Thursday, November 08, 2007

*A Snapshot View Of The Leaders Of The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution-Adolph Joffe

Click on title to link to Wikipedia's entry for the 1917 Bolshevik revolutionary leader and early Soviet diplomat Adoph Joffe. He, later, was a central figure in the Russian Left Opposition led by Leon Trotsky that tried to save the gains of the Bolshevik revolution. His suicide was a political act and a spur to Trotsky's later greater opposition to Stalin's rule. His suicide note, the political parts, is must reading and posted below.

Adolph Joffe, suicide letter sent to Leon Trotsky (16th November, 1927)

I have never doubted the rightness of the road you pointed out, and as you know, I have gone with you for more than twenty years, since the days of 'permanent revolution'. But I have always believed that you lacked Lenin unbending will, his unwillingness to yield, his readiness even to remain alone on the path that he thought right in the anticipation of a future majority, of a future recognition by everyone of the rightness of his path.

Politically, you were always right, beginning with 1905, and I told you repeatedly that with my own ears I had heard Lenin admit that even in 1905, you, and not he, were right. One does not lie before his death, and now I repeat this again to you. But you have often abandoned your rightness for the sake of an overvalued agreement or compromise. This is a mistake. I repeat: politically you have always been right, and now more right than ever. Some day the party will realize it, and history will not fail to accord recognition. Then don't lose your courage if someone leaves you know, or if not as many come to you, and not as soon, as we all would like.

You are right, but the guarantee of the victory of your rightness lies in nothing but the extreme unwillingness to yield, the strictest straightforwardness, the absolute rejection of all compromise; in this very thing lay the secret of Lenin's victories. Many a time I have wanted to tell you this, but only now have I brought myself to do so, as a last farewell.

*A Snapshot View Of The Leaders Of The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution-Yevgeni Preobrazhensky

Click on title to link to Wikipedia's entry for the 1917 Bolshevik secondary revolutionary leader Yevgeni Preobrazhensky. No revolution can succeed without men and women of Preobrazhensky's caliber. As Trotsky noted, on more than one occasion, the West, for lots of reason, in his day had not produced such cadre. I believe that observation, for the most part, still holds today.

*A Snapshot View Of The Leaders Of The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution-Soviet Culture Commissar Anatol Lunacharsky

Click on title to link to "Wikipedia"'s entry for the 1917 Bolshevik revolutionary leader and agitator and later early Soviet Culture and Education commissar, Anatol Lunacharsky. No added comment is needed in this space for the work, life and deeds of this man as his "Revolutionary Silhouette" posted here today speak for that work.

*A Snapshot View Of The Leaders Of The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution-Georgy Pyatakov

Click on title to link to “Wikipedia”'s entry for the 1917 Bolshevik secondary revolutionary leader Georgy Pyatakov. No revolution can succeed without men and women of Pyatakov's caliber. As Trotsky noted, on more than one occasion, the West, for lots of reason, in his day had not produced such cadre. I believe that observation, for the most part, still holds today.

*A Snapshot View Of The Leaders Of The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution-Alexandra Kollontai

Click on title to link to the Alexandra Kollontai Internet Archives for the works of 1917 Bolshevik secondary revolutionary leader Alexandra Kollantai. No revolution can succeed without men and women of Kollontai's caliber. As Trotsky noted, on more than one occasion, the West, for lots of reason, in his day had not produced such cadre. I believe that observation, for the most part, still holds today.

*A Snapshot View Of The Leaders Of The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution- Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko

Click on title to link to Wikipedia's entry for the 1917 Bolshevik secondary revolutionary leader Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko. No revolution can succeed without men and women of Antonov-Ovseyenko's caliber. Although he did Stalin's dirty work Spain in the 1930s his military bravado during the storming of the Winter Palace in 1917 is what he is being saluted for here. As Trotsky noted, on more than one occasion, the West, for lots of reason, in his day had not produced such cadre. I believe that observation, for the most part, still holds today.

*A Snapshot View Of The Leaders Of The 1917 Bolshevik Revolution-Inessa Armand

Click on title to link to Wikipedia's entry for the 1917 Bolshevik secondary revolutionary leader Inessa Armand.

Markin comment:

No revolution can succeed without men and women of Armand's caliber. As Trotsky noted, on more than one occasion, the West, for lots of reason, in his day had not produced such cadre. I believe that observation, for the most part, still holds today.



The effects of ‘globalization’ of the international capitalist markets take many forms. We are all familiar with its industrial aspect-the runaway shops and outsourcing to locations where labor is cheaper, regulation skimpier and profits greater. The American Midwest ‘rust bowl’ pays sad homage to that fact. Globalization, however, has another track, as well. That is the dramatic increase in the means of communication, the way things are communicated and who does and does not have access to those communications. That is what underlies the current strike by the several thousand television screen writers who are looking for a fairer share of the revenues resulting from the multifarious uses of their intellectual property.

This is not the 'proletarian' battle we think of from reading Marx or labor history but it is part of the class struggle nevertheless. Nor does it matter on the cultural level whether one thinks well or ill of their commercial efforts. Despite a few well known and well paid exceptions, the bulk of the Guild lives hand to mouth and royalties are a way to protect against hard times of no or rejected work. These ‘grunt’ writers who produce a product that benefits the corporations they are writing for are looking for a little better pay day for their efforts and more security in the fast changing marketplace of the selling of ideas. And they deserve it. Respect the picket lines. Victory to the Writers Guild.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

*Political Journalist's Corner- Louise Bryant's Bird's Eye View Of The 1917 Russian Revolution-"Mirror Of Moscow"

Click on title to link to Louise Bryant's, independent journalist and companion of John Reed author of "Ten Days That Shook The World", literary portraits of early Soviet officials, including Lenin and Trotsky.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007




The big labor news this fall has been the fight by the United Auto Workers (UAW) for new contracts with General Motors, Chrysler and now Ford. I have already discussed the GM and Chrysler settlement and now as of Friday, November 3, 2007 Ford and the UAW have reached a tentative agreement. That agreement is along the same lines as those ratified by GM and Chrysler (barely) - a new two- tier wage system for new hires who will get one half the average pay of senior autoworkers and union takeover of the health and pension funds. As I have lamented previously these contracts are a defeat for the autoworkers. Why? The historic position of labor has been to fight for equal pay for equal work. That apparently has gone by the boards here. Moreover the pension and health takeovers are an albatross around the neck of the union. No way is this an example of worker control not at least how any militant should view it. After all the givebacks its time to fight back even if this is a rearguard action in light of the previous votes AND the futility of the 'apache' strategy. Any illusions that the give backs will buy labor peace and or/avoid further layoffs, closedowns or outsourcing got a cruel comeuppance in the previous contract negotiations. No sooner had those contracts been ratified, and well before the new contracts were even printed, Chrysler announced layoffs of 8000 to 10, 000 and GM had previously announced about 1500 layoffs. FORD AUTOWORKERS VOTE NO ON THIS CONTRACT.




The Wal-martization of the Once Proud UAW

Yes, I know that we are in the age of ‘globalization’. That is, however, merely the transformation of the same old characters like General Motors, Ford and Chrysler in the auto industry that we have come to know and love moving away from mainly nationally defined markets to international markets. In short, these companies allegedly are being forced to fight their way to the bottom of the international labor wage market along with everyone else. As least that was the position of these august companies in the on-going labor contract negotiations with the United Auto Workers (UAW). And the labor tops bought the argument. In the General Motors settlement GM was nicely absolved from having to administer its albatross health and pension funds. Now autoworkers are held responsible for deciding what autoworkers get what benefits. This is not my idea of workers control, not by a long shot. Based on those provisions alone that GM contract should have been soundly defeated. That it was not will come back to haunt the GM autoworkers in the future.

Now comes news that, as of October 27, 2007, the Chrysler workers have narrowly (56%) ratified their contract, although some major plants voted against it and the labor skates pulled out all stops to get an affirmative vote. If anything that contract is worst than the GM contract because it also contains a provision for permitting a two-wage system where ‘new hires’ will be paid approximately one half normal rates. So much for the old labor slogan of 'equal pay for equal work'. If the GM contract will come back to haunt this one already does today. Remember also that Chrysler was bought out by a private equity company that has a history of selling off unprofitable operations, driving productivity up and then selling the profitable parts for huge profits. That, my friends, is what the global race to the bottom looks like in the American auto industry. This contract should have been voted down with both hands. Ford is up next and based on the foregoing that contract should also be voted down.

Look, every militant knows that negotiations over union contracts represent a sort of ‘truce’ in the class struggle. Until there is worker control of production under a workers government the value of any negotiations with the capitalists is determined by the terms. Sometimes, especially in hard times, just holding your own is a ‘victory’. Other times, like here, there is only one word for these contracts-defeat. Moreover, this did not need to happen. Although both strike efforts at GM and Chrysler were short-lived (intentionally so on the part of the leadership) the rank and file was ready to do battle. The vote at Chrysler further bolsters that argument. So what is up?

What is up is that the leadership of the autoworkers is not worthy of the membership. These people are so mired in class collaborationist non-aggression pacts and cozy arrangements (for themselves) that they were easy pickings for the vultures leading management. The epitome of this is the ‘apache’ strategy of negotiating with one company at a time. If in the era of Walter Reuther, at a time when there were upwards of a million union autoworkers, that might have made some sense today with reduced numbers it makes no sense at all. Labor’s power is in solidarity and solidarity means, in this case, ‘one out, all out’. Beyond that it is clear a new class struggle leadership is needed, just to keep even, and it is needed pronto. Those rank and filers and, in some cases, local union leaders who called for a no vote at Chrysler are the starting point for such efforts.




As of September 24, 2007, after a break down in negotiations the General Motors autoworkers went out on a nation-wide strike. In the old days, in the 1930 and 1940’s, the United Auto Workers (UAW) union was created and solidified by fierce class battles. This action evokes memories of those times although then the fight was centrally around wages and working conditions. Today, in the age of ‘globalization’ (meaning, in reality, most of the same capitalists like GM fighting it out in the world market rather than in nationally isolated markets) the fight is against the corporation- driven race to the bottom. The issues of health care, pensions, outsourcing and job guarantees are what drive today’s struggles. And the prospects are not pretty.

Take the case of heath care provision. General Motors (and ultimately the other auto makers) want to foist that responsibility onto the union with some kind of trust fund arrangement. I think an unidentified UAW local president in Detroit made the most eloquent response to that idea. His response: Why should the union be responsible for cutting off the health benefits to its own membership as health costs continue to spiral or a member reaches the plan maximum. Make no mistake this scheme is not some step in the fight for workers’ control of working conditions. The company is merely trying to bail out from its own mistakes. Ditto on the under- funded pension plans. However, GM is more than happy to try to lock the union into an agreement on outsourcing to their other plants internationally in order to cut costs. This they know how to do as the decline in membership of the UAW dramatically shows. In the end that means poorer working conditions not only here but also internationally. To mitigate the problem of outsourcing it is not enough to call for job protection. Also necessary is an international organizing drive to unionize all autoworkers.

One of the most compelling pieces of data that I have run across lately on the labor movement is from an article on globalization in which it was stated that today there are as many auto workers as in the past but only about a third of them are organized. Today GM has 73,000 UAW autoworkers. In the past there were several times that number. As we support the current UAW action let us remember this for the future. The same can be said for the other members of the Big 3. And while we are at it since all autoworkers will ultimately be affected by the GM action- extend the picket lines to the other Big 3. Call out the whole UAW to defend this strike. VICTORY TO THE GM AUTO WORKERS!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

*Never Forget Greensboro 1979- The Struggle Continues

Click on title to link to a YouTube film clip about the events of that day in 1979 when right wing thugs in Greensboro, North Carolina murdered five communist workers.


This is a repost of last year's commemorative commentary. The struggle remains the same.


For those too young to remember or who unfortunately have forgotten the incident commenmorated here this is a capsule summary of what occurred on that bloody day:

On November 3, 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina, five anti-racist activists and union organizers, supporters of the Communist Workers Party (CWP), were fatally gunned down by Ku Klux Klan and Nazi fascists. Nine carloads of Klansmen and Nazis drove up to a black housing project-the gathering place for an anti-Klan march organized by the CWP. In broad daylight, the fascists pulled out their weapons and unleashed an 88-second fusillade that was captured on television cameras. They then drove off, leaving the dead and dying in pools of blood. From the outset, the Klan/Nazi killers were aided and abetted by the government, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who helped train the killers and plot the assassination to the "former" FBI informer who rode shotgun in the motorcade of death and the Greensboro cop who brought up the rear. The five militants listed above died as a result. The Greensboro Klan/Nazis literally got away with murder, acquitted twice by all-white juries.

This writer has recently been raked over the coals by some leftists who were appalled that he called for a no free speech platform for Nazis and fascists (see below) and argued that labor should mobilize its forces and run these vermin off the streets whenever they raise their heads. Despite recent efforts to blur the lines of the heinous nature of and political motivation for these murders in Greensboro by some kind of truth and reconciliation process militant leftists should etch in their brains the reality of the Klan/Nazis. There is nothing to debate with this kind. The niceties of parliamentary democracy have no place in a strategy to defeat these bastards. The Greensboro massacre is prime evidence that any other way is suicidal for militants. No more Germany, 1933's. No more Greensboro, 1979's. Never Forget Greensboro.


In a recent blog (dated, September 4, 2006) this writer mentioned that one of the Klan groups in this country held a demonstration at the Gettysburg National Cemetery over the Labor Day 2006 weekend around a list of demands that included bringing the troops home from Iraq in order to patrol the borders. Symbols mean a lot in politics and the notion that Klansmen were permitted to demonstrate at a key symbol in the fight to end slavery and preserve the union raised my temperature more than a little. As I said then Gettysburg is hallowed ground fought and paid for in great struggle and much blood. At that time the writer posed the question of what, if any, opposition to the demonstration leftists had put together to run these hooded fools out of town. In response, this writer was raked over the coals for calling for an organized fight by labor to nip these elements in the bud. Why? Apparently some people believe that running the fools out of town would have violated the Klan's free speech rights. Something is desperately wrong here about both the nature of free speech and the nature of the Klan/fascist menace.

First, let us be clear, militant leftists defend every democratic right as best we can. I have often argued in this space that to a great extend militant leftists are the only active defenders of such rights- on the streets where it counts. That said, the parameters of such rights, as all democratic rights, cannot trump the needs of the class struggle. In short, militant leftist have no interest in defending or extending the rights of fascists to fill the air with gibberish. Now that may offend some American Civil Liberties Union-types but any self-respecting militant knows that such a position is right is his or her 'gut'.

In the final analysis we will be fighting the Klan-types on the streets and the issue will no be rights of free expression (except maybe in defense of ours) but the survival of our organizations. A short glance at history is to the point.
One of the great tragedies of the Western labor movement was the defeat and destruction of the German labor movement in the wake of the fascist Hitler's rise to power in 1933. In the final analysis that destruction was brought on by the fatally erroneous policies of both the German Social Democratic and Communists parties. Neither party, willfully, saw the danger in time and compounded that error when refused to call for or establish a united front of all labor organizations to confront and destroy Hitler and his storm troopers. We know the result. And it was not necessary. Moreover, Hitler's organization at one time (in the mid-1920's) was small and unimportant like today's Klan/Nazi threat. But that does not mean that under certain circumstances that could not change. And that, my friends, is exactly the point.