Ecuador: A Revolution In Motion

Laura Bécquer Paseiro

THE Alianza PAÍS (AP) in Ecuador has officially nominated current President Rafael Correa as its candidate in the country’s February 17, 2013 presidential elections. In this way the political movement which embodies the Citizens Revolution led by Correa since 2007 is looking to ensure continuity in the process of change underway in the country. Correa’s running mate will be current Minister of Strategic Sectors Jorge Glas.

The two will work together to eradicate poverty through the equitable distribution of wealth, they affirmed during the national AP convention, held November 10-11.

The President, speaking to thousands of supporters, said that much progress has been made over the past five years, but much remains to be done. “Only with political power serving the vast majority is it possible to change this reality and transform the bourgeois state, which serves a few, into a popular state at the service of the poorest.”

In response to the current situation within the country, five more fundamental proposals have been added to the movement’s original five. As a whole they are reflected in the social project proposed by Correa, based on 10 broad objectives, or revolutions, as the group describes them.

The first is the constitutional and democratic revolution established by the Montecristi Constitution, “approved by the overwhelming majority of the Ecuadorian people, which changed the neoliberal state and laid the basis for this new homeland,” according to Correa.

Nevertheless, he said, many more laws must be approved and this will be the fundamental role of AP legislative representatives, to continue this constitutional and democratic revolution over the next four-year term.

The second component of the AP platform is the economic revolution, which Correa described saying, “Our system is totally different from the one we found [upon being elected.] It doesn’t serve the IMF, but rather what the citizenry requires of the state.”

The third and fourth objectives address the social and ethical revolutions. The latter is focused on the struggle against corruption at all levels.

In addition to these efforts, Correa said, the country is asserting its sovereignty with renewed strength, “within the unity of the Great Homeland, of the process of Latin American union, with UNASUR, CELAC”, continuing efforts over the next four years to make a reality of Simón Bolívar’s dream.

At the same time, the AP proposes to lead Ecuador in an ecological revolution, to save the planet; revolutions in the areas of justice and knowledge, “to be truly free,” plus another in culture and, lastly, an urban revolution, which implies “no marginal urbanization, which has done so much harm, above all to the country’s poor,” Correa said.

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Palestine Holds Strong In Face of U.S.-backed Israeli Terror Campaign

Gaza Ceasefire Deal Shows Palestinians’ Will to Resist

An Egyptian boy leads protesters in chanting slogans against the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Washington feared uprisings in Egypt, Jordan and other countries in the region.

Richard Becker

A ceasefire agreement between the Hamas-led Palestinian government in Gaza and Israel was announced today, Nov. 21, in Cairo by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr.

Clinton made an emergency trip to the Middle East with the aim of brokering a truce, a clear sign of the Obama administration’s fears that the continuation of the brutal Israeli assault on Gaza was endangering U.S. imperialist interests in the region.

Since Israel’s latest intense bombing campaign began last week, Clinton, President Obama, and Republican and Democratic congressional leaders have repeatedly expressed all-out support for the Israeli side, while pointedly ignoring far higher Palestinian casualties.

The House of Representatives “passed” a resolution expressing its “unwavering commitment” to Israel. House Resolution 813 was introduced at 12:04 p.m. on Nov. 16, and declared adopted at 12:05 p.m. the same day!

Since Nov. 14, at least 146 Palestinians have been killed, more than 1,000 wounded, and much of Gaza’s infrastructure and public facilities destroyed by a coordinated air, sea and land-based bombardment. On the Israeli side, there have been five killed and more than 100 wounded.

To hear U.S. officials talk, you would think it was the other way around. But despite their obscenely pro-Israel rhetoric, it was also clear that Washington was fearful that a new Israeli ground invasion of Gaza might provoke rebellions in Egypt, Jordan and other neighboring Arab countries, and possibly lead to a wider war.

Despite the death and destruction inflicted by Israel, and despite the fact that it has no air force, navy, armored units or anti-aircraft defenses, the Palestinian forces have not been defeated. Virtually all news reports from inside Gaza reflect a strong determination to resist among the population.

The terms of the temporary agreement reportedly call for a halt to the fighting, an end to Israeli targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders, and undefined steps to lift the Israeli blockade that has inflicted massive suffering on the 1.6 million Palestinians in Gaza.

Lifting the blockade is a critical issue for the people of Gaza. Whether there will be any real movement toward ending the blockade remains in doubt, as does the durability of the truce as a whole.

ISRAEL’S BLOCKADE: USING FOOD AS A WEAPON

While Israel withdrew its settlers and bases from Gaza in 2005, it has kept the area surrounded and blockaded ever since. As result, half of all school children are malnourished and two-thirds of infants are anemic. Eighty percent of Gaza’s population are refugees — those driven out of other parts of Palestine by the Zionist military forces in 1948 and their descendants.

After the Hamas party won the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election, Israel imposed a complete blockade on Gaza, with the support of the United States, European Union and the client government of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. That the aim of the blockade was to make the people of Gaza suffer was highlighted by an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz the following month. It reported on a meeting of top Israeli government officials where the top advisor to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Dov Weisglass, said: “It’s like an appointment with a dietician. The Palestinians will get a lot thinner but won’t die.” According to the Haaretz report, the assembled officials “rolled with laughter,” at Weislglass’s grotesque “joke.”

THE MYTH OF ISRAEL AS VICTIM

In the 1960s, the Black Panther Party had a saying about racist cops justifying their routine killing and brutalizing of Black people by “masquerading as the victim of an unprovoked attack.” It is a description that perfectly fits Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his predecessors going back to the creation of the Israeli state in 1948.

In the U.S. corporate media, Israel is invariably depicted as the “victim.” Its brutal and cowardly military assaults are justified as “retaliation,” inferring that Israel’s actions are “self-defense.” Over and over, since the early 1950s, successive Israeli governments have staged provocations to prompt responses that could then be used to justify massive attacks while presenting Israel as the “victim of an unprovoked attack.” The aim has generally been to gain new territory and/or crush any state or movement perceived as a threat to Israeli military domination.

This familiar pattern was repeated in November 2008. The murder of five Palestinian civilians on the day after the 2008 U.S. election broke a ceasefire and set in motion a train of events that led to an all-out assault on Gaza by the Israeli military. A vast array of weaponry, including white phosphorous and depleted uranium munitions, was unleashed on a trapped population. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed, while Israeli forces had 13 killed -– a ratio of more than 100 to 1.

This time, the fatal shooting of a mentally disabled young man on Nov. 5 and a 12-year-old boy on Nov. 9, both killed by the Israeli army inside Gaza, set off the new round of fighting. Then, on Nov. 14, Israel assassinated a top Hamas leader, Ahmed Al-Jaabari, the very same day that he had been presented with a proposal for a long-term ceasefire by a joint Israeli-Egyptian commission.

These provocations were no doubt approved at the highest level of the Israeli government. The extreme right-wing Netanyahu-Lieberman government desired a new conflict both to further devastate the Palestinian infrastructure in Gaza and to advance their political prospects in the January 2013 Israeli election. That hundreds of Palestinians and some Israelis as well would die in order to achieve these objectives was incidental to the Israeli leaders.

Whether the present ceasefire holds and for how long can’t be known at this point. The only real long-term solution to the crisis is an to end to colonial occupation and real self-determination for the Palestinian people, including the right to return to their homeland.

Drones Over Iran: Remembering Vietnam

Moises Saab

IN 1964, Lyndon Baines Johnson inherited the U.S. presidency from the assassinated John F. Kennedy and the intention to initiate a conflict which Washington was sure of winning.

Barely three years had passed since the failure of the Bay of Pigs adventure and South East Asia was a suitably distant area, in addition to which the advantage of U.S. forces in terms of men and military equipment over those of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam guaranteed a victory, at least in the understanding of the Pentagon and CIA analysts.

The opportunity for unleashing the war took the form of an alleged attack by North Vietnamese vessels on U.S. warships patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin, confirmed as false with the passing of time.

The rest is history: all the calculations were erroneous and, according to those centrally involved and graphic testimonies, the U.S. departure from Saigon 11 years later was a hasty and undignified affair, to say the least.

Close to 50 years have passed since then and another conflict of incalculable magnitude is brewing in the Persian Gulf with other weapons, other strategic doctrines and different allies, but based in the same concept: the evil beast, Iran, and its alleged intention to acquire nuclear weapons.

The indications have been obvious for a number of years, since Washington initiated its campaign against the Iranian nuclear development program, the subject of comings and goings, talks and negotiations and, above all, as is habitual among the Western powers, an economic and financial blockade designed to destabilize the government of the Islamic Republic.

However, to date the dispute has remained within certain limits, in spite of pressure from the Israeli government headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, whose aggressive posture is a cause of concern for the United States, given his poor sense of timing.

Although Washington’s super-objective, the liquidation of the Islamic government in Tehran, converges with that of Israel, the means for attaining it differ, possibly prompted by memories of the fiasco in South East Asia.

However, having said that, the statement by the U.S. military command concerning an incident on November 1 in the Persian Gulf, when one of its drones was forced to withdraw by Iranian fighter planes is disturbing. Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi subsequently acknowledged that the air force forced an unknown aircraft to withdraw from its position over the country’s territorial waters.

The incident has an embarrassing precedent for Washington. Last year, Iran brought down within its territory one of these aircraft which, according to an official statement, was engaged in espionage over the Islamic Republic.

The United States asked for the return of the aircraft; Iran refused and shortly afterward announced that it was thinking of auctioning it off, after making scale models as toys, one of which it offered to send to Washington as a gift.

The conditions are present for an outbreak of hostilities which could be confined to a specific area, but could increase in intensity, by predetermined intent, interference on the part of a third party, or imponderables, which are never lacking.

The United States has transformed the Persian Gulf into a kind of military mare nostrum, in which it led multinational military maneuvers some weeks ago. The gulf’s geopolitical significance is evident given that it is an obligatory transit route for a large volume of the oil which fuels western economies.

Moreover, there is the factor of its strategic proximity to Russia and China, countries with which Washington has an unspoken but perceptible rivalry.

Given these factors, it is worth noting what importance the reelected U.S. government will concede to the incident, minimal in material consequences but which could be used to initiate a conflict similar to that unleashed in the Gulf of Tonkin, but unpredictable in its global repercussion.

Drone Incident Exposes USA Spying on Iran

Mazda Majidi

On Nov. 1, Iranian fighter jets fired towards a U.S. Air Force Predator drone over the Persian/Arabian Gulf. The drone was not hit and returned to its base. According to Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, “The drone was flying near Kharg Island and our understanding is that … it was gathering economic information and intelligence on Kharg Island and oil tankers.”

According to the Pentagon, the drone was flying in international airspace “east of Kuwait” performing “routine maritime surveillance.” U.S. Press Secretary George Little stated that the U.S. drone was about 26 kilometers (16 miles) off the Iranian coast.

The geography of the western-most part of the Persian/Arabian Gulf, where the incident occurred, makes it unlikely for the target of the drone’s surveillance to have been anything other than Iran. There are only two other countries in the region, Kuwait and Iraq. Kuwait is a U.S. client state that houses several U.S. bases. Iraq was under U.S. occupation for over eight years. The United States has no reason to gather intelligence on either Kuwait or Iraq—there is little about Kuwaiti and Iraqi facilities that the U.S. military does not already know.

Spying on Iran seems a more plausible purpose for the drone’s mission than surveying the seas. Why would the U.S. Air Force need a radar-evading drone to do “routine maritime surveillance”? And what is “routine” about the U.S. Air Force performing “surveillance” off the coast of Iran? It is not hard to imagine how the U.S. military would have reacted if an Iranian drone was performing “routine maritime surveillance” 16 miles off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico.

In accordance with international law, Iranian nautical sovereignty extends 12 miles out from its coastline. So the Pentagon’s own report indicates that the drone came within four miles of Iranian airspace, unquestionably an aggressive maneuver.

In December 2011, Iran brought down a U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel drone in eastern Iran. The United States’ claim was that the drone had malfunctioned and lost its coordinates. There have been several reports of U.S. drones flying spy missions into Iran’s airspace.

Whatever the specific coordinates of the Predator drone’s location, the fact that the United States continues to fly aircraft in or near Iranian airspace is another indication of the aggressive U.S. approach towards Iran. As the United States and its allies suffocate Iran through sanctions that have already caused severe hardship for working-class Iranians, threatening U.S. statements and military maneuvers continue.

The sanctions, the threats, the drone flyovers and the U.S. military deployment in the Gulf region are all parts of the U.S. regime-change strategy. As an independent state that does not take its orders from Washington, the Islamic Republic of Iran is a threat to global domination of U.S. oil companies and mega corporations.

Paraguay: Franco Regime Sitting on Powder Keg

JOAQUÍN RIVERY TUR

Charges of corruption against Federico Franco, including revelations about the enormous increase in his personal fortune during the five months of his administration, have undermined even further the image of those who engineered the parliamentary coup against former President Fernando Lugo, this past June.

The Franco regime has rejected the presence of observers from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), demanding that the organization recognize the constitutional legitimacy of the legislative move, during which an elected president was charged, tried and ousted in the course of 24 hours.

The high-ranking UNASUR group charged with monitoring the situation in Paraguay reported the negative response given by the current administration, which is more inclined to accept the discredited Organization of American States representatives as adequate, along with those expected from the European Union.

Former Peruvian premier Salomón Lerner, president of the UNASUR group, told Prensa Latina that the issue will be the subject of a report at the next foreign ministers meeting, scheduled for November 29, as a prelude to the UNASUR Summit to take place the following day, which will be attended by heads of state.

In addition to the insecurity and charges of corruption, the Última Hora daily newspaper adds that according to the Comptroller General, Franco’s personal fortune has grown by some 1.2 million dollars over the last few months.

Franco tried to explain the rapid increase citing a previous, allegedly erroneous evaluation of his wealth by the Comptrollers Office, which he asked to be corrected.

An international organization has described Paraguay as a state in decline, given its instability, corruption and fragile infrastructure.

A global study disseminated by the Future Brand consulting firm and picked up by Prensa Latina, ranked Paraguay as number 104 among nations analyzed for its most recent report.

The investigation presents evidence of the declining trend within the nation which appears to be going from bad to worse.

Without mincing words, Future Brand indicates that the isolated Paraguayan government faces a poor reputation and lack of confidence on a world scale, exemplified by its expulsion from the integrationist blocs MERCOSUR and UNASUR.

Add to this the social conflicts which the current government cannot, or does not care, to address, since the population is incensed by the reigning poverty, low wages, corruption and the appropriation of land by national and foreign companies.

Just this month, taking to the streets have been literacy instructors in a program initiated by Lugo, who have not received their salaries in five months and on strike some 6,000 workers and officials in the court system demanding scheduled pay increases.

Most constant have been the demands of campesinos and indigenous peoples without land, whose protests continue across the country while the best areas remain, legally or not, in the hands of foreigners. Among other actions, some agricultural workers have chained themselves to trees outside of the Parliament building.

The campesino organizations’ coordinating committee, the largest group of its kind in the country, told AP that it has begun to mobilize thousands of workers in Caazapá and Misiones provinces, demanding that the government psovide food for families living in extreme poverty and the $65 monthly subsidy established by the Lugo government.

Franco is sitting on a powder keg and the fuse is lit.

Hurricane Sandy: Capitalist Greed, Labor Heroism

Michael Bloomberg rings opening bell at NYSE as many are without basic necessities — meanwhile, traders make profits on stocks like Home Depot and Lowe’s as people scramble to repair their homes.

Workers Vanguard

Billionaire mayor Michael Bloomberg rang the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange on October 31, signaling the priority for the Wall Street financiers in the wake of Hurricane Sandy: getting the capitalists’ profit machine back up and running. Meanwhile, working people were still only beginning to pull out the bodies of family members and neighbors from the wreckage of flooded homes on Staten Island and elsewhere. The sharp juxtaposition of the high life for the masters of finance capital vs. darkness, cold, hunger, misery and death for working people, the poor and minorities led some journalists to write that New York was “a tale of two cities.”

The capitalist class has let this country’s infrastructure go to hell while waging a one-sided class war against organized labor, with the union bureaucrats working to keep labor in line. The heroes of this disaster are precisely the vilified union workers who, along with others, have toiled for days on end to save lives and get people the services they need—electricity, transportation, heat, sanitation, food, water, schools, hospitals, communications.

These are the very workers that politicians from both capitalist parties—Democrats and Republicans—have portrayed as public enemies: the heavily black and immigrant transit workers who were called “thugs” by Bloomberg when they dared to strike in 2005; the “greedy” utility workers locked out by Consolidated Edison in July for trying to hold on to promised pensions; the “lazy” schoolteachers now staffing shelters who are fighting the destruction of public education and union seniority rights; the “privileged” Verizon communications workers who went over a year without a contract after striking last year to defend health coverage; the “selfish” state employees struggling against New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie and New York Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo to maintain the right to collective bargaining. With tens of thousands now added to the legions of homeless in NYC alone, these workers’ skills, organization and self-sacrificing labor are what stands between life and death for untold numbers of people.

City workers were told they had to report to work but they had no way to get there—no subways or commuter rail, no gas for their cars and no traffic lights. Mainly immigrant taxi drivers got many of them to work, until they ran out of gas. Some who couldn’t get to their jobs were told the time would be taken out of their sick leave or vacation time! Then there is the growing army of part-time workers who don’t even have benefits for the bosses to gouge. For them it was no work, no pay, including if their workplace was closed because there was no power. The desperation to get to work without public transport or gasoline illuminated in a flash why Karl Marx called wage labor wage slavery.

Some transit workers were confined to company property for days on end, often without cots or other necessities. But workers were threatened with docked pay if they left company property to sleep in their cars. Con Ed workers have been working 16-hour shifts, struggling to bring back electricity and heat as the thermometer plunges and hypothermia emerges as another danger, particularly with a northeaster storm headed into the area. Hospital workers labored around the clock to evacuate patients when emergency backup generators failed at two of Manhattan’s largest hospitals, forcing them to close.

Government officials made damn sure that “security” would be at the head of the line for scarce resources. So while drivers’ tempers flared at those filling stations that could pump gas, where lines have reached a mile in length, cop cars had plenty of fuel. A 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew in Jersey City gave the cops license to further besiege minority neighborhoods. A black NYC transit worker told WV that he risked arrest by leaving his home at 4 a.m. to report to Manhattan for work. In the face of police intimidation, on November 2 some 50 black residents of one of Jersey City’s poorest neighborhoods rallied outside its City Hall chanting, “What do we want? Electricity! When do we want it? Now!”

The teeming prison population on Rikers Island, in a treacherous stretch of the East River, was threatened with the kind of homicidal racist treatment meted out during Hurricane Katrina. Asked before Sandy hit about the safety of the 12,000 inmates, Bloomberg replied that “jails are secured. Don’t worry about anybody getting out.”

After ringing in the stock exchange, Bloomberg’s priority was to hear the starting gun for the New York City Marathon, which brings in millions for business owners. With electric power desperately needed everywhere, some 41 generators were held in reserve for the race. Tens of thousands of bottles of drinking water, massive stores of food, thousands of blankets, and the labor of emergency medical services, sanitation, parks department and volunteers were secured for the exclusive use of a run starting on the Verrazano Bridge, barely a mile from where most of the drowning victims have been found. A mounting uproar from the public—and from sanitation workers who appealed to union officials that they should be mobilized to help suffering Staten Island and Queens residents instead—finally pushed Bloomberg back from his plan to prance on the dead and the forsaken.

Chris Christie’s embrace of Barack Obama as they toured the devastated Jersey Shore was a bipartisan photo-op. Christie was angling for a big chunk of federal money while Obama and his media entourage put out the message that “we’re all in this together”—patriotic eyewash intended to blind people from seeing the irrationality, inequalities and advanced decay of this class-divided society on the eve of a presidential election.

Class Divide

Chris Christie’s embrace of Barack Obama as they toured the devastated Jersey Shore was a bipartisan photo-op. Christie was angling for a big chunk of federal money while Obama and his media entourage put out the message that “we’re all in this together”—patriotic eyewash intended to blind people from seeing the irrationality, inequalities and advanced decay of this class-divided society on the eve of a presidential election.

Hurricane Sandy was a natural disaster enormously compounded by the anarchy of the capitalist system of production for profit. As the five-year-long financial crisis grinds on, not a few of those trying to pick their lives back up are unemployed or, if they have found work, are stuck in part-time jobs at miserable pay—one of the few areas of job growth in the so-called “recovery.”

Every natural disaster has social implications. Hurricane Katrina slammed smack into the racial oppression that is the bedrock of the American capitalist system. The predominantly black population of New Orleans’ Ninth Ward was trapped by systematic racial segregation as Katrina hit. They were left to drown as the cops impeded evacuation attempts and relief efforts. As Hurricane Sandy developed, people in Haiti suffered disproportionately, as is always the case in that wretchedly impoverished country under U.S. imperialism’s heel. Even though Haiti was hit only by the storm’s tail, the death toll reached 54. The hurricane left in its wake a renewed threat of cholera, at a time when more than 300,000 people in the capital of Port-au-Prince are still living in camps for those displaced by the January 2010 earthquake.

When Sandy hit the U.S., it threw its biggest punches mainly at waterfront properties along the Jersey Shore, Staten Island, Coney Island, the Rockaways and further east on Long Island, affecting people of all races. The better-off residents of those areas are used to having the social services and standard of living that all people should have. The deprivation, danger and neglect they suffer today offer a bitter taste of what life is like for minorities and the poor in the U.S. on a daily basis.

Also hard-hit were those living in public housing projects that were constructed along NYC waterfront areas back when those plots were cheap to build on, in a no man’s land of slaughterhouses, factories and warehouses. The projects’ mainly black and Latino residents, including many elderly and infirm, have now been entombed for almost a week in high-rises without elevators, heat or water. Some projects have been ringed with a heavy police presence in a show of intimidation and repression. Residents are surviving on the strength of their ingenuity and solidarity, making communal kitchens with dwindling food supplies, relying on the healthy to trudge up the many flights of stairs with water, guiding those trapped alone to the comfort of company through pitch-black stairwells and corridors.

Volunteer efforts have been crippled by the absence of both gas and any well-coordinated plan to get the right services and supplies where they are needed. The Bloomberg administration, for one, decided to keep Red Cross disaster trucks safe from harm by parking them far from the city! Volunteer aid cannot begin to substitute for the resources at the disposal of federal, state and municipal governments. From the Jersey Shore to Long Island, people have been screaming: Where’s the help we need from this government? This government is the executive body of the capitalist ruling class, and its priority is the pursuit of private profit, not human need. The authorities are patting themselves on the back for providing unusually accurate forecasts about the hurricane and issuing mandatory evacuation orders. So those with means escaped to the comfort of their second homes or to hotel rooms. But what do you do if you’re poor and have to rely on nonexistent public transport? At best, it meant risking your well-being in a city shelter overflowing with people and with barely any provisions.

Capitalist Bloodsuckers

The gas shortages that had drivers fuming recalled the last time there was fuel rationing: the gas crisis of the mid 1970s. Then, as now, market calculations intensified and magnified people’s misery. As we wrote in “Expropriate the Energy Trusts!” (WV No. 145, 18 February 1977): “In order to maximize the rate of profit, all capitalists therefore seek to minimize unused capacity and inventories. That is why any significant change in natural conditions—drought or flood, arctic freeze or heat wave—produces under the capitalist mode of production ‘emergencies’ for which adequate preparations and material reserves do not exist.”

Profiteering is already at work in the wake of the storm. Lumber futures hit a 19-month high, and stock prices for Home Depot and Lowe’s are also up. Devastated homeowners will likely have to pay more for building supplies due to the “magic of the marketplace.” There is nothing new here. Referring to the Great Fire of 1835, which destroyed New York City’s financial district, Friedrich Engels wrote in “Outlines of a Critique of Political Economy” (1844): “The speculator always counts on disasters, particularly on bad harvests. He utilizes everything—for instance, the New York fire in its time—and immorality’s culminating point is the speculation on the Stock Exchange, where history, and with it mankind, is demoted to a means of gratifying the avarice of the calculating and gambling speculator.”

Recently, the scoundrels who run profit-bloated Con Ed and charge exorbitant rates for electricity announced plans for yet another steep rate increase. These same bosses, backed by Governor Cuomo, strong-armed the utility workers union into making major concessions to end the lockout this summer, giving the lie to the union tops’ tired refrain that Con Ed bosses and workers are a “family.” Electricity is not a luxury; it is a necessity of life. Private ownership of electrical power is an anachronism. Con Ed and all other private utilities should be expropriated without compensation—a task for a workers government.

From New Jersey and Pennsylvania to New England, the massive rebuilding effort cries out for labor to organize the unorganized at union wages and full benefits. Worker safety and public safety depend on organized labor flexing its muscle to shut down unsafe work on the spot. The harrowing record of toppling cranes and collapsed scaffolding in New York City the past several years are deadly evidence of the low-bidder system, cronyism and the demise of union power. A renewed labor movement should fight for jobs for all, with wages fully indexed to inflation. This country urgently needs a massive program of public works to rebuild bridges, roads, housing, mass transit and other infrastructure. Against all manner of reformist “socialists” who argue that capitalism’s priorities should be reordered for butter, not guns, we speak the truth—it will take a socialist revolution to get this done, and to aid in rebuilding Iraq and other countries around the world that have been ravaged by U.S. imperialism.

Build a Workers Party!

The workers who are toiling mightily to get this region running again know they don’t need their bosses, much less FEMA or any other branch of the bosses’ government, to tell them how to do their jobs. In this fact is the germ of the understanding that the working class has the capacity, through its collective labor and organization, to run society for the benefit of all.

So how does the capitalist profit system, with its glaring inequality separating a tiny handful of exploiters from the vast majority, keep running? Why is there abundant and growing misery, yet an absence of class struggle? Fear, hopelessness, racial and ethnic divisions in the working class, the use of state repression against any challenge to the status quo: these are part of the answer. Another fundamental reason is false consciousness—a deep and misplaced belief among working people in the lie of capitalist “democracy,” reinforced by the rulers’ “death of communism” ideology.

As we go to press, those among the workers and poor who exercise their “freedom” to vote will help choose who will exploit and repress them for the next four years. At the same time, there is justified fear among black people that their hard-won right to vote is threatened.

The ideological chains that bind workers to their exploiters are reinforced by their misleaders in the union movement, the labor bureaucrats whose own relative positions of privilege are earned as loyal servants to the capitalist system. Every union has a political action committee that takes members’ dues to promote Democratic Party politicians (with a nod to the occasional Republican as well). Those dues are needed for strike funds and organizing drives. But that means fighting for a new, class-struggle leadership of the union movement, one that doesn’t scrape and bow to the Democratic Party.

Every worker knows the importance of having the right tool for the job at hand. If we are to have a society where working people can enjoy the fruits of their labor and stop paying the price for the capitalists who have looted this country’s wealth, if we are to have a rationally planned centralized economy that will lay the basis for eradicating poverty, racial oppression and other ills, then what we need is a workers government. The tool to achieve that is a workers party—a U.S. section of a revolutionary international—that fights for all the exploited and oppressed. Building this party is the task to which the Spartacist League is dedicated.

End the Violence: Down with Israeli Apartheid Regime!

Nina Westbury
Crimson Satellite

The Israeli government has once again unleashed unthinkable terror upon the people of Gaza. The U.S. Administration of the reelected peace prize President Obama has predictably sided with its Zionist client, while the government of Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi — who barely squeaked by with a majority in an election marked by low turnout and fraud — has tried to assert itself as a mediator. The stage has been set for another “clash of civilizations” charade with too many casualties.

Yet this is not a conflict between Jews and Muslims. It is an engineered crisis designed to advance the goals of the Greater Middle East Project, which weakens the region to allow for easier corporate exploitation. Stopping the violence requires thinking beyond the tired binary of “pro-Israeli” and “pro-Palestinian.” Any person with even a grain of decency sympathizes with the deeply oppressed Palestinians against the Israeli apartheid regime.

Opposition to the state of Israel cannot be channeled into support for the ineffective reactionaries of Hamas or the Muslim Brotherhood — organizations whose platforms perpetuate the subjugation of workers to their exploiters and call for theocracy. The only lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the one least often discussed: the one state solution. A model for such a solution is outlined in Muammar Gaddafi’s Isratin Proposal.

A one state solution means a secular government administered on the basis of direct democracy. This is the path that allows for healing, reconciliation, and shared prosperity. It is also a stepping stone towards building a socialist federation of the Middle East. In opposition to the pro-capitalist, divinely-inspired autocrats that govern Israel, Iran, and the Gulf monarchies, the socialist federation would stand for:

1) Women’s equality.

2) Workers owning the profits of their labor.

3) Free healthcare; quality, affordable education for all; and massive public works projects to develop infrastructure and housing.

4) Full democratic rights for gays and lesbians.

5) Nationalization of oil and other resources.

6) Solidarity with revolutionary governments worldwide.

This is just the beginning. Of course, such an entity is at this point in time a distant dream. It may seem unrealistic and futile to pursue such a vision. But this is the only permanent way out of the crisis. Making this idea a reality will require numerous monumental tasks: Hebrew-speaking and Arabic-speaking workers will have to realize that they share a common class enemy. Squabbles that appear religious in nature have to be understood through the lens of the globalist chessboard. The controlled opposition provided by Hamas, Hizbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood has to be exposed as fraudulent.

In the immediate term, it is the task of activists to demand the Israeli regime be held accountable for its continued transgressions against the people of the world — in Palestine, in Syria, in Africa, or anywhere else.