms. Lofgren are thought to be safe hands in which to place the committee’s agenda.

“It’s a critical position right now,” said Representative Raúl M. Grijalva of Arizona. “They are both very good and capable people.”

Green Party VP Candidate: DNC Should Address Its Own Dysfunction, Not Russiagate
| December 20, 2017 | 8:15 pm | Green Party, Jill Stein, political struggle | No comments
Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein answers questions from members of the media during a campaign stop at Humanist Hall in Oakland, Calif. on Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016

Green Party VP Candidate: DNC Should Address Its Own Dysfunction, Not Russiagate

© AP Photo/ D. Ross Cameron

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Rather than continuing to look outside for explanations for its failure, the Democratic Party should do some soul searching, Green Party 2016 vice presidential candidate Ajamu Baraka told Radio Sputnik’s By Any Means Necessary.

This week, US Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was requested to comply with a document search by the US Senate Intelligence Committee, the latest twist in a mushrooming Russiagate narrative seeking evidence that the Russian government interfered in last year’s US election somehow.

​Stein’s major misdeed — besides, of course, daring to challenge Clinton — was to attend an RT-funded dinner in Russia in November 2015. Stein is accused of allowing Moscow to fund her travel there, a charge she denies.

“I paid my own way to Moscow. They [the Russian government] did not pay for my hotel or expenses and I have the receipts to prove it,” Stein told Alternet.

Baraka, who is also the national organizer for Black Alliance for Peace, told By Any Means Necessary’s hosts Eugene Puryear and Sean Blackmon that the Senate investigation actually sheds light on hypocrisy in the Democratic National Committee.

“You go to the various urban environments and you see the destitution that black working class people are facing and you see that the obvious reality is that those urban environments are run by corporate Democrats, many of whom are black Democrats. And the neoliberal order is unable to address the needs of these people and more and more people become critical of the system and come to the conclusion that this very system itself cannot work for the people,” Baraka explained.

“The targeting of the Green Party — these are all preemptive moves by the DNC to divert the American people’s attention from the real source of the problems and the contradictions within the DNC. Jill Stein’s statement was pointing to the inherent issues within the so-called democratic process in this country where money rules and corruption has been legitimized.”

Rather than attacking those who point out its shortcomings, the DNC should do some introspection “and provide explanations to why their systems are dysfunctional,” Baraka said.

“The majority of the American people have no faith in either one of the American parties. They have no faith in Congress as a whole,” he added.

Stein released a statement Tuesday saying that while her campaign “strongly supports legitimate inquiry into any illegal activity,” it also “caution[s] against the politicization, sensationalism and collapse of journalistic standards that has plagued media coverage of the investigation.”

“In the current climate of attacks on our civil liberties, with the emergence of censorship in social media and the press, criminalization of protest, militarization of police and massive expansion of the surveillance state, we must guard against the potential for these investigations to be used to intimidate and silence principled opposition to the political establishment,” the statement reads.

In a interview with Alternet, Stein described the investigation into the Green Party as evidence of a “new McCarthyism, which is the flip side of a military madness that is stronger than ever in this country.”

“This is the continuing focus of empire and austerity and the assault on democracy that goes with it. The silver lining is we will get a chance at the microphone. A lot of people will be screaming at us but some people will hear us.”

Baraka suggests that it is time for progressive and radical political movements to harness the power of grassroots organizing to appeal to the many politically disaffected Americans.

Solidarity with the people of Honduras

December 14, 2017

Solidarity with the people of Honduras

The Communist Party of Canada extends its full solidarity to the people of Honduras who are struggling against election fraud, the suspension of democratic rights and brutal repression.

Hundreds of thousands of Hondurans have taken to the streets to protest the blatant irregularities in the results of the November 26th Presidential election provided by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal as well as evidence of voter fraud. The resistance of the people of Honduras has been met with murderous repression from state security forces and a national curfew. The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras has documented the killing of 14 people, with 51 people injured and 844 people detained thus far in the ongoing protests.

This attempted stealing of an election must be seen within the long history of US and Canadian imperialism’s attacks on democracy in Honduras and throughout Central America. In 2009, the Canadian government supported a coup against the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya by opposing the reinstatement of Zelaya and lobbying for Honduras’ reentry into the Organization of American States.

The coup against Zelaya came after his progressive government was attempting to re-write the constitution which Honduras inherited from the military dictatorship of the 1980s. The government was also raising wages and had placed a moratorium on new mining concessions. Canadian corporations have large mining and sweat-shop interests in Honduras. In 2011, Prime Minister Harper and Canadian business leaders went to Honduras to begin talks that resulted in a free trade deal with Honduras, making Canada the first country to send its head of state to Honduras after the 2009 coup. Canada was also directly involved in reforms to Honduras’ new mining law which was brought into force in 2014 by a pro-military coup legislature.

After the 2009 coup, violence and repression escalated and has continued until today, with hundreds of campesino, Indigenous, environmental, and anti-mining activists killed in recent years. This includes Berta Caceres who was murdered in 2016 after defending Indigenous and environmental rights. The CPC demands an end to the impunity of Canadian corporations operating in Honduras and we demand justice for Berta and the other victims of military, state and para-military repression.

The ongoing attempt at a “soft-coup” in the Honduran elections are part of a pattern of increased interference and intervention in Latin America on behalf of US imperialism, which the current government in Ottawa is complicit in. Recent examples of this aggression can be seen in the soft-coup against Dilma Rousseff in Brazil and the economic war and sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.

A week after the Honduran election, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland released a statement noting concern for violence in Honduras and calling for “participatory, transparent and credible electoral processes” in the election. This mild tone was far different from the statement released by Foreign Affairs after Venezuela’s regional election in October. While there was no verifiable evidence of fraud in that election, Canada condemned the “Venezuelan regime” as well as the National Electoral Council, denounced “many irregularities” and said there was “credible concerns regarding the validity of the results”. There continues to be no evidence of electoral fraud influencing the final results in that election where United Socialist Party of Venezuela won a majority of state governorships seats. This shows that the Liberal government of Trudeau and Freeland continues to pursue a hypocritical foreign policy in our hemisphere that primarily targets progressive governments fighting for sovereignty.

The Communist Party of Canada extends its solidarity to all those fighting imperialism and fights for a foreign policy of peace, disarmament, mutually beneficial trade and sovereignty.

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada

Greek state budget: Tsipras’ government is doing the “dirty job” on behalf of the capitalists
| December 20, 2017 | 7:37 pm | Analysis, class struggle, political struggle, Syriza | No comments

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Greek state budget: Tsipras’ government is doing the “dirty job” on behalf of the capitalists
Speaking yesterday in the Parliament during the discussion on state budget, Prime Minister Tsipras developed the narrative of “post-memorandums Greece”, while presenting his government as the most capable to guarantee the recovery of the capitalists’ profitability.
PM Tsipras, bypassing the class content and character of the 2018 state budget- which, like the previous ones consists a tool for the implementation of the strategy of the capital, by attacking people’s rights, cutting social spending, providing even more tax exemptions to large business groups, etc- said with certainly that “this is the last memorandum budget, we are now doing different things with different results”.
Tsipras himself admitted that, among other things, his government “has implemented reforms that nobody ever dared to make”. In order to support his narrative, the Prime Minister referred to the congratulations that the SYRIZA-ANEL government received from its “partners”, the EU institutions and the markets. In fact, despite his claims about the so-called “fair development” that is coming, PM Tsipras actually confirmed that the antipeople-antiworker attack will continue and will be extended in the “post-memorandum” period.
In his speech about the state budget, Alexis Tsipras assured the capitalists that the SYRIZA government will respect all the antipeople-antiworker commitments it undertook in order to “consolidate its positive achievements”. But the question is the following: Positive achievements for whom? Tsipras himself gave the answer: “The end of the memorandums does not consist words of propaganda but a common place for the markets, the investors, the international bond credit rating businesses”.
The PM didn’t hide that he is committed in continuing the antipeople-antiworkers policy for the benefit of the large capital. He announced that the SYRIZA-ANEL government will implement additional measures in order to support large business groups and create a better investment environment, through new programs of supporting businessmen and measures for a powerful banking system. He pledged to provide “liguidity” to the banks, something that has already began through the ongoing auctions against people’s houses.
Within the above framework, the political “dogfight” between the government and the opposition party of New Democracy took place. The substance of the argument between them is who can serve the recovery the capital’s profitability in the most efficient way.
Tsipras and Mitsotakis blamed each other in a… race about who is the most credible servant of the capitalists and who could implement, in best possible way, the antipeople measures (also known as “reforms”).
In this context, the President of New Democracy Kyriakos Mitsotakis reiterated his claim that he himself as well as his party are ready to take the leadership of the bourgeois political management, away from the “bonds of suffocating taxation”, by creating a “smaller and more effective” state for the needs of the large business groups and by attracting “investments” through new and more privileges towards the capitalists. “Greece needs a daring plan of radical reconstruction and a determined leadership  that will implement it without hesitations” Mitsotakis said, stating that he is ready to implement- better than Tsipras- the plans of the capital.
With info from “Rizospastis”, 20/12/2017.
The Anti-Empire Report #153

By William Blum – Published December 5th, 2017

Cold War Number One: 70 years of daily national stupidity

Cold War Number Two: Still in its youth, but just as stupid

“He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.” – President Trump re Vladimir Putin after their meeting in Vietnam.

Putin later added that he knew “absolutely nothing” about Russian contacts with Trump campaign officials. “They can do what they want, looking for some sensation. But there are no sensations.”

Numerous US intelligence agencies have said otherwise. Former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, responded to Trump’s remarks by declaring: “The president was given clear and indisputable evidence that Russia interfered in the election.”

As we’ll see below, there isn’t too much of the “clear and indisputable” stuff. And this of course is the same James Clapper who made an admittedly false statement to Congress in March 2013, when he responded, “No, sir” and “not wittingly” to a question about whether the National Security Agency was collecting “any type of data at all” on millions of Americans. Lies don’t usually come in any size larger than that.

Virtually every member of Congress who has publicly stated a position on the issue has criticized Russia for interfering in the 2016 American presidential election. And it would be very difficult to find a member of the mainstream media which has questioned this thesis.

What is the poor consumer of news to make of these gross contradictions? Here are some things to keep in mind:

How do we know that the tweets and advertisements “sent by Russians” -– those presented as attempts to sway the vote -– were actually sent by Russians? The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), composed of National Security Agency and CIA veterans, recently declared that the CIA knows how to disguise the origin of emails and tweets. The Washington Post has as well reported that Twitter “makes it easy for users to hide their true identities.”  Even if these communications were actually sent from Russia, how do we know that they came from the Russian government, and not from any of the other 144.3 million residents of Russia?

Even if they were sent by the Russian government, we have to ask: Why would they do that? Do the Russians think the United States is a Third World, under-developed, backward Banana Republic easily influenced and moved by a bunch of simple condemnations of the plight of blacks in America and the Clinton “dynasty”? Or clichéd statements about other controversial issues, such as gun rights and immigration? If so, many Democratic and Republican officials would love to know the secret of the Russians’ method. Consider also that Facebook has stated that 90 percent of the alleged-Russian-bought content that ran on its network did not even mention Trump or Clinton.

On top of all this is the complete absence of even the charge, much less with any supporting evidence, of Russian interference in the actual voting or counting of votes.

After his remark suggesting he believed Putin’s assertion that there had been no Russian meddling in the election, Trump – of course, as usual – attempted to backtrack and distant himself from his words after drawing criticism at home; while James Clapper declared: “The fact the president of the United States would take Putin at his word over that of the intelligence community is quite simply unconscionable.”

Given Clapper’s large-size lie referred to above, can Trump be faulted for being skeptical of the intelligence community’s Holy Writ? Purposeful lies of the intelligence community during the first Cold War were legendary, many hailed as brilliant tactics when later revealed. The CIA, for example, had phoney articles and editorials planted in foreign newspapers (real Fake News), made sex films of target subjects caught in flagrante delicto who had been lured to Agency safe houses by female agents, had Communist embassy personnel expelled because of phoney CIA documents, and much more.

The Post recently published an article entitled “How did Russian trolls get into your Facebook feed? Silicon Valley made it easy.” In the midst of this “exposé,” The Post stated: “There’s no way to tell if you personally saw a Russian post or tweet.”  So … Do the Cold Warriors have a case to make or do they not? Or do they just want us to remember that the Russkis are bad? So it goes.

An organization in the Czech Republic with the self-appointed name of European Values has produced a lengthy report entitled “The Kremlin’s Platform for ‘Useful Idiots’ in the West: An Overview of RT’s Editorial Strategy and Evidence of Impact”. It includes a long list of people who have appeared on the Russian-owned TV station RT (formerly Russia Today), which can be seen in the US, the UK and other countries. Those who’ve been guests on RT are the “idiots” useful to Moscow. (The list is not complete. I’ve been on RT about five times, but I’m not listed. Where is my Idiot Badge?)

RT’s YouTube channel has more than two million followers and claims to be the “most-watched news network” on the video site. Its Facebook page has more than 4 million likes and followers. Can this explain why the powers-that-be forget about a thing called freedom-of-speech and treat the station like an enemy? The US government recently forced RT America to register as a foreign agent and has cut off the station’s Congressional press credentials.

The Cold War strategist, George Kennan, wrote prophetically: “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.”

Writer John Wight has described the new Cold War as being “in response to Russia’s recovery from the demise of the Soviet Union and the failed attempt to turn the country into a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington via the imposition of free market economic shock treatment thereafter.”

So let’s see what other brilliance the New Cold War brings us. … Ah yes, another headline in the Post(November 18, 2017): “British alarm rising over possible Russian meddling in Brexit”. Of course, why else would the British people have voted to leave the European Union? But wait a moment, again, one of the British researchers behind the report “said that the accounts they analyzed – which claimed Russian as their language when they were set up but tweeted in English – posted a mixture of pro-‘leave’ and pro-‘remain’ messages regarding Brexit. Commentators have said that the goal may simply have been to sow discord and division in society.”

Was there ever a time when the Post would have been embarrassed to be so openly, amateurishly biased about Russia? Perhaps during the few years between the two Cold Wars.

In case you don’t remember how stupid Cold War Number One was …

  • 1948: The Pittsburgh Press published the names, addresses, and places of employment of about 1,000 citizens who had signed presidential-nominating petitions for former Vice President Henry Wallace, running under the Progressive Party. This, and a number of other lists of “communists”, published in the mainstream media, resulted in people losing their jobs, being expelled from unions, having their children abused, being denied state welfare benefits, and suffering various other punishments.
  • Around 1950: The House Committee on Un-American Activities published a pamphlet, “100 Things You Should Know About Communism in the U.S.A.” This included information about what a communist takeover of the United States would mean:Q: What would happen to my insurance?A: It would go to the Communists.

    Q: Would communism give me something better than I have now?

    A: Not unless you are in a penitentiary serving a life sentence at hard labor.

  • 1950s: Mrs. Ada White, member of the Indiana State Textbook Commission, believed that Robin Hood was a Communist and urged that books that told the Robin Hood story be banned from Indiana schools.
  • As evidence that anti-communist mania was not limited to the lunatic fringe or conservative newspaper publishers, here is Clark Kerr, president of the University of California at Berkeley in a 1959 speech: “Perhaps 2 or even 20 million people have been killed in China by the new [communist] regime.” One person wrote to Kerr: “I am wondering how you would judge a person who estimates the age of a passerby on the street as being ‘perhaps 2 or even 20 years old.’ Or what would you think of a physician who tells you to take ‘perhaps 2 or even twenty teaspoonsful of a remedy’?”
  • Throughout the cold war, traffic in phoney Lenin quotes was brisk, each one passed around from one publication or speaker to another for years. Here’s U.S. News and World Report in 1958 demonstrating communist duplicity by quoting Lenin: “Promises are like pie crusts, made to be broken.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles used it in a speech shortly afterward, one of many to do so during the cold war. Lenin actually did use a very similar line, but he explicitly stated that he was quoting an English proverb (it comes from Jonathan Swift) and his purpose was to show the unreliability of the bourgeoisie, not of communists.“First we will take Eastern Europe, then the masses of Asia, then we will encircle the United States, which will be the last bastion of capitalism. We will not have to attack. It will fall like an overripe fruit into our hands.” This Lenin “quotation” had the usual wide circulation, even winding up in the Congressional Record in 1962. This was not simply a careless attribution; this was an out-and-out fabrication; an extensive search, including by the Library of Congress and the United States Information Agency failed to find its origin.
  • A favorite theme of the anti-communists was that a principal force behind drug trafficking was a communist plot to demoralize the United States. Here’s a small sample:Don Keller, District Attorney for San Diego County, California in 1953: “We know that more heroin is being produced south of the border than ever before and we are beginning to hear stories of financial backing by big shot Communists operating out of Mexico City.”Henry Giordano, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1964, interviewed in the American Legion Magazine: Interviewer: “I’ve been told that the communists are trying to flood our country with narcotics to weaken our moral and physical stamina. Is that true?”

    Giordano: “As far as the drugs are concerned, it’s true. There’s a terrific flow of drugs coming out of Yunnan Province of China. … There’s no question that in that particular area this is the aim of the Red Chinese. It should be apparent that if you could addict a population you would degrade a nation’s moral fiber.”

    Fulton Lewis, Jr., prominent conservative radio broadcaster and newspaper columnist, 1965: “Narcotics of Cuban origin – marijuana, cocaine, opium, and heroin – are now peddled in big cities and tiny hamlets throughout this country. Several Cubans arrested by the Los Angeles police have boasted they are communists.”

    We were also told that along with drugs another tool of the commies to undermine America’s spirit was fluoridation of the water.

  • Mickey Spillane was one of the most successful writers of the 1950s, selling millions of his anti-communist thriller mysteries. Here is his hero, Mike Hammer, in “One Lonely Night”, boasting of his delight in the grisly murders he commits, all in the name of destroying a communist plot to steal atomic secrets. After a night of carnage, the triumphant Hammer gloats, “I shot them in cold blood and enjoyed every minute of it. I pumped slugs into the nastiest bunch of bastards you ever saw. … They were Commies. … Pretty soon what’s left of Russia and the slime that breeds there won’t be worth mentioning and I’m glad because I had a part in the killing. God, but it was fun!”
  • 1952: A campaign against the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) because it was tainted with “atheism and communism”, and was “subversive” because it preached internationalism. Any attempt to introduce an international point of view in the schools was seen as undermining patriotism and loyalty to the United States. A bill in the US Senate, clearly aimed at UNESCO, called for a ban on the funding of “any international agency that directly or indirectly promoted one-world government or world citizenship.” There was also opposition to UNESCO’s association with the UN Declaration of Human Rights on the grounds that it was trying to replace the American Bill of Rights with a less liberty-giving covenant of human rights.
  • 1955: A US Army 6-page pamphlet, “How to Spot a Communist”, informed us that a communist could be spotted by his predisposition to discuss civil rights, racial and religious discrimination, the immigration laws, anti-subversive legislation, curbs on unions, and peace. Good Americans were advised to keep their ears stretched for such give-away terms as “chauvinism”, “book-burning”, “colonialism”, “demagogy”, “witch hunt”, “reactionary”, “progressive”, and “exploitation”. Another “distinguishing mark” of “Communist language” was a “preference for long sentences.” After some ridicule, the Army rescinded the pamphlet.
  • 1958: The noted sportscaster Bill Stern (one of the heroes of my innocent youth) observed on the radio that the lack of interest in “big time” football at New York University, City College of New York, Chicago, and Harvard “is due to the widespread acceptance of Communism at the universities.”
  • 1960: US General Thomas Power speaking about nuclear war or a first strike by the US: “The whole idea is to kill the bastards! At the end of the war, if there are two Americans and one Russian, we win!” The response from one of those present was: “Well, you’d better make sure that they’re a man and a woman.”
  • 1966: The Boys Club of America is of course wholesome and patriotic. Imagine their horror when they were confused with the Dubois Clubs. (W.E.B. Du Bois had been a very prominent civil rights activist.) When the Justice Department required the DuBois Clubs to register as a Communist front group, good loyal Americans knew what to do. They called up the Boys Club to announce that they would no longer contribute any money, or to threaten violence against them; and sure enough an explosion damaged the national headquarters of the youth group in San Francisco. Then former Vice President Richard Nixon, who was national board chairman of the Boys Club, declared: “This is an almost classic example of Communist deception and duplicity. The ‘DuBois Clubs’ are not unaware of the confusion they are causing among our supporters and among many other good citizens.”
  • 1966: “Rhythm, Riots and Revolution: An Analysis of the Communist Use of Music, The Communist Master Music Plan”, by David A. Noebel, published by Christian Crusade Publications, (expanded version of 1965 pamphlet: “Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles”). Some chapters: Communist Use of Mind Warfare … Nature of Red Record Companies … Destructive Nature of Beatle Music … Communist Subversion of Folk Music … Folk Music and the Negro Revolution … Folk Music and the College Revolution
  • 1968: William Calley, US Army Lieutenant, charged with overseeing the massacre of more than 100 Vietnamese civilians in My Lai in 1968, said some years later: “In all my years in the Army I was never taught that communists were human beings. We were there to kill ideology carried by – I don’t know – pawns, blobs, pieces of flesh. I was there to destroy communism. We never conceived of old people, men, women, children, babies.”
  • 1977: Scientists theorized that the earth’s protective ozone layer was being damaged by synthetic chemicals called chlorofluorocarbons. The manufacturers and users of CFCs were not happy. They made life difficult for the lead scientist. The president of one aerosol manufacturing firm suggested that criticism of CFCs was “orchestrated by the Ministry of Disinformation of the KGB.”
  • 1978: Life inside a California youth camp of the ultra anti-communist John Birch Society: Five hours each day of lectures on communism, Americanism and “The Conspiracy”; campers learned that the Soviet government had created a famine and spread a virus to kill a large number of citizens and make the rest of them more manageable; the famine led starving adults to eat their children; communist guerrillas in Southeast Asia jammed chopsticks into children’s ears, piercing their eardrums; American movies are all under the control of the Communists; the theme is always that capitalism is no better than communism; you can’t find a dictionary now that isn’t under communist influence; the communists are also taking over the Bibles.
  • The Reagan administration declared that the Russians were spraying toxic chemicals over Laos, Cambodia and Afghanistan – the so-called “yellow rain” – and had caused more than ten thousand deaths by 1982 alone, (including, in Afghanistan, 3,042 deaths attributed to 47 separate incidents between the summer of 1979 and the summer of 1981, so precise was the information). Secretary of State Alexander Haig was a prime dispenser of such stories, and President Reagan himself denounced the Soviet Union thusly more than 15 times in documents and speeches. The “yellow rain”, it turned out, was pollen-laden feces dropped by huge swarms of honeybees flying far overhead.
  • 1982: In commenting about sexual harassment in the Army, General John Crosby stated that the Army doesn’t care about soldiers’ social lives – “The basic purpose of the United States Army is to kill Russians,” he said.
  • 1983: The US invasion of Grenada, the home of the Cuban ambassador is damaged and looted by American soldiers; on one wall is written “AA”, symbol of the 82nd Airborne Division; beside it the message: “Eat shit, commie faggot.” … “I want to fuck communism out of this little island,” says a marine, “and fuck it right back to Moscow.”
  • 1984: During a sound check just before his weekly broadcast, President Reagan spoke these words into the microphone: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I have signed legislation to outlaw Russia, forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” His words were picked up by at least two radio networks.
  • 1985: October 29 BBC interview with Ronald Reagan: asked about the differences he saw between the US and Russia, the president replied: “I’m no linguist, but I’ve been told that in the Russian language there isn’t even a word for freedom.” (The word is “svoboda”.)
  • 1986: Soviet artists and cultural officials criticized Rambo-like American films as an expression of “anti-Russian phobia even more pathological than in the days of McCarthyism”. Russian film-maker Stanislav Rostofsky claimed that on one visit to an American school “a young girl trembled with fury when she heard I was from the Soviet Union, and said she hated Russians.”
  • 1986: Roy Cohn, who achieved considerable fame and notoriety in the 1950s as an assistant to the communist-witch-hunting Senator Joseph McCarthy, died, reportedly of AIDS. Cohn, though homosexual, had denied that he was and had denounced such rumors as communist smears.
  • 1986: After American journalist Nicholas Daniloff was arrested in Moscow for “spying” and held in custody for two weeks, New York Mayor Edward Koch sent a group of 10 visiting Soviet students storming out of City Hall in fury. “The Soviet government is the pits,” said Koch, visibly shocking the students, ranging in age from 10 to 18 years. One 14-year-old student was so outraged he declared: “I don’t want to stay in this house. I want to go to the bus and go far away from this place. The mayor is very rude. We never had a worse welcome anywhere.” As matters turned out, it appeared that Daniloff had not been completely pure when it came to his news gathering.
  • 1989: After the infamous Chinese crackdown on dissenters in Tiananmen Square in June, the US news media was replete with reports that the governments of Nicaragua, Vietnam and Cuba had expressed their support of the Chinese leadership. Said the Wall Street Journal: “Nicaragua, with Cuba and Vietnam, constituted the only countries in the world to approve the Chinese Communists’ slaughter of the students in Tiananmen Square.” But it was all someone’s fabrication; no such support had been expressed by any of the three governments. At that time, as now, there were few, if any, organizations other than the CIA which could manipulate major Western media in such a manner.

NOTE: It should be remembered that the worst consequences of anti-communism were not those discussed above. The worst consequences, the ultra-criminal consequences, were the abominable death, destruction, and violation of human rights that we know under various names: Vietnam, Chile, Korea, Guatemala, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brazil, Greece, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and many others.

Al Franken

Poor Al, who made us laugh for years on Saturday Night Live, is now disgraced as a woman molester – not one of the worst of the current pathetic crop, but he still looks bad. However, everything is relative, and it must be pointed out that the Senator is guilty of a worse moral transgression.

The erstwhile comedian would like you to believe that he was against the war in Iraq since it began. But he went to that sad country at least four times to entertain American troops. Does that make sense? Why does the Defense Department bring entertainers to military bases? To lift the soldiers’ spirits of course. And why does the military want to lift the soldiers’ spirits? Because a happier soldier does his job better. And what is the soldier’s job? For example, all the charming war crimes and human-rights violations in Iraq that have been documented in great detail for many years. Didn’t Franken know what American soldiers do for a living?

Country singer Darryl Worley, who leans “a lot to the right,” as he puts it, said he was far from pleased that Franken was coming along on the tour to Iraq. “You know, I just don’t understand – why would somebody be on this tour if they’re not supportive of the war? If he decides to play politics, I’m not gonna put up with it.”

A year after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, Franken criticized the Bush administration because they “failed to send enough troops to do the job right.”  What “job” did the man think the troops were sent to do that had not been performed to his standards because of lack of manpower? Did he want them to be more efficient at killing Iraqis who resisted the occupation? The volunteer American troops in Iraq did not even have the defense of having been drafted against their wishes.

Franken has been lifting soldiers’ spirits for a long time. In 2009 he was honored by the United Service Organization (USO) for his ten years of entertaining troops abroad. That includes Kosovo in 1999, as imperialist an occupation as you’ll ever want to see. He called his USO experience “one of the best things I’ve ever done.”  Franken has also spoken at West Point (2005), encouraging the next generation of imperialist warriors. Is this a man to challenge the militarization of America at home and abroad?

Tom Hayden wrote this about Franken in 2005 when Franken had a regular program on the Air America radio network: “Is anyone else disappointed with Al Franken’s daily defense of the continued war in Iraq? Not Bush’s version of the war, because that would undermine Air America’s laudable purpose of rallying an anti-Bush audience. But, well, Kerry’s version of the war, one that can be better managed and won, somehow with better body armor and fewer torture cells.”

While in Iraq to entertain the troops, Franken declared that the Bush administration “blew the diplomacy so we didn’t have a real coalition,” then failed to send enough troops to do the job right. “Out of sheer hubris, they have put the lives of these guys in jeopardy.”

Franken was implying that if the United States had been more successful in bribing and threatening other countries to lend their name to the coalition fighting the war in Iraq the United States would have had a better chance of WINNING the war.

Is this the sentiment of someone opposed to the war? Or in support of it? It is actually the mind of an American liberal in all its depressing mushiness.

To be put on the tombstone of Western civilization

On November 15, 2017, at Christie’s auction house in New York City, a painting was sold for $450,312,500.


  1. Washington Post, November 12, 2017
  2. Washington Post, October 10, 2017
  3. Washington Post, November 15, 2017
  4. Reuters, November 12, 2017
  5. Washington Post, November 2, 2017
  6. Wikipedia entry for George Kennan
  7. Sources for almost all of this section can be found in William Blum, “Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire” (2005), chapter 12; or the author can be queried at
  8. Washington Post, February 16, 2004
  9. Ibid.
  10. Star Tribune, Minneapolis, March 26, 2009
  11. Huffington Post, June 2005
  12. Washington Post, February 16, 2004

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to is provided.