Monday, August 21, 2017

Bay Area: ILWU, No Facscists In San Francisco

Massive turnout shuts down fascists in Boston
There will be an organizing meeting Tuesday Aug. 22 at 7PM for all those unions, organizations and individuals interested in participating in the march to stop the fascists at Crissy Field on Aug. 26. We will meet in the Henry Schmidt room; 400 North Point Street, San Francisco near Fisherman’s Wharf. Please spread the word. We need a big turnout to build a spirited march. We have important decisions to be made. ILWU motion is below.

Racists Want Charlottesville Terror Here – It’s Up to Us to Stop It!


We, longshore workers, support the call to action for our union to take the lead for the working class, to stop a deadly threat to the rights and the lives of us all. 

This weekend, fascist groups plan to stage rallies that threaten to repeat the racist terror of Charlottesville in the Bay Area. We’ve shut down the port against racism, war and police repression. Longshore workers have got the power, and we will not allow labor-hating white supremacists to bring their lynch mob terror here.

On Saturday, August 26 at 10AM, we will assemble at Marina Green (between Crissy Field and Fort Mason) and march to stop the fascist provocation at Crissy Field. We’re calling on all ILWU members, other unions and supporters to be there. Stop these racist killers from killing again. If not now, when? If not here, where? We have the power. Let’s use it!

On August 26, the fascist group that calls itself “Patriot Prayer” plans to hold a rally on Crissy Field. On August 27, several fascist groups plan a rally in Berkeley. What this means was shown in Portland on May 26: a Nazi who attended a “Patriot Prayer” rally the previous month killed two men for standing up against his racist threats to two young women. On June 4, members of 14 unions in Portland mobilized in the struggle to stop the fascists drawn by “Patriot Prayer”.

Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12 showed again that the fascists are not about “free speech.” The rally by Nazis, KKK and other white supremacists led directly to the murder of Heather Heyer and injuries to dozens of courageous anti-racist counter-protesters. Some of the same Nazis plan to come to the Bay Area this weekend. Meanwhile, Trump obscenely praises “good” fascists and “beautiful” statues of bloody Confede­rate slave masters. 

And now the fascists want to bring their race-terror here? We say: Hell no! Who do these fascist creeps think they’re messing with? SF is a union town. Let’s bring out the whole Bay Area labor movement, with defenders of African American, Asian, Latino, gay, lesbian, women’s and immigrant rights, to stop the fascists. 

To do this, we must rely on our own power as workers – not phony “friend of labor” politicians of both bosses’ parties. Their pleas for Trump’s Department of the Interior to deny a permit for Crissy Field are a diversion. Any bans, especially in a port city, could be used against workers fighting for their rights. But as the Portland Painters said in a solidarity message, when we use our “power as workers to take action against the fascists on August 26th, that will be a call to action of workers and oppressed people throughout this country.”

Now’s the time to stand up for all that ILWU has fought for, as opponents of racism and oppression. We can’t let these racists and fascists keep on killing. Enough is enough. Let’s join together in unity and in strength to put our union resolution into action. On August 26, 


Anthony Leviege #9576                       Jack Heyman #8780 (ret.)

August 21, 2017


ILWU Motion Passed on August 17, 2017Whereas, the fascists, the KKK, Nazis and other white supremacists rallied and marched by torchlight in Charlottesville, whipping up lynch mob terror with racist, anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic slogans, and

Whereas, that attack resulted in one anti-racist counter demonstrator murdered and many others injured when one of the fascist bullies ran them down with a car, and

Whereas, President Trump’s whitewashing this violent, deadly fascist and racist attack saying “both sides are to blame”, and his attacking anti-racists for opposing Confederate statues that honor slavery adds fuel to the fire of racist violence, and

Whereas, the Klan, Nazis and other racist terrorists represent a deadly threat to African Americans, Latinos and immigrants, as well as Muslims, Jews, LGBTQ people among many others, and directly to members of our union and the labor movement as a whole, and

Whereas, the fascist “Patriot Prayer” group that staged violent racist provocations in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere, attracting Nazi and other violent white supremacists, has announced it will rally on Crissy Field on Saturday August 26, and

Whereas, far from a matter of “free speech”, the racist and fascist provocations are a deadly menace as shown in Portland on May 26 when a Nazi murdered two men and almost killed a third for defending two young African American women he was menacing; and our sisters and brothers in the Portland labor movement answered racist terror with the power of workers solidarity, mobilizing members of 14 unions against the fascist/racist rally there on June 4, and

Whereas, ILWU Local 10 has a long and proud history of standing up against racism, fascism and bigotry and using our union power to do so; on May Day 2015 we shut down Bay Area ports and marched followed by thousands to Oscar Grant Plaza demanding an end to police terror against African Americans and others; the San Francisco Bay Area is a union stronghold and we will not allow labor-hating white supremacists to bring their lynch mob terror here,

Therefore, ILWU Local 10 in the best tradition of our union that fought these rightwingers in the Big Strike of 1934, will not work on that day and instead march to Crissy Field to stop the racist, fascist intimidation in our hometown and invite all unions and antiracist and antifascist organizations to join us defending unions, racial minorities, immigrants, LGBTQ people, women and all the oppressed.

Class Politics not Identity Politics

40,000 working people diverse in race and gender and age and sexual orientation unite to march against Nazis in Boston. 

Statement from Facts For Working people Blog. 

Since this Blog was established it has stood for Class Politics not Identity Politics. We have explained that the US working class is more diverse than ever before, because the development of US capitalism over the past century has integrated the working class as never before. We have explained that the task is to unite the working class and assist the working class to become conscious of itself as a class and as a class for itself. The only way the special oppression of minorities and women will be ended is by ending capitalism and this can only be done by a united working class. The authors on this blog agree with Malcolm X when he said that "you can't have capitalism without racism." This can only mean that you can't end racism without ending capitalism and capitalism can only be ended by a united working class.

Identity politics divides the working class and weakens it in its struggle to end capitalism and end the special oppression of all minorities and women.

Below are links to articles which make up a partial body of work from this Blog which explains our position on this issue. 

A few comments on Politics, history and class.
 The Divisive, Reactionary Nature of Identity Politics
Marxism, Socialism and Identity Politics
Class Consciousness and the Struggle Against Capital
The reactionary, class nature of left Academia today.
Trumka, Trump and the White Worker
Why US big business prefers the term White Privilege to Racial Discrimination
 Why do politicians lie?
Hillary and Michelle and the Ties That Bind

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Violence - Non Violence. The Way To Look At It.

Sean O'Torain.
Some of US capitalism's violent history.

After the events in Charlottesville the issue of violence or non violence is being discussed far and wide. There is a lot of confusion. Some genuine confusion and some deliberately created confusion. And of course there is also the hypocrisy and lies of US capitalism to create confusion.

Firstly, look at the deliberate confusion that is being spread. US capitalism through its media and political outlets rails against any violence that is used by protesters who are protesting the violence of the state or the violence of the Nazi and white supremacist groups such as the KKK. Non violent protest is the way to go they insist. Violence must be condemned they insist. The hypocrisy and lies of the US capitalist class and its media is staggering.

US capitalism came to power and maintains power by violence. It just about wiped out by violence the tens of millions of native peoples who lived in what was to become the US. It seized the African people by violence and brought them here and for 300 years kept them enslaved by violence. Never paid them a dime for their labor and when they objected they put them down by violence. When the contradiction between slavery and capitalism became no longer tenable the US capitalist class fought the most violent war in history up to that point to establish capitalism throughout what was to become today's USA. Then they created the terrorist group the KKK to prevent the former slave population from exercising their rights through lynching African Americans and burning their bodies and organizing celebratory events with masses being mobilized to come out to celebrate this horrific violence. The idea being to accustom these people to such horrific violence and to make them accomplices.

Then there is the violence of US capitalism against the US working class. A study in 1969 stated that the "US had the bloodiest and most violent labor history of any industrial nation in the world." Go and Google violence against labor in the US and you will see case after case of where workers were killed trying to organize unions in an effort to have better lives. On Google there is a list of workers deaths in US strikes and labor disputes, which goes on and on. And for every worker killed violently many more are intimidated into going along by this violence. The lists of workers killed in the US by US capitalism and its thugs does not include the numbers of workers held as slaves who were killed by the state and groups such as the KKK and white racist individuals and mobs. They are too countless to number and anyway most were never recorded, just like the numbers of the native people killed was never recorded. They were just murdered and their bodies thrown in the ditch like dirt. And of course there is the violence which continues today carried out by the racist state apparatus, the police, which kills overwhelmingly people from the minorities.

But we are not finished there. US capitalism has military bases in hundreds of countries throughout the world. It has invaded and occupied up to 30 countries since 1945 murdering millions and dropping napalm on them, over 32,000 tons of it on North Korea, what the US called its "Wonder weapon".

And of course the most horrific violent act of all. The US is the only country to have dropped atomic bombs on civilian populations. And under a Democratic Party president no less. In the 1960's and 1970's US capitalism waged what were known as its dirty wars in Latin America. And it continues with its wars today in the Middle East. As a result large parts of the Middle East is being blown to pieces.

US capitalism is in no position to condemn violence. US capitalism only exists because of violence. Its condemnation of violence must be thrown back in its face. We must not allow ourselves to be confused by the propaganda and lies of US capitalism about violence.

Then there is also the genuine confusion about violence. No reasonable person wants violence. Most people say they are against violence. I myself want to live in a world without violence. But that is not the issue.  Like the lady I spoke with recently who said she was against violence but when I reminded her that she had told me that if anybody harmed her little grand-daughter she said she would kill them with her bare hands she said, "okay you are right, I am not against all violence." That is the point to see.

It is not violence or non violence it is a question of context. It is a question of violence for what,  violence against what. The Nazis and white supremacists and KKK wage violence to suppress people who are not white and to oppress women and to oppress people who oppose capitalism and certainly to crush unions. In some cases protesters against these evils use violence and and in some cases this is correct and in some cases not. It is not a question of violence or no violence but it is a question of violence to what end and it is a question of the overall stage and state of the struggle at any given time. Of course, all reasonable people do not want violence. But when we are confronted with violent forces wishing to violently impose their will on people then they have to be opposed.

In the US, the capitalist class and its propaganda machine glorify Martin Luther King and his non violence. They do not mention that they as a class murdered Martin Luther King, that is, used violence to eliminate Martin Luther King. They also do not mention another fact concerning the 1950's and 1960's civil rights movement and the gains it made. There were mass violent uprisings in the cities of the US. There was the formation of groups such as "Negroes With Guns" in North Carolina. This in turn inspired Huey Newton and the Black Panthers. US capitalism was forced to make its concessions to the civil rights movement not just because of the mass mobilization and character of that movement but by the emerging threat of violent struggle that began to appear and by the violent mass uprisings in the cities.

This brings us to today and the struggles that are now gaining strength in opposition to the Confederate statues. In reality these are struggles against the racism and sexism that exists and has been whipped up by the degenerate in chief in the White House and his campaign for president and his actions since. Especially his equating the Nazis, KKK and co with the protesters who opposed them. How should we see violence in the context of the struggle against the increasing aggression of the racists and the sexists in these movements? To be clear on this issue we have to see the following.

Violence or non violence is not a question of principle. It is a tactical question. In Charlottesville it was correct to violently take on the Nazis and co. They came armed for violence and it was right to take them on.  If they had been allowed to march unchallenged with their hate filled chants they would have come out of Charlottesville emboldened. Instead they have come out of it weakened. On top of that, we had the idiot racist in the White House equating both sides and this evoked and explosion of anger amongst the majority of the people of the US who are opposed to racism. Charlottesville and its aftermath has resulted in a most positive sea change in the consciousness of the majority of the US population. This is shown by the fact that racist confederate statues are coming down in all directions.

But back to violence and it being a tactical issue and not a principle. In Boston this weekend we had 40,000 people marching against a so called, right to free speech rally held by a bunch of Nazis and racists. Numbers at this rally were counted in the dozens. It was pathetic. Their rally was to last from 12 noon to 2 pm. I finished by 12.45. They were utterly demoralized and intimidated by the 40,000 people who marched. In this situation and this is where tactics come in, it was wrong for any anti racist people to conduct any violence. To do so risked allowing the racists in and out of the White House to say both sides are the same. Risked taking the steam out of the huge anti racist movement that is developing. Risked putting the broader mass of the population who oppose racism from coming out in future to march against racism.

So sometimes it is correct to violently take on the Nazis and company and sometimes it is not. There are a number of factors to take into account in deciding this. The most important is the effect on the consciousness of the mass of the population. Which tactic will best increase the anti racist consciousness of the mass of the population and the ability to mobilize these forces. As I say the violent confrontation of the Nazis and co in Charlottesville and the reaction of the racist in the White house resulted in a sea change for the better in the attitude of the majority of the US population against racism. The 40,000 in Boston marching peacefully further strengthened this anti racist consciousness. In the future the struggles against the Nazis and the KKK and co should be looked at on a case by case basis as to what tactic is the best.

In relation to this the groups such as Antifa while they must be recognized for their courageous action against the fascists, they must also consider a few things. One, how their actions, their tactics effect the mass consciousness of the broader movement. They have to see that part of their task is to convince the anti racist mass of the US population to take on the Nazis and co. As part of this they have to consider that this is not helped by them acting undemocratically, having their own secret meetings where they decide what they are going to do and go out and do this. Not taking into account the need to interact in a democratic way with the broader anti racist, anti sexist movement.  They can quickly be isolated and weakened if they do whatever they wish and ignore the broader movement. The talk of "diversity of tactics' which is thrown about in these anti fascist groups is a way of these groups doing their own thing as opposed to trying to figure out the correct tactics for the movement at any given time and as part of the anti fascist movement as a whole. This talk of diversity of tactics is a way of allowing them to avoid democratic decision making.

While recognizing that violence or non violence in any given situation is a tactic we must always keep in mind the statement from Hitler. He wrote: "only one danger could have jeopardized this development, (that is the rise of the Nazi party in Germany)if our adversaries had understood its principles, established a clear understanding of these ideas, and if they had from the first day annihilated with the utmost brutality the nucleus of our movement."

Nazism at this time in the US is a fringe nucleus. It is not wanted by the dominant section of the capitalist class. This dominant section of the capitalist class wants to get on with ruling in the old way through its so-called democratic institutions and yes they want to keep racism and sexism, but they want to keep racism and sexism  simmering and not boiling over. They do not want mass fighting on the streets. They do not want their increasingly diverse workforces in open conflict with each other.  Nor do they want the crisis that would erupt in their armed forces where 31% of enlisted personnel are listed as minorities and this is without listing Latinos as minorities. Latinos make up another 11.3%. Open racist conflict on the streets of the US would explode into the ranks of the US military and would lead to a major crisis in US capitalism's military wing with a serious weakening of that wing and from this a serious weakening of its ability to invade and occupy and intimidate other countries.

One other aspect of these Nazi type outfits should be noticed. Not only were they chanting against Jews in Charlottesville. But they were also complaining that Trump was not going far enough for  them as he had "given his daughter to a Jew". This should be taken note of. These Nazis and their sleaze in arms  are not only racists they are sexists. This is shown by how they say that Trump "gave" his daughter to a Jew. That is the way they think. The male rules. The male "gives" his daughter. It is also the view on orthodox religious thinking.  Back to the US military. 14.5% of the US military are now women. This is another reason why the military tops condemned Trump for equating the fascists with the people who opposed them.

The tops of all the sections of the military came out and condemned Trumps statement equating the Nazis and white supremacists and KKK with those who fought them in Charlottesville. The military tops know they have a hard enough job keeping  racism and sexism from exploding in the their ranks and undermining their fighting ability without Trump's big racist mouth.

My mother, a rural Irish peasant woman, used to say when she saw something that just astounded her. She would say- "In under God this" -  "In under God that".  This was her way of saying how could such a thing happen. Being an atheist I do not use this term but it comes into my head when I think of Trump - how could there be such a degenerate stupid psychologically deformed person in the White House.  US capitalism is in a terrible political crisis. That is why their unwanted candidate won the presidency over their preferred candidate Clinton. And to think they are in a political crisis now wait till the next economic collapse arrives.

Having said all this we should also keep in mind this reality. The US capitalist class do not want the racism and sexism of the Nazis and co to explode at this time. A recent book titled "The economic cost of the 1968 riots" in the US gives their thinking on this. Such developments are bad for business. This is shown  by the tops of the major corporations abandoning Trump over his statement on Charlottesville. But things can change, things do change.  The lesson of fascism in Germany is that when things got really desperate for the German capitalist class who at first shunned Hitler and his Nazi party this class then turned to Hitler and his Nazis and and put them in power. And we should not forget that sections of the US capitalist class supported the Nazis in Germany for a time.

The US working class and all anti racist and anti sexist forces in the US must not let down our guard.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Books: US Gun Culture, Outlaws and False Heroes

Order this book here
Here are the first few pages of a chapter from Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz' forthcoming book, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment.  The chapter is on Missouri Confederate guerrillas. In this short excerpt Ms Ortiz destroys a few favorite myths propagated by popular culture and the mass media about guns and the aftermath of the Civil War. It looks like a must read for those of us intent on unlearning official history. RM

 Here is one critic's review:

"Gun violence, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz compellingly shows, is as U.S. American as apple pie. This important book peels back the painful and bloody layers of gun culture in the United States, and exposes their deep roots in the killing and dispossession of Native peoples, slavery and its aftermath, and U.S. empire-making. They are roots with which all who are concerned with matters of justice, basic decency, and the enduring tragedy of the U.S. love affair with guns must grapple."—Joseph Nevins, author of Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment. San Francisco: City Light Publishers, January 2018. *


I grew up in rural Oklahoma. Both my parents were born in western Missouri. My father, besides being a tenant farmer and rodeo man, was an actual proletarian cowboy who worked on a large cattle ranch in Oklahoma mending fences and herding cattle long distances before he married my mother.
In this world, stories of “Robin Hood” outlaw heroes were pervasive. These included the James Gang, Jesse and Frank; and the Younger Brothers, Cole, Jim, John and Bob, Belle Starr—dubbed the “Bandit Queen”—my female role model. I was, thanks to my mother, a devout Southern Baptist; yet it didn’t seem contradictory that these bandits broke nearly all the Ten Commandments, because they stole from the rich and gave to the poor, or so it was said. Not until I moved to San Francisco when I was twenty-one and took a college course in U.S. West History did I learn that all my heroes had been Confederate Guerrillas, associated with William Quantrill’s Rangers. They all came from middle-class families who bought, sold, and worked enslaved Africans, and who were devoted to the Confederacy, that is, the preservation of chattel slavery. This came as a shock, because by that time, I had for the previous four years taken sides in favor of the Civil Rights movement and despised racism, the main reason I left Oklahoma as soon as I could. I’ve been trying to figure out this disconnect ever since. But I do know that border-outlaw narratives have played a role in gun fetishism and a culture of violence and racism in the United States.

I was not alone in buying into the myths about these outlaws. Even in San Francisco, New York City, and beyond, during the folk music revival of the late 1950s, Woody Guthrie’s 1939 recording of the 1882 traditional song extolling Jesse James was revived and made the pop charts:

Oh, they laid poor Jesse in his grave, yes, Lord They laid Jesse James in his grave
Oh, he took from the rich and he gave to the poor But, they laid Jesse James in his grave
Pete Seeger recorded the song in 1957, followed by Eddy Arnold in 1959, the Kingston Trio in 1961, and in the 1970s, it made the charts again recorded by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band as well as by Bob Seger; even The Pogues as well as Bruce Springsteen got in the act in the mid-1980s. It was recorded by dozens of other lesser known folk, pop, and country musicians.

And, there was a larger theme of sympathy for the slave South’s “Lost Cause” in the 1960s counter-culture. The Band first recorded “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” with lyrics by Robbie Robertson,77 in 1969, when they were closely associated with Bob Dylan, topping the charts in several categories; Joan Baez recorded it in 1971, with the same result, as did Johnny Cash in 1975. Liberal San Francisco music critic Ralph J. Gleason waxed eloquently on The Band’s recording: “Nothing I have read ... has brought home the overwhelming human sense of history that this song does...It’s a remarkable song, the rhythmic structure, the voice of Levon [Helms] and the bass line with the drum accents and then the heavy close harmony of Levon, Richard and Rick in the theme, make it seem impossible that this isn’t some traditional material handed down from father to son straight from that winter of 1865 to today. It has that ring of truth and the whole aura of authenticity.”

Virgil Kane is the name...
Back with my wife in Tennessee
When one day she called to me “Virgil, quick, come see,
There goes Robert E. Lee!”
Now, I don’t mind chopping wood And I don’t care if the money’s no good You take what you need
And you leave the rest
But they should never have taken the very best
The night they drove old Dixie down And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down And all the people were singing

This was a post-World War II composition mourning the Confederate defeat in the Civil War, written by Robbie Robertson, also a member of The Band and one of the most celebrated of the many musicians, writers, and producers coming out of the 1960s. He is also Mohawk, his mother from the Six Nations Reserve outside Toronto, Canada, his father Jewish. Not having grown up in the United States, Robertson likely had very little knowledge of the Civil War, but Joan Baez did and was a pacifist and an icon of the African-American Civil Rights Movement of the time. It seems that the sanitized lore that views bloody, murdering, Confederate guerrillas as righteous outlaws continues to be deeply ingrained in United States culture.

And, it wasn’t just the music counterculture, but also mainstream pop culture. True Grit, a best-selling 1968 novel by Charles Portis, also serialized in the popular mass-distributed magazine The Saturday Evening Post, was made into a blockbuster movie in 1969, featuring John Wayne as the fictional Rooster Cogburn, former Confederate guerrilla with Quantrill. John Wayne won the Academy Award for best acting the role as the good-hearted drunken antihero who proves himself a true hero. Ethan and Joel Cohen did a 2010 duplicate remake of the film for the new generation starring Jeff Bridges in the John Wayne role, accompanied by a new edition of the novel with an afterword by bestselling author Donna Tartt, which reached number one on The New York Times bestseller list.

The 1976 film, Outlaw Josey Wales, directed by Clint Eastwood, the script by Forrest Carter adapted from his 1972 novel, The Rebel Outlaw: Josey Wales, featured a Missouri Confederate guerrilla played by Clint Eastwood, based on the true story of Bill Wilson, a folk hero in the Ozarks. After Union troops murder his wife and child, Wales refuses to surrender at the end of the war, seeks revenge, and guns down the Union man that killed his family. He then flees to Texas with a bounty on his head. In the film, Josey Wales expresses his world view: “Now remember, things look bad and it looks like you’re not gonna make it, then you gotta get mean. I mean plumb, mad-dog mean. Cause if you lose your head and give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”

Forrest Carter, who wrote the script for Outlaw Josey Wales, is the pen name of Asa Earl Carter (1925-1975) who was a leader in the Ku Klux Klan in the 1950s and a speech writer for the segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace in the 1960s. He changed his name and successfully turned to writing, first the Josey Wales book, then in 1976 what claimed to be a memoir, The Education of Little Tree. The story is told by an orphaned boy of five years old, being raised by Cherokee grandparents who called him “Little Tree,” with stereotypical noble savage actions and settings, perfect for the growing “New Age” appropriation and distortion of Native ways. At the book’s release, The New York Times published an article outing Forrest Carter as Asa Carter, former Klansman. It was not a big secret, as Carter had run for governor of Alabama in 1970. The article reported, “Beyond denying that he is Asa Carter, the author has declined to be interviewed on the subject.”

Carter died at age 53 in 1979, beat to death in a fight with his son. His literary fame faded. There had been no questioning of Carter’s claim of Cherokee identity until the University of New Mexico Press bought the rights to The Education of Little Tree in 1985, and published it as non-fiction in 1991. The book took off and became the number one best seller on The New York Times best-seller list and won the American Booksellers Book of the Year award, and became a much loved book. The Cherokee Nation denied that Carter was Cherokee, and Carter’s Ku Klux Klan background was once again revealed, leading the Times to shift the book to its fiction list. Despite calls from the Native American academic community and the Cherokee Nation that the University of New Mexico Press withdraw the book from publication, instead they changed the cover, removing the “True Story” subtitle and reclassified it as fiction, but the biographical profile did not change to include Carter’s Klan activities and the lack of evidence of his being Cherokee; it remains one of their bestselling books. Oprah Winfrey had endorsed the book when it was published, but removed it from her recommendations in 1994.

Clint Eastwood, directing The Outlaw Josey Wales, featured several stereotypical Native American characters, written by Carter, and performed by excellent Native American actors, Geraldine Keams as a love interest, the elderly Chief Dan George as his spirit guide, and Will Sampson as a protector. In the script, there is no mention of slavery even though Wales was a Confederate guerrilla who rejected the Confederate defeat.

Two other widely viewed films—Bonnie and Clyde and Pat Garret and Billy the Kid—glorified gun violence of real-life outlaws who were not Confederate guerrillas, but have contributed to those narratives being folded into ones of the Wild West even though Bonnie and Clyde were bandits in the Great Depression era, and Billie the Kid’s short life ended in 1882. With Bonnie and Clyde, Arthur Penn broke through to mainstream box office triumph and was embraced by the counterculture of 1967 at the same time. The film was noted for the bloodiest scenes in film history, and starred Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway. Sam Peckinpah’s 1973 film, Pat Garret and Billy the Kid, featured the popular musician and songwriter, Kris Kristofferson as the Kid, and a memorable soundtrack by Bob Dylan, who also played a cameo role.

How did it happen that popular culture transformed Confederate guerrillas into celebrity Western gunfighters, merging them with actual Western gunfighters, and what has this phenomenon contributed to the culture of violence, racism, and gun love in the United States?

* Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz grew up in rural Oklahoma, the daughter of a tenant farmer and part-Indian mother. She is the author of many books, including Outlaw Woman, a memoir of the 1960s and her time in an armed underground group, and the acclaimed An Indigenous Peoples' History ofthe United States. She lives in San Francisco.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

World Economy: Picking up?

by Michael Roberts

The latest economic data are showing that economic growth in the major capitalist countries has been picking up in the first half of 2017.

Japan’s economy expanded at the fastest pace for more than two years in the three months to June, with domestic spending accelerating as the country prepares for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In the Eurozone, real GDP growth rose at annualised rate of 2.5%, with the Visegrad countries of Czech, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia rising at 5.8% in the second quarter of this year.

With the US economy continuing to trundle along at just over a 2% a year growth, the major economies are looking a little brighter in growth terms, it seems – at least compared to the falling growth rates of 2015-6.

What has been the key reason for this slight improvement?  In my view, it is the relative recovery in the Chinese economy, considered by most observers and the evidence as the driver of world economic growth (at the margin) since 2007. As the IMF put it in its latest survey of the Chinese economy, “With many of the advanced economies of the west struggling in the years since the financial crisis of 2007-09, China has acted as the growth engine of the global economy, accounting for more than half the increase in world GDP in recent years.”

Manufacturing output in China increased 6.7% yoy in July, continuing a slight recovery in 2017 after reaching a low in 2016 from a peak of over 11% a year in 2013.  As a result, Eurozone manufacturing output has picked up, particularly in Germany, the Netherlands and Italy as they export more to China.  The US manufacturing sector has also reversed its actual decline in 2016.  Japan’s manufacturing sector leaped up 6.7% compared to 2016, led by construction demand for the Olympics.

This all looks much better.  But remember most of these major economies are still growing at only around 2% a year, still well below pre-2007 rates or even the average in the post-1945 period.  The ‘developed’ capitalist economies are growing at their slowest rate in decades.  Ruchir Sharma, chief global strategist and head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, noted in a recent essay in the magazine Foreign Affairs that “no region of the world is currently growing as fast as it was before 2008, and none should expect to. In 2007, at the peak of the pre-crisis boom, the economies of 65 countries – including a number of large ones, such as Argentina, China, India, Nigeria, Russia and Vietnam – grew at annual rates of 7% or more. Today, just six economies are growing at that rate, and most of those are in small countries such as Côte d’Ivoire and Laos.”

Nevertheless, all the purchasing managers indexes (PMIs) that provide the best ‘high frequency’ guide to the attitude and confidence of the capitalist sector in each country all show expansion is still taking place – if not at the pace of 2013-14.  Again the key seems to be a recovery in China’s PMI.

What does all this tell us about the likelihood of a new global economic recession in the next year or two?  That is something that I have been forecasting or expecting.  The latest data would seem to point away from that.

The mainstream forecasters remain optimistic about growth with the only proviso being that it is China that might collapse.  The IMF survey makes the familiar argument of the mainstream that overall debt is so high that it will eventualy collapse in bankruptcies and defaults, causing a slump and weakening the world economy.  Total debt has quadrupled since the financial crisis to stand at $28tn (£22tn) at the end of last year.

I disagree: for two reasons.  First, when China’s growth slowed sharply at the beginning of 2016, the mainstream observers argued that China could bring the world economy down.  My view was that, important as the Chinese economy was, it was not large enough to take the US and Europe down.  Those advanced economies remained the key to whether there would be a world slump.  And so it has proved.

Second, the size of China’s debt is large but the Chinese economy is different from the advanced capitalist economies.  Most of that debt is owed by the Chinese state banks and state enterprises.  The Chinese government can bail these entities out using its reserves and forced savings of Chinese households.  The state has the economic power to ensure that, unlike governments in the US and Europe during the credit crunch of 2007.  Governments then were beholden to the capitalist banks and companies, not vice versa.  So any credit crisis in China will be dealt with without producing a major collapse in the economy, in my view.

So does this mean that a new world slump is off the agenda?  No, in short.  One of my key indicators of the health of capitalist economies, as the readers of this blog well know, is the movement of profits in the capitalist sector.  Global corporate profits (a weighted average of the major economies) have also made a significant recovery from their collapse at the end of 2015. Indeed corporate profits overall seem to rising at the fastest rate since the immediate bounce-back after the end of the Great Recession.

But this overall figure is driven by the Chinese recovery and the pickup in Japan (due to the Olympics construction?).  Corporate profit growth in the US, Germany and the UK is slowing again after a brief pick-up in late 2016.

For me, the key remains the state of US economy and in particular, profits and investment levels there.  The booming US stock market is now way out of line with corporate earnings levels.  The S&P 500 cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings (CAPE) valuation has only been higher on one occasion, in the late 1990s. It is currently on par with levels preceding the Great Depression.

US corporate profits have recovered in the last few quarters after declining (although now slowing again) and, along with that, business investment has picked up.  Watch this space over the rest of 2017 to see if this is sustained.

Total domestic corporate profits have grown at an annualized rate of just 0.97% over the last five years. Prior to this period five-year annualized profit growth was 7.95%. At $8.6 trillion, corporate debt levels are 30% higher today than at their prior peak in September 2008.  At 45.3%, the ratio of corporate debt to GDP is at historic highs, having recently surpassed levels preceding the last two recessions.  If there is an issue with the level of debt, it is in the US, not in China.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Charlottesville and Trump's racism and lies.

Fascists scream their hatred in Charlottesville.
Sean O'Torain.

The Predator in Chief Trump carries on. Tramping on all the institutions and myths that US capitalism has put in place to allow it to rule through their so called democratic system. He drags out the truth that Washington and co, the fathers of the nation were slave owners. (according to US capitalist myth there were no mothers involved in the founding of the nation). The US capitalist class want to try and forget that the founders were slave owners. But Trump to cover his own a.. drags it out. This weakens the authority of the capitalist class.

Trump also vilifies the courts which keep capitalism safe. He vilifies the capitalist media which censors events and history to keep people supporting capitalism. He is well on the way to wrecking the Republican Party one of the two major parties of capitalism. The US ruling class has a real problem on their hands. As the authors of this Blog have said for the past years, US capitalism is in an economic, a military and political crisis. A new economic collapse lies ahead. As does the breaking of the US military as it is unable to win its wars in the Middle East.

The political crisis has come much faster and is much deeper than we thought due to Trump being elected President. And we have not seen the half of it yet. Wait till his illegal financial and other dealings with the Russian capitalist regime and other former Soviet regimes are exposed. US capitalism is in a severe political crisis.

The little man in North Korea is laughing at the US as its ruling elite fight amongst themselves. The authors of this Blog thought that a war with North Korea was very very unlikely. We think this is even more the case now given the weakening of Trump and the fragmentation of the capitalist political parties and organizations in Washington. But true to form, US capitalism is not using North Korea's step back, what the Wall Street Journal refers to as a climbdown, from it's threat to attack the US colony and military base of Guam to open the door to better relations. American forces are expected to begin joint military exercises with South Korea next week which is sure to return the situation to normalcy for US imperialism as this is one of the main issues for North Korea. The North has repeatedly raised these exercises as intimidation and threats and they are a major obstacle to a more stable relationship.

It is hardly worth talking about the Democratic Party. Paralyzed by its absolute commitment to capitalism and its institutions it is unable to bring Trump down. Like the capitalist media and increasingly sections of the Republican Party, it tries to criticize Trump by appealing to the sanitized version of history that US capitalism serves up. Trump will not be defeated this way. In the last analysis he is not that much different from the rest of the capitalist class - addicted to profit and power, racist, sexist, and seeks to rule the world.

US allies internationally are condemning Trump for his statements on Charlottesville. US authority around the world is collapsing by the hour. Like the dominant sections of the US capitalist class itself, we find it very hard to see how US capitalism is going to get out of this mess. The resignation of CEO's from the American Manufacturing Council shows a move away from Trump by some of the big capitalists. But they are putting forward no alternative. Just jumping ship. When what is necessary from the capitalist class's point of view is somebody else to take the wheel of the ship.

We have not heard yet from the slimy cowardly McConnell, the leader of the Republicans in the Senate. His spouse is in the Trump cabinet. She is an Asian American. She stood by Trump's side as he said the anti fascist forces were as bad as the fascist forces in Charlottesville. There would be no place for her in the fascists' America. Yet she stands there with a grin pasted to her face. Two others of the Trump regime stood by Trump as he equated the fascists with those who were opposing them. They were from a Jewish background. There would be no place for them either in the fascists' America. It is staggering to see how low these people will stoop to keep their positions and their snouts in the trough. Trump's daughter's husband is Jewish and she herself has converted to the Jewish religion. Amongst the chants of the fascists at Charlottesville was one where they said they wanted a man who would not give his daughter to a Jew. Trump does not hate Jewish people enough for them. Then there is the gender issue. According to them, Trump 'gives' his daughter to her husband. What an utterly backward bunch.

Trump's Effort To Make It An Issue Of Violence.

Trump is trying to make the events in Charlottesville an issue of violence or not violence. Trying to confuse people in this way. I was in a coffee shop yesterday and saw a lady I had spoken with a few times. She is very opposed to Trump. But she was a little confused. She asked me what did I think about what Trump said that there was violence on both sides. Was there not she said. She said she was against violence. I responded.

My friend you have spoken to me many times about your little grand daughter. And that if anybody hurt or abused her you would kill them with your bare hands. So you are not against violence. She then agreed. I pointed out that it was not violence that was the issue. It was to what end the violence was used. The fascists, the Nazis, why do people persist in calling them neo-Nazis, they are Nazis, they use violence to try and put in place a regime which would slaughter and/or drive into second place all but white Christian males. The anti-fascist forces use violence to stop such a development and instead to build a society where all people whatever race, religion, gender are treated equally. It is not a question of violence it is a question of to what end the violence is used.

Trump's performance yesterday gave a huge boost to white racists and fascists. This was shown by the thanks he got in statements from Spencer the fascist and Duke of the KKK. And it was no accident that when Trump was not sticking to the script written for him by his handlers as he had done in his previous statement on Charlottesville, he did not condemn the KKK. Yesterday Trump was being Trump. When he was being himself Trump did not condemn the KKK. He did not do so for two reasons. One is if he had done so he would have been condemning his father who was in the KKK. Daddy Trump was arrested in 1927 in New York city as part of a KKK mob fighting the cops. It would not do to criticize daddy. The other reason he did not condemn the KKK was that he does not actually condemn the KKK. Like the KKK Trump is a racist through and through. He does not need the racist Bannon to make him one.

There are 14 million members in the trade unions. They have to act.

I see that Trumka president of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO) has resigned from Trump's American Manufacturing Council. As has his deputy chief of Staff. Of course, true to form he waited for some Chief Executive Officer's of major companies to resign first, waited for these bosses to give him cover. He and the AFL-CIO should never have been on this council in the first place. It was just a continuation of the so-called Team Concept where the union leaders advise the bosses how to better compete with other companies and of course central to this, agree to cut the wages and benefits of their own members. In his statement of resignation Trump never mentioned that the racism and the ideas of the Fascists, the Nazis, the KKK were ideas that divided the working class and weakened the working class. It was the statement of a liberal. Not the statement of a workers' leader.

Instead of being on this council of Trump, Trumka and the leaders of the 14 million strong trade union movement should have taken the following action: called meetings of all the union leaderships, from this call meetings of all the union movement, that is union conferences, regional conferences. labor councils, locals and meetings on the shop floor of every organized workplace. Explain the danger of fascism and racism and sexism to the working class, how these divide and weaken the working class. And from these organize to mobilize the union membership on to the streets to stop the fascists and the KKK and the likes. It is a disgrace, a betrayal, that the youth and anti fascist forces are let to fight alone. It is a disgrace that the young woman Heather was murdered when this could have been prevented if the trade union leadership had mobilized its forces. Along with this any member of an Fascist organization who is also a member of a union should be expelled from that union. Should be given a choice. Either the union or the fascist organization.

For working class unity. Against racism, fascism, nazism, sexism, all of which divide and weaken the working class.