Monday, October 24, 2016

Thinking about Malcolm X and society

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired*

I remember reading Malcom X's speeches and how as he developed his political thinking he was influenced by the colonial revolutions in Africa and meeting with Nyere, Kenyatta, Nkrumah and others.  He had been sent by Elijah Muhammad to meet with the Klan in December of 1960 as the Nation of Islam was in the process of making deals with the KKK for land in the South. It disgusted him and Malcolm X was never sent back there by the NOI.  "I have never gone along with no Ku Klux Klan" he said.

As a young kid growing up in England I have to say I was not drawn to Malcolm X in any way. Why would I be?  In his his early years he would never have considered working class unity, workers of all colors, nationality, races etc, joining together in struggle against capitalism and the filth that goes with it. Plus, my thinking was tarred by the conditions I found myself in and my mind was not fully open to such politics either; I recall being influenced to a certain degree by the racist politics of Enoch Powell for a brief moment in time. He was a very clever racist intellectual. But as I always tell young workers getting involved in politics today, Malcolm X is an example of how people can change and how objective conditions and world events can transform us. 

Over a short period of time since his early childhood and experiencing the horror and brutality of racism, including the murder of his own father, he became a pimp, got involved in drug dealing and other unsavory activity. He then found in a religious cult a theoretical explanation that at the time made some sense of what was happening to him and all black people. 

Later on, his travels and the colonial revolutions in Africa had a huge influence on his thinking, broadened his horizons and he became one of the 20th centuries greatest and most influential revolutionary leaders.  The black revolt in the US, the colonial revolutions in Africa as nation after nation drove out the direct rule of European colonialism, these were the events that were taking place around him.

Malcom X's influence has been so powerful that the white racist capitalist class cannot ignore him. But, as they do with Martin Luther King, they create a carnival like atmosphere around these figures as a means of obscuring their ideas, it's just about blackness.. How they thought, their differences and how they saw society and what could be done to change the world around them is shoved to the background. This is particularly the case with Malcolm X how his thinking was rapidly shifting and that toward the end of his life was clearly moving towards a socialist view of the world. When asked by Pierre Breton in January 1965:

 "But you no longer believe in a black state?", he replied, "No, I believe in a society in which people can live like human beings on the basis of equality."

Five weeks before his assassination he gave an interview to the Young Socialist Newspaper and was asked to define Black Nationalism. His answer was:

I used to define black nationalism as the idea that the black man should control the economy of his community, the politics of his community, and so forth.

But when I was in Africa in May, in Ghana, I was speaking with the Algerian ambassador who is extremely militant and is a revolutionary in the true sense of the word (and has his credentials as such for having carried on a successful revolution against oppression in his country). When I told him that my political, social and economic philosophy was black nationalism, he asked me very frankly, well, where did that leave him? Because he was white. He was an African, but he was Algerian, and to all appearances he was a white man. And he said if I define my objective as the victory of black nationalism, where does that leave him? Where does that leave revolutionaries in Morocco, Egypt, Iraq, Mauritania? So he showed me where I was alienating people who were true revolutionaries, dedicated to overthrowing the system of exploitation that exists on this earth by any means necessary.*

So, I had to do a lot of thinking and reappraising of my definition of black nationalism. Can we sum up the solution to the problems confronting our people as black nationalism? And if you noticed, I haven't been using the expression for several months. But I still would be hard pressed to give a specific definition of the over-all philosophy which I think is necessary for the liberation of the black people in this country.

Malcolm X was also speaking to the organized working class. He spoke to members of 1199 supporting their 59 day strike in 1962.  He was clearly moving more towards a position of working class unity, of the unity of all oppressed people against the oppressor.  Malcolm X was not serving the interests of the US working class in the same way. His separatist views and lumping of all white people in one basket were useful to the US ruling class. Portraying all black leaders as having the same views was also useful. Clearly, Minister Louis Farrahkhan, the present leader of the Nation of Islam does not have the same world view as Malcolm X. Farrakhan, apart form being a cultish religious figure, is an extremely wealthy man and supports black capitalism. His struggle is for the freedom of black capitalism to exploit workers like their more powerful white counterparts, he knows he cannot be part of the white racists ruling class. It is useful to the white capitalist class to put these two figures with opposing political views in the same basket where their actual ideas can be obscured.

There is a tendency for the black petty bourgeois today, those who claim black capitalism as the solution to racism, to do the same. They will often quote Malcolm X but they rarely if ever quote his statement that, "You can't have capitalism without racism." The reason this class avoids this statement is that the conclusion one must draw from it is that we have to overthrow capitalism and we cannot overthrow capitalism without working class unity.  Working class unity threatens the very existence of capitalism and the white racist bourgeois know it, so do the white petty bourgeois layers and so do the black petty bourgeois. It means class suicide for these layers in society but particularly so for the black capitalist class. Hundreds of years of isolation and exclusion from "normal" society which also meant an inability to accumulate and have access to capital, suppressed the growth of such a class and it is socially weaker than its white counterparts who have much closer connections to the rulers of society.

The heroic struggle of the black workers and youth during the 50's and 60's forced the white racist bosses' to open some doors, to help strengthen the black middle class as a buffer between them and the revolutionary potential of the black working class and as a counter to working class unity as in times of increased opposition to racism and oppression in all its forms they can be dragged out to warn that "you can make it, look at us, but you have to work within the system."

I wanted to share a couple of personal thoughts. It is so obvious that racism, like gender oppression, or religious sectarianism is a tactic that the ruling class uses to deter class unity. In Northern Ireland, the Protestant working class received privileges that Catholics were denied in order to break worker unity. In the US, the white or European worker was, as "white" became a race. Imagine, the poorest of white men in the South could rape a black woman and get away with, or kill a black man and do so because a black person couldn't testify against a white man. The reason there are so many lighter skinned people of African descent in the US is due to mass legalized rape.  The crisis in the black communities today is a product of this racist history so it's absurd to tell a black person to "get over slavery" because they can't as things stand.

The other sad thing is that because communities are so segregated, poor and middle/working class with the poorest urban communities being mainly black and other people of color, white workers miss out. Look at the public school system. I drive by the elementary school and it's mostly youth of color. Many whites form the suburbs wouldn't dream of hanging out in East Oakland and wouldn't know how to function if they did. This isolation from each other is by conscious design.

I say the white working class misses out because society denies them the pleasure of experiencing the pleasure, the humor, kindness, generosity and compassion of the black working class. One doesn't know a people if one doesn't socialize with them. Given their experience, the black working has more compassion. They are very familiar with violence and isolation due to their historical and personal experience living in a society that has institutional racism ingrained in it. There is a reason oppressed minorities produce such powerful influences culturally, music, art, literature etc. expression cannot be suppressed as long as people breathe. I found that my experience back home when I worked on the roads with Irish laborers and the Irish suffered a lot of racism in England, was very similar here with black folks, two seemingly different peoples but with very similar cultural attitudes.

We are all oppressed/exploited as workers, but women, racial and religious minorities and others who are teaching us that gender is a more complicated thing than we are led to believe, have an additional cross to bear. It is refreshing to read that more and more young whites are in support of the BLM movement and others struggles, the Standing Rock Sioux have also received substantial suppot although not enough from powerful institutions like the labor movement whose leaders are a shameful bunch.

We will see in the period ahead, more and more workers forced in to struggle by the crisis of global capitalism. While the movement will not move forward in a straight line as we say, there is a powerful tendency for workers to unite along class lines as we struggle together to defend our material well being and we are in a period where it is not as easy to pacify the white worker with a few extra crumbs from the bosses' table. White workers have seen their living standards savaged over the last 25 years. In the course of struggle, racist and sexist ideas are challenged, they are seen more and more as a threat to victory, they are seen as divisive and consciousness changes much as the recent outburst of support for Trump's female victims is making men rethink their views as the last post pointed out.

Finally, how can anyone not look and listen to Malcolm X in this video and not be moved by this person, drawn to him?  He is human you can see it. His home had been bombed, he knew his life was in danger from the state and from the Nation of Islam. That is another thing, how may white workers have read about him, read that autobiography by Haley,  read his speeches? Of course he says things that are not pleasant, I don't agree with them, never did but you will notice his evolution. But I suggest that if you can't understand his history  (the terror of the Klan and the apathy of millions to that terror) and look at him and people like him with that in mind, the problem is yours to solve. But most of all, he is an example of how a person can learn and change if they are willing. He admits his failings, he admits he simply aped what he was told by a cult figure. 

And imagine, people explain away why certain poor and disenfranchised whites may fall for Trump's message and I agree that they need not all be lost, but they can't seem to grasp, or are unwilling to grasp why Malcolm X went through the periods he did?

“I believe that there will ultimately be a clash between the oppressed and those that do the oppressing. I believe that there will be a clash between those who want freedom, justice and equality for everyone and those who want to continue the systems of exploitation.”  

Malcom X, Speech to Barnard College and Columbia University  February 18th 1965

* I realize I may not please some people with these views and I hope that people will comment on the blog if they have an opinion one way or another. We will publish anything that helps us move forward, helps debate and that is constructive. Abusive stuff sorry.

Trump's attacks on women narrow the gender divide

Sean O'Torain

We have a handful, of us who participate in our conference calls. We do not have access to the research and thinks tank outfits of the big bourgeois. We can read the mass capitalist media but this does not in any way tell all that is going on. And of course it is a skill that we have to develop, that is how to read the capitalist media, how to look at the capitalist media,  the propaganda of the enemy.

But to confront the enemy we have to try and figure out what they are thinking. That is why we read the mass capitalist media and seek to understand the mass capitalist media, look at the enemies propaganda etc. To arm ourselves to better oppose them. The skill of looking at the mass capitalist media is one that has to be developed. Trotsky said that there are two kinds of capitalist media. One is the gutter press which is aimed at confusing the masses. It tells lies 90% of the time. The other is the serious capitalist media which is aimed mainly at the capitalist class and its periphery and which tells the truth 90% of the time in order to be able to lie convincingly when it is essential.  But I am getting diverted here.

Our little conference calls do not do bad in keeping up with events. For example we are always talking about consciousness and the working class. As we say the struggle against capitalism is the struggle for the consciousness of the working class. The capitalist class is able to govern govern by divide and rule, keeping the working class divided along all different lines they can. One is obviously race. But one is also gender. In this latter case the capitalist class are being somewhat weakened at the moment.

We have talked about the exposure of the vicious sexist world of Trump and all the Trump's, money and power allowing for the special oppression of women. We have also talked about how this is changing the consciousness how it is forcing this issue onto the agenda of the national consciousness and leading to it being discussed as never before. We have said that this is not at all or even mostly all negative. That in fact it is forcing more and more women to stand up and speak out openly about their experience and to call for the special oppression of women to be ended and for organizing to be done to end it.  We have also said that this positive development will not only be confined to women. That sections of the male population will also be forced to look at things in a more serious way and take steps forward. In fact this is already happening. 

This is shown in an article in the New York Times article from yesterday By Amanda Taub that we reprint below.  It shows how in many cases men are having to rethink their old ways of understanding things. It shows how the division between men and women is being narrowed. As we say sometimes, the revolution needs the whip of the counterrevolution. Trump is the counter revolution in this case. If he goes ahead with his threat to sue the women who have accused him of abusing them he will really stir up debate on this issue and strengthen even further opposition to such abuse and this in turn will weaken the gender divide in the working class, will strengthen the unity of the working class.

Trump Recording Narrows Divide on Sexual Assault

Women protesting against Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party in front of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday.
Credit Eduardo Munoz/Reuters

Of all the silver linings one might have expected from this whiplash-crazy election, a new national understanding of sexual assault would have been quite hard to imagine.

Until two weeks ago.

One three-minute recording of Donald J. Trump boasting about how his stardom gave him license to grope women’s private parts appears to have prompted the kind of change in public consciousness that usually takes decades.

The lewd and aggressive comments by Mr. Trump, the Manhattan tycoon turned Republican presidential nominee, revealed a generational divide in the way many Americans understand sexual assault and consent. But, remarkably, the widespread outrage and outpouring it unleashed, with millions of women speaking out about their own experiences — appear to have narrowed that gap.

“This is a moment of transition,” said Estelle B. Freedman, a Stanford University historian who studies the evolution of laws and norms surrounding sexual assault.

“We are having a national conversation about new rules,” she added. “We are nationally trying to rethink issues of sexuality, consent, autonomy, relationships.”

Redefining Consent
While the Trump tape and its aftermath feel like a turning point in the public understanding of sexual assault, Alexandra Brodsky, a co-founder of Know Your IX, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence on college campuses, believes that “it’s actually a reflection that we are already past the turning point.”

“It is not obvious to me that five years ago, grabbing or kissing someone without her permission would have been recognized as sexual assault,” she said.

Dr. Freedman sees this moment as the culmination of decades of change.

Until the mid-20th century, her research shows, sexual assault and rape were viewed primarily as crimes against the honor of women’s husbands and fathers, not themselves. As women gained new rights to control their own property and legal decisions, sexual assault began to be considered a matter of consent, not honor.

But there was little agreement about what consent meant, Dr. Freedman said. Many people believed consent could be implied or presumed by the way a woman dressed, for instance, or even her decision to accept a job with a male boss.

By the 1990s, feminist advocacy had begun to push the idea of “no means no.” Antioch College in 1991 adopted a code of conduct requiring students to affirmatively opt in to sexual activity starting with a kiss.

While such affirmative-consent rules were lampooned on “Saturday Night Live” as political correctness run amok, they have become increasingly mainstream. States including New York and California require colleges and universities to adopt them.

The widespread backlash to Mr. Trump’s comments, experts say, was fueled in part by the growing view, among people in their 20s and 30s, of affirmative consent as a guiding principle, not a lofty ideal or extreme demand.

“I think that affirmative consent is an imperfect legal concept,” Ms. Brodsky, a recent graduate of Yale Law School, allowed. “But it’s a powerful normative concept.”
But old beliefs about honor and consent persist.

Mr. Trump’s bragging in the video that women “let” him kiss and grope them because he was a star, for instance, seems straight out of the implied-consent era, in which anything other than a clear “no” could be seen as passive acquiescence.

Dr. Freedman also detects shades of the old honor-based system in some men’s responses that, as husbands and fathers, they found the video unacceptable.

To Speak or Stay Silent?
Until recently, pervasive shame and stigma meant that silence was often the rational choice for survivors of sexual violence. That was particularly true for women who grew up in an era when any sexual activity outside of marriage was considered unacceptable: revealing an assault risked being labeled promiscuous or worse.

But as those norms have changed, the costs of speaking out have dropped.

Younger women in particular are becoming more willing to protest sexual assaults that once might have been deemed too minor to merit reporting. And that, in turn, may be affecting the way older generations of women perceive episodes from their own pasts.

It certainly worked that way for Emily Hoffman, 25, who works in the television industry in New York, and her mother, Amy Plummer.

“I really don’t want to post this,” Ms. Hoffman wrote on Facebook on Oct. 10, a few days after the Trump tape was aired. But she went on to reveal to her 1,326 Facebook friends what for seven years had been one of her most private secrets: that she had been assaulted by a senior male colleague while an 18-year-old intern at a film-promotion company.

He attacked her in a deserted stairwell, Ms. Hoffman announced, kissing her, groping her breasts and genitals, and then forcibly masturbating against her.

“My experience mimicked what Donald Trump described in those tapes,” she said in an interview. “It was very upsetting.”

For Ms. Plummer, who is in her 60s, seeing her daughter’s post was transformative.
“When Emily felt brave enough to put her experiences down was when I specifically started to think about my own experiences,” she said. “And I realized I would not have had the courage she had to say it publicly.”

But she also realized she had things of her own to share. She still felt that some of her experiences were too “explicit” to discuss. But she shared others with her daughter.

How in junior high, for instance, her male guidance counselor told her that she should “consider a career as a Playboy bunny.” And how she left graduate school without her master’s degree after a professor told her that she would not be able to pass her oral exams “unless I was ‘nice’ to him.”

Naming Names
One thing is notably missing from most of the stories survivors are now sharing: perpetrators’ names. The stigma of having been assaulted may have waned, but making an accusation against a specific individual is a different matter.

It can raise the risk of legal consequences such as libel or slander suits. Many survivors, however, say social consequences are a more significant deterrent.

“There is a sense that a ‘good victim’ merely shares her story to raise awareness or make people feel less alone,” Ms. Brodsky said. “But the minute there is a desire for accountability or change or retribution, suddenly she’s untrustworthy.”

When women accuse celebrities or other high-profile people like Mr. Trump or Roger Ailes, the former Fox News executive, she said, “that triggers the unfounded but insidious myth that women say that they’ve been assaulted for attention or money.”

The pressure not to name names can be strong whenever the perpetrator is someone the woman knows. An accusation forces everyone who knows the two people to choose a side: accuser or accused? Choosing the accuser often means going against the broader group or community.

In her work on college campuses around the country, Ms. Brodsky said, she has observed that “peers and friends are much more inclined to be sympathetic to victims if they don’t make anyone’s life more complicated.”

“Naming names creates an inconvenience,” she added.

Psychological research shows that people find it extremely difficult — even painful — to challenge their peer groups. In the famous “conformity study” conducted by Solomon Asch, a professor of social psychology at the University of Pennsylvania who died in 1996, participants were asked to answer a series of simple, questions with obvious answers. There was a catch, though: Before the subject had a chance to respond, other research assistants disguised as participants all confidently selected the same wrong answer.

That set up a dilemma: Choose the right answer, or conform to the group by selecting the wrong one? Even though the stakes were very low, about three-quarters of participants capitulated to group pressure at least once.

Ms. Hoffman believes that her decision not to name her accuser is the reason her post has received such a uniformly positive response. “I’m not naming anybody in particular,” she said. “So they don’t feel like there’s somebody who they need to defend.”

But according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics, 60 percent of sexual assaults are committed by an intimate partner, relative, friend or acquaintance. So the pressure on individuals not to name names can add up to widespread impunity for perpetrators.

Nancy Erika Smith, a New Jersey lawyer who has represented victims of sexual assault and discrimination for more than two decades, said she recognized that asking people to identify who had harmed them was in many ways an unfair burden.

“Don’t do it for yourself,” she said. “Do it for all of us. Speak up.”

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Basic income – too basic, not radical enough

by Michael Roberts

The idea of a basic income has gained much popularity recently and not just among leftists but also with right-wing pro-capital proponents.  Basic income boils down to making a monthly payment by a government to every citizen of an amount that meets ‘basic necessities’ whether that person is unemployed or not or whatever the circumstance. As Daniel Raventós, defines it in his recent book:
“Basic Income is an income paid by the state to each full member or accredited resident of a society, regardless of whether or not he or she wishes to engage in paid employment, or is rich or poor or, in other words, independently of any other sources of income that person might have, and irrespective of cohabitation arrangements in the domestic sphere” (Basic Income: The Material Conditions of Freedom).

He lists various things in its favour: that it would abolish poverty, enable us to better balance our lives between voluntary, domestic and paid work, empower women, and “offer workers a resistance fund to maintain strikes that are presently difficult to sustain because of the salary cuts they involve”.

And recent books such as Inventing the Future by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams and Postcapitalism by Paul Mason have also brought this issue to prominence. These writers reckon that the demand for a universal basic income by labour should be part of the struggle in a move to ‘post-capitalism’ and should be a key demand to protect workers from a capitalist world increasingly dominated by robots and automation where human beings will become mostly unemployed.

But ‘basic income’ is also popular among some right-wing economists and politicians.  Why? Because paying each person a ‘basic’ income rather than wages and social benefits is seen as a way of ‘saving money’, reducing the size of the state and public services – in other words lowering the value of labour power and raising the rate of surplus value (in Marxist terms). 

It would be a ‘wage subsidy’ to employers with those workers who get no top-up in income from social benefits under pressure to accept wages no higher than the ‘basic income’ which would be much lower than their average salary. As Raventos has noted, (in the American Journal of Economic Issues June 1996 with Catherine Kavanagh), “by partially separating income from work, the incentive of workers to fight against wage reductions is considerably reduced, thus making labour markets more flexible. This allows wages, and hence labor costs, to adjust more readily to changing economic conditions”.

Indeed, the danger is that the demand for a basic income would replace the demand for full employment or a job at a living wage.  For example, it has been worked out that, in the US, the current capitalist economy could afford only a national basic income of about $10,000 a year per adult. And that would replace everything else: the entire welfare state, including old age pensions disappears into that one $10,000 per adult payment.

The basic income demand is similar to the current idea among Keynesians and other leftist economists for increased public spending financed by ‘helicopter money’.  This policy means no fundamental reform of the economy but a just a cash handout to raise incomes and boost the capitalist economy.  Indeed, this is why the leftist Greek economist Yanis Varoufakis has viewed favourably the basic income idea.  A minimum equal income for everyone, Varoufakis tells us, is the most effective way to confront the deflationary trends that manifest capitalism’s inability to balance itself. Creating a minimum income that’s delinked from work, he argued, would increase effective demand without substantially increasing savings. The economy would grow again and would do so in a much more balanced way. The amount of the minimum income could become a simple, stand alone lever for the economic planners of the 21st century.

Here the basic income demand provides an answer to crises under capitalism without replacing the capitalist mode of production in the traditional Keynesian or post-Keynesian way, by ending ‘underconsumption’.  But what if underconsumption is not the cause of crises and there is a more fundamental contradiction within capitalism that a ‘basic income’ for all, gradually ratcheted up by government planners, cannot resolve?

Raventos retorts to this argument that “Some people complain that basic income won’t put an end to capitalism. Of course it won’t. Capitalism with a basic income would still be capitalism but a very different capitalism from the one we have now, just as the capitalism that came hot on the heels of the Second World War was substantially different from what came at the end of the seventies, the counter-reform we call neoliberalism. Capitalism is not one capitalism, just as “the market” is not just one market.” 

This answer opens up a whole bag of tricks by suggesting that we can have some form of non ‘neoliberal’, ‘fairer’ capitalism that would work for labour, as we apparently did for a brief decade or so after the second world war. But even if that were true, the ‘basic income’ demand stands little prospect of being adopted by pro-capitalist governments now in the middle of a Long Depression unless it actually reduced the value of labour power, not increased it.  And if a socialist worker government were to come to power in any major capitalist economy would the policy then be necessary when common ownership and planned production would be the agenda? 

As one writer put it: “The call for basic income in order to soften the effects of automation is hence not a call for greater economic justice. Our economy stays as it is; we simply extend the circle of those who are entitled to receive public benefits. If we want economic justice, then our starting point needs to be more radical.”

In his book, Why the Future is Workless, Tim Dunlop says that “the approach we should be taking is not to find ways that we can compete with machines – that is a losing battle – but to find ways in which wealth can be distributed other than through wages. This will almost certainly involve something like a universal basic income.” But is that the approach that we should take?  Is it to find ways to ‘redistribute’ wealth “other than through wages” or is it to control the production of that wealth so that it can be allocated towards social need not profit?

I have discussed in detail in previous posts what the impact of robots and AI would be for labour under capitalism. And from that, we can see an ambiguity in the basic income demand. It both aims to provide a demand for labour to fight for under capitalism to improve workers conditions as jobs disappear through automation and also wants basic income as a way of paying people in a ‘post-capitalist’ world of workless humans where all production is done by robots (but still with private owners of robots?).

And when we think of this ambiguity, we can see that the issue is really a question of ownership of the technology, not the level of incomes for workless humans.  With common ownership, the fruits of robot production can be democratically planned, including hours of work  for all.  Also, under a planned economy with common ownership of the means of production (robots), it would be possible to extend free goods and services (like a national health service, education, transport and communications) to basic necessities and beyond. So people would work fewer hours and get more free goods and services, not just be compensated for the loss of work with a ‘basic income’.

In a post-capitalist world (what I prefer to call ‘socialism’ rather than mincing around with ‘post-capitalism’), the aim would be to remove (gradually or quickly) the law of value (prices and wages) and move to a world of abundance (free goods and services and low hours of toil).  Indeed, that is what robots and automation now offer as a technical possibility.

The basic income demand is just too basic. As a reform for labour, it is not as good as the demand for a job for all who need it at a living wage; or reducing the working week while maintaining wages; or providing decent pensions.  And under socialism, it would be redundant.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Kerry, Putin, they don't speak for Workers. We need our own voice, our own party

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

A working class woman asked me what I think about Syria. Can the Russians and the US solve the problems there? Can Kerry and Putin work it out? No they can't. Capitalism cannot solve the crisis in Syria because it is a crisis of capitalism just like the environmental crisis or world hunger. These are some of my immediate thoughts on some of this.

Only a global movement of the working class can stop the slaughter, the migration and humanity from heading down the slippery slope to total annihilation.  Only a democratic socialist federation of states can solve this problem. A cooperative of nations states on a global scale that can determine what we produce, and how we produce it. The global trading of what we produce can be determined on the basis of what humanity needs and in harmony with nature. Production for profit which has its origin in surplus value, that which we produce above what we are paid for our labor power is at the root of our problems as a global community of human beings.

We need to build a YouTube channel for this blog. I have a personal one and either would like to convert it or build a new one but my skills are limited. I could take some classes but that costs. We did ask for donations recently and published that on Facebook and although our fund appeal was read by a lot of people we never received $1. If you can donate to our blog and help with our work please hit that donate button on the blog at: "Like" our Bog's FB page at:

If you can't do that and you're in the SF Bay Area and can donate time to help me with this project please contact the blog at:  A rather cumbersome address I know but it's what it is.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Trump Challenges Capitalist Democracy

A Statement from Facts For Working People

The authors of this Blog have explained that US capitalism is in a military, economic and political crisis. Militarily it is in stuck in wars it cannot win, it has military commitments it can no longer afford to finance and as it sinks deeper into its wars, its military will increasingly crack in its hands. We have already had members of the military speaking out like Chelsea Manning who released the famous Collateral Murder video, drone operators who sent an open letter to Obama condemning their missions, and others supporting football’s Colin Kaepernick’s protests. There are also 22 suicides a day among military veterans another sign of the crisis in the troops.

US capitalism is also in an economic crisis. Its rate of growth from the great recession of 2008 is at an all time low for recoveries from recessions and it is in debt to a level never before experienced. It's record high stock markets and its indebtedness cannot be sustained. A collapse in the stock markets, a new banking and financial crisis and a new recession lies ahead.

Political Crisis
These economic and military crises will be unlike any other in the past. This will be so because they will take place amid unprecedented political turmoil as the monopoly the two capitalist parties has  had over American life and the relative stability this provided US capitalism is coming to an end. This is the significance of the crisis in the Republican Party. This will have huge repercussions, not only in the US, but worldwide. What is happening must not be underestimated. 

Capitalism prefers to rule through what we call bourgeois democracy. This is where it holds regular elections with different political parties and where these elections are dominated by the capitalist parties and their capitalist mass media. Despite numerous parties fielding presidential candidates in the present election, the Republican and Democratic parties have ensured only their candidates are allowed to participate in national debates and the mass media coverage of this event. The Green Party with its eco-socialist platform was never allowed in any of the major debates. The result is that there is never any questioning of capitalism or the so-called free market. The only option offered is capitalism.

When there are movements that arise that give the appearance of throwing up an alternative to capitalism, capitalism and the capitalist classes brush bourgeois democracy aside and use their state apparatus, their military, to drown these movements in blood.  US capitalism did this in Chile in 1973. It did it in the dirty wars in Latin America. US capitalism has supported and does support some of the most ruthless, undemocratic regimes on the planet. Their preferred clients are regimes headed by free market dictators, those resting on a statist type economy like Iraq or Syria are a threat to the ideology that only capitalism works. They snuff out any attempts at an alternative to capitalism with a vengeance. As Assange commented in his book, The Wikileaks Files, the US didn’t invade tiny Grenada to corner the nutmeg trade.

The form in which capitalism rules at any given time and in any given country is also very much an economic question. Bourgeois democracy has been maintained in the advanced capitalist countries as a result of their colonial and imperialist plunder, it is how they got rich. This has meant that the capitalist classes in these advanced capitalist countries could make certain concessions to sections of their own working class, they have been able to provide enough to enough people, to keep them for the most part supporting the system, coming to the conclusion that it is the best that is possible. On this basis the capitalist class in these countries were in a better position to take the "democratic" road.

But there have been times, even in advanced capitalist countries, times of extreme economic and political crisis when capitalism, wasn’t able to rule through bourgeois democracy and resorted to fascist regimes like Hitler in Germany. However when it did place such lunatics in power things  tended to get out of hand. In Hitler's case this ended up with a war that lost half of German capitalism's territory to Stalinism.  The capitalist class drew conclusions from this experience. It concluded if at all possible it was best to rule through bourgeois democracy, this method was less costly, more stable and more under its control.

But in those countries whose wealth was looted, the colonial countries of Africa and Latin America and Asia for example, never ending poverty and periods of outright starvation was just about the permanent experience of the majority. This in turn led to ongoing rebellion and opposition to the market and capitalism. It is not easy, if not impossible at times, for capitalism to take the "bourgeois democratic " road in these circumstances. It is then that military rule or dictatorship of one type or another is resorted to with the violence and oppression that accompanies them.

There are other reasons, the divide and rule tactic of racism and sexism and the refusal of the leadership of the US working class to lead an offensive of our own, but the main reason US capitalism has been able to rule through bourgeois democratic means has been its economic power and dominance.

This is now coming to an end as US capitalism can no longer afford to maintain its position in the world and at the same time keep the living standard of its own working class anywhere near the level it demands. Even during the period of the post World War Two boom, US capitalism was never able to provide a secure standard of living for all Americans, it did provide it for a huge section of them and this laid the material basis for the “American Dream”.

This period has entered the history books never to return. The US can no longer afford guns and butter so the political monopoly its two parties have enjoyed for a century is beginning to fracture and with it its political crisis deepens. 

This is why Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the election results if he lost has been met with such anger. He has questioned the legitimacy of bourgeois democracy, that is the way that US capitalism rules, this is what he is questioning, this is what capitalism means when they talk of democracy, their preferred method of rule. Trump is questioning this, questioning their phony election and so called democratic process. This has caused a huge furor and the media has picked up on it. Clinton took it up. She wanted to show yet again that she was the most reliable politician for capitalism.  She attacked him for “Questioning the democratic process……that’s been around 240 years.” This was very dangerous talk by Trump Clinton said. She went on to say he was “denigrating, talking down our democracy.”

Trump says the system is rigged. Of course it is rigged. He helped rig it with his buying of politicians. But it is rigged in a more fundamental way. The Senate, the electoral college all give more weight to the rural states than to the big urban states. All states regardless of their population have the same number of Senators. This is to reduce the power of the urban working class.  Then there are the crooks who bribe and buy the politicians for the big corporations. It is this rigging that the majority of the population instinctively feel is  going on and which among other things allows Trump to get their ear. 

This is a watershed moment in US bourgeois politics. Election after election has seen the loser accept the newly elected president. Even in the election that pitted Gore against Bush where Gore won the popular vote yet the “rigged” Supreme Court declared Bush the winner, Gore accepted the result. He did so because he saw that not to do so would lead to a major crisis in US bourgeois politics and the way it ruled, and would weaken the US bourgeois political system. For capitalism to control through the bourgeois democratic system, large sections of the population must have some belief that the system is at least someway fair, that it at least halfway works. For Gore to have fought Bush to the end back then would have shaken belief in the system. So as the responsible capitalist politician he was and is, he took one for the team, the team being US capitalism, US capitalist stability. He stepped aside.

The danger for US capitalism now is that it is possible that Trump, being the backward ignorant maverick he is, will lose the election and will not step back, will not gracefully accept the result.

Trump’s comments criticized bourgeois democracy and suggested that he may not accept the results of bourgeois democracy. To even hint at such a thing threatens to undermine belief in the whole political system, in the way capitalism has been ruling up till now. This is what Trump is playing with. He is so stupid he does not know the monster that he threatening to let out of the bag. If he is not careful he will be eaten by this monster.

It is not possible to fully understand what is going on in the head of this egomaniac and the team he has around him, people like Bannon and Breitbart. It is possible Trump is just saying he will decide whether or not to accept the election result in order to keep himself at the center of the news for longer and possibly come out of this with a new mass media outfit and through this build a new national right wing reactionary movement based around a mass communication system. It is also possible but perhaps less likely at this stage that he and his squad might be aiming to immediately move to split the Republican Party and  set up a new extreme right wing party.

One way or another, the Republican Party is heading for a major downward plunge, and sooner or later, it will shatter.  There are huge developments that will arise out of this and the reader can read in more detail what we wrote about this last week here.

The main point is that Trump’s threats, empty or not, to undermine the bourgeois democratic process and reject the end result of an election is treading on dangerous ground and will almost certainly ensure his defeat one way or another. More so than his misogyny, his racist and nationalistic ravings, undermining how his class governs society will not be taken lightly. And we would like to add this about Trump and racism in the US. It would be impossible for a black person, especially a black man to talk the way Trump does about grabbing women, forcing himself on them etc. As a rich white man, a member of the capitalist class, he can get away with it whereas a black man would be demonized, called a "thug" in the media etc.  For a black guy to talk this way he wouldn't get in to the interview for a truck driving position never mind being the nominee of a major political party. *

But Trump is only a symptom of what is going on, a symptom of the bigger picture. He has helped let the cat out of the bag. And the cat cannot be put back in the bag. The decades of relative stability under bourgeois democracy of US capitalism are over.  The new days when the US working class will take a leading role in US society are on the horizon. Those of us who see ourselves as anti capitalists and socialists, those of us who want to end capitalism and all the filth that comes with it, have to look at our ways of working. We have to look at why the self styled revolutionary left has failed all these decades to put down roots in the US working class and see what mistakes have been made, see what changes have to be made in the work, see what is necessary to help build a new anti capitalist, democratic revolutionary socialist movement of tens of tens of millions. Such a movement can usher in a system of workers democracy where the majority genuinely do rule. 

This is the task facing us today.

*We are grateful to  Yvette Carnell at for reminding us of this aspect of the debates and US society of course. We should have stressed this point as well and have since added it.

The Clinton/Trump debate and the love for the little children.

 I mistakenly said the Sykes Picot Agreement was in 1906 but I meant 1916.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

It's time for organized Labor's rank and file to remove the class collaborators.

Obama, Soros and Clinton. Friends of the working class?
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
Here we are in a presidential election cycle and by all accounts from academia to the numerous polls from the mass media, the two parties of the US ruling class field the two most unpopular candidates in history.

We pointed out on this blog last week
that what this reflects is the deepening political crisis of US capitalism as the relative stability and domination of its two political parties begins to fracture.  The US bourgeois with few exceptions, cannot find a candidate they like and this unelected oligarchy that rests on the capitalist mode of production is forced to unite to a great degree around its best option, the Democratic Party and its candidate, the warmonger Hillary Clinton. The misogynists among them will swallow their pride and put their class interests first. There are a couple of exceptions as the bizarre among them like hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah support Trump along with the KKK, some cops, border guards and other extreme right wing figures

The emergence of Trump has upset the apple cart and the politics of fear is in frenzy mode. We are at the end of the world if we don’t vote for Hillary Clinton. We must take the lesser evil to save civilization. The Sanders option is no longer on the table as this populist demagogue did what he promised if he failed to get the Democratic Party nomination, support and campaign for Clinton. His campaign up to his betrayal was a fraud. He is a despicable character as far as this writer is concerned.

The lack of any serious alternative for working class people has led to millions of Americans abandoning the electoral process altogether. The antiwar president Barak Obama whose emergence brought hope to the disillusioned white liberals and African Americans alike failed them as his allegiance to his class and capitalism remained strong.

Despite the poor choices for the ruling class, having the monopoly in the political arena controlling the two major parties is a plus even as this monopoly begins to crack. It is almost certain we will have our first woman president come November.

Readers of this blog are aware that we support the Green Party and its candidate Jill Stein. This is the best option for working class people and we have urged former Sanders supporters that have come in to the Green Party to campaign and work in this party to make it a workers party, a socialist party (it already has an eco-socialist plank in its platform) and wage a campaign to change what is a dysfunctional and undemocratic internal structure.  A significant vote for Stein would affect the political direction of the country no matter who is in office as it would change the balance of class forces in the political arena and it could be seen as a real alternative to the two parties of capital.

We have argued that the Green Party is not a workers party, nor a capitalist party, and its future is not yet determined. Our Alternative to Sanders that we published over a year ago explains how we arrived at this position.

As we pointed out in earlier commentaries, the Greens and Stein will be blamed in this situation if Clinton has a narrow victory or if Trump were to win which I think is highly unlikely. Facts For People wrote in a statement in September:
“No, the fault will lie elsewhere; it will lie with the trade union leaders who control the two trade union federations, the American Federation of Labor and the Change to Win Coalition.  We know them as that dog that never barks except to echo the policies of the bosses and the Democratic Party.”

Many young people among the millions of unorganized workers that have no union do not see, so cannot grasp, the tragic betrayal of the working class by the heads of organized labor. We have used the term “passive” to describe their policies but this is not correct. The strategists atop the AFL-CIO and the CTW coalition are aggressive indeed, but their aggression is placed at the service of the bosses’ and their main political party, the Democrats. Through their adoption of the Team Concept, the view that workers and bosses have the same economic interests, they cooperate with them on the job forcing concessionary contracts on their own members, (contracts they don’t have to work under) and in the political arena by supporting the Democratic Party, the dominant capitalist party on the planet.

As I pointed out in a previous commentary, my former union, AFSCME, has 1.6 million members, approximately 3,400 local unions, 58 district councils and affiliates in 46 states according to its website. The SEIU has two million members.  The LA Labor Council represents about 800,000 workers in crucial industries and LA ranks about the 16th largest economy in the world among countries. California is the 6th largest economy in the world and is a fairly heavily unionized state with about two million workers affiliated to the State Federation of Labor AFL-CIO. The Chicago Federation of Labor has half a million workers and 300 union locals affiliated to it. AFSCME, provided some 40,000 volunteers for Mondale during his 1980’s presidential campaign. This is some potential power it can’t be denied.

But it is not simply the body count. Over decades, the heads of organized labor have handed billions of dollars of their members’ dues money to the Democratic Party and its candidates only to be rewarded with concessions, cuts both in wages and benefits but also in social services. Each election cycle we are warned that if we don’t elect the bad guy we’ll get the worse guy. Naturally, with a strategy like this, millions of workers have abandoned electoral politics altogether.

With the rise of Trump we are warned of World War 111 if we don’t elect Hillary Clinton and the trade union hierarchy joins with conservative Republican politicians and billionaires alike in the campaign to elect a proven hawk who will continue the assault on US workers including women, and will without hesitation continue the murderous US foreign policy that has slaughtered millions since the beginning of the millennia destroying nation states along the way.

From January to August this year unions spent $110 million on getting Clinton in to office, a 38% increase from the same period in 2012. Almost every large union is spending more than ever before seen in modern elections.”, the Wall Street Journal writes, though compared to what the capitalist class spends this is peanuts. The AFL-CIO has spent $11.4 million on outside political groups and the NEA, the largest union in the country (teachers) has spent $14 million.  Presidents of some of the public sector unions, AFSCME, NEA and the AFT actually organized a rally in West Philadelphia for Clinton and Kate McGinty another Democrat running for US Senate. Then hundred of volunteers went “…door-to-door in the city’s battleground neighborhoods and urge people to vote for Democrats.”, the Journal reports.
The tragic result of the union hierarchy's marriage to the Dems
In IOWA at a rally organized by Hard Hats for Hillary much of the talk was about how bad a businessperson Trump is, “He doesn’t pay” says one union member.

As this rally was taking place, “…a super PAC led by the AFL-CIO, other unions and environmentalist Tom Steyer dispatched 150 canvassers that evening to talk to voters on Mrs. Clinton’s behalf.”, the Wall Street Journal writes,  The group, called For Our Future, said it has raised $60 million this election, and has knocked on more than one million doors in Ohio alone.”
Remember that line in the Godfather when Don Corleone warned that one should keep one’s friends close but one’s enemies even closer. That is the strategy of the Democrats and the section of the US capitalist class they represent. The trade union hierarchy likes to rub shoulders with billionaires and sees them as friends. The billionaires on the other hand uses them, keeps them close by because they know that the rank and file of the trade union movement are not their friends, are their class enemies, and the trade union leadership will not be able to contain them indefinitely.

In Nevada, millions are being spent on the Senate race with nice friendly Democratic billionaires like George Soros and Tom Steyer on the one hand and Charles Koch on the other. Soros is worth $25 billion, Steyer $2 billion and Koch $42 billion.  The union leadership are with the former, billionaires just like us working folks. 

The focus on the Senate race is a reflection of the fact that many traditionally Republican donors are not supporting Trump and instead trying to salvage the party’s position in the Senate. The US Senate is a thoroughly undemocratic institution with each state getting 2 Senators. So a state like Utah with population of 3 million has the same number of Senators as California with a population of 40 million. The purpose of this is to undermine the power of the urban working class.

In Las Vegas, UNITE/HERE, the culinary union representing restaurant and casino workers is paying 100 union workers on leave from their jobs to do full-time political work for the Democrats and the national union expects to spend $3 million there according to Bloomberg BW.

It is clear that organized labor has the structure and organization to offer workers and the middle class an alternative, an independent workers party. Only the leadership prevents this.

The trade union leadership has the same world view as the bosses’ They worship the market and see no alternative to capitalism. For them, to use the resources at their disposal to actually fight for their members and workers as whole can only lead to chaos, and mobilizing the power of their members to shut down production is a terrifying thought. They are there to provide labor power at a price that makes US capitalism competitive.

It is this feature rather than corruption or their perks and obscene salaries that are at the root of their betrayals and refusal to go on the offensive.

But they are not alone. There are thousands of small locals led by rank and file members that refuse to wage the struggle within organized labor that can change the disastrous course the present leadership has set. No union local can win alone or without drawing in the working class communities in which we live and work.  This may be because they don’t know how to wage this difficult internal battle or because they too have found a niche for themselves that is comfortable. It is the membership’s job to combat this, to change the leadership and build oppositions based on an offensive program and strategy. There must be a struggle for the consciousness of the members of the union just as there must be a struggle for the consciousness of the working class in society as a whole.

Various lefts and other anti-capitalist activists in the unions must do the same. The bureaucracy’s full time apparatus is full of members and former members of socialist groups who have entered the leadership with the wrong methods. In general, due primarily to sectarianism, and shifting at times from ultra leftism to reformism, the left has failed the working class in and out of unions.  The left through its policies is isolated form the working class in general.

We learn through the struggle for reforms, from the everyday battles to improve our material conditions. In the course of the struggle to change the world around us, we draw certain conclusions, we see that we have to do more and eventually that the system we know as capitalism cannot be reformed, it cannot solve the environmental crisis. It cannot end hunger, poverty, the misery so many workers face in this country and throughout the world.  Socialists can help this process along, can, if we have a significant presence, hasten it and hopefully play leading roles as we win workers to democratic socialist ideas. But to do that we must participate in the struggle for reforms and in the war for the consciousness of the class as a whole.

Chicago Teachers: Worst contract in CTU history?

I reprint this from Substance News. It is for the interest of our readers and concerns discussions going on within the CTU over the recent contract. I am not familiar enough with the issues to comment more. The reader can read comments to this article at Substance News.

Worst contract in CTU history? Consider the actual numbers of teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century...

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis discussed the upcoming strike with reporters following the October 5, 2016 meeting of the CTU House of Delegates. A last minute deal accepted by Lewis and her team goes before an October 19 meeting of the House of Delegates following the end of the strike threat on October 11. If the HOD recommends a "Yes" vote on the proposed deal, it goes to a referendum of the union's active duty members. Substance photo by Jean Schwab.

Rather than continue a debate over appropriate adjectives (one that has been going on in social media as some people who voted in favor of the deal expressed "hurt feelings" when their decision was challenged), let's try some 21st Century facts. Having reviewed all of the CTU contracts since the beginning (which are also in the possession of the CTU leadership, at the union office I once worked in research until being purged), I have been saying that this is the worst contract in CTU history.

And I am including in that the contracts we had to do during and after the "school financial crisis" of 1979 - 1982. But let's just provide readers with the information ("data" is you wish) covering Chicago teacher salaries since the beginning of the 21st Century. A large number of Chicago teachers working today began their careers during the present century, so it's as good a timeline of information as any.
Following here are the teacher salaries (minimum and maximum) and percentage increases over the previous year since FY 2002, according to the CPS Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The CPS fiscal year begins on July 1 at midnight and ends on June 30, so "FY 2002" (below) is from 2001 to 2002. For those who want to check further, additional CAFR information has still be on line from CPS as of October 12, 2016.

Please note that the first "zero percent raise" in the 21st Century came after the CTU leadership agreed to end all Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaints against the Board of Education as part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 in September 2012.
Fiscal Year Min. Salary Median Max. % Change
2002 $33,861 $47,647 $61,433 2.00%
2003 $34,538 $48,907 $63,276 2.00%
2004 $35,920 $50,864 $65,807 4.00%
2005 $37,357 $52,898 $68,439 4.00%
2006 $38,851 $55,014 $71,177 4.00%
2007 $40,405 $57,215 $74,025 4.00%
2008 $42,021 $59,504 $76,986 4.00%
2009 $43,702 $62,384 $81,065 4.00%
2010 $45,450 $64,879 $84,308 4.00%
2011 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 4.00%
2012 $47,268 $67,974 $88,680 0.00%
2013 $48,686 $70,644 $92,602 3.00%
2014 $49,660 $72,163 $94,666 2.00%
2015 $50,653 $73,706 $96,759 2.00%

Next, please consider the percentage raises in each year of the proposed contract, which ended the threat of a strike scheduled to begin on October 11, 2016 (information about minimum, maximum and median salaries were not available when these numbers were compiled, based on the eight-page CTU PDF provided at the time the strike was cancelled.
2016 (July 1, 2015 - June 30, 2016 0.00*
2017 (July 1, 2016 - June 30, 2017 0.00*
2018 (July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018 2.00*
2019 (July 1, 2018 - June 30, 2019 2.50*

* based in information provided by the CTU in the eight-page PDF summary of the agreement distributed on October 11, 2016.

With this information provided, it becomes clear as a picture that the six "worst" years for teacher raises during the 21st Century in Chicago have some since 2010, when the current union leadership took office. The CORE caucus (of which I am a member, as well as a founding member and for five years a member of the caucus's steering committee) took office on July 1, 2010 having defeated the "New UPC" (headed by Marilyn Stewart) in the May-June 2010 elections.

One of those worst years, FY 2012, saw the union surrender a contractual four percent raise rather than continue to fight against the CPS claim that the Board of Education could not "reasonably assume" it would have the money during FY 2012 to pay for it. (Disclosure: I was a research consultant for the CTU at the time and appeared at the first grievance hearing challenging the Board's refusal to pay the four percent, which had been negotiated in the final contract signed by the previous union leadership. We were not told that part of the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 was to give up that grievance -- which would have led to a ULP -- until I asked what happened to the grievance, which was worth thousands of dollars for every CTU member!).

During the discussion that led to the members' acceptance of the proposed agreement following the suspension of picketing in September 2012, much was made of the "non monetary" victories the union had supposedly achieved. Among these were a contract provision against "bullying" (by principals) and a contract provision to "reduce paperwork." By 2015, it was clear the both of those victories were questionable in most schools -- if not a joke.

Similar claims are being made for some of the provisions of the proposed contract that is now going to be debated at the union's House of Delegates (October 19) and then if the HOD votes to recommend that proposed contract to the membership for a referendum.
This year, all teacher members of the CTU (including low-paid substitute teachers) are paying more than $1,100 per year in union dues.
Traditionally, the two legal duties of a union in the USA to its members are:
-- Negotiate a strong contract.
-- Enforce that contract vigorously on behalf of all the union's members.

Any other objectives the union or its leadership may also have are not legal obligations to the dues-paying members, but choices made by the leadership (sometimes in consultation with the members; recently less so). These include defining a CTU strike as a strike for "better schools." During virtually all previous strikes, the union proclaimed that it was on strike for a contract. Some teachers produced signs proposing other reasons, but the main reason for each strike was to win a stronger contract.

And the best way to measure the success of a contract for all the union's members is by how it improves their pay, benefits, and working conditions.


Late in the afternoon of October 12, 2016, the CTU sent out the following clarification about what the House of Delegates vote will mean. Basically, the HOD will make a recommendation to the membership. Only a membership vote determines whether a contract has been ratified.
Be advised,

This is to provide accurate information regarding the CTU contract ratification process. Here is the actual constitutional language regarding the process in ratifying a labor agreement with the Chicago Board of Education. An earlier advisory, issued by the Communications Department, indicated that the House of Delegates had to recommend whether to send the tentative agreement to the full membership. However, according to the CTU Constitution, the agreement goes to the full membership regardless of what is recommended by the House. Please excuse any error or confusion this may have caused and here is the corrected language:

CTU Constitution says:

Sec. 1: Authority Subject to the final authority of the membership, the general governing body of the Union shall be a House of Delegates, the members of which shall be members of the Union in good standing, elected by vote of their constituent Union members.

Each member of the House of Delegates shall have full voting privileges (except as provided for in
Article VI Sec. 2b), except members representing retired members shall not vote on the authorization of a strike or the acceptance or the rejecting of a partial or final collective bargaining agreement.

Action by the House to authorize a strike or accept or reject a partial or final collective bargaining agreement shall be advisory only and in both instances shall be subject to a final, direct vote of the regular members.
The House of Delegates shall determine the actual date of the strike.
The manner of such voting shall be set by the House except that the House may never authorize indirect voting.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Democrats smell Blood. Obama savages Republicans.

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The founders of this blog do not and would never support a Democrat or any candidate from one of the capitalist parties or any capitalist party. In anticipation of criticism from the left, we do not believe the Green Party is a capitalist party nor is it a workers' party, this has not yet been defined.

But this assault by President Obama on the Republican Party and in particular its leadership is important and a reflection of the crisis in US bourgeois politics.  The gloves are off as the Democrats smell blood. There is no "reaching across the aisle" here and I'm sure Barack Obama gets a certain amount of personal pleasure socking it to them as the Republican Party implodes.

As we have on this blog over time, he refers to the backward elements the Republicans consciously appealed to in order to build a base such as right wing Christian Zionists, climate deniers, politically backward workers along with various stripes of racists, misogynists, xenophobes and cranks. But the appeal to this section of society was not just for a vote at election time.

A party needs footsoldiers and the Democrats have had the labor movement provide this service to a great degree, walking precincts, manning phone banks, raising money etc.  The Republican Party used these people to fill this void to mobilize and get out the vote, but as we warned, getting rid of them would be a different matter. These people are ideologically driven and their ideology is not egalitarian. 

Obama doesn't hold back, he lashes the Republican Party leadership for their opportunism in fueling  the flames while having some sympathy for those that actually believed what was said. For me, the fierceness of this assault confirms our assessment of likely developments that we outlined in our statement last week "US Capitalism. Its Political Monopoly comes apart. A new era opens." 

Trump will be defeated, and perhaps a right wing split led by Trump or one or the other influential right wing political figures will emerge. There is also talk of a right wing media corporation that would replace the likes of Fox News. It's hard to say but it is clear the movement is there for such an organized expression to develop. And as we point out, if this happens, it will surely be countered with some sort of left split from the Democrats. The rise of Trump and Sanders at the other end of the spectrum takes place within the framework of a global revolt against the status quo.  The US political scene and mass consciousness is entering a new era.

Please read our statement linked to above.

Obama has been very good to the US 1%. He has been as merciless as Bush as far as foreign policy is concerned and Hillary Clinton will continue in the same mold.  Obama is a powerful and astute representative of the US capitalist class, the consummate bourgeois politician. he is not, as some have described him, an "Uncle Tom".  This is a crude attempt at an insult and does not help us understand the political nature of the period.  Barack Obama defends his class with the tenacity of a Margaret Thatcher, he is a powerful man.  And in the struggle for which party of that class will govern US society for the next four years he grasps the bull by the horns and ensures the opponent not only goes down but stays there.