Archive | January, 2020

Self-identifying ‘communists’ blame Iran

Self-defence is no offence; those who really want to stop war must stand with the resistance.

Party statement

16 January 2020

Despite years of economic warfare and regular acts of military aggression by the imperialists and their local stooges against Iran, the revisionists are still managing to blame Iran and the forces of resistance for the bloodshed in the middle east.

On Monday 13 January, a joint statement between revisionist ‘communist’ parties – the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) , the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) and the Tudeh Party of Iran – was published denouncing the escalation of tensions between Iran and the USA. Typically, the statement lacked any anti-imperialist analysis and indulged instead in a disgusting display of victim-blaming.

Equating the violence of the oppressed with the violence of the oppressor

The following statement is made in the second paragraph: “We view the Iranian regime’s threat to hit US personnel and interests in the region as a dangerous and irresponsible position that serves only to escalate tension.”

But what is Iran to do in the situation in which it finds itself? Capitulate to imperialist aggression? Is not appeasement a ‘dangerous and irresponsible’ position? Do these ‘communists’ not understand that imperialism recognises only one logic: that of force? Are not ‘US interests’ synonymous with imperialism?

Not only does this criticism of Iran’s response to the US’s assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani – a blatant act of war – fly in the face of all past experiences of attempts to appease imperialist aggressors (from the USA to the German Reich) but it had been proven wrong before the statement was even published! The US backed off from its threat of major escalation as soon as Iran had hit its Ayn al-Assad military base in Iraq.

The administration of US president Donald Trump has been forced to recognise Iran’s strength and its determination to defend its sovereignty. Although an all-out war would favour the US in terms of military technology and air superiority, any attempt to conquer the country would require huge numbers of boots on the ground, crippling the US perhaps beyond repair whilst ultimately proving to be impossible to achieve.

The revisionists’ statement asserts otherwise, however: “The missile strikes on US bases in Iraq on Wednesday 8 January by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps [IRGC] clearly heightened tension and threatened to bring about an all-out war with USA. It is clear that these bellicose moves have the potential to transform Iraq once again into a regional and international battlefield and immerse a swathe of countries in yet another bloodbath.”

So Iran’s act of self-defence is presented by these self-identifying ‘progressives’ as being equally ‘bellicose’ as the US’s illegal and unjustified aggression, and Iran is held equally culpable with the imperialist invaders for the spread of violence across the region.

Who is responsible for the bloodbath in the middle east?

But it is Iran that has played a pivotal role in defeating Isis and al-Qaeda, all but ending their reign of terror over the people of Iraq and Syria, while the US has been quietly funding and facilitating the headchoppers’ activities – and then using those activities as a justification for retaining a military occupation in both countries.

It should be clear to anyone with half a brain that it is the bellicose moves of US imperialism that are entirely responsible for the ongoing (not merely ‘potential’) bloodbath in the middle east, and it is the desperate US drive to crush all resistance to its diktat that is driving it towards an all-out war with Iran. It is also abundantly clear that any serious US-Iranian conflict would have the potential to spiral rapidly into a regional and international conflagration.

Only Iran’s heroic and defensive stance against imperialist aggression can reduce this drive to war by making it clear that the price for imperialism will simply be too high.

There are times when the only way to deter imperialist aggression and bring the aggressors to the negotiating table is to counter-attack. That is why it is essential for all true communists and anti-imperialists to defend Iran’s just retaliation.

Instead of taking this clear line, the revisionist spivs of the CPB et al repeatedly push their ‘Neither Washington nor Tehran’ line – an incongruous and anachronistic throwback to Mr Trotsky’s playbook that essentially calls for the defeat of the anti-imperialist forces. The CPB have been working hand in glove with the ‘Socialist Worker’ and Counterfire Trotskyites for decades, and this statement suggests that they have given up any attempt at independent thought.

“The present ‘tinder box’,” they tell us, “is a concoction fuelled by the adventurous policies of US imperialism – including harsh sanctions against Iran, withdrawal from the JCPoA and continuing military presence in Iraq.” So far so good, but this nod to reality (and even a stopped clock is right twice a day) is quickly negated by the authors’ insistence that US aggression is compounded by “the interventionist policies and actions of the Iranian theocratic regime, particularly its Quds Force, across the region”.

One cannot help wondering exactly which ‘interventionist policies’ the CPB and friends would rather that Iran’s brave Quds fighters had not taken. Is it that they would have preferred to see the black flag of the Islamic State flying over Baghdad and Damascus?

The world watched in horror and fear as Isis expanded its sway across large swathes of the region, just as the world once watched Hitler’s troops march into Austria and Czechoslovakia. It was the Syrian Arab Army, the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah and Iraq’s popular militias, assisted by Iran’s Quds force, that drove the heart-eating, head-chopping, Saudi and US-backed terrorist scum from the region.

As one of the main tacticians behind the rout of Isis and al-Qaeda, it is clear that Major General Soleimani saved the lives of many thousands of people and liberated many more from their barbaric rule. Iranian General Soleimani was not a terrorist; he was a war hero!

What does meaningful antiwar work look like?

Communists oppose war, and aim to avoid conflict wherever possible, because it is always the working people who suffer most at time of war. But it is equally clear that sanctions are a weapon of mass destruction, aimed at the peace, health and sovereignty of the Iranian people.

And it is abundantly clear also that an unjust, imperialist-imposed state of economic superexploitation is not a state of ‘peace and harmony’ for the world’s working masses, but is itself a state of perpetual agony and war, which cannot but give rise to the desire for a better life, and to wave upon wave of fierce resistance.

It was for this very reason that Vietnam’s renowned leader Comrade Ho Chi Minh famously stated: “Nothing is more important than independence and freedom!” The world’s working class can never accept a false US-imposed ‘peace’, at the expense of the sovereignty and self-determination of the oppressed countries.

We therefore oppose imperialist war, but we are clear that the guilt for such wars lies with the imperialist aggressors.

We stand by the oppressed countries in their just wars of national liberation against such aggression. Lasting global peace is impossible while imperialism dominates the world. Bourgeois pacifists like the authors of the CPB and co’s statement are deluded if they imagine otherwise, and they certainly have no right to call themselves communist.

According to these revisionists, it is not Iran and the rest of the heroic anti-imperialist axis of resistance that will bring peace to the middle east, but the United Nations (clearly and repeatedly revealed as a hostage to US imperialism) and the toothless ‘international community’ that gathers under its auspices:

“Our parties call on the United Nations, its agencies and the international community to help find peaceful approaches to resolve the current issues in the region.”

It is a glaring and telling omission that no mention is made here of the refusal by the US to grant Iran’s representative a visa so he could come and address the UN assembly in Washington! What kind of diplomatic effort can take place without the participation of the attacked party? And if Iran is blocked from such diplomatic avenues, what right does anyone have to demand it should ‘de-escalate’ regardless?

“US imperialism and the Iranian dictatorship are disarmed and toothless without their allies’ support,” says the statement. And there we have the crux of the matter. Alongside the usual nod (for form’s sake) towards ‘opposition’ to US imperialism, we see that the real desire of these ‘revolutionaries’ is to render the Iranian government, a real cornerstone of the anti-imperialist axis of resistance in the middle east, ‘disarmed and toothless’.

It is rare that revisionists and opportunists declare their treachery so openly. Let workers beware: the true content of the political line expressed in the formula ‘neither Washington nor Tehran’ is to render the anti-imperialist (ie, workers’) movement, particularly here at home in the imperialist core, ‘disarmed and toothless’.

The CPB has teamed up with Trotskyites and Labour party social democrats in order to deliver the working people of Britain, supine and defenceless, into the hands of their British imperial ruling class.

Anyone honestly seeking to play a part in a meaningful antiwar and anti-imperialist movement that is actually capable of helping oppressed countries defend themselves against imperialist attack must let go once and for all of this social-chauvinistic talk about Iranian ‘dictatorships’, ‘mullahs’ and ‘regimes’, and recognise the right of Iran to self-determination.

We must also recognise the prevailing atmosphere of Iran – particularly following the US’s illegal assassination of Iran’s second-most senior political leader – which is the overwhelming unity of the Iranian people in supporting their government against imperialist aggression.

All other secondary contradictions within Iranian society will be resolved by the Iranian people themselves.

Meanwhile, our job here in Britain is to mobilise British workers to side with their brothers and sisters under attack in Iran; to reject the lies that seek to demonise Iran’s government and soften us up for war; and to refuse to help in any way with the unjust and unjustifiable economic and military war being waged against Iran.

No cooperation with imperialist war; victory to the resistance!

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Self-identifying ‘communists’ blame Iran

Trump’s “deal of the century” won’t bring peace – that was the plan

Trump's Zionist deal of the century
By Jonathan Cook

Much of Donald Trump’s long-trailed “deal of the century” came as no surprise. Over the past 18 months Israeli officials had leaked many of its details.

The so-called “Vision for Peace” unveiled on 28 January simply confirmed that the US government has publicly adopted the long-running consensus in Israel: that it is entitled to keep permanently the swaths of territory it seized illegally over the past half-century that deny the Palestinians any hope of a state.

The White House has discarded the traditional US pose as an “honest broker” between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinian leaders were not invited to the ceremony, and would not have come had they been. This was a deal designed in Tel Aviv more than in Washington – and its point was to ensure there would be no Palestinian partner.

Importantly for Israel, it will get Washington’s permission to annex all of its illegal settlements, now littered across the West Bank, as well as the vast agricultural basin of the Jordan Valley. Israel will continue to have military control over the entire West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has announced his intention to bring just such an annexation plan before his cabinet as soon as possible. It will doubtless provide the central plank in his efforts to win a hotly contested general election due on 2 March.

The Trump deal also approves Israel’s existing annexation of East Jerusalem. The Palestinians will be expected to pretend that a West Bank village outside the city is their capital of “Al-Quds”. There are incendiary indications that Israel will be allowed to forcibly divide the Al-Aqsa mosque compound to create a prayer space for extremist Jews, as has occurred in Hebron.

More ethnic cleansing on the horizon

Further, the Trump administration appears to be considering giving a green light to the Israeli right’s long-held hopes of redrawing the current borders in such a way as to transfer potentially hundreds of thousands of Palestinians currently living in Israel as citizens into the West Bank. That would almost certainly amount to a war crime.

The plan envisages no right of return, and it seems the Arab world will be expected to foot the bill for compensating millions of Palestinian refugees.

A US map handed out on 28 January showed Palestinian enclaves connected by a warren of bridges and tunnels, including one between the West Bank and Gaza. The only leavening accorded to the Palestinians are US pledges to strengthen their economy. Given the Palestinians’ parlous finances after decades of resource theft by Israel, that is not much of a promise.

… the Palestinians are being required to accept a state on 15 per cent of historic Palestine after Israel has seized all the best agricultural land and the water sources.

All of this has been dressed up as a “realistic two-state solution”, offering the Palestinians nearly 70 per cent of the occupied territories – which in turn comprise 22 per cent of their original homeland. Put another way, the Palestinians are being required to accept a state on 15 per cent of historic Palestine after Israel has seized all the best agricultural land and the water sources.

Like all one-time deals, this patchwork “state” – lacking an army, and where Israel controls its security, borders, coastal waters and airspace – has an expiry date. It needs to be accepted within four years. Otherwise, Israel will have a free hand to start plundering yet more Palestinian territory. But the truth is that neither Israel nor the US expects or wants the Palestinians to play ball.

Unrealisable preconditions

That is why the plan includes – as well as annexation of the settlements – a host of unrealisable preconditions before what remains of Palestine can be recognised: the Palestinian factions must disarm, with Hamas dismantled; the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas must strip the families of political prisoners of their stipends; and the Palestinian territories must be reinvented as the Middle East’s Switzerland, a flourishing democracy and open society, all while under Israel’s boot.

… the Trump plan kills the charade that the 26-year-old Oslo process aimed for anything other than Palestinian capitulation. It fully aligns the US with Israeli efforts… to lay the groundwork for permanent apartheid in the occupied territories.

Instead, the Trump plan kills the charade that the 26-year-old Oslo process aimed for anything other than Palestinian capitulation. It fully aligns the US with Israeli efforts – pursued by all its main political parties over many decades – to lay the groundwork for permanent apartheid in the occupied territories.

Trump invited both Netanyahu, Israel’s caretaker prime minister, and his chief political rival, former general Benny Gantz, for the launch. Both were keen to express their unbridled support.

Between them, they represent four-fifths of Israel’s parliament. The chief battleground in the March election will be which one can claim to be better placed to implement the plan and thereby deal a death blow to Palestinian dreams of statehood.

On the Israeli right, there were voices of dissent. Settler groups described the plan as “far from perfect” – a view almost certainly shared privately by Netanyahu. Israel’s extreme right objects to any talk of Palestinian statehood, however illusory.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu and his right-wing coalition will happily seize the goodies offered by the Trump administration. Meanwhile, the plan’s inevitable rejection by the Palestinian leadership will serve down the road as justification for Israel to grab yet more land.

There are other, more immediate bonuses from the “deal of the century”.

Declaring war on international law – and benefits for Trump and Netanyahu

By allowing Israel to keep its ill-gotten gains from its 1967 conquest of Palestinian territories, Washington has officially endorsed one of the modern era’s great colonial aggressions. The US administration has thereby declared open war on the already feeble constraints imposed by international law.

Trump benefits personally, too. This will provide a distraction from his impeachment hearings as well as offering a potent bribe to his Israel-obsessed evangelical base and major funders such as US casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in the run-up to a presidential election.

And the US president is coming to the aid of a useful political ally. Netanyahu hopes this boost from the White House will propel his ultra-nationalist coalition into power in March, and cow the Israeli courts as they weigh criminal charges against him.

No one, least of all the Trump administration, believes that this plan will lead to peace. A more realistic concern is how quickly it will pave the way to greater bloodshed.

How he plans to extract personal gains from the Trump plan were evident on 28 January. He scolded Israel’s attorney-general over the filing of the corruption indictments, claiming a “historic moment” for the state of Israel was being endangered.

Meanwhile, Abbas greeted the plan with “a thousand nos”. Trump has left him completely exposed. Either the PA abandons its security contractor role on behalf of Israel and dissolves itself, or it carries on as before but now explicitly deprived of the illusion that statehood is being pursued.

Abbas will try to cling on, hoping that Trump is ousted in this year’s election and a new US administration reverts to the pretence of advancing the long-expired Oslo peace process. But if Trump wins, the PA’s difficulties will rapidly mount.

No one, least of all the Trump administration, believes that this plan will lead to peace. A more realistic concern is how quickly it will pave the way to greater bloodshed.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Middle East, USA, ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Trump’s “deal of the century” won’t bring peace – that was the plan

Egypt’s choice is clear: Democracy – or chaos under Sisi

By: Ayman Nour

Genuine democratic transition will benefit everyone, especially compared with the chaos that will come if Sisi’s rule carries on

Small groups of protesters gather in central Cairo shouting anti-government slogans in Cairo, Egypt on 21 September, 2019 (Reuters)513Shares

On 25 January, Egyptians will celebrate the ninth anniversary of the revolution. Calls for demonstrations to mark this occasion have multiplied. 

For months, Egypt’s opposition has struggled to reach a consensus on what the post-Sisi period could look like. The Arab Spring values comprise the foundation of this framework, which would enable all political entities to coexist.  

Nine years on, Egypt has become one of the most repressive regimes in the world. Popular anger has reached a turning point, as evidenced by recent protests.

Amid this backdrop, it was disappointing to see UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson roll out the red carpet this week for Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the UK-Africa Investment Summit

Spirit of the Arab Spring

A week after the death of Moustafa Kassem, an Egyptian-born US citizen, in a Cairo prison, US President Donald Trump’s “favourite dictator” took the stage to praise Egypt’s so-called economic performance and political stability.

Yet, with more than 60,000 political prisoners, including more than 300 on hunger strike, repression has reached unprecedented levels in Egypt. Treating Sisi with such honour is both morally wrong and strategically senseless.  

The Arab Spring, which has shaken the region since 2011, has offered a choice whereby human dignity, freedom and rule of law are the fundamental indicators of what is right or wrong, as opposed to religion, nationality, or social or political background.

Whether we are centrists, liberals, leftists or Islamists does not matter in comparison to the values that unite us: democracy, human dignity, justice, equality and freedom

It was in this spirit that the Egyptian National Action Group was formed last month by key elements of the Egyptian opposition. We come from diverse political backgrounds, but have set our differences aside to form this unprecedented group, of which I am honoured to be the spokesman. 

Whether we are centrists, liberals, leftists or Islamists does not matter in comparison to the values that unite us: democracy, human dignity, justice, equality and freedom. After more than six years of Sisi’s vicious rule, the Arab Spring spirit has never left our minds. It has only matured, and we are more determined than ever.

Sisi: Weak and frightened

Last September, despite state repression, thousands of Egyptians took to the streets throughout the country after a series of videos revealed the extent of the corruption at the top of the regime, including among the once-highly regarded army. The protests highlighted how weak and frightened Sisi’s regime actually is. The severe crackdown, including more than 4,000 arbitrary arrests, only stoked popular anger.

All of the ingredients for a new uprising are here. Poverty is rising, with six out of 10 Egyptians either poor or vulnerable, according to the World Bank. In the meantime, opacity and graft appear to be the only governing mechanisms, with a significant portion of the economy belonging to the military.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks at the UN on 24 September (AFP)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks at the UN on 24 September (AFP)

Egypt also faces two existential threats from neighbouring countries. In Libya, Egyptian troops have morphed into rogue mercenaries, supporting a putschist group against the internationally recognised government. This shameful proxy war is now escalating and poses a major peril on our Western border. 

Separately, Ethiopia’s dam on the Nile threatens the lives of millions of Egyptians who depend on the river for water. Although he gave away Egypt’s sovereign rights over Nile waters in 2015, Sisi is now in panic mode. He has threatened Europe that he could stop controlling the flow of sub-Saharan migrants, but the Europeans might want to consider what 100 million Egyptians would do if their own state fails.

Democratic transition

Egypt is not doing well, and popular discontent is growing. The Egyptian National Action Group aims to avoid the chaos that will likely unfold if Sisi does not leave. The ranks of the dissidents and human rights defenders who channelled the 2011 revolution have been fractured by mass arrests since 2013. 

Egypt protests: Sisi’s iron fist is no longer enoughRead More »

This is why we developed a consensus document among numerous political figures last month, setting out our common vision of the post-dictatorship era, including a transition period.

A comprehensive and collaborative national project is being designed to address the most urgent questions around the economy, restructuring of state institutions and limiting of the army’s role.

I have no doubt that Sisi and his cronies will fall, and we in the opposition are getting ready for that day. The Arab Spring is not over. What is less certain is how long it will take Western countries to realise how short-sighted they have been in failing the Egyptian people. 

The “strongman policy” has only brought more instability and more support for extremists in the region.

The costs may be much higher than the income from arms contracts. A genuine democratic transition will benefit everyone, especially compared with the chaos that will come if Sisi’s rule continues.

Posted in Africa, EgyptComments Off on Egypt’s choice is clear: Democracy – or chaos under Sisi

Stop the US drive to war with Iran

Red salute to axis of resistance General Soleimani; imperialists out of the middle east!

Party statement

The targeted assassination of Iran’s ‘indispensable’ Major General, Qasem Soleimani has been the most reckless imperialist act of war since the bombing of Syrian air bases.

Imperialism’s failure to subdue Syria’s legitimate government led by President Bashar al-Assad has greatly hindered the ruling class’s drive to war against Russia and China.

Such a drive to war entails bringing down defiant governments on the periphery of the two superpowers one by one. However the imperialists’ loss of the Syrian theatre quickly became a fatal setback to their grand strategy, leading them to acts of desperation.

The assassination of General Soleimani is a significant example of such an act of desperation. So desperate that the imperialist ruling class is willing to engage in acts of blatant and illegal aggression against Iran. It is by no means illogical or hyperbolic to suggest that the US is now in a state of de facto war with the country.

The loss of Soleimani is a tragic setback for the anti-imperialist united front, for it was Soleimani’s guidance that helped Syria and Iraq fight off the jihadist mercenaries of Isis and al-Nusra; it was Soleimani’s guidance that helped keep militant anti-imperialism alive and vibrant in Lebanon; it was Soleimani’s guidance that helped the Iraqi resistance do what they could to defend their country from the Nato occupiers.

Soleimani was a true veteran of the anti-imperialist fightback and an Iranian patriot of the highest order. The scale of the mourning across the region shows how much he was loved and valued by the people there. The best and only true way to honour his legacy is to bring the fight to our common oppressor here on the streets of Britain.

It is our humanitarian duty to hinder and harass our imperialist ruling class’s efforts in waging war upon any and all governments that defy imperialist rule. Former FBI agent Ali Soufan remembered Soleimani as being “responsible for the creation of an arc of influence – which Iran terms its ‘Axis of Resistance’ – extending from the Gulf of Oman through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea”.

US president Donald Trump did not just kill an Iranian general, he martyred a widely-loved man in the middle east; a symbol of anti-imperialist resistance. On hearing the news, Iranian demonstrators held up his portrait with the words “Suleimani may have, with his death, already have achieved the greatest revenge of all.” Let his fine example inspire us to strengthen and temper ourselves to wage a real war against terrorism and imperialism.

Iran vows retaliation for the murder, and it is our vital duty in response to support Iran in its defensive war against imperialism, no matter how loud our bourgeois imperialist media beats the drums of war.

Though we oppose war, we stand by Iran’s right to defend itself by any means necessary. It is our duty to organise in our communities with those who are serious about taking grassroots anti-war action, especially now that the Labour party will return to the clutches of Blairism.

It is our duty to support and build a Workers Party of Britain that unequivocally stands for rallying workers at home and uniting with workers abroad in waging anti-imperialist struggle.:

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Stop the US drive to war with Iran

International communists on the attack against anti-Stalin lies

Workers will never find courage in their own strength until they have learned to see through the exploiters’ lies about socialism.

Proletarian writers

Josef Stalin worked tirelessly in the service of the people from the age of 15 until his death. He is hated and his legacy is feared by the imperialists because he led the working class in building a prosperous and peaceful life without exploitation.

The following resolution was passed by a gathering of communist and workers’ parties in Minsk, Belarus on 15 December 2019.

*****

Decisive resistance to anti-Stalinism is an ideological condition for the victory of a modern socialist revolution

We, representatives of the communist and workers’ parties, gathered in the hero city of Minsk for an international conference dedicated to the 140th anniversary of the birth of comrade JV Stalin, entitled ‘Resolute resistance to anti-Stalinism is an ideological condition for victory in the modern socialist revolution’, state the following:

I

Josef Stalin, becoming the head of the party, of the CPSU(b) and the proletarian state after the death of VI Lenin as his faithful disciple, for 29 years led the first country of socialism – the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – in accordance with Lenin’s scientific principles.

He was the recognised leader of the Soviet people. Under his leadership in the USSR for the first time in human history real socialism was built as the first stage of communism; Stalin’s constitution was adopted – the constitution of the victorious, in its main, socialism; the Soviet people won a heroic battle over Hitler’s Germany which was supported by the labour of the enslaved countries of Europe, and also over imperialist Japan; in the postwar period the national economy was restored at an unprecedentedly rapid pace and the USSR began the transition to the construction of communism.

Under the leadership of Stalin the main obstacles to successful socialist development were eliminated: the activities of harmful and hostile elements who had embarked on the path of subversion and sabotage against the actions of the Soviet government were exposed and suppressed, as well as of the Trotskyites and right deviators, who were threatening the very existence of the Soviet country; a determined struggle against nationalism was waged; and powerful support for internationalist communist, workers’ and national-liberation movements abroad were carried out, in the struggle against imperialism, for peace and socialism.

As a result of Stalin’s activities, the conditions were created for the formation of the world system of socialism, which called into question the further existence of capitalism on our planet.

Having held fast to these obligations, in opposition to the conditions existing in all previous exploitative societies, JV Stalin led the creation of a socialist society, able to manage its own activities on a scientific basis, and developed Marxist-Leninist science in accordance with the requirements of his time, theoretically outlining to Soviet society the path to the realisation of the transition period to communism, and, above all:

– formulated the basic economic law of socialism and outlined the way to create the material and technical base of communism on the basis of scientific planning and the principles of the ‘Stalinist economy’, including its social orientation – a constant increase in wages as social productivity increases and a lowering of prices as the cost of production decreases;

– showed how society can gradually effect the liquidation of separate classes in the transition to communism, as well as of commodity production and of the market on the basis of rise of collective farms and the gradual replacement of cooperative property by state property (for this purpose at first restoration of machine tractor stations and other state bodies is required);

– determined the way of transition to communist public self-government by developing the dictatorship of the working class as the highest democracy under the leadership of the Communist party, which ensures the suppression of the possibility of the counter-revolutionary degeneration of Soviet society.

JV Stalin opened for mankind the only true way of getting rid of wars, especially important today, when the imperialists’ mastery of weapons of mass destruction makes them capable of sending mankind into oblivion. He wrote: “To eliminate the inevitability of war, it is necessary to abolish imperialism.”

Thus, there is every reason to characterise the theory and practice of Stalin as a Stalinist development of Marxism Leninism. This period of development of Marxism Leninism was aimed at the revolutionary victory of the world proletariat, ridding it forever of capitalist exploitation and wars.

II

This explains why imperialism’s struggle against Marxism Leninism took the line of discrediting Stalin’s personality, and of denigrating the practice of building socialism during the period of Stalin’s leadership.

This policy was criminally aided by Nikita Khrushchev, when in 1956 he imposed on the CPSU’s twentieth congress the so-called issue of the “cult of the personality”. Since then, the anti-Stalinists have been fighting the Stalinist theoretical legacy of Marxism Leninism and the Stalinist style of leadership in the construction of socialism in the USSR.

The future of mankind depends on the outcome of this struggle: either men will get rid of the shackles of imperialism by crushing it through the socialist revolution, or they will perish in a nuclear cataclysm, to which the general crisis of the entire imperialist system is inevitably leading.

The decisive factor in the victory over world imperialism, the continuation of the first victorious proletarian revolution – the Great October Revolution – should be the world proletarian organisation of the new Comintern, which would be the heir to the political line of the Leninist-Stalinist Third, Communist, International (1919-43).

Now it is necessary to actively carry out preparatory work in this direction. Such an organisation is designed to combine the national efforts of the communists in the struggle against their own national bourgeoisies with their joint efforts in the struggle against the world financial oligarchy.

III

In the struggle against JV Stalin, the reactionaries slanderously attributed to him immodesty and the creation of a cult of his personality, while keeping silent about the fact that Stalin enjoyed the highest and most deserved respect and authority among the working people. The people remember that the epoch-making successes of the Soviet workers and the world workers’ and national-liberation movement were achieved thanks to the activities and leadership of Stalin.

The theme of so-called ‘mass political repressions’ that were attributed to Stalin was used as a lever to denigrate all his activities. But it would be surprising if the dictatorship of the proletariat, which overthrew the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie and landlords, refused to fight against the enemies of Soviet power: against anti-Soviet Trotskyists and Bukharinites, against the traitors to the Soviet Motherland such as Vlasov, Bandera, etc, such as the Basmachis in central Asia and the so-called ‘forest brothers’ (bourgeois nationalists) in the Baltic states, against malicious saboteurs of the political and economic line of development pursued by the Soviet government, etc.

Any state has the right to defend itself, and the Soviet state especially had many enemies. It was a just purification of the Soviet organisations from harmful and hostile elements, without which there would be neither creative nor military victories.

But there were also unjust repressions, which were deliberately cultivated by Trotskyists entrenched in the state machinery, including in law enforcement agencies, and by hidden anti-Soviet careerists for the sake of discrediting the Soviet power and bringing about its fall. Injustice was also allowed to occur by politically illiterate persons and by careerist elements who found themselves in those bodies.

Such actions during the time of Stalin were exposed and suppressed by the state itself, including the rehabilitation of the repressed. The attempt to shift the responsibility for the bloody acts of sabotage to the winner over Trotskyism, JV Stalin, is an insidious tactic of the ideologists of the world financial oligarchy.

The internal and external enemies of the USSR have maliciously distorted the picture of repressions as a whole. It was an remains purposely hidden from the public that JV Stalin supported fair punishment of the enemies of the working people and resolutely suppressed all unfair repressions.

It is also hidden that Stalin played a decisive role in the defeat of Trotskyism, and that this greatly contributed to the suppression of unjust political repression. Hidden also is the fact that on the initiative of Stalin the death penalty was abolished as a form of punishment in the USSR.

His enemies have blamed Stalin for the alleged ‘unpreparedness’ of the USSR to repel Hitler’s aggression, even though the victory of the Soviet people over the Nazi beast clearly highlights the unprecedentedly powerful preparations that were made for repulsing the enemy.

These took the form of the rapid industrialisation of the Soviet state, the collectivisation of agriculture, a cultural revolution, the all-round and comprehensive strengthening of the army, the actual defeat of the ‘fifth column’ – the whole building of a socialist society with its collectivist class homogeneity, moral and political unity, friendship of peoples, labour enthusiasm and social activity of citizens, with the fortress of unity of the vanguard of the working class and its labour allies.

Such concrete measures as the policy of re-equipping the Red Army with modern weapons and the advance deployment of the defence industry in the eastern regions of the country had a positive impact.

The conclusion of the non-aggression treaty with Germany gave the necessary respite for better preparation of the country for defence, allowed the splitting of the Munich front of imperialists directed against the USSR fronted by Germany and Italy, but with England, France and the USA standing behind them.

The reunification of western Belarus with the Belarussian SSR and of western Ukraine with the Ukrainian SSR at the same time allowed the moving of the state borders to the west. The reunification with the USSR of Bessarabia, previously illegally occupied by Romania, and the establishment of new borders with Finland also contributed to the strengthening of the security of the Soviet state.

Stalin’s skillful use of interimperialist contradictions, and his continuation of Lenin’s tactics of compromise must be especially emphasised. As a result of these the ‘democratic’ imperialist states became part of the anti-Hitler coalition and fought in alliance with the USSR against the Hitlerite bloc of states.

The myth of the alleged lack of preparedness of the country under the leadership of JV Stalin for war is cultivated in spite of objective facts, such as the fact that the concentrated power of all of pro-fascist Europe was brought down on the USSR.

Stalin is accused of establishing a system of totalitarianism in the USSR. However, the critics of Stalin frankly ignore the fact that he sought to prevent the bureaucratisation of Soviet society and the associated possibility of its bourgeois rebirth. He sought to intensify the efforts of the workers in the comprehensive communist construction through the development of socialist democracy, criticism and self-criticism

The elimination of antagonistic classes in the USSR made it possible to adopt the socialist constitution of 1936. Stalin laid out in this unprecedented social and political guarantees to workers. The Soviet constitution ensured equal participation in the elections of all citizens of the USSR, gave the right to nominate candidates for deputies from party, trade unions, Komsomol organisations and cooperatives (collective farms, etc).

These measures under the leadership of the Communist party ensured the dictatorship of the working class and guaranteed the protection of Soviet power from internal degeneration and external threats.

IV

After Stalin’s death, it was his opponents who revised the scientific path of the movement towards communism, transforming it into its opposite and sending it into oblivion in all its parts.

This opportunism opened the way for the deformation of socialism, the restoration of bourgeois relations and the revival of nationalism, followed by the explosion of the socialist superstructure and the destruction of the USSR.

The theoretical and practical legacy of Stalin is Marxism Leninism of the epoch of the transition from capitalism to socialism on a world scale.

Thus the purification of the mass consciousness of workers against the slanders of Stalin is the most important task during the ideological offensive of imperialism; an ideological condition for effective resistance of the counter-revolution in the USSR and in the countries of eastern Europe, and for the victory of the socialist revolution in individual countries and around the world.

Today the name of Stalin rightly stands alongside the classics of Marxism Leninism, the luminaries of thought and practice of the world proletariat: Karl MarxFriedrich Engels and VI Lenin.

Glory and eternal gratitude to Comrade Stalin – the great leader of the Soviet people and the entire world proletariat!Long live Marxism Leninism and its Stalinist legacy!Long live the victory of communism on a global scale – a society without classes and social exploitation, with a single national ownership of the means of production, universal prosperity, produced by highly-organised and creative collective labour using the latest achievements of science and technology, in harmony with nature!Communism is the only means of saving humanity from destruction in a nuclear cataclysm and of ensuring its entry into the path of progress and prosperity!

Let us repulse the attacks on Stalin and continue the struggle for the cause of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin!

______________________________

The conference also agreed on the following:

– On the proposal of the delegate from Moldova, it instructed the organising committee to draw up and publish a document against the demolition of Soviet-era monuments in a number of states and the prohibition of communist symbols.

– At the suggestion of the delegate from Bulgaria, it supported the creation of an international front against imperialism and fascism and called for the active holding of events dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the victory over European fascism led by Hitler’s Germany.

– At the suggestion of the delegates from Belarus, it supported the international people’s movement ‘Immortal Regiment’ and the widespread annual commemoration of 22 June – the day of the attack in 1941 by Nazi Germany and its satellites on the USSR – as the day of the struggle against imperialism, war and fascism.

– At the suggestion of the delegate from Turkey, it decided to continue the development of the theme of combating anti-Stalinism, including the synthesis of experience in the application of its specific methods.

– On the proposal of the delegate from Ukraine, it agreed to continue the development of Stalin’s plan for the construction of communism and, above all, in its fundamental part – the economic.

– It has discussed the ways to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Lenin, whose faithful successor was Stalin.

Conference Organising Committee
In the hero-city of Minsk, 15 December 2019

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Trump’s War on the Environment Imperils Us All

by GEORGE OCHENSKI

Halsey, Oregon. Photo: Jeffrey St. Clair.

While the eyes of the nation are on the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, the industry lobbyists he put in charge of federal environmental regulatory agencies have been busily carrying out an underhanded war on the environment. Attacking long-standing regulations on pollution of air, land, water, and endangered species that have, in large part, served the nation well has been their mission from day one of the Trump administration. Now, adding to the rogue’s list of rollbacks, the EPA has decided to gut the Clean Water Act, imperiling us, our children, grandchildren, and generations yet to come.

This development, which will have very damaging and long-lasting consequences, may have surprised some because Trump had already repealed the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule. Suffice it to say his impression that the only way to benefit businesses is to let them run hog wild with environmental destruction and consumption of public resources is wildly off-base. Obviously, the Obama rule was not significantly detrimental to the booming economy Trump inherited. And clean water is one of our most precious public resources without which, regardless of political affiliation, we cannot survive.

The mechanism Trump’s administration used to roll back the regulations is via administrative rulemaking. While most people rightfully believe making laws is the job of Congress, the reality is that once Congress passes a bill and it’s signed into law, the agency responsible for implementing the law must promulgate the highly complex “rules” to fit the wide variety of situations virtually any law must cover.

Importantly, once administrative rules are adopted, they carry the force of law – in effect giving bureaucracies significant latitude to basically make their own laws. Legally, the administrative rules are supposed to be bound by the statutory language of the law they implement. Unfortunately, it often takes a lawsuit to overturn administrative rules that go beyond the laws they are intended to implement and they stay in effect until overturned.

So now we are faced with yet another attempt by the Trump administration to gut long-standing beneficial environmental laws via administrative rule-making. And like the gutting of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air Act, these rules will stand until the EPA is taken to court and the rules are overturned.

In this case, the last thing the Environmental Protection Agency is protecting is the environment. The Waters of the United States rule judiciously regulated the dumping of industrial pollutants, fertilizers, and pesticides into waterways. And since water runs downhill, wetlands and intermittent streams were protected for the very good reason that everyone lives downstream and the only way to ensure clean surface and groundwater is to protect the uphill sources from pollutants.

Moreover, wetlands are one of nature’s true miracle workers. A variety of aquatic plants very efficiently pull pollutants out of the water as it slowly seeps through. So allowing developers or farmers to fill in wetlands is one of the absolutely dumbest things anyone could do if protecting water quality is the goal.

If anyone needs a reminder of what unregulated water pollution looks like, they need only turn their eyes to Butte, Anaconda, and the Clark Fork River that comprise the nation’s largest Superfund site. We learned that lesson 50 years ago, when the Clean Water Act was enacted by Congress. But now, with a science-denying president and a corporate-controlled EPA, we are about to repeat the tragic and incredibly expensive mistakes of the past as Trump’s war on the environment increasingly imperils us all.

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Growing Up Panther: An Interview With K’sisay Sadiki

by SUSIE DAY

“Kamau.” Painting by Sophie Dawson.

“As we left the courtroom, [a friend] was standing in the hallway with K’Sisay, Kamau’s two-year-old daughter. As Kamau walked near her, she held out her arms to him. Kamau took two steps toward her and the marshals jumped him and began beating him. … I will never forget the haunting scream of that child as she watched her father being brutally beaten.”

–Assata Shakur, Assata: An Autobiography

That two-year-old, K’Sisay Sadiki, is now in her forties with kids of her own. She has lived her life in two worlds. She’s attended prestigious dance and film schools, holds down a steady job, pays taxes. And, as the child of Black Panthers, she’s lived underground, raised by people dedicated to overturning white supremacy. Her father, Kamau, also has a daughter – K’Sisay’s sister – by Assata Shakur, who famously escaped from prison in 1979 and now lives in Cuba as a “dangerous fugitive,” hunted by the US government. Kamau is in a Georgia prison, serving a life-plus-ten-years sentence for the 1971 fatal shooting of a police officer – a cold case, resurrected in the post-9/11 world.

K’Sisay tells me about how she’s making sense of her life. “I need people to know who my parents are. Who I am, too, as a woman who has lived in the background, not feeling comfortable with sharing my father’s story.” On January 31 and February 1, she will perform “The Visit,” her one-person show, at University Settlement in Lower Manhattan. Part of an installation by the artist Sophia Dawson, “The Visit” is K’Sisay’s work in progress, an exploration of her double reality – and a way to educate people about her father.

K’SISAY: I was born into activism. Both my parents were Black Panthers in the Queens branch of the Party. When I was a baby, my father was arrested for a robbery and served five years in prison. He wrote me letters, like, “Oh, my baby’s sick. When I get out I’m going to be there for you.”

My mom and I would visit my father when I was a toddler. Once we went to visit – my mom said he’d gotten his GED. So I thought we were there to celebrate something. They put my mother and me in a room and said he’d be out soon. But he didn’t come. My mother and I were there for hours, so long that I peed on myself and started screaming. Then they brought my father in.

My mother didn’t want him to react with anger: “This is my family – look what you did to them!” She tried to calm him down, calm me down, make the best of the situation. My mom would always try to make things brighter. She’d pack picnic lunches. “We’re going to see your father, then we’re going to the lake!” But there are photographs of me as a little girl, and you can see the stress. Going to court and stuff, I experienced trauma. My grandmother told my mother, “You can’t expose her to that, you have to make a decision.”

So I was also raised going to art camps, being exposed to theater, knowing my family wanted the best for me: “Whatever your dreams are, let’s cultivate them.”

SD: Is there’s a similarity between you as a Panther kid and kids growing up in the 1950s Red Scare, whose parents were Communists?

KS: Yeah, we definitely couldn’t say certain things, and we were taught a code. At school, I never stood up to say the Pledge of Allegiance. That was something my mom taught me as a little girl.

I went to a predominantly white school in Queens, and I thought, “Damn. Why are these teachers so mean to me? Like they loved their little white girls, but they hated me. Then there was me not standing up to say the Pledge…

My mother was comrades with this other woman from the Panthers. Her daughter and I were raised together. They would dress us up and take us to Broadway plays and stuff, and we’d wear these little pink dresses or whatever. They just liked dressing us up.

But I was raised around kids of Panthers, and taught that we were blood cousins. It was like, OK, we know we’re different.

SD: Your father got out of prison in 1979. In an earlier version of your show, you talked about him training you as a kid in Panther drills and calisthenics.

KS: It’s funny, my father did want me to be this soldier. But my mom said, “This is a little girl. She likes dancing school. Your approach has to be different.”

SD: Your dad was released about the time Assata escaped and went underground.

KS: I barely knew that; my mom and dad kept some things from me. I didn’t know that my parents were being threatened. The FBI was telling my mom, “We’re going to kidnap your daughter.” I had no idea. I lived through a child’s lens.

My mom did have a room where she kept old Panther newspapers and articles. I would look at them but they made me afraid.

The photo of K’Sisay and Kamau, from a prison visit.

SD: A few years later, from Cuba, Assata published her autobiography. In it she wrote about your dad – and you.

KS: A lot of my friends on the block read Assata’s book. They said, “K’Sisay, how come you didn’t tell me you’re related? What’s your story?”

I’d say, “I don’t want to talk about that.” Because I felt shame. Yeah, I felt like I was living two lives.

SD: Tell me about your dad.

KS: He worked for the telephone company. He was a man of the community. He loves storytelling and reading, especially science fiction, parallel worlds and stuff. He used to show up in his truck and gather the kids around him, “Come on, everybody…” and he’d tell the kids these stories. They were all [mimes amazement] “WOW!” He exposed me to Octavia Butler, like Wild Seed: “K’Sisay! I got this BOOK…”

I moved to Brooklyn in 4th grade, but my father and I always lived close. He and my mother could never live together but he always lived in the neighborhood. I had a key. He just liked life simple. He loved his books. He’d be into Apple gadgets, the latest stereo system.

SD: So you grew up, went to school, got a job, got married, had kids. You’re in your 30s, and suddenly, in 2002, your father is arrested for child abuse. Then he’s charged with the 1971 killing of a police officer.

KS: By now, he’s a grandfather, thinking about retiring. I couldn’t believe this was happening. To see my father in the newspapers – humiliated that way. Even for people who support the Panthers, to question whether that was true. I think that the woman he’d been seeing set him up

SD: The molestation charge didn’t stick, but it must have made it hard for people to support his case. Your dad was convicted in 2003 of the shooting.

KS: Even though they had no direct evidence. They tried to get him to turn Assata in, but of course he wouldn’t. I went to see him at court in Brooklyn.

My dad kept looking at me so very apologetic. He just put his head down, like, “I’m so sorry this is happening.” The kids, we were all there. Then my mom and I went to see him at the Brooklyn House of Detention. I had not been in that situation for years, going through security, being patted down. I never got to see him again in New York.

It was more devastating for me as an adult to see him in prison than it was when I was a child. I was in denial. That took years to deal with.

SD: Your dad is now turning 67 at the Augusta Medical State Facility in Georgia. Tell me about your last visit.

KS: I visited him last summer. It was wonderful to see him. But he has serious health issues and the conditions there are horrible.

SD: What, above everything, have you learned from your father?

KS: Strength. Humility. He’s my hero. He made a commitment to deal with injustice. He was that person even before he joined the Black Panther Party.

I couldn’t always talk about this. I’ve been silent for a long time. Now, I am his voice. I may not be able to physically see him, but he’s with me always. I dream about him and he’s free – I never dream about him in prison.

OK, he’s free – but he’s WANTED. [Laughs]. I’m always looking for an Underground Railroad. “Come on, Daddy, we can go here!”

But he’s always free.

© susie day, 2020

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Capitalism in America: the Coming Crisis

by THOMAS M. MAGSTADT

Photo by Nathaniel St. Clair

“Alphabet joins the $1trn club” the headline read. It is a very exclusive club—in fact, only three other companies in the world belong to it. The Saudi oil monopoly, Aramco, is the only one that is not American. Microsoft and Apple are the other two. They both have a market value well in excess of one trillion dollars. A fourth monster U.S. corporation, Amazon, will probably join this elite group sometime in 2020.

To put the one-trillion-dollar figure into perspective, consider that as of 2017 only 17 countries in the world had a GNP of a trillion US$ or more. In July 2017, CNBC announced that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—“the richest man in the world”—was the odds-on favorite to become the first trillionaire.

Wealth is power. The concentration of wealth in America has reached epic proportions. In a commercial republic rigged in favor of the superrich, where the problems and predations of capitalism are routinely swept under the carpet and an “empire of law” protects and perpetuates great wealth, free and fair elections are the only effective way to protect the public interest against special interests, powerful PACs, and corporate lobbies.

But something has again gone terribly wrong in America. It happened once before between the end of the Civil War and the World War One. Then it was Teddy Roosevelt and other trustbusters in both parties who led the fight against monopoly capitalism. Today, a very different Republic Party is backing a very different kind of president. And popular elections are no longer a counterweight to extreme wealth.

Shallow Roots, Deep Convictions

Compared to other belief systems that have shaped the modern world, the roots of capitalism in the history of Western Civilization are shallow. I will say more about the problems of capitalism as a belief system later, but for now suffice it say that what began as a theory in Europe has acquired the status of a secular religion in America.

Even if we accept Max Weber’s thesis that capitalism is a natural outgrowth of the Protestant work ethic—especially the theology of John Calvin—it did not emerge as a unified theory, much less a functioning economic system, until sometime in the first half of the 19th Century.

It’s no accident that it happened first in the United Kingdom, a mercantile powerhouse that had by then established a cluster of colonies on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also no accident that Adam Smith was British (Scottish, to be precise). Or that the idea of the “invisible hand” originated in Great Britain. Or that it traveled to America with the Puritans who landed at Plymouth Rock.

Destructive Creation

Economists drunk on capitalism love to talk about the wonders of “creative destruction”. Apart from the obvious—that it is self-contradictory on its face—the concept, even as defined by its apostles, collapses under the weight of historical evidence, critical analysis, and moral philosophy. It is so preposterous as to be comical, but as the basis for a set of myths that has turned a theoretical construct into a secular religion it’s no laughing matter.

According to Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge in Capitalism in America: A History (Penguin, 2018, p. 14), “Creative destruction is the principal driving force of economic progress, the ‘perennial gale’ that uproots businesses—and lives—but that, in the process, creates a more productive economy.” Get it? No. Okay, let’s try again: “Creation and destruction are Siamese twins.”

Still not? Think of the problem this way: You can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs. Creative destruction is the genius of American capitalism, which is why America invented the omelet and Edison invented electricity: “There is no better place to study this perennial gale” than here in America, where “a throng of business titans” once upon a time “reorganized entire industries on a continental scale”.

What’s that you say? America didn’t invent the omelet? Who cares? You have to break a lot of light bulbs to make electricity. That’s an alternative fact. Just ask Edison.

The nutty idea of creative destruction can be traced to a dead economist named Joseph Schumpeter and his book, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy published in 1942, a banner year for destruction in a world no longer safe for democracy. No other economic system in history had ever come close to delivering the kind of destructive creation capitalism did between 1939 and 1945. Among the horrific fruits of capitalism’s “perennial gale”: the German V-2 rocket with a 2,200-pound payload, the British and U.S. carpet bombing of German cities (note: not military targets, but population centers), and the mushroom clouds over the radioactive ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

To be fair, Greenspan and Wooldridge do acknowledge that there is a “downside” to creative destruction. But they do not appear to have a clue how destructive the downside is and they explain it away with exculpatory language like this: “Partly because people are frightened of change and partly because change produces losers as well as winners, creative destruction is usually greeted by what Max Weber called “a flood of mistrust, sometimes hatred, above all of moral indignation.”

That’s ironic because these distinguished economic thinkers appear to be blind or indifferent to the moral consequences of unbridled capitalism. In a chapter entitled “The Triumph of Capitalism” they note that “It was the farmers’ willingness to turn capitalists. . . that lay behind America’s emergence as an agricultural superpower.” But, “Sadly they engineered an ecological catastrophe. Bison were placid creatures that had grazed in massive herds on the American plains for millennia and coexisted with Native Americans who never killed enough to deplete the herds.”

Never mind that Native Americans, like the Bison, were also driven to the brink of extinction. Clearly, the indigenous folks were not good capitalists like the farmers who were far more adept at creative destruction. To wit: “American farmers engineered an ecological transformation by turning the native grasslands of the Midwest and California into a vast sea of grain.” And in the cruel logic of American capitalism, the fate of millions of displaced indigenous peoples was incidental to the holy grail of economic growth and the magic the marketplace.

Trickle-Down Party Trick

Theory? Strategy? Or Conspiracy? Whatever you choose to call it, trickle-down economics is a political party trick. It’s a trick the Grand Old Party (GOP) has played on a big slice of the electorate only too willing to believe that “liberals” and “socialists” (a.k.a., Democrats) are the cause of chronic federal deficits and all the unfairness baked into American society.

But the facts tell a very different story. What has been happening in America is the exact opposite. Instead of trickling down, wealth has not only trickled up in the past decade but the trickle is looking more like a tidal wave all the time.

recent article in the Business Insider shouts “One stunning chart undercuts Trump’s favorite economic scorecard—and shows why its misleading.” What the chart shows is that while the S&P 500 has leaped ahead by over 40% during Trump’s first term, wages have inched up at a mere 9%. But half of all middle- and working-class Americans own no stock. “The top 10% of American households own the lion’s share of them at 84%.

Extreme economic inequality is a fact of life in many countries and regions of the world. Globally, America is not the most extreme example nor did not start when Donald Trump stepped into the Oval Office. But in the last decade, according to the calculations of a development economist at the Brookings Institution “The United States was the top of the league table in terms of the rich’s share of consumption growth—fully 65 percent of the spending increase . . . . The rich started in 2010 with the bulk of household spending . . . and the distribution over the last decade simply reinforced this inequality.” All the rest went to the middle class—zero trickle down.

Still not convinced these facts are accurate? Fair enough. One recent statistical analysis found that income inequality in the United States is highest its been in more than 50 years, while a another study found that income of the poorest Americans actually fell by 7 percent over the past 15 years!

The biggest GOP party trick of all, of course, is the systematic effort to deny, distort, and discredit facts. Not just facts about the economy but facts in general. Which is why we now have propaganda—nonsense like trickle down economics aimed at serving private interests—in place of fact-based debates over taxes and public policy. It’s at the least a strategy, at worst, a conspiracy to conceal with real truth about the concentration of economic wealth in America and the political hijacking that has made it possible.

Congress on the Auction Block

Fact: The extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of a small number of rich Americans is getting worse by the year. Fact: The ultrarich collectively got more than $500 billion dollars richer in 2019. Fact: Economic power (a.k.a., wealth) in American translates into political influence.

So long as the Supreme Court continues to uphold the ruling in Citizens United that, in effect, blocks any real campaign finance reform, the U.S. Congress will remain on the auction bloc and key votes on taxation and the federal budget—who gets (or pays) what, when, and how—will be sold to the highest bidder.

Thus, it was no surprise when Congress passed a Republican tax bill in 2017 that overwhelmingly benefited corporations and the rich—and President Trump gleefully signed it. Fact: The U.S. has the highest concentration of billionaires in the world (705 individuals) and was the only country to add more billionaires last year.

Fact: The 2017 tax law lowered the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and gives so-called “pass-through businesses” like the Trump Organization a 20% tax deduction. It also repealed the 20 percent corporate alternative minimum tax designed to ensure that corporations paid at least some taxes.

Companies are excused from paying corporate taxes on money they claim to earn abroad, as well—a reward for exporting jobs and an incentive to keep more income in foreign tax havens. If and when corporate income is repatriated is now between 8% and 15.5%, down from 35%. Sweet.

But not sweet enough: the 2017 tax bill also doubled the inheritance-tax exemption for married couples from $11 million to $22 million.

The Coming Crisis

The coming crisis of capitalism is not only economic; it’s also a moral and political crisis. A constitution in tatters is the death knell of democracy. By the same token, corporate monopolies are incompatible with a market economy.

Capitalism thrives on vigorous and fair competition. When the deck is heavily stacked in favor of a few massive conglomerates and billionaires, the rest of society, the many—the middle class and low-economic underclass—lose faith in The System. As Economist Stephanie Kelton tweeted last year, “No one makes a billion dollars. You TAKE a billion dollars.”

The “strong economy” of recent years is largely an illusion. When it comes to capitalism and constitutional democracy, Republicans in Congress are world-class hypocrites: “Fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks seem to have changed their tune, all in the name of massive tax cuts that would primarily benefit the wealthy.”

Fact: Household credit card debt in America currently exceeds $1 trillion—the average interest rate on this form of debt starts at 17.4 % and goes up. In February 2019 it was reported that total household debt has climbed to over $4 trillion.

Fact: The 2017 tax bill will cost $1.46 trillion over 10 years. No wonder, the federal deficit in 2019 jumped 26% in 2019, nearly hit the trillion-dollar mark for the first time ever, and will go over a $1 trillion in 2020. Meanwhile, the national debt climbed to over $23 trillion last year.

What a governments does and says influences how citizens behave and what they believe. In the Reagan era, we learned that greed is good. In the Trump era, we are being told that deficits don’t matter—and neither, of course, do the facts.

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The Power of Mothers

by:  LAURA CARLSEN


Who are we? Central American mothers! Who are we looking for? Our children! 
Why do we look for them? Because we love them! What do we want? JUSTICE!

They hold hands and form a circle in the small church in Marín, Nuevo León. The Caravan of Central American Mothers of Missing Migrants has come to this northern Mexico town precisely for what is about to happen. It’s the reason for the existence of the yearly caravan—a reunion between mother and child, long separated by forced migration and now reunited by this group’s work.

Thirty-one years ago, Lilian Alvarado de Romero watched her two children, Dalinda, 9, and Salvador, 7, leave their home. She sent them north to keep them safe during the armed conflict in El Salvador, where the violence had already claimed the lives of several of her relatives. Since that day, she hadn’t seen them or heard from them.

When the two see their mother walking toward the circle, Dalinda cries “Mama!”  They embrace and cry ,and we all cry. The grandmother meets her grandchildren for the first time. The broken circle is repaired. The caravan finally continues on its way, leaving the family together, eager to fill in the decades of separation.

In its fifteenth year, the Caravan of Central American mothers brought together six families like Lilian’s: A son who left Honduras as a teenager to find a better future and lost contact with his mother for more than three decades. An indigenous father from Guatemala who found his daughter in a prison in Reynosa, imprisoned 6 years without sentence for a crime that she did not commit. A mother who finds her son in Coatzacoalcos, and a sister who meets her longlost sister in Tuxtla Gutierrez. In total, the caravan has chalked up 315 reunions in its 15 years.

This year, 38 relatives of missing migrants traveled through 14 Mexican states, along with members of the Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, press and six migrants’ rights activists from Spain and Italy — natural allies of the movement that is now global. The caravan route follows the changing migratory routes through  Mexico. The mothers stay in the same shelters that receive their daughters and sons. They follow the tracks of the trains that are the arteries of migratory flows. They talk to people in public plazas and to members of the broad network in Mexico that dares to support Central American migrants who have been increasingly criminalized, persecuted and exploited.

Some of the mothers are searching for children who left decades ago; others lost their loved ones just months ago. After the wave of refugees during the armed conflicts and civil wars, Central American countries now have moved to expulsion due to structural violence and political crises. Peace did not come to the places they come from and new threats emerged. No law or wall or armed forces deployed against them can stop people fleeing death and a life with no future.

Alongside the mothers, there are also fathers, brothers, siblings and offspring. The Caravan doesn’t discriminate or exclude, but its name -The Caravan of Central American Mothers–is more than symbolic. The fact is that the majority of family members who search for disappeared migrants and continue searching over the years and decades are mothers. In the face of devastating loss, if you tell them that they have to go on with their lives – unsolicited advice that they often hear – they will answer that searching for their children is their life. The absence of a daughter or son is not something that remains in the past or is ever overcome.

There is also another reason that explains the unwavering commitment of mothers — the personal and social transformation that is achieved through grassroots organization. Everyone in the group has become an eloquent spokeswoman for her cause and a community leader. They have formed collectives in their countries — Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua — that work to continue the search and pressure governments. Being women, their empowerment is doubly challenging to a global capitalist system that dictates that the poor, the excluded, the different and women have a place below others and should not move from there.

The mothers have learned to speak in public without fear and without censor. They’ve learned to navigate  complex government laws and institutions designed to simulate action and hinder progress toward truth and justice. They draft demands, fill out forms, invent slogans, do public relations in the public squares where the display photos of their missing children. They know their rights and demand them. In the shelters and community centers that the Caravan visits in its search, the people who receive the caravan repeat the same tribute, with variations: ‘You are the defenders of life in the face of a system of death.’

The most important form of empowerment for these mothers is to develop the power to search for and find their children. They rae convinced of this power — if not, they wouldn’t have left their homes and communities to travel the width and breadth of Mexico. They have learned that this is a collective power, that they must  organize to be able to search effectively for their loved ones and to be able to stand up to the powers against them– the merciless power of organized crime that sees migrants as the spoils of their turf wars; the power of governments that enforce anti-migrant policies that create a black market of human beings, that cary out extortion of migrants, that beat and separate families in the name of the law; and the patriarchal power that sees in the bodies of migrant women another property for their benefit. There are many powers arrayed against the mothers, but also many powers they have inside and on their side.

The families of disappeared Mexicans, who will soon launch their own national search effort with the Fifth National National Brigade to Search for the Disappeared, have a motto: “Looking for them we find each other”. It applies to the Central American mothers’ caravan as well. In addition to the friendships that are made, which on this year’s caravan were a source of love and joy and unity, they find that another world is possible. As the founder of the caravan and of the Mesoamerican Migrants Movement, Marta Sánchez, says, that world is a world of solidarity and communion that restores belief in the future, despite the pain of the present–a pain that no one knows as closely or as deeply as a mother who has lost a child.

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Children in care being let down as vultures profit from their misery

The children’s care system is yet another example of how privateers are feeding off the wretchedness of society’s most vulnerable.

‘Environments that are neither homely nor supportive.’ Many of Britain’s most vulnerable looked-after children are routinely shunted from place to place and provider to provider, often ending up in unchecked and unregulated ‘temporary’ accommodation for which private companies charge staggering rates while the kids themselves are bereft of the most basic elements of comfort and care.

The Sunday Times of 29 December 2019 carried an extremely thought-provoking article on the subject of the costs of keeping children in care. The article explained how in some cases the cost to the state is £200,000 a year – over four times the cost of sending a child to the elite Eton college. (Call to end ‘scandal’ of child in care costing four times annual fee for Eton by Rosamund Urwin and Caroline Wheeler)

At first sight this comparison, especially coming from the Times, causes the reader to expect the article to wander down the path of a condemnation of the wasted money being thrown at lower-class oiks whilst the little darlings of the wealthy can be educated properly at a quarter of the price, but surprisingly, that is not the target, although we are sure it may cross the mind of one or two of the Times’s readers.

In fact, the article is quite sensible and accepts that some children will end up in care, mostly through no fault of their own. What is stressed is that of the 15 or so (an average arrived by the children’s commissioner for England) children costing around £4,000 per week, many could have been saved by means of meaningful intervention by social services much earlier in their lives.

The price of failing to help children when they’re young

Early intervention can, it seems, help around 4,000 children a year for a similar cost to that of keeping the let-down ‘15’ in care later on.

Anne Longfield, the children’s commissioner, was quoted as saying: “The scandal here is not just the cost of these placements, but what children are getting for this money.

“Children should expect the best therapeutic care and nurturing support, but what I see often falls far, far short: children living in austere and overly secure institutions; environments that are neither homely nor supportive; children often deprived of the chance to go to a normal school.”

While welfare budgets really do need to be hugely increased across the board to provide better quality and earlier assistance, another major problem is the privatisation of much of the present provision. Ms Longfield highlighted this scandal of private firms making obscene profits through providing poor residential care for vulnerable children at the highest possible prices.

Scandalous conditions in privatised children’s care system

The commissioner revealed that she had witnessed “first-hand the torment that conditions in homes were causing children”. She pointed out that one young woman who had grown up in care had told her that she had “felt like a parcel being passed around, but never wanted”.

Other vulnerable children have been thrown out of residential care homes at short notice, sometimes by companies hoping to force local authorities to pay more.

These are the children whom councils are spending hundreds of thousands of pounds a year to accommodate, even while the overall budget has been squeezed hard, with last year’s £8.6bn spend down from a peak of £9.7bn in 2009-10 – a ten percent cut over the decade of austerity that has followed the bailing out by the British Labour government of the monopoly capitalist banks.

Almost half of the entire children’s services budget in England is now spent on the 73,000 children in the care system, with the other half covering the country’s remaining 11.7 million children.

What is more, it has recently been publicised that thousands of these vulnerable children are living in unregulated accommodation – which means that the housing, and presumably the staff, have had no inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Between 2016-17 and 2018-19 the number of times children under the age of 18 years were put into unchecked housing rose by 22 percent, to 5,874 incidents.

No meaningful safeguards for Britain’s most vulnerable kids

This raises health and safeguarding issues on many levels, and has prompted Ann Coffey, the former MP who chaired the all-party parliamentary group for runaway and missing children, to call on the government to make it unlawful for local authorities to place children in these unsafe and unmonitored settings.

Thousands of children in care, it has been revealed, are being placed in ‘homes’ that are illegal or unregulated due to a lack of secure places for housing vulnerable children in the UK. The resultant surge in unsafe placements includes those that are unregulated (suitable only for over 16s ready for independent living) or not registered with the CQC or the care inspectorate.

This practice is illegal, but councils get around the law by dishonestly relabelling care as ‘support’. Unregistered provision that claims to offer any form of care as opposed to just support is technically illegal, but as there is no legal definition within the laws pertaining to caring for children of exactly what ‘care’ means, a massive loophole exists that councils across the country are fully exploiting.

MPs, the police, charities and the children’s commissioner have all warned that children accommodated in these homes are at risk of exploitation from sexual predators and drug gangs. Councils have placed children in houses of unbelievable squalor and even on boats or in caravans.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted’s national director for social care, in discussing the 150 unregistered homes that they have investigated within the last 12 months, said: “The strategic issue at the heart of this very challenging problem is with the lack of supply. Some people with good intentions, some with bad intentions are opening provisions to meet that need.”

Many vulnerable teenagers who have been placed in unregistered and/or unregulated accommodation have found themselves at risk of being groomed for sexual and criminal exploitation. Some are housed with vulnerable adults and will be exposed to or groomed with drugs and alcohol. They may also go missing or be subject to physical violence and verbal abuse.

In the last analysis, only a properly organised socialist society based upon the needs of the working classes, and recognising and caring compassionately for those whose age, health or other circumstances make them vulnerable, will solve these problems fully. But that should not stop us from demanding improvements now.

The profit motive is incompatible with meaningful care

In the present climate of capitalist exploitation and crisis-driven austerity, workers must demand that the private sector be completely removed from all health, education and welfare institutions.

We must ensure that political pressure is brought to bear to provide these vulnerable, disadvantaged working-class children with adequately-funded and caring homes, in safe and properly supported and monitored environments.

Staff who care for society’s disadvantaged children must be highly-motivated caring professionals, well trained and supported – not overworked or just left to cope as best they can.

We all recognise that we wish to provide the best for our children. Working-class children who do not have the precious benefit and protective environment that comes from living with caring and supportive parents deserve every opportunity to receive the emotional, financial and educational support they need to achieve their potential, to grow and develop into emotionally stable adults, forge constructive relationships and become useful members of society.

Britain in 2020, run by and in the interests of City vulture-capitalists, is characterised by mass unemploymenthomelessness and poverty. Millions of adults are unable to engage in productive work and, if not thrown onto the miserable scrapheap of unemployment, are engaged in meaningless labour, often either underemployed or overworked, and usually insecure.

The system over which the vultures reign is more interested in policing and imprisoning the working class than in solving their multiplying social problems (generated by the very capitalist system that keeps the billionaires rich) or empowering them.

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