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THE OLD ENEMY REMANS PG 02 WASHINGTON: SOCIALIST CANDIDATE PG 03 IT WILL GET BETTER – IF WE MAKE IT BETTER PG 04 EMBERS IN DECEMBER PG 05
MARBLE HORNETS – A DIFFERENT KIND OF HORROR PG 12 PAST ONE O’CLOCK PG 12
ROMNEY, PAUL, ENGELS, LENIN AND THE STATE PG 13
Forward is the monthly newspaper of the Independent Workers League. We see socialism as the only way to make liberty, solidarity & revolutionary democracy into society’s commanding values. While joining the daily struggles of working people & their allies, we advocate an anticapitalist workers party as a step toward a united socialist party-movement strong enough to send exploitation & oppression to the history books.
GREEK ELECTIONS: A ROUT FOR THE PARTIES OF AUSTERITY; AN OPPORTUNITY FOR THE LEFT PG 06
THE LEFT GAINS IN EUROPE ELECTIONS; AMERICA SHOULDN’T BE LEFT BEHIND PG 09 OCCUPY: MAY DAY AND A SEASON’S CHANGE PG 10 WHY I AM A SOCIALIST PG 11
The Old Enemy Remains By A.C. Debs Recently I've been reading The Great Shark Hunt, a collection of Hunter S. Thompson articles from the 60’s and 70’s. They are things he wrote while also writing his more widely known gonzo journalist books Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas and Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail. While reading these, I'm struck by the similarities between his time and ours. Among these similarities, of which there are many, is the hostile relationship in that time period between progressives on the true left and the liberal establishment. Let us not forget that in the 1960’s, it was a Democrat president who entered into war with Vietnam, it was a Democrat mayor in Chicago who ordered his cops into open war with hippies and anarchists. It was Democrats and the liberal establishment who criticized the anti-war protesters of their time as being idealists and unrealistic. It was a Democrat mayor in Kent, Ohio who requested National Guard support from the Republican governor, which ultimately led to the Kent State Massacre. And all throughout the anti-war period, the mindset among Democrats never changed from the essential question, what the hell is wrong with these dirty hippies? I joined liberal online community DailyKos in June of 2005. At the time I was serving in the US Air Force and deployed to Baghdad. I'd opposed the war in Iraq since 2002, and was far from the only serving military servicemember to have that opinion. After the demoralizing experience of the 2004 elections, when it was clear we were going to be stuck with Bush for four more long years of wars and destructive foreign policy, I was looking for a place online that would be liberal and anti-war. I was a dot of blue in a sea of red. At the time, DailyKos was a harbor. It was the place for progressives, for people against the wars, for people who were for the environment and for all the wide spectrum of progressive issues. Well, the White House has changed hands, but for the most part, it has not changed directions. Troop numbers in Afghanistan have increased. The withdrawal from Iraq was a result of an agreement made between the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government, and if the Obama Administration had been able to get the Iraqi government to agree to a Status of Forces Agreement providing troops with immunity from war crimes prosecution in Iraqi courts, there would still be US forces in Iraq today. Even as it is, there is a force of 16,000 civilian employees at the State Department megaplex known as the green zone embassy, including 5,000 “security contractors”, or mercenaries as they'd be called in an earlier age. Then there's the NATO action in Libya spearheaded by Obama, the constant push for war in Syria and Iran, the stationing of Marines in northern Australia to threaten Chinese interests in the South China seas, the placement of antimissile defenses in Europe against Russian protests, and so on. For someone anti-war, the pro-war president is now a Democrat. That brings us back to DailyKos. There was a time when I went there because it was an anti-war website, antiimperialism, pro-environment, pro-civil rights, and generally progressive. Unfortunately, the site leadership there has decided, spurred in no small part by very intensely vocal elements within the community, that they are not a progressive website. They are a website for Democrats. If those Democrats are pro-war, imperialist, if they favor industry lobbyist money over environmentalist concerns, if they believe marriage should only be between a man and a woman (at least until the next poll numbers come out on that front), then that's what the site will support, against any alternatives. I've been hiderated, warned, and threatened with banning for encouraging disheartened progressives to look at Rocky Anderson as an alternative to Barack Obama. There exists a dedicated cabal within the commenter and a few of the moderators there to hide and ban anyone who counterman
(cont’d. from page 02)
the groupthink. The importance is not the issues, but the team. It is not the prevention of war and suffering, but the promotion of Democrat politicians, uber alles. This leads to a curious sort of schizophrenia for the liberal community; on the one hand they're claiming to oppose war, linking to stories about the abuse of unmanned drones in surveillance and assassinations, opposing police brutality in major cities, opposing a brutal and counterproductive drug policy, but on the other hand they can't ever identify and criticize the guilty party in these things, because that guilty party is a Democrat. This might seem surprising and unusual, unless you've read accounts from the progressive and anti-war left in the 1960’s and 1970’’s. The Democratic and liberal establishment always adopts the imperialist and capitalist mindset when they are in power, and when out of power they oppose it with words instead of deeds. The Iraq war had no small number of Democrat Senators and Representatives voting for it, many of whom (Hillary Clinton and John Kerry come to mind) later claimed to be against it. While Republicans have been responsible for any number of outrages over the last several decades, they have done so with the assistance of Democrats, and when Democrats come back into power, those same policies are continued.
So here's the lesson for us; the socialists, the anarchists, the communists, and the progressives. The Democrats as a whole, as a part of the establishment, with very few exceptions, are not our friends. They will tell us they are to get our votes and support. They will tell us we just have to be realistic, we just have to be patient, and eventually they will give us what we'd like. Of course, if we are placid and accepting, we never get these things from them. But if we are not placid and accepting, if we demand our rights, if we demand equality, if we demand an end to illegal wars of aggression, then we had best watch our backs for incoming knives. The hand of the establishment which maces us, beats us, or shoots us, is just as likely to belong to a Democrat as it is to a Republican. I close with a quote from the great Socialist agitator Eugene V. Debs, a man who was willing to go to jail over his public protest of the draft for World War 1. In 1904, he said the following, and it remains absolute truth today: “The Republican and Democratic parties, or, to be more exact, the Republican-Democratic party, represent the capitalist class in the class struggle. They are the political wings of the capitalist system and such differences as arise between them relate to spoils and not to principles.” Washington: Socialist Candidate By Marlon Pierre‐Antoine
Socialist Alternative (a Trotskyist organization, Committee for a Workers International’s U.S. affiliate) is running Kshama Sawant for Washington State House (District 43.) SAlt has its problems ‐ some of them serious ‐ but has definitely made positive contributions to the workers’ movement, like the thousands‐strong anti‐war walkouts they organized the in 2006‐7. SAlt built these actions with high school students, who are usually ignored in leftist circles. Sawant’s approach combines Occupy’s fervor with traditional socialist demands such as universal healthcare and a public living wage jobs program for full employment. Unfortunately, Sawant’s platform is strictly economic ‐ SAlt fails to address revolutionarydemocratic needs. If Kshama wins the election, she’d have to appeal to Washington workers to form workplace committees, councils etc. if she had any hope of implementing parts of her program, but it would be nice to inform people in advance. Still, the Independent Workers League offers Kshama Sawant a critical but enthusiastic endorsement, and hopes that Socialist Alternative will utilize this campaign to tie its on‐the‐ ground actions with a lasting revolutionary alternative ‐ the construction of an anticapitalist
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party to give voice to those who know the current system holds no hope for the future of human progress. It Will Get Better If We Make It Better By Marlon Pierre‐Antoine To all members of the GayStraight Alliances (and Project Rainbow, Pride Alliance, Common Ground, Coexist, Spectrum, and the StraightGay Alliances) and to all activists working to expand the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons I am writing to you on behalf of the Independent Workers League, a socialist organization. But don’t run away just yet! I’m not writing to drone away about the virtues of Marxism, make you memorize the names of Vladimir Lenin’s favorite foods or sell you a hammer and sickle lapel pin. One thing that LGBT people share with socialists is that, very often in the United States, we are stereotyped as sinful, toxic, not worth listening to. It is in the spirit of anti‐bigotry that I ask you to read and consider this letter. I was happy to hear on May 9th that President Obama voiced, the first time for any sitting President, support for same sex marriage, although I wasn’t happy for the same reason that MoveOn and the
Human Rights Campaign were. My smile owed itself to the memory of October 2009, when a mass (200,000 strong) equal rights protest ‐ attended overwhelmingly by young people ‐ made the LGBT movement the first in the country to hold a national demonstration against the Obama Administration and its purportedly progressive aura. It's a tragedy that, in the United States, public media campaigns have to be launched just to convince LGBT youth not to take their own lives ‐ I can't imagine a more defensive showing of an equal rights movement than that. Ke$ha, George Takei and Glee have all weighed in with an anti‐ bullying, pro‐tolerance message, and yet the best that the official media can offer to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students enduring psychological and often physical torment is this: "Keep your chin up and maybe think about keeping your head down, too. It'll be over eventually." I don't fault such good‐ faith efforts as It Gets Better and the Trevor Project. If the latter's 24‐hour suicide prevention hotline has saved even one young person's life, and I am sure it has saved many more than one, it is to be applauded. But the fact is that trying to fight a problem of social oppression by using charity‐type institutions and good P.R. is impossible, and
(Read the rest of this letter at www.independentworkers.us)
Embers in December By Arthur Wilt An extraordinary provision has been included in the 2012 renewal of the National Defense Authorization Act, passed because “to vote against the bill is to vote against the U.S. military.” The NDAA 2012 authorizes the military to detain individuals deemed terror suspects, to be held without trial until the end of hostilities in the unending war on terror. It may or may not also authorize indefinite detention of U.S. citizens on U.S. territory. President Obama declared in his signing statement that he would not employ the law in this way, but whether that will remain the case is for a future President to decide. This to me is the single most telling bit about the entire ordeal. The state can use the law to take away citizens rights? Well, we aren’t going to use it that way, so who cares? This is their outward attitude, and for a moment let’s assume they are all saints, with the best of intentions. So we have saints today as representatives and the NDAA allows, or might allow for the government to violate the Bill of Rights. What now? Well, we have an election, and these saints get replaced. Now campaigns are expensive, so politicians have pander to corporate interests. So let’s say for argument’s sake that a politician gets elected because of this funding, and is not the most upstanding citizen. He now has to scratch the back of his corporate sponsors. Well, how does he do this? His lobbyist friend comes by and says, “You know, these protestors are really cutting into our bottom line. Oh and by the way, we’ve heard reports of some of them saying something negative about the government, and also they have ties to some terrorist group called Anonymous.” That’s enough for the government to detain these protestors under one interpretation of the bill, so the official will have them detained without allowing them their civil rights - after all, they’re connected to terrorists. Another problem here is that after this has occurred, and it will be done by the military police, not civilian as the NDAA under this interpretation forbids civilian law enforcement to get involved, there is no mechanism to determine guilt, or at least to force a determination of guilt. And the vague language of the AUMF (Authorization of Military Force Against Terrorists, a separate but related law passed in September 11th’s aftermath) means that anyone could be detained in this way for any reason, as long as someone in power wants them to go away. Now if you start thinking about what can happen when you have highly corrupt politicians in power, [in a system that breeds corruption and whose rule is inherently corrupt - Editor’s note] the implications are truly very frightening. This sort of bill is a dangerous path for us to take, because it paves the way for any psychopath in the future to take over totalitarian rule. It is a reckless venture to trade a little bit of our freedom for a little bit of security, that little bit being an illusion anyway, and trust that they won’t take that freedom and run with it. And this is the lesson that we should take away from the NDAA, that we must be careful of what our laws can imply, because the worst of the law is usually what will eventually be done with it. Update from the author: Thankfully, the NDAA was stricken down by a Circuit Court judge as the administration could not come out and guarantee that it could not in any way be used to silence journalists reporting on stories unfavorable to the government. However, this being a Circuit Court, a case for the bill could be taken to the Supreme Court. It’s chances of passing scrutiny by the Supreme Court? About fifty-fifty. But for the time being, the NDAA has been struck down as unconstitutional… blasting you from the sky with predator drones however, remains completely legal.
Greek Elections: A Rout for the Parties of Austerity; An Opportunity for the Left By Dave Stockton
Provided by fifthinternational.org
government that, with the backing of the people, will negate the memorandum and put a stop to our nation's predetermined course towards misery." The traditional party of the most militant, industrially-based, section of the Greek working class, the Greek Communist Party, KKE, gained relatively little in the overall polarisation of Greek politics between right and left. It gained 8.41%, only 0.9% more than in 2009. Of course, as in all varieties of capitalist democracy, there are many distorting measures built into the Greek constitution aimed at frustrating the popular will and making sure that the outcome is not “the rule of the people”. New Democracy will get 50 bonus seats because it is the first party, around 110 out of the total of 300, with less than 20% of the votes! The second party, Syriza, will get 51 seats with 16.5% of the votes. So a 3.2% difference in votes is turned into a 59 seat, virtually 20%, advantage for ND. Syriza has undoubtedly surged forward because it proposed – in however reformist a way - a governmental alternative to the “major parties”. It has called for a left coalition that “rejects austerity”. The KKE did relatively poorly because, for all its left talk and its associated union PAME’s militancy, it is obstructing the formation of such a “rejectionist” government.
The Greek elections have demonstrated a massive popular rejection of the governing parties who support the EU-IMF austerity memorandum that has caused so much suffering to Greek people over the last two years. New Democracy, ND, which won 33.5% in 2009, is in first place with 18.9%, a loss of 14.6% of the popular vote. Pasok, which won 43.9% of the vote in 2009, slumped to third place with 13.2%, down by a staggering 30.7%. By contrast, the left reformist coalition Syriza leapt into second place with 16.7% (from 4.6% in 2009). This increase of 12.2% of the popular vote represents almost four times as many actual votes. Dimar, a split off to the right from Syriza, gained 6.07%. The Syriza leader, Alexis Tsipras, says that he want to form a coalition of the left-wing parties that reject the terms of Greece's bailouts. "The parties that signed the memorandum (with the EU and the IMF) are now a minority. The public verdict has delegitimised them," he said. “Our proposal is a left-wing
Moreover, despite its old style, left Stalinist “revolutionary rhetoric”, it and PAME have for two years blocked calls for an all out general strike to bring down the austerity governments. Given the severity of the Greek crisis and the revolutionary situation testified by the string of one and two day general strikes, this alone shows that its intransigence is entirely bogus. The swing to the left parties and the growth of the neoNazi Golden Dawn (6.92% and 21 seats) are clear evidence that Greece is in a deep prerevolutionary situation. In such conditions, the KKE’s policy, refusing to form a coalition with the other left parties on the grounds that it would be a bourgeois government, is a massive obstacle to keeping out the pro-austerity right and centre right parties. This is like a crude copy of the German Communist Party’s “third period” policy in Germany in 1929-33, obstructing a united front against the Nazis with the reformist SPD and its huge trade unions because they were reformist and pro-capitalist. It is encouraging that the small forces of the far left grouped in Antarsya also quadrupled their vote to 1.19% from 0.36% in 2009. Antarsya is a coalition of 10 far left organisations, including the sections of the Fourth
(cont’d. from page 06)
large producers. To impose these measures Antarsya calls for “an uprising of the entire working population, an anti-capitalist revolution”. It states: “Our way leads to a break with capitalism, by the overthrow of the current authoritarian political system and its replacement with a democracy and the power of the workers, with the widest control to be exercised by the workers and by the people. If the united front of workers, intellectuals and creative people take over leadership, we can live in dignity, use the social productive forces collectively and break with the logic of profit, the market, “competitiveness” and environmental degradation.” On the question of the outcome of the election, however, Antarsya’s programme was a terrible muddle. It did not even address the fact that the reformist
International (OKDESpartakos) and the International Socialist Tendency (SEK). The name is an acronym for Anticapitalist Left Cooperation for the Overthrow but also sounds the same as the Greek word for mutiny. Antarsya put forward a militant policy of rejection of the EU memoranda and key demands to protect and preserve the social gains, wages and jobs of the working and popular classes. Their key demands are • Immediately terminate the loan agreement, any memoranda and all related measures. • Do not recognise the debt, debt cancellation and suspension of payments. • Break with the system and with the euro/EU. • Nationalise the banks and corporations without compensation under workers’ control. • Immediately increase wages and pensions! Cancel the poll tax and increase the taxation of capital. • Prohibit layoffs and fully protect the unemployed. Shorten working hours and reduce the retirement age. • Expropriate hundreds of closed factories and re-commission them controlled by the employees themselves. • Provide cheap and good quality food through agricultural cooperatives, poor and middle farmers, without middlemen and
parties; SYRIZA, KKE, and DIMA, plus the trade unions, represent the overwhelming mass of the working class and that the working class rejects austerity and is seeking a way out of it via these parties. Although it is certainly true, and has to be said clearly, that the workers are mistaken and “their” parties will betray them, it is not enough to leave it at that. The burning question is how the workers can break from their leaders before they are betrayed and defeated. Only to denounce the leaders will never be enough to break workers' illusions in them and to form a new leadership. Even though they denounce the Troika regime, the reformist parties and unions, under their present policies and leaderships, represent a formidable obstacle to “a working people’s uprising” and “an anticapitalist revolution.” The question is how
(cont’d. from page 07)
to break up this obstacle? Revolutionary strategy must be based on doing more than exposure plus carrying on, however bravely and energetically, at a local and national level with protests, direct action, demonstrations, occupations and with the 24 or 48 hour protest general strikes. Antarsya calls for a united front but “a united front of all those who want a break with the system and revolution.” But this means a united front with those who already agree with Antarsya’s objectives. That is not the united front that the Greek working class needs, and needs urgently. What it needs is a united front of all the forces that want to reject austerity, reformist and revolutionary. That should not be confused with the unity that Antarsya itself needs. That needs the unification of the 10 organisations within Antarsya into a single, democratic, disciplined and centralised party around a programme for working class power. At the same time, that party should call on the reformist parties and unions to form a mass united front and it should direct that call both to their mass membership and to their leaders.
At city, town and even village level, the rejectionist united front should be based on resisting the cuts and closures, mobilising the unemployed, pupils and students, and pensioners alongside public and private sector workers. Mass meetings in the workplaces and the localities should elect councils of recallable delegates. In these bodies, the revolutionaries, rejecting sectarianism, must seek to draw from all the workers' parties. The growth of the neoNazi New Dawn, as well as police repression, makes the formation of workers' and youth defence guards a necessity at local level. But such a united front will be ineffective in breaking the hold of the reformist leaders over their mass following unless it includes agitating for these leaders to unite against the crisis at all levels. This includes a call on these leaders to break with the capitalist parties, with the EU memoranda and the agencies of the Troika, and to form a workers' government to reject the austerity and make the rich, including the billionaire bondholders of Europe, pay. They should depend not on the forces and bureaucratic apparatus of the capitalist state but upon councils of action formed by the unions, the popular assemblies, the youth and the unemployed. They should create a mass popular militia to enforce its decrees. Sixty-five percent of Greeks voted to reject austerity.
There is, thus, a popular mandate against a ND-Pasok continuation of the destruction of the lives of the people. Even a parliamentary minority government would have the sympathy of the popular majority if it acted to cancel the debts and break with the Troika. It could rely on the mass mobilisation of the unions, the assemblies of the youth and the unemployed, the small farmers and ruined small business people even to defend it against the sabotage of the bourgeois parties and the state machine. Of course, the reformist leaders would waver and seek to betray but, if their supporters were mobilised alongside revolutionary forces, this could be checked and the road opened to a real anticapitalist revolution that would put power into the hands of the workers, youth and small farmers. Such an active revolutionary strategy, aimed at winning the reformist workers away from their opportunist (Syriza) and sectarian (KKE) leaders is truly vital. If the Greek working class remains paralysed from struggling for power by its leaders, then the forces of the fascist right will continue to grow, a situation ripe for revolution will go rotten. As Trotsky said; the wine will turn to vinegar. A re-evaluation of revolutionary policy is urgent and then action on this basis even more so.
The Left Gains in Europe Elections; America Shouldn't Be Left Behind By the Central Committee In the United States, the political arena is dominated by two parties that each represent the interests of capitalism. In their platform, funding, and structure, the Republicans and Democrats are parties of, by, and for capital ‐ despite the Democrats' occasional populist overtures to working Americans and the labor movement's slavish obedience to them. This is not the case in Europe, where the workers' movement is in possession of its own parties. In most cases, these parties are deformed, a product of insufficiently democratic structures, illusions in reforming or 'managing' capitalism, and especially the leading layers who act as a lid to bottle up workers' discontent against the system. Still, the workers' parties of Europe are qualitatively different from the American Democrats, in many cases providing cover against the 1%'s attacks on working people, acting as vehicles for the fight‐back, and even as incubators for a genuine revolutionary party. While the United States has yet to experience the full brunt of the deficit reduction schemes, whose aims amount to impoverishing millions by cutting vital public spending in social safety net programs and education, laying off or depressing the wages of government workers and increasing the tax burden paid by the working class, European workers are already engaged in a fight against austerity, poverty, and indeed a fight for the continued existence of democracy itself. It is in this context that we have to understand the impressive gains registered by Europe's far left, and what this means for those of us struggling for democracy and social justice in the United States. Despite its programmatic weaknesses, the Coalition of the Radical Left (Syriza in its Greek initials) saw a dramatic rise in its support in crisis‐plagued Greece's May 6th elections, from 4.6% in the last parliamentary election to 16.8% now. The Greek Communist Party registered 8.5% and the Democratic Left 6.1%, giving the parties of the far left (setting aside the social democrats) a total of over thirty percent. With no party able to eke out a working coalition to form a new government, new elections have been called for June 17th: elections that Syriza just might win. Another article in this issue will deal further with the implications of the European elections; the present editorial merely seeks to give the reader an impression of them to mark a contrast with the American situation. Progressive workers should have no illusions that the
(cont’d. from page 09)
left is poised to make major gains in this year's general election. Our political mainstream is still narrated by the struggle of the greater evil against the lesser. Despite claims from certain sectors of the Right, President Obama has proven himself in practice a defender of capitalism and all the suffering it entails for the majority. He has continued Bush‐era bank bailouts, rescued the auto industry magnates from ruin while instructing them to close plants and commence with layoffs, established a Congressional "Super Committee" that further weakens what fragile democratic rights the people still possess, and more. Forget the broken promises ‐ the attacks speak for themselves. Although the main fruit won't be reaped in this election cycle, the task of socialists and progressive workers in the 2012 election is to lay the necessary groundwork for a future mass party of the working class and a united socialist left to fulfill the role history has laid on its shoulders. The fact that there are numerous socialist organizations running competing Presidential campaigns is a testament to the fractured nature of the Left. What is needed is the greatest possible unity, to strengthen the voices of those who seek to use their vote this November as a protest against Capital's twin
parties. The Independent Workers Party itself must soon take a stand on this issue. The Central Committee of the Party invites all members, supporters, friends and readers to contribute to this decision. Should revolutionary and progressive workers lend support to the social democratic‐style campaign of the Socialist Party's Stewart Alexander campaign? Should the energetic, yet programmatically vague and constitutionally ineligible Party for Socialism and Liberation garner our vote? One also has to consider the Freedom Socialist Party, Socialist Workers Party and even the middle‐class Greens and the anti‐union, and in the Central Committee's opinion anti‐worker, Socialist Equality Party. Add to this the fact that a small but vocal section of the left advocate a total boycott of the elections and you now have a complicated situation that needs to be addressed if the Left is to get its act together and become the vigorous, energetic, militant and conscious sector of the working class that it once was and must be again. Occupy: May Day and A Season’s Change By Marlon Pierre-Antoine The Occupy movement rose up once more in its “May Day General Strike”, resurrecting the radical traditions of May 1st
on a mass scale. Although not a true general strike, we should forgive Occupy for its hyperbole considering the results it did achieve: 80,000+ storming the political arena and exposing the lie peddled by official media that Occupy is dead. Part of its resurgence, a section of the Occupy movement has produced a document called the Global May Manifesto, a radical-democratic and at times socialistic program. Its authors have asked people’s assemblies across the world to consider, debate, modify and ratify it. Naysayers will point to the Manifesto’s numerous political weaknesses: illusions in reforming instruments of imperialism such as the United Nations to work in the interests of the 99%, the lack of methods to achieve the goals laid out, etc. No Marxist or Occupier will claim that the Global May Manifesto is perfect, but the fact that it exists at all opens a discourse on what working people and their allies require and whether or not these needs are possible under the current economic system. This is a discussion every anticapitalist fighter should welcome and participate in. The more far-sighted Occupy activists are seeking a way out of the current social-economic impasse without recreating the authoritarian “socialist” (really Stalinist) regimes of the 20th century. The Manifesto’s bold
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demands for public access to the major media, democratic control of natural resources and the economy, and universal employment are the unconscious expression of transitional demands, objectively needed by the working class but impossible to achieve on a stable basis as long as the rule of the 1% remains. Manifesto supporters should start thinking about how to create the world they envision. Although the Occupy camps are and should remain “big tents” for all tendencies in the 99%, individuals and currents inside Occupy could help form the basis for a broad anticapitalist party that embraces everyone who agrees with the need to struggle on the streets, in the workplaces, schools, neighborhoods and even on the ballot line for a world without exploitation and oppression. Finally, the pessimistic onlooker of a demonstration who said, “It looks like a communist country. All this is bullshit. I think they should get jobs instead of fucking around,” should remember that the program advanced by communists is one including full employment, participatory democracy, and still having enough free time to “fuck around” from time to time. Why I am a Socialist A.C. Debs
When I was growing up, my dad had me read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut. In "Hocus Pocus", mention is made of Eugene V. Debs. I looked up some of his speeches, and was hooked. I also read Marx's "The Communist Manifesto", and found it remarkable that he predicted many of the negative aspects of globalization. If I could describe my reason in one sentence, it would be to quote Eugene Debs when he said "I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence." I'm not a socialist because I'm jealous of the wealthy or because I live in poverty. I'm quite comfortable. But just because I'm able to keep my head above water in the capitalist system doesn't mean I should condemn forever my brothers who are drowning. I want a better and more free world for everyone, not just a lucky few among the wealthy and privileged. Wages are theft. This is a controversial idea to put forth, but it is one that is fundamentally true. It is a voluntary theft, usually, from a certain perspective, but it is still theft. When a worker produces $100 in goods for a company, and given a wage of $20, then $80 has been stolen from him and given to the Owners and stockholders who have placed themselves above him. We’re told that the owner
deserves these profits as recompense for his initial investment in the company. However, there are financial protections in place for those wealthy individuals who invest in and start companies. Those protections are not in place, certainly not to such an extent, for the workers who produce wealth for the owner. Could an owner generate any wealth from his business without workers? If not, he owes them his livelihood, and not the other way around. The relationship should be symbiotic, and instead it is parasitic. In our transition from capitalism to socialism worker’s cooperatives are the best answer I can see, and the easiest to explain to others. Socialism has many varieties and flavors, and mine is anarcho-syndicalism, with a focus on the writings of Kropotkin. Anarcho-syndicalism teaches that state power and economic power are inevitably corrupt, and will always support each other. Any government is corruptible and unreliable, and any capitalist system is corruptible and unreliable, with problems worsening as the system continues to survive and grow. As a result, the only sane and longterm stable option is an absolute minimum of decentralized government and economy. While from a humanitarian perspective a welfare state may make things better for the lower classes than without, it can also be considered bribery to keep the lower classes from rising up and revolting against their overlords. Freedom is the only way for us to survive.
Marble Hornets – A Different Kind of Horror By Marlon Pierre-Antoine Horror fans looking for a break from the formulaic slashand-gore-fest that characterizes mainstream fright films can take relief in Marble Hornets, an Indie horror series played out through YouTube and, sort of, Twitter. Based on an urban legend that swept the Internet in 2009, Marble Hornets consists of the "real-life" entries of Jay, who receives a set of mysterious video tapes from his friend Alex and is soon drawn into the mysterious and frightful world they reveal. Plagued by the "Slenderman", a lengthy, suit-adorned and faceless stalker, Jay soon finds himself fighting for his life - or at least his identity - as he sees friends die or become enemies and long stretches of time disappear from his memory. Watching MH, one sees the gradual psychological decay of characters ridden with an extreme (and very real) sense of being constantly watched, is forced to piece sequences of events together in their own minds owing to the sometimes out-of-order entries, and is seemingly compelled to think of various theories for the series’ overall conclusion. Although somewhat weakened by shaky camera syndrome and sometimes weak acting, Marble Hornets makes up for these shortcomings in its fresh take on horror. Instead of big money monsters we have instead a student production on a shoestring budget that through it all manages to be genuinely scary. Nearing the end of its final seasons, newcomers will find plenty of material to catch up on and lose sleep over. Marble Hornets and its surreal tie-in,
totheark, are well worth immersing yourself in if you're more attracted to the creeping uneasiness of Joe Hill (HeartShaped Box, Horns) than the nonstop bloodbaths of the Saw franchise. Marble Hornets Entries on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/Ma rbleHornets/videos totheark Companion Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/toth eark?feature=results_main MH Wikia Site, with a suggested viewing order: http://marblehornets.wikidot.com/
Vladimir Mayakovsky; Russian and Soviet playwright, poet and Bolshevik. Mayakovsky was first published in the 1912 futurist publication A slap in the Face of Public Taste.
Past one o’clock. You must have gone to bed. The Milky Way streams silver through the night. I’m in no hurry; with lightning telegrams I have no cause to wake or trouble you. And, as they say, the incident is closed. Love’s boat has smashed against the daily grind. Now you and I are quits. Why bother then To balance mutual sorrows, pains, and hurts. Behold what quiet settles on the world. Night wraps the sky in tribute from the stars. In hours like these, one rises to address The ages, history, and all creation.
Past One O’Clock
Romney, Paul, Engels, Lenin and the State By Richard Mellor
Provided by weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com
“Governments are increasingly plundering the private sector to raise cash,” George Melloan writes in the Wall Street Journal last weekend. Edward Crane, president of the right wing Cato institute assails government and its profligate spending habits in an op ed piece in the same issue in defense of Ron Paul, the Libertarian Republican candidate for president. “The true tax on the American people”, Crane writes, paraphrasing Milton Friedman, “is the level of spending, the resources taken from the private sector and employed in the public sector”. Mitt Romney, like Paul, a candidate for the lucrative job of being in the driver’s seat in Washington is another one that hates the state apparatus that denies us our freedom to become, well, the Mitt Romney’s and Warren Buffets of this world. Romney offers us a new world, an “opportunity society” as opposed to the “entitlement society” that Obama favors. Romney with a net worth of about $250 million is the son of a former auto executive who became governor of Michigan. We know what role auto executives were playing in 1948 when it came to the lives of working people in this country.
“Those in government control the resources and make the rules,” Romney says, “And while the rest of us stand still, they make sure that their friends get ahead. Romney will “take a very different path” he tells the WSJ. He will be different and use the government only to create opportunities for all of us to become Warren Buffets or, if we don’t want to work as hard as Warren Buffet does, perhaps like Mitt, only a quarter billionaire. “The rest of us”? Is it no wonder most Americans are disgusted with politics having to listen to such nonsense? Like all of them, Romney wants to allow the private sector to do its job of caring and protecting us and as president will make sure government doesn’t get in the way. He’ll allow older Americans to get that Medicare chain from around their necks and buy private health coverage from his friends (tears fill my eyes as I think of the freedom this man wants us to have as we grow older. What self sacrifice.) But Mitt, like all of the politicians in the two Wall Street parties ensures us that a government provided safety net will remain for those “in need”. The issue is, “how broadly are we defining ‘in need ?’” Mitt tells the Journal. I am confident Mitt and his friends at Bain Capital and other financial firms are the best sources to determine what we need and what we don’t. To the untrained eye one might think all these people, Melloan, Paul, Romney, Obama
have some serious disagreements when it comes to our interests. They do have disagreements for sure. Paul attacks Obama on a number of individual rights issues like Obama claiming the right to kill citizens on American soil if they are suspected of being terrorists or connected to the nebulous al Qaeda. But on the main issue, that workers have to pay for their crisis, they march in lockstep. Obama, (the socialist the right-winger’s call him, a label that wouldn’t stick outside of the US) is a major supporter of privatizing education and charter schools not to mention destroying the US postal service, an extremely efficient public service. The plan is to eliminate hundred’s of thousands of jobs, close four thousand or so post offices mainly in rural areas and inner cities and hand the business over to UPS and Federal Express. This sort of government interference is OK though. Throughout the US, the politicians of the two Wall Street Parties, Democrat and Republican, are savaging workers’ rights and living standards. They differ only on how workers and the middle class should pay. They differ only on how their state, the government that exists to defend their interests, should function, how the state should intervene in maintaining an economic system that is based on exploitation and violence and the extraction of surplus value from those whose productive Labor creates it.
This does not mean that we don’t engage the political representatives of the capitalist class, the Romneys and George Melloans and Barack Obamas in a political struggle to wrest from their state some concessions. One of the weaknesses of the Occupy Movement is not just a failure to engage in political struggle but a rejection of it. Direct action alone cannot bring victory. This is why the building of a mass workers’ political party that could challenge the monopoly, or dictatorship that the two capitalist parties have over US political life is a crucial step along the road to a genuine democratic socialist system. A political party is the consciousness of a class. It gives us a place to fight. Unlike a Union, which defends or should defend wages and working conditions, the purpose of a political party is to govern. It deals with legislation, trade, the environment and international relations----it transforms mass consciousness. But without a clear understanding of the role of the state in society and how the modern state arose, this political activity can be a trap also. One of the most important issues for me as I began to understand the world around me was coming to understand the role of the state (or government as most workers would refer to it) in society. I had never really given it much thought; it was just there. I had a general understanding that the Labor Party was a party for people like me and the Tory party for them but never went much
beyond that, to the actual nature of the state apparatus itself. It was being introduced to the ideas of Marx and Engels that explained this. Engels described this entity we call the “state” in plain words: “The state is, therefore, by no means a power forced on society from without; just as little is it 'the reality of the ethical idea', 'the image and reality of reason', as Hegel maintains.
Rather, it is a product of society at a certain stage of development; it is the admission that this society has become entangled in an insoluble contradiction with itself, that it has split into irreconcilable antagonisms which it is powerless to dispel. But in order that these antagonisms, these classes with conflicting economic interests, might not consume themselves and society in fruitless struggle, it
became necessary to have a power, seemingly standing above society, that would alleviate the conflict and keep it within the bounds of 'order'; and this power, arisen out of society but placing itself above it, and alienating itself more and more from it, is the state." We have to remember at all times that a government and all its institutions is generally, almost at all times, a government that represents the ruling classes of society. Greece was a democracy, but it was a slave owner’s democracy. The feudal state defended the class interests of the aristocracy and their economic system that was primarily agricultural, selfsustaining and where the ownership of land was power. Our state is what in political terms is described as a “Bourgeois Democratic” state. It is a government of capitalists for capitalists and will defend their interests, which are antagonistic to those of working people. As Engels explained: “The ancient and feudal states were organs for the exploitation of the slaves and serfs; likewise, “the modern representative state is an instrument of exploitation of wage-labor by capital.” Understanding this we can engage in this political struggle with capital with a clear understanding of its limits. One we understand the true nature of the state as opposed to simply voting at the ballot box every 2 or 4 years, we realize through political struggle that their state cannot serve our interests and the need for an international revolutionary leadership and political structure becomes obvious. Not a clandestine, separate group of individuals isolated from the working class movement but borne out of it and in it. I would like to think that some of those who argue against political activity on the basis of the struggle for reforms are correct in their view that the mass of the working class will be drawn directly to revolutionary conclusions, to the understanding that capitalism cannot be made friendly but has to be overthrown and replaced by an economic system based on the production of human needs not profit. Unfortunately, we can’t wish for what we want and get it; in the real world things work differently. When the working class moves in to struggle and as this movement begins to grow it will inevitably take organizational political expression and this will be in the form of a mass workers’ party that will seek to transform society for the better. In the course of this struggle the illusion in the ability to reform the system as opposed to replacing it will be shattered. The time frame depends on a number of things including the role that revolutionary socialists play---but this is an objective fact we have to deal with. *For working people interested in this subject Engel’s The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State is a good start. For new readers the usual difficulty with terms and ideas we are not familiar with exists but the general ideas on the state are easy to grasp. ** Also Lenin’s State and Revolution is essential reading.
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