Israel-Palestine “Peace Talk” Charade Highlights Need for One-State Solution

Deja vu? Misleaders once again going through the motions to pretend a "two-state solution" is possible.

Deja vu? Misleaders once again going through the motions to pretend a “two-state solution” is possible.

Nina Westbury
Crimson Satellite

Another round of discussions in the farcical Israeli-Palestinian “peace process” are likely to begin soon, if last night’s negotiations between Israeli minister Tzipi Livini and Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat prove fruitful. Corporate media is once again prepared to go through the motions, pretending that bringing together the fascist demagogues of the Netanyahu regime and the unprincipled, corrupt Abbas government under the watchful eye of continued Iraq war apologist John Kerry could yield some progress towards a “two-state solution” — in which the impoverished rump state of Palestine remains divided and the admittedly Apartheid-inspired Zionist regime continues down the path of unchecked militarism.

In opposition to the manufactured narrative that only a two-state ‘solution’ is feasible, Muammar Gaddafi posited another idea. Instead of giving in to religious divisions, a secular direct democracy should emerge in “Isratine.” Peace will only be sustainable when the working classes of both countries overthrow their elite misleaders and establish socialism. This is a momentous task and the obstacles in the way of this vision are daunting. But the egalitarian one-state solution alone will bring a permanent to end to a crisis which constantly claims the lives of peaceable adults and children and risks nuclear war or other environmental disasters.

The neocon myth of violent “jihadi” Arabs and Muslims, spread by terrorists groups they themselves created and funded, is contradicted by anti-imperial and egalitarian political traditions that have existed in the Islamic world stretching from Algeria to Iran. While these histories may now appear to be decisively buried, humanity’s continued survival depends on those involved in seemingly-unresolvable conflicts like that in Israel-Palestine discovering class-conscious unity and engineering proletarian movements that can overthrow the violent and chaotic capitalist system.

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Gutting the Voting Rights Act: Supreme Court Spits on Black Rights

marching-for-the-right-to-vote

Workers Vanguard

“Our country has changed,” wrote Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts in the majority decision striking down the section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that gives it teeth. In a five-to-four ruling, the Court effectively found its “pre-clearance” provision, i.e., prior approval from the Justice Department to fiddle with voting rules, too onerous for those states subject to it.

The gutting of the Voting Rights Act, which in its own words was meant to “enforce the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution,” is nothing but a punch in the face to black people. Part of the legal consolidation of the democratic gains that black people won, gun in hand, in the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment granted the right to vote regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” But following the defeat of Reconstruction, it became a dead letter in the states of the old Confederacy, which employed poll taxes, literacy tests and other dirty tricks—backed up by the lynch-rope terror of the Ku Klux Klan and local police (often intertwined)—to keep black people from casting their ballots. It took a mass movement, and no small sacrifice of lives, to crush Jim Crow segregation in the South and wrest reforms such as the Voting Rights Act from the ruling class.

Signaling how little racist capitalist America has changed, the states that had fallen under federal oversight celebrated the Supreme Court decision by immediately gearing up their machinery of voter suppression. Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and Virginia rushed to implement new voter ID laws that will redound against not just black people but many others at the bottom of society—Latinos, the poor, the elderly. In Arizona, where authorities have gone to great lengths to one-up the Obama administration’s anti-immigrant crackdown, state attorney general Tom Horne railed that the Voting Rights Act “humiliates Arizona by making it say ‘Mother may I’ to the federal government every time it wants to change some remarkably minor laws.” Meanwhile, North Carolina and other states are moving to drastically cut early voting and eliminate same-day registration.

The Court’s ruling should come as no surprise. Chief Justice Roberts is but one of those on the Court who were schooled in the legal doctrine of “strict constructionism,” which in plain English means rolling back rights that black people and others have gained through struggle. Roberts has been devoted to this pursuit since his days as a Justice Department lawyer under Ronald Reagan. Commenting on Roberts’ and Samuel J. Alito’s confirmation hearings, we observed: “Theirs is not a mere ‘judicial philosophy’ but the expression in the legal/judicial realm of the call that the ‘South will rise again’” (WV No. 864, 17 February 2006). For Senate Democrats at the time, the reactionary views of these Bush nominees were not an issue. Despite Democrats’ rancor over the Voting Rights Act decision, Barack Obama and his party have done their part to downplay the enduring character of racial oppression, not least through Obama’s much-lauded comment in 2008 that the civil rights movement took black people “90 percent of the way” to full equality.

The reality is that by every measure—employment, income, housing, education—the yawning gap between white and black America persists to this day. Nearly 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, black people are still blown away on the streets of this country simply for their appearance, as was 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year. Today his vigilante killer is on trial, but only because nationwide protest prompted his arrest. Across the country, the police routinely stop, frisk, beat and jail black youth, although not to the satisfaction of NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg, who recently lamented that “we disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little.” Mass incarceration has left some 13 percent of black men with felony convictions. If ever released, most of them continue to be stripped of basic rights, including the franchise.

The “end of racism” nonsense plays into the hands of right-wing reactionaries as they go about instilling their view that oppressed minorities deserve nothing, ever. Take Justice Antonin Scalia sneering in February that pre-clearance is the “perpetuation of a racial entitlement.” Cut of the same cloth was the Supreme Court’s recent seven-to-one ruling that puts another nail in the coffin of affirmative action—also a gain, however minimal, of the civil rights movement. The case was kicked back to a lower court for consideration under a new standard that will make it even harder for universities to consider race in admissions. The ongoing racist purge of higher education and skyrocketing tuition costs cry out for a fight for free, quality, racially integrated education for everyone, through the university level.

These judicial feats turning back the clock have been very easy to carry out. Why? Time and again, the capitalist Democratic Party politicians who pass for leaders of the black masses have diverted justified anger back into electoral politics, as have the bureaucrats atop the trade unions. The resulting low ebb in social and class struggle has put wind in the sails of the decades-long effort to roll back the gains of the civil rights movement, not to mention the ongoing war on labor that has hit black workers, most recently in the public-sector unions, especially hard. Historically comprising a reserve army of labor to be maintained, albeit minimally, for the American bourgeoisie, today the black ghetto poor are increasingly considered to be an expendable population.

It is crucial to defend voting rights and every other gain for black people, other minorities and the working class. Depriving the oppressed of basic democratic rights is a declaration that it is open season on them. At the same time, a serious defense of those rights would involve mobilizing not votes for “lesser evil” representatives of the class enemy but rather mass struggles against the racist capitalist rulers. Such a fight for the rights of the oppressed would prove a powerful leaven to the class struggle of the working class as a whole.

Racial Oppression—Bedrock of U.S. Capitalism

Following the defeat of the South in the Civil War, the former slaves were liberated—codified in the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery—and extended such basic rights as the right to vote and hold office. This period of Radical Reconstruction was the most democratic in American history, with black rights enforced in the South at rifle-point by the interracial Union Army. Among the measures adopted were the Fourteenth Amendment—which conferred citizenship on “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” an important protection for immigrants as well—and the Fifteenth Amendment.

Ultimately, though, the Northern bourgeoisie in pursuit of its class interests went on to betray Reconstruction, making common cause with Southern landholders to ensure the maintenance of private property in the means of production. This turn was exemplified by the Compromise of 1877, after which Union troops were ordered back to their barracks, opening the road for Jim Crow to ride in on the Klansman’s horse. The black population, although not returned to slavery, was solidified as a specially oppressed race-color caste.

With the mass migration of blacks from the South to the industrial cities of the North—initially around the time of World War I—the bourgeoisie increasingly fostered anti-black racism, making the color bar a dividing line that has served to obscure the fundamental class divide in society. To this day, racist poison plays a central role in blocking the development of class consciousness in the American proletariat. As a result, the U.S. is the only industrial country where the workers have not had their own independent political party, even a reformist one. The legacy of black chattel slavery is behind much in the U.S. political system that is anti-democratic, e.g., the Senate, which is designed to favor less populous rural and Southern regions by granting each state equal representation.

Although the courageous struggles of the civil rights foot soldiers were instrumental in ending Jim Crow, the bourgeoisie had its own reasons for acquiescing. The system of legal segregation in the South had become outdated with the mechanization of agriculture and the growth of a black proletariat in the region. It was also a blemish on the U.S. image abroad. In countering American bourgeois propaganda that praised the virtues of “democracy,” the Soviet Union made hay of scenes of police dogs mauling and truncheons pummeling black men, women and children in the South. As Louis Menand related in the New Yorker (8 July): “American Presidents were trying to run a Cold War. They could live with Jim Crow when it was an invisible regional peculiarity, but once conditions were broadcast around the world they experienced an urgent need to make the problem go away.”

The strategy of Martin Luther King and other liberal civil rights leaders was to appeal to the “conscience” of the capitalist rulers, pinning their hopes on the beneficence of their courts and the Democratic Party in Washington. The ruling class was willing to make concessions in the sphere of democratic rights. But it would not and could not redress the abject material conditions besetting the black masses. The civil rights movement met its defeat when it came North, where it confronted the conditions of black impoverishment and oppression woven into the fabric of American capitalism: rat-infested slums, crumbling schools, mass unemployment and rampant cop terror.

The great Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky, co-leader with V.I. Lenin of the 1917 Russian Revolution that brought the proletariat to power, described this dynamic in his 1922 report “The Position of the Republic and the Tasks of Young Workers”:

“The bourgeoisie makes concessions to the working class: universal suffrage, social and factory legislation, national insurance, the shortening of the working day. The bourgeoisie makes a retreat step by step; where necessary it grants a reform; when possible it puts on the pressure again and then makes a retreat. Why? It is manoeuvring; the ruling class is fighting for its rule, for the exploitation of the other class. Of course the reformists suppose that bit by bit they will remake the bourgeois system into a socialist one. And we reply to this: rubbish!—while power is in the hands of the bourgeoisie they will measure out each reform but they know up to what point they can grant a reform. And just for this purpose they have the power in their hands.”

What the bourgeoisie grants it also can take away. As the chipping away at the gains of the civil rights movement shows, reforms under capitalism are eminently reversible. The same is true for gay rights, now widely considered on firmer footing after another five-to-four Supreme Court ruling last month that declared unconstitutional a key provision of the anti-gay federal Defense of Marriage Act signed into law by Bill Clinton in 1996. That decision came amid increasing support among the bourgeoisie and more widely in society for extending to same-sex couples the institution of marriage—one of the means by which the ruling class exerts social control.

The only way to win social equality is to put an end to the capitalist system of exploitation. With black people historically a vital part of the American economy while at the same time in the mass forcibly segregated at its bottom, we advance the program of revolutionary integrationism. Fighting against all forms of discrimination and segregation, we understand that the liberation of black people can be achieved only through integration into an egalitarian socialist society. This perspective is counterposed to both liberal integrationism, which holds that black equality can be achieved within the confines of American capitalism, and black nationalism, which despairs of the possibility of overcoming racial divisions through united class struggle.

Liberalism and the American Nightmare

Adding a heavy dollop of cynicism to its reactionary ruling, the Supreme Court directed Congress to come up with a new, improved method of pre-clearance, well aware that lawmakers are unlikely to agree to any standard. But if you believe the NAACP and other liberal types, it is time to appeal to the “better angels” among the Congressional Republicans. Democratic Party mouthpiece Al Sharpton—one of the organizers of the August 24 “National Action to Realize the Dream” events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington—has pledged to “mobilize nationwide to put the pressure on Congress to come up with stricter voter protection laws.”

The predictable reaction of top officials of the unions, many of which have endorsed the August 24 events, is to similarly preach faith in the politicians who look after the interests of racist American capitalism. In his statement on the Voting Rights Act decision, AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka declared: “We call on Congress with leadership from President Obama to live up to the ideals of our democracy by protecting and ensuring the right to vote for all.” “Our” democracy is a society where the capitalist exploiters call the shots, offering up the electoral shell game to mask their class dictatorship. Barack Obama, the first black man elected president, took office at a time when the ruling class sought an effective Commander-in-Chief after the Bush-Cheney years, one who could sell the lie that rapacious U.S. imperialism was a bastion of democracy. He has delivered for them, advancing such American “ideals” as shredding democratic rights and expanding the surveillance state, pursuing the Afghanistan occupation and Libya bombing, deporting masses of immigrants and launching a crusade against teachers unions.

The real game for Sharpton, Trumka & Co. is to bolster the fortunes of the Democratic Party. Racist voter suppression impacts black, Latino and student populations that in the main vote for the Democrats. As such, it is advantageous for the Republicans to carry out a naked assault on voting rights, although this backfired in 2012 when the black voter turnout rate was higher than that of whites, impelled in part by outrage over attempts to suppress the vote.

The outright bigotry of the Republican Party allows the Democrats to take for granted support from black people, and in the recent past it has also thrown a lot more Latino votes in their direction. As Malcolm X once wrote: “‘Conservatism’ in America’s politics means ‘Let’s keep the n—ers in their place.’ And ‘liberalism’ means ‘Let’s keep the knee-grows in their place—but tell them we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.’” Although he lacked a revolutionary working-class perspective, Malcolm was a scathing truth-teller, pointedly referring to the original March on Washington as the “Farce on Washington.”

Chattel slavery was abolished on the battlefields of the Civil War, the Second American Revolution. But a lot of unfinished business remains. It will take a Third American Revolution to do away with the system of wage slavery in which the oppression of black people is materially rooted. To this end, workers and the black masses must be broken from the grip of the Democratic Party. Workers need their own party, a revolutionary party capable of leading the struggle for an egalitarian socialist society, ushering in the dawn of black freedom.

U.S. Military Plans Direct Intervention Against Syria

Alex Lantier

The Pentagon is planning a major escalation of the US-led war against Syria, involving direct US military involvement to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In a letter to Democratic Senator Carl Levin, the head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Gen. Martin Dempsey spelled out proposals and cost estimates for various potential US interventions in Syria. His plans include training opposition militias in Syria; missile strikes against Syrian targets; setting up a “no-fly zone” to ground or destroy Syria’s air force; seizing “buffer zones” of Syrian territory near Jordan or Turkey; and Special Forces raids to seize chemical weapons.

Pentagon plans include large-scale operations, costing at least tens of billions of dollars per year. Dempsey said Special Forces strikes would cost over $1 billion a month, and missile strikes—requiring “hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines, and other enablers”—would cost “in the billions.”

Dempsey’s letter followed a vote last week by the US House and Senate intelligence panels to directly arm opposition forces in Syria. Until now, they had been funded and armed by US-allied oil sheikdoms such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and not directly by the US. This allowed Washington to cynically claim the opposition was not on its payroll, even as the CIA coordinated the flow of arms and money.

The Obama administration lobbied intensively for the votes to arm the opposition in Syria. Vice President Joe Biden, CIA Director John Brennan, and Secretary of State John Kerry all called or briefed members of Congress.

The original justification for the Syrian war—that it was a humanitarian struggle to defend a democratic uprising of the Syrian people—is so nakedly exposed that the US and its European allies barely bother to repeat it. They recklessly armed Al Qaeda-linked forces like the Al Nusra Front and promoted a “moderate” stable of CIA assets and regime turncoats, hoping to topple Assad. While the Syrian people faced an onslaught of US-backed gangs and militias, the media and bourgeois “left” praised these forces as revolutionary fighters for democracy.

This criminal policy is now in shambles. This opposition faces defeat due to its lack of popular support and the international spread of the war. In recent months, select Iranian forces and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah helped Assad turn the tide of battle against Sunni Islamist-dominated opposition militias.

Washington’s response is to prepare for an even greater bloodbath. Powerful sections of the ruling class are pushing for a broad US war to oust Assad and forcibly assert US imperialist hegemony over the Middle East. Anthony Cordesman, an influential strategist from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), made his case for such a war in a Washington Post column yesterday titled “Syria’s Ripple Effect.”

He wrote, “If Assad succeeds in crushing the opposition or otherwise maintains control over most of Syria, Iran will have a massive new degree of influence over Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon in a polarized Middle East divided between Sunni and Shiite …This would present serious risks for Israel, weaken Jordan and Turkey, and, most important, give Iran far more influence in the Persian Gulf, an area home to 48 percent of the world’s proven oil reserves.”

Cordesman outlined a spectrum of US actions, from providing anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to the Western-backed militias to imposing a no-fly zone to permit direct US intervention: “US officials could make clear that either the rebels will succeed with such weapons—leading to a negotiated departure of Assad’s government and the installation of a new national government—or the United States will join with allies in creating a no-fly zone.”

Cordesman’s proposal amounts to a call for the Pentagon and its allies to prepare for broad regional or even global wars with mass casualties and devastating effects on the world economy. It could involve the US in a war not only with Syria, but also with Hezbollah forces and the Assad regime’s international backers—Iran, upon which the US imposed further sanctions last week, or even Russia and China.

Layers within the US military have cautioned against a rapid, all-out war, primarily because they are not sure that they are prepared for how such a war would escalate. Thus, in his letter to Levin, Dempsey reportedly wrote: “Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid.”

Sections of the ruling class propose to strengthen the opposition and wage a long-term proxy war in Syria to carry out a neocolonial partition of the country. Citing White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s comment that Assad “will never rule all of Syria again,” the New York Times wrote yesterday that Washington is preparing “the long-term reality of a divided Syria,” of which Assad would only control a “rump portion.”

All these plans to escalate imperialist intervention in the Middle East reflect the crisis and breakdown of American democracy. Ten years after the disastrous and unpopular US invasion of Iraq, imperialist strategists are formulating plans for another ruinous war, with contempt for the views of the population. Fully 61 percent of the population opposes US involvement in the Syrian war, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.

The ruling elite’s ability to press forward with plans for war underscores the deeply reactionary role of the media and the petty-bourgeois “left” in suppressing any overt expression of popular opposition. In particular, the role of pseudo-left groups like the International Socialist Organization (ISO) in the US, Die Linke in Germany, or the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) in France is clear. They have worked continuously to market filthy imperialist wars to left-liberal sections of the middle class as “revolutions.”

These parties have not only supported the wars in their publications, but also played a direct role in the intelligence operations necessary to organize the war. Early in the Syrian war, the NPA’s Gilbert Achcar attended a covert October 2011 conference of the CIA-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) opposition group to advise it on the mechanics of foreign intervention.

These parties have functioned as mouthpieces for various sections of the intelligence community who favor an imperialist overthrow of Assad in alliance with the Islamist opposition.

Thus, a recent article by the NPA’s main writer on Syria, Gayath Naïssé, titled “Self-organization in the Syrian people’s revolution,” praises the opposition militias that control the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor, writing that “a democratic dream has been realized in Deir ez-Zor.” He enthuses that “a free electoral process “was organized for the first time in forty years” as it was described by Khadr, a member of the local council of the opposition which was elected on Sunday by the inhabitants of the “liberated’ areas.”

This is a blatant falsification of the political record of far-right, Al Qaeda-linked militias that have seized various Syrian cities with US support, imposing a reign of terror on the population. In Deir ez-Zor itself, they operate death squads that have recorded widely-publicized videos of themselves murdering inhabitants opposed to their policies. More broadly, Islamist opposition militias have become notorious for looting areas that they control—most notably destroying factories in Aleppo, in order to fund their arms purchases from the United States’ allies.

The ISO’s latest statement on Syria—a piece by Michael Karadjis first posted on the Australian pseudo-left site Links —attacks any opposition to US intervention to back the Syrian opposition. Denouncing “lazy talk of the trickle of light weapons from abroad representing some great ‘war on Syria,’” it attacks opponents of the US intervention as people “terribly frightened about the prospect of a trickle of arms reaching the rebels from the wrong people.”

The statement adds, “It is not up to socialists within imperialist countries to demand our governments not provide arms just because we understand our government’s aims are different to ours and such arming demands a political price from the rebels … If the US or other imperialist states did decide for their own reasons to provide some arms, we should also not protest against it, robotic-style.”

This passage underscores how the ISO functions as a conscious defender of imperialism and war. While acknowledging that the Syrian opposition consists of forces armed by the US government and that therefore act as its stooges, it demands that these pro-US stooges in Syria be armed to the teeth, and that no opposition to such a proxy war be organized.

Such forces are accomplices in the devastation of Syria and ongoing preparations for even broader and bloodier imperialist wars.

Zimmerman Verdict — 21st Century Dred Scott Decision

There Is No Justice in the Capitalist Courts!

Spartacist League

George Zimmerman got away with the coldblooded killing of Trayvon Martin. Not even a slap on the wrist, nothing. The verdict is the 21st-century echo of Chief Justice Taney’s infamous declaration in the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision that black people “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Dred Scott was a fugitive slave, Trayvon Martin a black teenager walking home from a 7-Eleven store with a bag of candy and an iced tea. But for wannabe cop and racist vigilante George Zimmerman, the 17-year-old Martin was on the “white” side of the tracks in Sanford, Florida, one of the “punks” who “always get away.” So he stalked Trayvon like a fugitive slave and shot him dead. This is what they call post-racial America, where a black man sits in the Oval Office and black life on the streets is as cheap as ever.

The acquittal of Zimmerman—by a jury without a single black person on it—was no aberration in the American justice system. On the contrary, that system worked according to script. Here was a case study in the machinery of courts, cops and prosecutors whose job is to maintain and defend a system rooted in the brutal exploitation of the many by the few—a system built on a bedrock of racial oppression, from chattel slavery to wage slavery.

The only unusual thing was that Trayvon wasn’t gunned down by a cop, the fate of so many young black men in this country. The Zimmerman verdict coincided with the release of the movie Fruitvale Station, based on the last day of Oscar Grant’s life. A 22-year-old black man, Grant was shot in the back by a Bay Area Rapid Transit cop on New Year’s Day, 2009, as he lay handcuffed and prone on the floor of the Oakland station. The movie stands out for depicting Oscar Grant as a human being with all the strengths and frailties of a young black man in capitalist America. This cuts against the grain of this society, where black youth are written off as violent predators, as suspects who are guilty until proven innocent.

It wasn’t George Zimmerman on trial in that Florida courtroom, it was Trayvon Martin. His “crime” was being black in America. After killing Martin, Zimmerman was released without charges by the cops. Only six weeks later did a state prosecutor file an indictment. The same prosecutor had just won a case against a 31-year-old black mother, Marissa Alexander, who was given 20 years for firing a warning shot into a wall when threatened with violent attack by her husband. There was no such zeal when it came to prosecuting Zimmerman. It wasn’t that the prosecution didn’t have a case. The truth is that this wasn’t their field of expertise, which is railroading black people to prison.

The judge ruled that race, the central issue in the case, could not be raised in court. But racist fear and loathing of black people was at the core of the defense case. By repeatedly pounding a dummy into the courtroom floor as “evidence” that it was the lanky teenager who assaulted the far heftier Zimmerman, they turned “the victim into the predator and the predator into the victim,” in the words of black academic Robin Kelley. Contempt and derision for the testimony of Rachel Jeantel, the young black woman who was talking to Martin on his cell phone while he was stalked by the “creepy-ass cracker” Zimmerman, oozed from the courtroom to the media.

When the verdict was announced, black preachers and Democratic Party politicians scrambled to contain the outrage, appealing for peace. Replying to the call for calm, Gary Younge wrote in his London Guardian (14 July) column: “Those who now fear violent social disorder must ask themselves whose interests are served by a violent social order in which young black men can be thus slain and discarded.” The role of the preachers and bourgeois politicians is to serve the interests of the rulers of this society by maintaining people’s illusions in the “justice” system. This is what’s behind Al Sharpton’s call for protests at federal courthouses on July 20 to pressure the Justice Department to bring a civil rights case against Zimmerman.

Attorney General Eric Holder may be a black man, but he is the top cop in the vast state apparatus—the police, courts and prisons—whose purpose is to enforce the subjugation of the working class and the oppressed to the capitalist exploiters. As Richard Pryor so incisively put it, “You go down there looking for justice; that’s what you find: just us”—that is, prisons overflowing with black people. As for the kind of investigations the Obama/Holder Justice Department are fervently pursuing, these are mainly aimed at silencing “whistle-blowers” like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden for exposing U.S. imperialism’s dirty wars, drone attacks and torture chambers targeting brown-skinned peoples around the globe as well as their domestic spying apparatus. The savagery perpetrated against Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib and detainees at Guantánamo is but a concentrated expression of the systematic brutality of the cops and prisons on U.S. soil.

Obama, the Commander-in-Chief of U.S. imperialism who keeps a list of people for targeted assassinations abroad, used the Zimmerman verdict to piously ask “if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence.” Actually, if Trayvon Martin had been armed he might be alive today, although he would also most likely be behind bars. Zimmerman invoked Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which, like similar laws in other states, allows for the use of deadly force by anyone claiming “reasonable belief” that such force is necessary. In this country, any black kid in a hoodie is enough for someone to claim “reasonable belief” of danger. By eliminating retreat as a criterion for self-defense, these laws are a license to kill. And as shown in the case of Marissa Alexander, black people are not allowed such ground to stand on.

At the same time, defending the right to bear arms is vital for the self-defense of working people, black people and the poor. Gun control is a means of enforcing a monopoly of violence for the capitalist state, leaving guns in the hands of cops, criminals and racist vigilantes while the rest of the population is defenseless. Gun control kills, and as the whole history of this country shows, it kills black people in particular.

It took a bloody Civil War, the Second American Revolution, with 200,000 black troops, guns in hand, to smash the chains of black chattel slavery. But the promise of black freedom was soon betrayed by the Northern bourgeoisie, which allied with the Southern propertied classes against the aspirations of the black freedmen. It will take a third American Revolution—a proletarian socialist revolution that breaks the chains of capitalist wage slavery—to finish the Civil War.

Many of those protesting Zimmerman’s acquittal have spoken out against “the system.” But this has little meaning absent the understanding that the working class is the only force with the social power and class interest to get rid of a system rooted in the exploitation of labor and the forcible subjugation of black people at the bottom. No doubt many view the notion of the workers fighting in their own interests and in the interests of black people and all the oppressed as wishful thinking. Responsibility for this can be laid at the doorstep of the trade-union misleaders, who for decades have allowed the unions to be hacked to pieces while turning a blind eye to the plight of the ghetto and barrio poor. The labor bureaucrats’ accommodation to the rulers’ onslaught flows from their allegiance to the capitalist profit system and to the “lesser evil” Democrats, whose job, no less than the Republicans, is to maintain that system.

But there are real battalions of organized labor, like the overwhelmingly black longshore unions in the Florida ports of Jacksonville, Miami and Tampa. Their labor is essential to the profitability of U.S. imperialism. In this lies their social power to take on the capitalist rulers. In turn, such workers provide a critical link to the defense of the black poor.

The key to unlocking this power is the fight for a class-struggle leadership of labor based on independence from and opposition to the capitalist state and its political parties. The Spartacist League/U.S. is dedicated to forging a multiracial revolutionary workers party that will lead the exploited in wresting the wealth of this country out of the hands of the greedy and corrupt capitalist owners. When the power of the ruling class and its state apparatus is shattered, this wealth will be deployed for the benefit of those who produced it—not least the descendants of the black slaves whose labor was a cornerstone on which American capitalism was built. In an egalitarian socialist America, Justice Taney’s racist decree will be buried once and for all and the cause of black freedom will finally be realized.

Poverty Declines in Nicaragua

Granma Internacional

Nicaragua reduced poverty by 14% in 2012, according to data from a Home Questionnaire conducted by the International Foundation for Global Economic Challenge (FIDEG), with the rate dropping 1.4 percentage points to 42.7%, from 44.1% in 2011.

The information indicates that more than 84,000, among the country’s population of approximately six million, are no longer attempting to live on less than $2 a day and another 34,000 emerged from extreme poverty.

Enrique Alaniz, FIDEG research director, reported that contributing to the reduction in poverty were family remittances, which surpassed a billion dollars, 11.2% more than the $911,600 Nicaraguans received in 2011.

He explained that the poverty rate has, however, been consistently falling for the last four years. In 2009 it stood at 44.7% of the population.

Experts attribute progress to programs supporting the most vulnerable, implemented by the Sandinista government which returned to office in 2007. These efforts have benefited more than half a million people over the last six years.

One of the most recognized is Usura Cero, (Zero Usury) which has already this year supported some 2,528 women in launching small businesses and, by extension their families, according to its director Leonor Corea.

The Ministry of Family, Community, Cooperative and Associative Economics has reported the delivery of food benefits to 100,000 families with children, in addition to programs such as Crissol, serving 20,000; Alimentary and Nutritional Security (14,000) and the Micro-Small Business Service (46,000).

Additionally, 1,610 persons have benefited from the Juvenile Initiative; 5,500 through Procaval and 175,000 via Healthy Backyards, which supplies families with seedlings, allowing them to grow food in their own yards.

The United Nations World Food and Agricultural Organization has recognized the country’s efforts, in particular, the provision of a free school lunch, to all children in grades one through nine.

During the period 1989-2010, Nicaragua reduced malnutrition from 52% to 19%, supporting more than a million people, according to the UN organization’s reports.

Xi Jinping Calls for Return to Marxism

Fred Goldstein

The president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, has been issuing statements that seek to curb the corrosion of socialist values that has become widespread in China.

The Press Trust of India reported on July 1: “Officials of the ruling Communist Party of China should shed the obsession with GDP numbers to get promotions and return to principles of Marxism, which suffered an ideological meltdown in the course of the country’s reforms, President Xi Jinping said today.”

Later Xinhua, the official press agency of China, reported on July 12: “Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the 85 million members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to work hard and serve the people wholeheartedly to ‘ensure the color of red China will never change.’”

Xi, who is also the general secretary of the CPC, made these remarks on the eve of the 92nd anniversary of the founding of the party. On July 11, he visited Xibaipo in Hebei Province, where the CPC leaders had been based from May 1948 to early 1949 as they prepared to seize power and become the ruling party of China.

Xi said, according to Xinhua, that “late Chinese leader Mao Zedong’s remarks on Party members’ work styles prior to the founding of New China in 1949 still have far-reaching ideological and historical significance.”

“At an important meeting of the CPC in March 1949,” continued Xinhua, “Mao called on the whole party to resolutely carry forward the work style of displaying modesty and prudence while guarding against conceit and impetuosity, and resolutely carry forward the style of working hard and plain living.”

“Calling China’s revolutionary history ‘the best nutrient,’ Xi said studying and recalling such history can bring ‘positive energy’ to Party members.”

Xinhua paraphrased Xi as saying “the people should be encouraged to take care of the CPC and be guided to exercise their duty of supervision.”

The Press Trust article quoted Xi as having said earlier that “the party’s cadres should be firm followers of Communist ideals, true believers of Marxism and devoted fighters for the socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

The PTI further paraphrased Xi: “A party official’s integrity will not grow with the years of service and promotion of his post but with persistent efforts to discipline himself and study Marxist classics and theories of socialism with Chinese characteristics, Xi said.”

These were not just one-time speeches. They are part of a campaign to try to restore the party’s reputation through pushing a public, ideological foundation. The campaign began back in April of 2013, as a campaign against corruption shortly after Xi took over as president.  At that time it was known mainly by a slogan against “four course meals” for officials, meaning an end to extravagant banquets and other indulgences. Now it is being put in the context of Marxist ideological renewal.

The campaign has been unfolding step by step recently, with daily reports in the Chinese government press about carrying out the “mass line” and using such slogans as “from the masses to the masses.”

All 31 provincial level regions, central government organs and other people’s organizations are scheduled to convene work conferences to carry out an educational campaign, attacking undesirable work styles such as “formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism and extravagance.” This is part of the anti-corruption campaign initiated by Xi.

Xi is promoting rectification of work styles by calling for “self-purification, self-perfection, self-renewal and self-progression. “

A matter of ‘survival or extinction’ for the CPC

In a blunt statement to a Central Committee meeting on June 18, called to launch the campaign in full, Xi put the stakes involved as plainly as possible. Xinhua reported: “‘Winning or losing public support is an issue that concerns the CPC’s survival or extinction,’ Xi said, stressing that the mass line, or furthering ties with the people, is lifeline of the Party.”

The same dispatch spoke about “flesh and blood” ties with the people and called for getting more workers with knowledge of the grassroots and social conditions into the party.

Li Junnu, a former vice president of the CPC Central Committee Party School told Xinhua: “Maintaining close ties with the masses is the Party’s largest political advantage while isolation from the people is the greatest danger facing the CPC.” (Xinhua, June 18)

It must be remembered that on Xi’s first trip after assuming the presidency in March 2013 he went to Guangdong Province and gave a talk to a party group warning about the dangers of a Gorbachev-type development in China. He spoke in dire terms about how the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was overthrown and socialism completely destroyed. The long-term fate of the party is undoubtedly a deep concern of Xi and his collaborators.

An observer must conclude that this is a serious attempt to reverse the effects of three decades of erosion of socialist morality under the impact of capitalist inroads and all the decadence, corruption and market immorality that the exploiters, domestic and international, bring along with their profit lust.

Massive corruption is the norm under capitalism. And these norms have become pervasive throughout socialist China, severely undermining the consciousness of the society as a whole and breeding cynicism and alienation among the workers and the peasants.

The reputation of the party has suffered immeasurably, especially at the provincial and local level. There have been tens of thousands of “mass incidents” annually, reported on by the government itself. They include peasants protesting their lands being sold off to developers; workers protesting against employers violating their rights; protests against pollution; and numerous other grievances.

In this campaign led by Xi to deal with the political and social decay brought on by concessions to capitalism and imperialism, the leadership is harkening back to memories and associations with the heroic period of the Chinese Revolution.

It is notable that Xinhua, undoubtedly with the agreement and perhaps the advice of Xi, referred in the most favorable way to Mao as the authority in prescribing “hard work” and “plain living” as the correct practice for cadres. The reference to studying the revolutionary history of China as “nourishment” to strengthen the party is a breath of fresh air. Talk of “mass line,” “from the masses to the masses” and “serving the people heart and soul” — various prescriptions for self-correction and reflection — are clear references to the early stages of the Chinese Revolution.

The leadership is reaching back to earlier, more revolutionary times, both to warn the corrupt elements and to inspire the masses.

Entrenched bureaucratic interests must be fought from below

This campaign is a laudable step, certainly as regards its intentions, and hopefully it will bring about positive results. But there are deep contradictions and limitations in the campaign that must be overcome in order for it to achieve its objectives.

There are bureaucratic interests in the party that are tied in with government officials and those invested in capitalism who will not abandon their positions based upon moral appeals or social pressure alone. They will find a thousand ways to evade or obstruct the campaign, so long as it relies on voluntary compliance.

These entrenched interests must be fought. And the surest, most reliable way to fight them is to enlist the masses in the struggle. Without this, the campaign will be severely limited.

Corrupt officials must be weeded out. And this cannot be done from above. It must come from below, from the masses who are subject to official abuse, who know firsthand who are corrupt, who are opportunists, who are out for themselves, who are privately collaborating with the landlords or the developers and the bosses, who violate the rules that protect the people’s interests, who laud it over the people and so on.

It is ironic that Bo Xilai, a popular former party official and Politburo member in charge of Chongqing Province, now languishes in detention because he was persecuted by the present leadership. Among other things that put him out of favor with the leadership was that he called upon the masses in Chongqing to report corrupt officials, business people and party officials. Bo waged a hard campaign to prosecute and jail these corrupt elements as part of his overall campaign to slow down the march along the capitalist road.  And Bo tried to restore Maoist culture.

Reading the Marxist classics and popularizing the idea of remaining loyal to communism is a healthy and ideologically cleansing program. The more widely it is implemented, the greater the benefit for socialist forces in China.

But it will take more than reading to overcome the pragmatists, the opportunists and the capitalists who were allowed into the party by Jiang Zemin in 1992. Marxism asserts that being determines consciousness. While some individuals can re-educate themselves, the broad layers of privileged officials will not do so voluntarily. It will take a fight. Perhaps the Xi leadership has anticipated this and has a plan to break the resistance of recalcitrant elements. That would be all to the good.

Economics determines politics

But there is a more fundamental problem. The problem is the very existence of outrageous privilege itself in the party. In the early Bolshevik revolution, Lenin and his collaborators instituted the “law of the maximum,” following the example of the Paris Commune. No party member could earn more than the highest-paid worker.

This was a measure designed precisely to prevent privilege and its companion, corruption. It was the abandonment of this practice and the growth of inequality that was one of the decisive factors leading to the alienation of the Soviet workers and the decline of the Soviet party leadership, making the USSR vulnerable to capitalist counterrevolution as it came under pressure from imperialism on all sides.

Privilege in China, under the regime of so-called “market socialism,” is out in the open. It is praised as a sign of accomplishment, not in the party so much as in society as a whole. China has strayed far, far away from socialist norms and has become enveloped by capitalist norms.

When Xi calls upon party members to be loyal to communism and to study “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” what he is not acknowledging is the relationship between politics and economics. It is a foundational tenet of Marxism that in the long run economics determines politics — and morality, social consciousness, legality and ideology as well.

“Socialism with Chinese characteristics” is actually a phrase whose content is a socialist China in partnership with domestic and international capitalists. But this is a wholly antagonistic partnership — one in which the capitalist side strives to destroy the socialist side.

In addition to being affected by the spread of private capitalists — who are corrupt and corruptors — the socialist sector, the state-owned enterprises, the banking system and the planners have adopted capitalist market models. This is a great source of corruption inside the state itself.

Xi has not yet declared openly his economic program nor has he taken a public position on the economic orientation of Prime Minister Li Keqiang. Li is calling for the reduction of the role of the central government in the economy, including reducing the role of state-owned enterprises, ending the use of economic stimulus to support the economy, increasing the role of small and medium private businesses in the Chinese economy, and opening up widely to foreign investment in finance and other crucial areas.

In fact, last year Li was a co-sponsor, along with the World Bank, of a long and detailed report entitled “China 2030.” This was a blueprint for profoundly undermining the remaining fundamental structures of Chinese socialism — government planning, state-owned enterprises, and central financial and economic control by the Communist Party.

Xi himself is a devoted advocate of so-called “market socialism.” Market socialism means socialism side by side with and contaminated by capitalism. The acquisitive, grasping quest for profit and individual material gain that characterizes capitalism has permeated China and eroded the socialist spirit.

The destruction of the rights and benefits of the working class and the peasants to jobs, land, education, health care and housing that were bedrocks of the revolution of 1949 were abandoned by the Deng leadership and subsequent leaderships.

Now the chickens have come home to roost in the form of the alienation of the masses. Xi, to his credit, sees this as a threat to the party and the foundation of what remains of socialism in China.

But the Xi leadership is trying to fight the symptom without tackling the disease: capitalist penetration of the economy and the social mores, ideology and the very core socialist spirit of the Chinese Revolution.

Perhaps the attempt to turn back this reactionary tide of corruption and bureaucracy will lead to greater struggles in which the masses can intervene and act in their own name and on their own behalf.

But one thing is certain: the politics of anti-corruption, anti-bureaucratic reform on the one hand and capitalist market economics on the other are thoroughly opposed to one another.

USA: Creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Cynthia McKinney
via Alexandra Valiente

My Proposal for us to discuss this weekend:

Creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to move this country forward, to a higher level, where we all–on this page, anyway–want it to be. (Bill Clinton suggested a National Dialogue on Race.)

Not too long ago, we also discussed the Laissez-Faire Leadership that us visionaries are saddled with in the White House and the Congress. I would also like to make this a call for us to support only Transformational Leadership–what the times in our country call for.

Transformational Leadership is charismatic, visionary, highly ethical, and morally based. Transformational Leadership does not dictate what is needed, but allows a process of discovery of solutions that are consistent with stated and shared values.

On this page, I saw the beginnings of the kind of transformations that are possible when people open up on their feelings, hear others, and then reflect on what they’ve experienced. This is the process by which we can move forward on a new SHARED vision.

While many are preparing to rally in their hometowns against the Trayvon Martin murder verdict, I thought I’d encourage us on this page to develop a possible solution that could last more than the mere hours of a protest rally. Rallies serve their purpose, but only the development of a process whereby we all can functionally come together and work collectively on a new shared vision that includes everyone will put an end to the scourge that we continue to face.

I posted my sincere feelings here and many others did, too. I believe that we engaged in open and honest discussion here with everyone not agreeing. Except for the Zionist trolls who populate this site, I do believe that we began a process that our country as a whole really needs if we ever are to move forward together, building character, with integrity, for liberty and justice in our local and global communities.

So, I propose a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I must admit that the idea I’m putting forward came to me in the form of a paper submitted by Dr. Mutulu Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s father figure, incarcerated as a political prisoner since the days of the Black Panther Party before it was cracked down upon by the FBI and others in COINTELPRO.

Towards a Truth and Reconciliation Commission For New African/Black Political Prisoners, Prisoners of War and Freedom Fighters by: Dr. Mutulu Shakur May 2010
Truth and Reconciliation Commission by: Dr. Mutulu Shakur January 2011

Tell me what you think about the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for the U.S. whose goal would be to allow us to develop goals and shared values first. Perhaps, if this had been done generations ago, many communities could have been spared so much pain. A Truth and Reconciliation Commission would begin with that pain and encourage civic action with common purpose and enlightenment.

Let me know what you think. Do you have an alternative or complementary solution? Please think about your solution and share it here on this page with the rest of us.

And, as always . . . Thank you for sharing.