Showing posts with label national liberation struggles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label national liberation struggles. Show all posts

Saturday, August 05, 2017

The100thAnniversaryYearOfTheBolshevik-LedOctoberRevolution-Lessons- From The Archives *From The Wilds Of Cyberspace-The Latest From The "Internationalist Group" Website-Hands off WikiLeaks!-Defend PFC Bradley Manning!

Click on the title to link to the website mentioned in the headline for the latest news and opinion from that site.

Hands off WikiLeaks!

Defend PFC Bradley Manning!

On July 6, the U.S. military announced that charges have been filed against Private First Class Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking classified material – in particular providing the (in)famous “Collateral Murder” video to the investigative website WikiLeaks. PFC Manning, a military intelligence analyst, has been held since some time toward the end of May by the U.S. Central Command at a military base in Kuwait. The video shows U.S. helicopter gunships cold-bloodedly gunning down two reporters and other civilians, first aid responders and children in Baghdad in 2007. Its release provoked a storm of outrage worldwide, and it has by now been seen by millions of viewers on the Internet. The “hacker” who fingered Private Manning to the Army brass, Adrian Lamo, also alleges that Manning claimed to have passed on video of a massacre of some 125 civilians by U.S. forces near Garani, Afghanistan in May 2009.

The Pentagon claims that in addition, Manning released some 150,000 State Department cables. WikiLeaks denies that it has the diplomatic cables, but says it is preparing to release the video of the Garani massacre (for background on this case of mass murder, see our article, “Defeat U.S. War on Afghanistan and Iraq,” The Internationalist No. 30, November-December 2009). While refusing on principle to name its sources or confirm whether Manning is one, WikiLeaks has retained U.S. civilian lawyers for him. However, the military has not allowed them to contact their client. Manning’s friends and the government informant Lamo say that he was suffering a crisis of conscience over the conduct of the U.S. war, read “horrifying” contents of secret U.S. diplomatic correspondence, and wanted to spark “debate” and “reform.”

If Bradley Manning did indeed help to uncover evidence of U.S. imperialism’s war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and if he did try to bring to light the secret dealings of U.S. diplomats and spies, these were justified acts evidencing rare moral courage. Class-conscious workers and all defenders of democratic rights should hail Manning as a hero. Exposing U.S. imperialism’s crimes and tearing the curtain of secrecy from its plots can save the lives of innocent people by helping to put an end the Pentagon’s reign of terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. That’s why the U.S. government under the liberal Democrat Barack Obama is pursuing “whistle blowers” with a vengeance. Under the charges brought against him, a court-martial could sentence Manning to up to 52 years behind bars. We demand: Free Bradley Manning now!

In the wake of the revelations of Manning’s arrest, government officials told the Daily Beast news website (10 June) that they were seeking Julian Assange, an Australian who is the main figure of WikiLeaks. Assange dropped from sight for several weeks, rightly worried that he is in danger, but surfaced in Brussels on June 21 to speak at a seminar on freedom of information at the European parliament. A lengthy article on Assange in the New Yorker (7 June) magazine pooh-poohed such concerns, referring to “A low-grade fever of paranoia [that] runs through the WikiLeaks community.” But Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1972 revealed the “Pentagon Papers,” a top-secret “Defense” Department study of the Vietnam war, commented in a Daily Beast interview (11 June) that “on May 3, 1972, a dozen CIA assets from the Bay of Pigs, Cuban émigrés were brought up from Miami with orders to ‘incapacitate me totally.’”

Only in the past? Hardly. Despite post-Watergate laws banning assassinations, U.S. leaders today openly proclaim their supposed authority, under war powers voted by Congress following the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and their intention to have government hit squads murder or kidnap “enemies,” foreign citizens and Americans alike, without the pretense of a judicial procedure. In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on February 3, the then Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair declared that American citizens could be assassinated by their “own” government overseas. Make no mistake, Julian Assange is in real danger from the same imperialist war criminals that have Bradley Manning in a military jail. Hands off Julian Assange and WikiLeaks!

In the Daily Beast interview, Ellsberg congratulates Assange for “doing good work for our democracy” and says that if Manning did what he is alleged to have done, he “upheld his oath of office to support the Constitution.” Ellsberg asserted that “our national security” would benefit from the release of diplomatic cables allegedly intercepted by Manning, but counsels Assange to withhold “dangerous” government secrets from the public. Wikileaks has indeed done very good work, not only in decoding the encrypted videos revealing the U.S. war crimes, but also in verifying the authenticity of documents and establishing contact with the families of the victims. But talk of “our democracy” is delusional. Today, a Pentagon Papers case would never win in a Supreme Court that just ruled that even political speech in support of anyone deemed a “terrorist” by the U.S. government can be outlawed. And the Democrats in the White House are worse than the Republicans in going after whistle blowers.

“In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions. His administration has taken actions that might have provoked sharp political criticism for his predecessor, George W. Bush....”
–New York Times 11 June
The imperialist “democracy” that the liberals believe in and the Democratic administration they elected operate torture camps from the Guantánamo Bay naval base stolen from Cuba to the Bagram air force base in Afghanistan. Over two million, mostly black and Latino men railroaded on non-violent drug “crimes,” are imprisoned within U.S. borders. Tens of thousands of working-class immigrants are being held in private jails and concentration camps, while some 400,000 are deported every year. U.S. military power and billions of dollars in subsidies prop up theocracies and dictatorships throughout the Near East from Israel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the “oildoms” of the Persian/Arab Gulf, while the U.S. plans an endless occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq (where combat missions are soon to be rebranded “stability operations”). The generals, diplomats and spies who conspire to maintain U.S. dominance over the world will go to great lengths to silence those who would expose their machinations and crimes.

What’s behind all this is that U.S. imperialism is bogged down in losing wars. The caste of military and political specialists who manage these wars for Wall Street is rife with internecine rivalries. This was highlighted recently when high-flying General Stanley McChrystal, who president Obama had installed as commander of the Afghanistan/Pakistan war in May 2009, “resigned” after being hastily summoned to the Oval Office when a profile of this martinet in Rolling Stone quoted him and his staff disparaging the president and his political and diplomatic staff. As the editors’ lead to that article succinctly put the mindset of the “Runaway General,” McChrystal “seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.” So Obama seized the chance to play Harry Truman vs. General McArthur in the name of civilian supremacy, but while firing the general arguably most likely to carry out a coup d’état, he replaced him with the one most likely to order it (Gen. David Petraeus).

As the situation on the ground continues to elude the Pentagon’s grasp, the generals and diplomats are especially in need of the services of their colleagues in the “free but responsible” imperialist media. And the media oblige. According to Glenn Greenwald of (18 June), Manning offered the “Collateral Murder” video to David Finkel of the Washington Post, but the Post stayed silent. As Greenwald writes,

“When the NYT learned in 2004 that the Bush administration was illegally eavesdropping on Americans without warrants, George Bush summoned the paper’s Publisher and Executive Editor to the Oval Office, demanded that the story not be published, and the paper complied by sitting on it for a full year until after Bush was safely re-elected. When The Washington Post’s Dana Priest learned that the CIA was maintaining a network of secret prisons – black sites – she honored the request of ‘senior U.S. officials’ not to identify the countries where those prisons were located so as to not disrupt the U.S.’s ability to continue to use those countries for such projects.”

Nor, it should be noted, has the press (or any civil liberties group) so far come to the defense of Manning and Assange. The New Yorker article even argued that, after all, the wanton killing shown in the “Collateral Murder” video didn’t violate the military’s rules of engagement. But that, after all, is the point: this carnage is all legal according to the bloodthirsty imperialist rulers.

And that includes Obama just as much as George W. Bush. As we have insisted over and over against those leftists who called Iraq “Bush’s war,” this is a bipartisan imperialist war. The Obama administration has continued the policy of warrantless wiretapping, spying on political dissidents, and CIA kidnappings and assassination. From “Che” Guevara to Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, this “democracy” has always resorted to murdering its perceived enemies. While exposure of the imperialist war makers’ crimes will hardly convince them to “reform,” revelations such as the “Collateral Murder” video perform a valuable service in exposing the crimes of a vicious ruling class that can only be – and must be – defeated and swept away by a revolutionary mobilization of working-class power. ■

Saturday, December 17, 2016

*From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"- The Struggle For Socialism In Venezuela- A Guest Commentary

Click on the title to link to a "Workers Vanguard" article about the historic problems that communist have had when confronting Latin American populist bourgeois nationalist forces and political movements.

Monday, November 07, 2016

*A Thoughtful Academic Look At The Russian Revolution- The Masterful Work Of Edward Hallet Carr

Click on title to link to Wikipedia's entry for Edward Hallet Carr.

In Honor Of The 92nd Anniversary Of The Bolshevik Revolution.

Book Review

The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923, Volume One, Edward Hallet Carr, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1951

In early reviews of books on the Russian Revolution, including Leon Trotsky’s seminal study of the revolutionary seizure of power itself, “The History Of The Russian Revolution”, I used the following paragraph to introduce the reviews. I am reposting it here because it is appropriate to place the work of the British master bourgeois historian of the whole early period of that revolution, Edward Hallet Carr:

“This year is the 90th Anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution (2007, Markin). I have endlessly pointed out that the October Revolution in Russia was the definitive political event of the 20th century. The resulting change in the balance of world power with the demise of the Soviet Union in the 1990’s is beginning to look like a definitive political event for the 21st century, as well. I have urged those interested in the fight for socialism to read, yes to read, about the Russian Revolution in order to learn some lessons from that experience. Leon Trotsky’s three volume “History of the Russian Revolution” is obviously a good place to start for a pro-Bolshevik overview. If you are looking for a general history of the revolution or want an analysis of what the revolution meant for the fate of various nations after World War I or its affect on world geopolitics look elsewhere. E.H. Carr’s “History Of The Bolshevik Revolution” offers an excellent multi-volume set that tells that story through the 1920’s. Or if you want to know what the various parliamentary leaders, both bourgeois and Soviet, were thinking and doing in 1917 from a moderately leftist viewpoint read Sukhanov’s “Notes on the Russian Revolution”. For a more journalistic account John Reed’s classic “Ten Days That Shook the World” is invaluable. Forward to new October Revolutions.”

Needless to say E.H. Carr, as noted above, is in some pretty good company and properly belongs there as well. I noted that his work entails a several volume effort. The present review is of Volume One of his three volume “History Of The Bolshevik Revolution 1917-1923”. A review of the other two volumes will follow as will other volumes on the Stalin-Trotsky struggle for the direction of the revolution and the eventual Stalinization of the Bolshevik Party, the Communist International and the Soviet state.

Naturally, Carr in setting up his historical narrative of the immediate post- Bolshevik seizure of power period must spend some time in the first volume going over, briefly, the pre-revolutionary struggles among the various anti-Tsarist democratic and socialist factions. He does this in order to explain the issues which brought forth the Russian revolutions (1905, as well as 1917), especially the struggle within the Russian social democracy between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks. Here Carr does an adequate, no, much more than an adequate job for a non-revolutionary historian, on the issues and personalities. He then spends some time of the actual revolutionary period and the beginning of the consolidation of Bolshevik state power. Again, he does a far more than an adequate job of sifting through the welter of issues and personalities in that turbulent period. However, what sets Carr apart for the average bourgeois historian , and what he excels at in this volume is the constitutional codification of the revolution and the Bolshevik policy (or rather policies) on the socialist concept of the national right to self-determination. That was a key question in an empire that had previously, correctly, been describes as the “prison house of nations”. Those sections are what made Carr’s work valuable when it came out in 1951 and what make it valuable for today’s student of revolution seeking to learn the lessons of history.

I will not spend much time on the question soviet constitutionality as it is less important, and pressing, as a topical question today than the always thorny one of the right to national self-determination. Carr distinguished, again correctly I believe, between the rather minimalist bourgeois approach to the national question as codified in the express right to national self-determination and the more nuanced, socialist perspective of the Bolsheviks, especially in the early days. I used the term policies when I spoke of Bolshevik policies on this question. Carr makes that distinction as well. That distinction reflected the different aspects of the question in the expansive former Tsarist Empire where some regions were more capable of creating viable, independent states, in the western sense, like Poland, Finland and the Baltic states to the more agrarian Ukraine and Trans-Caucasus areas where the question was more iffy to the much more primitive Siberian backwoods where in effort, at best “shadow” national-states existed.

Some of these states, at least at the time, went their own way; others reintegrated (one way or another) into the central Soviet state apparatus to form what constitutionally became the Soviet Union by the end of the period under review. If you want to do a comparison and contrast between a revolutionary policy (warts and all) pursued by the Bolsheviks and the contemporary bourgeois policy exemplified by the nefarious doing at the League of Nations Carr’s work is the place to start. He, more than most historians has attempted to understand what the Bolsheviks were trying to do without letting his own British foreign service background (a plus here for analytical purposes) color his narrative too much. That should be considered high praise coming from this quarter. In any case I have not done justice to Carr’s extensive gathering of materials, his copious use of sources, his plentiful footnotes and bibliography so you are just going to have to read this book (and the other volumes).

Monday, July 11, 2016




Since the ending of the American Revolution historians have probably presented the narrative of the military campaigns which led to independence in every possible way. Ms. Tuchman, well known for her quirky looks at other historical events such as World War I, the Middle Ages and China in the 1930’s and 40’s, has done a commendable job of linking up the land war with the less well known, but crucial, naval campaigns of the Revolution. Ms. Tuchman’s argument is that, given the nature of the evolution of 18th century warfare, particularly British warfare as it became Queen of the seas, the land war could not be successful without the naval component, whether by an indigenous Continental navy or, more importantly, with French naval assistance. Fair enough, as far as she goes.

The key to understanding the American Revolution is that of an early national liberation struggle that like all such struggles were desperately in need of arms. And like all such struggles the rebels were not particular about where they got them. This, in the final analysis, is the importance of the first salute- that is the recognition of the colonials to belligerent status by the Dutch in the West Indies where the American rebels could get arms and ammunition. Ms. Tuchman mentions this need in passing but does not expand on it and rather gets caught up going off on a tangent about the history of the Dutch, French and British struggle for naval supremacyin the 17th and 18th centuries.

Ms. Tuchman‘s book is, however, marred by more than the question of a different emphasis on particular aspects of the military struggle. And for lack of a better expression, it is her underlying theme of the futility of war as a means of solving political problems. In the great beyond every thoughtful person would hope that pacific day would come (and damn soon). However in the world of the American Revolutionary War, a just war, is sometimes the only legitimate way to resolve political questions. Call it the march of folly, if you will, but that is the case here. Thus, Ms. Tuchman may snigger at the incompetent and defeatism of the military and civilian leadership of the British forces but to be consistent she would have to fault the American forces as well. The plain hard fact of the matter was that the British monarchy was, short of war, not going to grant any of the colonial demands. End of story. Thus, not only was the American Revolution a just war from the colonial side but a necessary one. Ms. Tuchman, moreover, gives the game away by her sincere admiration of General Washington and his hard scrabble forces. Following her premise we today would be still bending our knees before the Queen. No way.

Saturday, July 09, 2016




In the ordinary course of events my tastes run to history rather than historical novels. This novel about the events leading up to the Battle of Bunker Hill by prolific erstwhile radical writer Howard Fast is part of a series he did on various events during the American Revolution. The novel sums up quickly and intentionally an important point about the pyschological effect of imperialist rule on the rulers and consequent effect of subjugation on the ruled.

As is the current fashion there is much “blood and gore”, sex and general buffoonery to round out an event that would not normally have enough drama to be subject to novel treatment. Nevertheless, Mr. Fast’ s depiction of the fateful events which led up to the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 offers an interesting insight into the various ways that the British imperialist presence expressed itself through its officer corps and civilian loyalist forces. Naturally enough, that manner produced a profound negative reaction on the part of the rebellious “colonials”- our forbears. Without intending to do so directly the novel provides a cautionary tale about the pitfalls for the United States imperialist presence in the world today-particularly in Iraq.

One of the other issues presented here is the question of the abilities of the “colonials” to fight to the end for their national liberation. The Concord and Lexington actions of the early spring were essentially ad hoc, individualistic responses to British provocation. That question really gets answered in the affirmative at Bunker Hill and some of those who provided military leadership at Bunker Hill were among those who led the military forces of the Continental Congress throughout the war. For the umpteenth time we find out that superior convention military superiority does not always trump well-led and determined national liberation forces prepared to take heavy loses in order to assure victory. That too is a cautionary tale for our times.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

*Those Who Fought For Our Communist Future Are Kindred Spirits- Honor Vietnamese Trotskyist Leader Ta Thu Thau

Markin comment:

Every January, as readers of this blog are now, hopefully, familiar with the international communist movement honors the 3 Ls-Lenin, Luxemburg and Liebknecht, fallen leaders of the early 20th century communist movement who died in this month (and whose untimely deaths left a huge, irreplaceable gap in the international leadership of that time). January is thus a time for us to reflect on the roots of our movement and those who brought us along this far. In order to give a fuller measure of honor to our fallen forbears this January, and in future Januarys, this space will honor others who have contributed in some way to the struggle for our communist future. That future classless society, however, will be the true memorial to their sacrifices.

Note on inclusion: As in other series on this site (“Labor’s Untold Story”, “Leaders Of The Bolshevik Revolution”, etc.) this year’s honorees do not exhaust the list of every possible communist worthy of the name. Nor, in fact, is the list limited to Bolshevik-style communists. There will be names included from other traditions (like anarchism, social democracy, the Diggers, Levellers, Jacobins, etc.) whose efforts contributed to the international struggle. Also, as was true of previous series this year’s efforts are no more than an introduction to these heroes of the class struggle. Future years will see more detailed information on each entry, particularly about many of the lesser known figures. Better yet, the reader can pick up the ball and run with it if he or she has more knowledge about the particular exploits of some communist militant, or to include a missing one.


Ta Thu Thau
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Ta Thu ThauTạ Thu Thâu (May 6, 1906–September 1945) was a Vietnamese Trotskyist and the leader of the Fourth International in Vietnam.

Contents [hide]
1 Early life
2 Political career
3 Assassination
4 Sources
5 See also
6 External links

[edit] Early life
Ta Thu Thau was born in a small hamlet in Tan Binh, 17 km (11 mi) south of Long Xuyen, the capital of An Giang Province in Southern Vietnam. His family were poor and leading a semi-peasant lifestyle. His father was an itinerant village carpenter and when his family was established in Long Xuyen, Ta Thu Thau went to primary school, and by working as a servant during holiday periods was able to continue his studies further. He was a brilliant student who went to France for university studies in 1927. Like many of his generation he lived a time when Vietnamese revolutionary nationalism was passing over to Marxism and communism.

[edit] Political career
Arrested during a protest demonstration against the execution of the Yen Bay rebels in front of the Elysee Palace on 22 May 1930, he was arrested and expelled back to Vietnam. Several left opposition groups were formed - the Communist League in Western Saigon in May 1931, Left Opposition and Indochinese Communism. These groups united and Ta Thu Thau was acknowledged as the most notable leader of the Trotskyists in Vietnam. In 1932 the French Colonial authorities arrested many members of the Stalinist Indochinese Communist Party and the Trotskyists. All left-wing activity in Indochina was clandestine.

However, in 1933 the Saigon Trotskyists and Stalinists formed an electoral bloc for the elections to the Saigon Municipal Council. The joint 'workers slate' was successful and the Trotskyists Tran Van Thach and Stalinist Nguyen Van Tao scored the highest votes. Though struck down by the Colonial authorities, this success indicated the growing popularity of the revolutionary groups. The other main activity of the united front was the publication of the legal newspaper La Lutte (newspaper). The united front split in 1937 over the issue of the 'popular front' policy of the Comintern and under pressure from the Stalinist Comintern via the French Communist Party.

La Lutte became an openly Trotskyist paper and in 1939, the Trotskyist candidates, Ta Thu Thau, Tran Van Thach and Phan Van Hum scored 80% of the vote, defeating three constitutionalists, two Stalinists and numerous independents. The Indochinese Communist Party vote in this election was one per cent. The Saigon Stalinists split, and so did the Trotskyists. When the Hitler-Stalin Pact was signed in the summer of 1939, the French authorities declared the Communist Party illegal and in Indochina, all the Communists and the Trotskyists leaders were rounded up. The revolutionary movement was decimated. With more support from farmers, the Stalinists managed to continue their underground activity in the countryside and began rebuild. The Trotskyists, reliant on working-class support in the cities, were virtually eliminated as a political force. Ta Thu Thau was arrested and incarcerated in Poulo-Condore during the war.

[edit] Assassination
After the end of World War II, Ta Thu Thau reconstituted the 'La Lutte' ('The Struggle') group and became the foremost leader of Vietnamese Trotskyism, but in the events of the August Revolution of 1945, and under the impact of the re-establishment of French colonial rule and repression from the Communist led Viet Minh, his political current lost any significant influence. Ta Thu Thau, along with other prominent Trotskyists and nationalists, was assassinated by the Viet Minh in 1945.

[edit] Sources
Richardson, A.(Ed.) (2003) The Revolution Defamed: A documentary history of Vietnamese Trotskyism, London: Socialist Platform Ltd.
Hemery, D. (1974) Révolutionnaires Vietnamiens et Pouvoir Colonial en Indochine: Communistes, trotskystes, nationalistes à Saigon de 1932 à 1937,Paris: François Maspero.
Hammer, E. (1954) The Struggle for Indochina, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
I. Milton Sacks, 'Marxism in Vietnam' [Chapter 4] in Trager, F.(1959) Marxism in South-East Asia, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.
Anh Van and Jacqueline Roussel (1947) National Movements and Class Struggle in Vietnam, London: New Park Publications [English translation 1987].
Bà Phuong-Lan[Bui-The-My](1974) Nhà Cách Mang:Ta Thu Thâu, Saigon: Nhà Sách KHAI-TRĺ [in Vietnamese].
Ngo Van (1995) Revolutionaries they could not break: The fight for the Fourth international in Indochina 1930-1945, London: Index Books.
Huynh kim Khánh (1982) Vietnamese Communism 1925-1945, London: Cornell University Press.
[edit] See also
Vietnamese Trotskyism
International Communist League (Vietnam)
[edit] External links
A Short biographical article by Ngo Van Xuyet
An article on La Lutte
Loren Gouldner on Ngo Van and the trotskyist movement in the 1930s

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

*From The Wilds Of Cyberspace-The Latest From The "Black Panther Alumni" Website- Free All Class-War Prisoners!

Click on the title to link to the website mentioned in the headline for the latest news and opinion from that site.

Markin comment: Free Sundiata Now!


This is sick. Sundiata is 73. Come back when you're 83 and maybe????!!!! He's one of the best of our freedom fighters (which the government calls "domestic terrorists."). For more info on our righteous brother, go to where you can find his address as well. Send him some love.

July 14, 2010
Greetings All,

Received a letter today from the Board advising that the 3-Member Panel gave me a 10 year "hit." The basis for the hit will be explained in the Notice of Decision which will be forwarded to me upon its completion. I'll forward copies of the Decision to the Attys and SAFC when I receive it.

Stay strong, I will too.

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

Monday, April 19, 2010

*From The Annals Of American History- The Boston Massacre- "The Charge Is Murder"- A Guest Commentary

Click on the headline to link to a "Sunday Boston Globe" article, dated April 18, 2010, concerning a different look at the famous Boston Massacre, one of the key precursor events to the American revolution.

Markin comment:

This is an interesting article with a little different take on the possible motives of individuals on both sides of this event. However, the operative point in drawn nicely in the concluding paragraphs linking, in this case, the British imperial occupation of the America colonies with later, more current occupations like the American presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere now. Such occupations weren't pretty then and they ain’t pretty now. And certainly are not conducive to good fellowship between the occupiers and the occupied. I note further that in the case of British imperialism when it "ruled the waves", and much else, that in places like India, Ireland, and in their settlements in China, all events in the 20th century, they had no qualms about letting their soldiery fire at will, provocation or not, and notwithstanding individual soldier motivation. So this Boston Massacre is hardly a unique event in the annals of that branch of world imperialism. Imperialists Hands Off The World!

Monday, February 08, 2010

Friday, September 25, 2009

*Canada: Reformists and the Quebec National Question-A Guest Commentary

Click on title to link to guest commentary from the pages of "Workers Vanguard", September 25, 2009.regarding the struggle for independence in Quebec. This, today,as I have mentioned before on this question, is basically my position. It is not clear to me, However, other than some anecdotal evidence from some local sources who keep up with events back home in Quebec, about the heat of the question compared with a decade or so ago when it was definitely a "hot button" question. In any case, the article is very polemical and takes a number of other left organizations to task for their wishy-washy (at best) positions. Comment is therefore expected and welcome.

Monday, August 03, 2009

*Update on Leonard Peltier From The Partisan Defense Committee

Click on title to link to Leonard Peltier Defense Committee web site for updates on this long and sordid case against a central leader of the Native American struggles (and ours as well). Free Leonard Peltier!!!

This information concerning Leonard Peltier is passed along from the Partisan Defense Committee.

Freedom Now for Leonard Peltier!

(Class-Struggle Defense Notes)

A parole hearing for class-war prisoner Leonard Peltier was held on July 28, with a decision still pending. We print below a June 29 letter by the Partisan Defense Committee sent to the United States Parole Commission.

The Partisan Defense Committee joins with those supporting the release of political prisoner Leonard Peltier. A prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), Mr. Peltier is in prison only because of his courageous activism on behalf of Native Americans, the victims of centuries of genocidal terror.

Between 1973-1976, hated Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents and FBI-trained thugs terrorized Indian activists at the Pine Ridge Reservation, carrying out over 300 attacks and killing at least 69 people. In June 1975, 250 FBI and BIA agents, SWAT policemen and local vigilantes descended on the reservation and precipitated a shootout. Two FBI agents were killed. Mr. Peltier and three others were charged. All charges were dropped against one AIM activist, and two others were acquitted in a separate trial in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Jurors at that trial stated that they did not believe the government witnesses.

Mr. Peltier’s 1977 trial was moved to Fargo, North Dakota. The judge ruled out of order any evidence of the documented government violence against Native American activists at Pine Ridge. The prosecution concealed ballistics tests that showed that Peltier’s gun could not have been used in the shooting. As Mr. Peltier said at his sentencing, “I’m not the guilty one here; I’m not the one who should be called a criminal.”

One court proceeding after another has laid bare the evidence of his innocence and of massive prosecutorial misconduct. In a 1985 appeals hearing, the government’s lead attorney admitted, “We can’t prove who shot those agents.”

In 1986, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the trial jury could have acquitted Mr. Peltier if records improperly withheld from the defense had been made available.

In November 2003, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals stated, “Much of the government’s behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed.”

In 2001, in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Act and lawsuits, the U.S. government admitted it had withheld a staggering 142,579 pages of evidence of its secret COINTELPRO efforts to persecute and convict Mr. Peltier.

The long trail of injustice against Leonard Peltier has been documented in the film Incident at Oglala, narrated by Robert Redford, and the book In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen. He has been framed up for crimes the government knows he did not commit. Millions worldwide have demanded his freedom.

It is an injustice that Mr. Peltier was ever incarcerated at all. The more than 33 years of unjust imprisonment have not only robbed this honorable man of a majority of his lifetime. They have taken a devastating toll on his physical well-being as he suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, partial blindness and a heart condition. We call for the immediate and unconditional release of Leonard Peltier.

Friday, July 04, 2008

A Fresh Look At 1776- The Great American Revolution

This year marks the 232th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. A lot has gone wrong with the promise presented by that document and the revolution that went with it but we nevertheless justly still commemorate that event today. The point is to take that history out of the hands of the sunshine patriots who have appropriated it- and by the look of things - we better make it pronto.


1776, David McCullough, Simon&Schuster, New York, 2005

Regular readers of this space will recognize that I spend a fair amount of time discussing the lessons of, or looking at specific aspects of, the three great European revolutions- the English, French and the Russian. I have also given a fair amount of space to the grandeur of the American Civil War. I have, in contrast, tended to give short shrift to the virtues of the American Revolution. This is flat out wrong. Thus, over the past couple of years I have tried to rectify that slight by increasing the amount of space given over to various aspects of the American Revolution, mainly biographic sketches. Today I continue that shift with a review of the well-known historian and documentary narrator David McCullough’s 1776.

Part of the reason for selecting Mr. McCullough’s work is the personal need to go over again the specifics of the revolutionary period. You know, the battle of this or that, or some military operation led by whomever. However, the more pressing reason is that Mr. McCullough has written an important book centered on detailing the creation of the American revolutionary national liberation army, its trials, tribulations and faults. Moreover, McCullough has written his narrative of events in an easy to follow way, including some very insightful commentary about various turning points in the revolutionary experience, like the effect of the issuance of the Declaration of Independence on the morale of the troops in the field.

The key to understanding the eventual success of the American colonial struggle against bloody England was the coalescing of a ragtag, localized basically over-sized weekend militia into first a New England- wide then a continent-wide army worthy of the name. Along the way cadres were formed that saw the struggle through to the end. No revolutionary movement can be successful without that accrual. The case of Henry Knox, local Boston bookseller turned military magician, bringing captured cannon from Fort Ticonderoga to Boston in order to help ‘push’ the British out of Boston is just the most dramatic case of such cadre development

Equally as important, the names Washington, Gates and Knox and lesser cadre keep coming up repeatedly during this narrative, and rightly so. That points to the decisive question that the narration of events here turns on- leadership at crunch time. A whole school of historians, at one time at least, tended to diminish the role that Washington played in keeping these ragtag forces together. McCullough, rightly I think, challenges that assumption and places the Washington leadership as a key component to success.

McCullough, moreover, intentionally or not, through his narrative not only traces the development of Washington as a leader in the abstract but how he fares during the various campaigns. Thus we are treated to the high of his maneuvers in the key fight that led to the evacuation of Boston by the British in March of 1776, and then the low of the shifting of the struggle to the south with the devastating initial colonial defeats in the greater New York area when the militarsy forces of British imperialism got into high gear and applied its muscle.

Thereafter McCullough details the various retreats down through New Jersey and ends the year with the famous Battle of Trenton that was key to the survival of the revolutionary army in its first year. The narrative breaks off there. Although the opponents slugged it out for several more years the maintenance of a functioning revolutionary army in the field pointed positively toward the conclusion that victory was possible. Read this book and learn more about some of our common revolutionary history.

Monday, April 07, 2008

On the 40th Anniversary Year of the Vietnamese Tet Offensive And The 33rd Anniversary Day Of The Fall Of Ho Chi Minh City (Then Saigon)-TET- A Book Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the Tet Offensive of 1968.

Book Review

This Year Marks the 45th Anniversary of the Tet Offensive of 1968 and also this month marks the 38th Anniversary of the fall of Saigon in 1975. Two victories for our side.

TET!, Don Ordorfer, Putnam, New York, 1971

A new edition of this book was published in 2001 with, I believe, a new introduction by the author. I am using the old edition for my own political purposes. I will read the new introduction at some point and add comment at that time.

Recently I was listening to Talk of the Nation on National Public Radio and the subject concerned formation of political consciousness. One of the callers identified himself as an ardent 1960’s anti-Vietnam War protester and self-styled ‘hippie’ who in 1984 ‘got religion’ and saw the error of his ways. The formative point of this new found wisdom was a documentary on the Public Broadcast System (PBS) that indicated to him that the Tet Offensive of 1968 has not been a military victory for the North Vietnamese/South Vietnamese Liberation Front forces (hereafter NVA/NLF). Somehow along the way he had assumed, based, he said, on information from Walter Cronkite that it was a military victory. Well, this writer then as now, as we celebrate the 40th Anniversary of that event, can confirm for that caller that, indeed, Tet was not a NVA/NLF military victory. Here is the point, however, military victory or not, it was certainly a political victory for those NVA/NLF forces. In modern conditions, sometimes, political victories are more important that military ones. The book under review, whatever else it shortcomings might be, confirms this view.

Is this book the best one on the history of the Tet offensive? Probably not. However it has the virtue of having been written a short time after this major political event. Thus, although it is not the "first draft of history" it is close enough for our purposes. The drawback here is that it was written while the war was still going on so that the relationship between Tet 1968, Tet 1972 and then the final military victory in 1975 does not give the event its full impact in the overall scheme of NVA/NLF strategy and American/South Vietnamese counter-strategy.

The author hits all the high points of this decisive several month period from about the summer of 1967 when the NVA/NLF decided to make a major push against the South to Tet itself and its immediate aftermath. The author starts off his book with a description of the famous NLF raid on the American embassy, goes on to the discuss the strategic aims of the North Vietnamese and the American response to it, the personal saga of one Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the in-fighting in the old Cold war national security establishment about the proper American response and then the results and aftermath of the offensive.

Reading history with a purpose, in short, to learn some lessons is sometimes a chancy thing. Here that purpose can be encapsulated in the following few words- to draw the lessons of history of the Vietnam War in order to apply them to the opposition struggle against the Iraq war. Yes, the differences between Vietnam and Iraq, in the final analysis are probably greater than the similarities however the American hubris that led Lyndon Johnson to escalation in Vietnam and George W. Bush to occupation in Iraq is still in operation. In the end the author draws the conclusion that history will eventually draw on Tet 1968, and that today's American leaders seem to be willfully ignoring- in modern military warfare the political question is the question. From the NVA/NLF side that entailed heavy and dramatic losses but I would argue that their decision to probe American military and political resolve was essentially correct. Read on.

Monday, September 03, 2007




In an irony that is probably wasted on both Democratic and Republican bourgeois politicians caught up in the midst of an Iraq War the justification for which the Bush Administration has declared as its objectives ‘peace, freedom, democracy’ and all kinds of other good things' the question of Kosovo rates nothing but space on the back pages, if that. For those with short political memories a few years ago that was the American-led NATO air war against Serbia in ‘support’ of the besieged Kosovo Albanians. That too was supposedly fought under the democratic banner – yet today it still has not produced the national right to self-determination for the Kosovars that it was allegedly fought for. And the Kosovars are rightly mad as hell about it. If one will recall Serbia claimed (and still claims) Kosovo as part of historic Serbia. Like many another oppressor nation it plunged its jack boot into the predominantly Albanian province of Kosovo in an attempt to ‘ethnically cleanse’ that little trouble spot. The professed goal of the American-led NATO air war, a goal that was unquestioningly supported by these same Kosovar, was to ‘stop’ the genocide. Of course in that attempt NATO tried to bomb Serbia back to the Stone Age, and came close. Now almost eight years later the province is still part of Serbia, still administered by the United Nations and defended by NATO and the Kosovars are still no closer to real independence. If the Kosovars think that they were the witting or unwitting pawns in an international con game they are, of course, right. However, there is a lesson for leftists to be learned here, as well.

Let us be clear, socialists support the democratic right to national self-determination where the basis for a nation exists not as some supra-historical advance for humankind but as a way to take the national question off the agenda and place the class question to the fore. There are thus occasions where we do not raise that demand just as on other occasions we not only support the demand but call for independence. We call, for example, today for independence for Quebec. Kosovo calls for the same slogan as well. However, during the NATO air war, as I mentioned above, the main political organization of the time- the Kosovo Liberation Front- acted as direct military agents for those same NATO forces therefore subordinating themselves to an arm of international imperialism. At that point to invoke, as many on the international left did, the Kosovars’ right to self-determination, as the rationale for supporting the war against Serbia war was incorrect. As witnessed by subsequent history that support moreover did not advance the Kosovo cause a step. An analogous situation to that of Kosovo then applies today in Kurdish Iraq. The Iraqi Kurds have voluntarily placed themselves and their militias under direct American military power and thus in Iraq we do not raise the call for the formation of an independent Kurdish state. But, as an indication of how complicated the dispersed Kurdish nation’s national self-determination question is (to speak nothing of other situations like the almost intractable Palestinian question) we certainly would today call for the right to national self-determination to a separate Kurdish state in places like Turkey and Iran. More later. But for now- Independence for Kosovo! Serbia Hands Off!

Friday, April 20, 2007





As the current Bush Administration-directed quagmire continues in Iraq it is rather timely to look at the previously bout of American imperialist madness in Vietnam if only in order to demonstrate the similar mindsets, then and now, of the American political establishment and their hangers-on. This book, unintentionally I am sure, is a prima facie argument, against those who see Iraq (or saw Vietnam) as merely an erroneous policy of the American government that can be ‘fixed’ by a change to a more rational imperialist policy guided by a different elite. Undeniably there are many differences between the current war and the struggle in Vietnam. Not the least of which is that in Vietnam there was a Communist-led insurgency that leftists throughout the world could identify with and were duty-bound to support. No such situation exists in Iraq today where, seemingly, from the little we know about the murky politics of the parties there militant leftists can support individual anti-imperialist actions as they occur but stand away, way away from the religious sectarian struggle for different versions of a fundamentalist Islamic state that the various parties are apparently fighting for.

Stanley Karnow’s well-informed study of the long history of struggle in Vietnam against outsiders, near and far, is a more than adequate primer about the history and the political issues, from the American side at least, as they came to a head in Vietnam in the early 1960’s. This work was produced in conjunction with a Public Broadcasting System documentary in 1983 so that if one wants to take the time to get a better grasp of the situation as it unfolded the combination of the literary and visual presentations will make one an ‘armchair expert’ on the subject. A glossary of by now unfamiliar names of secondary players and chronology of events is helpful as are some very good photographs that lead into each chapter

This book is the work of a long time journalist who covered Southeast Asia from the 1950’s until at least the early 1980’s when he went back after the war was over and interviewed various survivors from both sides as well as key political players. Although over twenty years has passed since the book’s publication it appears to me that he has covered all the essential elements of the dispute as well as the wrangling, again mainly on the American side , of policy makers big and small. While everyone should look at more recent material that material appears to me to be essentially more specialized analysis of the general themes presented in Karnow’s book. Or are the inevitably self-serving memoirs by those, like former Secretary of War Robert McNamara, looking to refurbish their images for the historical record. Karnow’s book has the added virtue of having been written just long enough after the end of the war that memories, faulty as they are in any case, were still fresh but with enough time in between for some introspection.

The first part of Karnow’s book deals with the long history of the Vietnamese as a people in their various provincial enclaves, or as a national entity, to be independent of the many other powers in the region, particularly China, who wanted to subjugate them. The book also pays detailed attention to the fight among the European colonial powers for dominance in the region culminating in the decisive victory for control by France in the 1800’s. That domination by a Western imperialist power, ultimately defeated by the same Communist and nationalist forces that were to defeat the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies, sets the stage for the huge role that the United States would come to play from the time of the French defeat in 1954 until their own defeat a couple of decades later. This section is important to read because the premises of the French about their adversary became, in almost cookie-cutter fashion, the same premises that drove American policy. And to similar ends.

The bulk of the book and the central story line, however, is a study of the hubris of American imperialist policy-makers in attempting to define their powers, prerogatives and interests in the post-World War II period. The sub-title of the book, which the current inhabitants of the Bush Administration obviously have not read and in any case would willfully misunderstand, is how not to subordinate primary interests to momentary secondary interests in the scramble to preserve the Empire.

Apparently, common sense and simple rationality are in short supply when one goes inside the Washington Beltway. Taking into account the differences in personality among the three main villains of the piece- Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon- the similarities of response and need to defend some sense of honor, American honor, are amazingly similar, individual rhetoric aside. There thus can be little wonder the North Vietnamese went about their business of revolution and independence pretty much according to their plans and with little regard to ‘subtleties’ in American diplomacy. But, read the book and judge for yourselves. Do not be surprised if something feels awfully, awfully familiar.

Monday, November 06, 2006

*Where Have All The Protests Against The Iraq War Gone?




Below are some thoughts concerning the lack of major street protests against the war in Iraq despite the rise in opinion polls of opposition to the war which will apparently filter through the upcoming midterm election results. These thoughts are a response to an article in the IDEAS section of November 5, 2006 Sunday Boston Globe entitled-“Where Have the Protests Gone?” The theme of the article is the rather apparent contradiction between the rise of opposition to the war and the lack of response on the streets in comparison to various stages of the Vietnam War.

Some of those interviewed commented that the lack of a draft and therefore a general immediacy of the effects of the war on vast sections of the population as a reason. Others argued that the movement was alive and well but that the parliamentary route was the way to go. Others that the rise of high technology has changed the nature of opposition. Yes, okay but we still have the damn hard fact of political life that the war continues unabated, will continue unabated and that unless we take action outside the parliamentary framework and off the Internet that will continue to be the case. In any case, here are a couple of points to consider.

The writer came of political age during the Vietnam War. Here are a few thoughts from someone who came to protesting from a leftist political perspective the Vietnam War rather late (1968) and the Iraq War very early (early summer of 2002) who also wonders where the heck the protests have gone.

I am as enamored of the potential political uses of today high speed technologies as the next person but let us face it this is a very passive medium. One cannot create social change or create “community” in the privacy of one’s office or recreation room. In fact a very good argument can be made that current technological uses are making us more individualized, or as someone recently put it hyper-individualized, beyond the trends noted in the book Bowling Alone. There is no substitute for face to face organizing. One of the most interesting parts of organizing against the Vietnam War was when local PTA-type groups would ask me, a known radical at the time, to come and talk about the war. While these suburban matrons did not come away as devotees of Ho Chi Minh they did take what I had to say seriously. To finish the thought up in one sentence- if the revolution will not be televised neither will it be broadcast over the Internet.

A thought on the effectiveness of street protests. Most people I know believe that the huge anti-war rallies were decisive in ending the Vietnam War. Wrong. In the final analysis it was the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and the North Vietnamese Army that sent the United States packing. Please remember (or find a photo of) those evacuations from the roof top of the United States Embassy in 1975. I have, as others have as well, noted the many differences between Vietnam and Iraq but every week Baghdad politically looks more and more like Saigon 1975. That said, it is still necessary for the good of our political souls as well as an act of elementary political hygiene to hit the streets to protest this war- against the policies of both Republicans and Democrats.

While the initial strong opposition to the Iraq War was welcome, if surprising, I believe that it was (and is) more shallow that the opposition to the Vietnam War. Vietnam occurred in the, perhaps, unique context of the 1960’s. No only were there many movements going on or created like the black liberation struggle, women’s liberation and assorted anti-imperialist struggles but fights to create alternate cultural traditions in music, the arts and social life in general were everywhere. That most of these failed or still have not achieved their goals does not negate the effect that it had on the times. When there was, for example, a vibrant Student for a Democratic Society (SDS, one of the main villains for most conservatives at that time) in places like South Dakota you knew something was giving way at the base of society.

In contrast, today’s protesters have virtually no connection with past social and political struggles which could help to drive the movement forward. And to some extent, from my experiences, they willfully do not want to know these lessons. Taking to the streets en masse again in 2008 after the Democrats fail to get the troops out of Iraq is way too late. Additionally, almost forty years of relentless right-wing attacks that would have made Genghis Klan blush have made many fearful of challenging this government. But that is another story for another time.

I have noted the following point previously, but as we close in on the 89th Anniversary of the Russian Revolution on November 7th, it bears repeating. That revolution was truly the only time that I know of that an anti-war movement actually ended a war. Without going into all the details here or all the many causes for it the Bolshevik seizure of power from those in the Russian Provisional Government who were committed to continuing Russian participation in World War I on the Allied side graphically points out our dilemma. The Russian soldiers, aided by Bolshevik propaganda, voted with their feet to leave the trenches. The American troops should do the same. Who will help them?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006






When this writer started this blog (see below) in February, 2006 his intention was mainly to review books and make very occasional commentary that might be of interest to militant leftists in the struggle to change the world for the better. The events of the past several months have tended to reverse his priorities as an already dangerous world has only become more dangerous. As Karl Marx in the 19th century once remarked- men (updated in the 21st century for political correctness to mean humankind) make their own history although not always rationally or to their liking. Well, the events of this summer of 2006 are certainly not to this leftist’s liking. Here are some points leftists should ponder. Be forewarned. They aint pretty.

There is no need to go into the details of the current Israeli-Lebanese war. If any one reading this is not familiar with the events of the last several weeks in this Middle Eastern hotspot then nothing I can say here would aid those individuals. Informed leftists, however, need to take a position on the developments in the region. Leftist do not base their analysis of a war on who started it. Christ, if we had to do that here we would have support both sides or neither side because every nation state(or quasi-nation state as in the case of Hezbollah) can come up with more than ample ‘evidence’ that it is only acting in self-defense, expressing its right to self-determination etc, etc.. In short, the other guy started it.

Nor in this particular case are we concerned about a ‘proxy’ war being fought by Hezbollah on behalf of Iran and/ or Syria. Or Israel as a 'proxy' for American imperialism. These opponents have their own scores to settle. While Hezbollah has apparently long been supplied by Iran and/or Syria the forces on the ground are a substitute for a Lebanese national army in South Lebanon. This is in fact an old fight between these opponents. Only now it appears, one way or the other, it is going to be fought to the finish.

Israel is a modern, sub-imperialist capitalist state which has overwhelming military superiority in this contest. Lebanon, after the destructive events of the past 30 years, is barely a nation-state. Hezbollah’s militia, for all intents and purposes, stands in as the Lebanese national army in South Lebanon. Given the vast disproportion between the forces in dispute leftists are duty bound to stand in defense of the weaker force here- Hezbollah’s militia. A military victory here for Israel is not in the interest of the oppressed of the world, including Israel’s own working classes. As a practical matter militant leftists here must call for the American and other governments to stop military shipments to Israel. Now! I told you it wasn’t pretty.

I hope that I am not the only militant leftist who is feeling squeamish about the duty to defend Hezbollah’s militia against the Israeli onslaught. They are not even making a pretense that their actions are a ‘second front’ in aid of the beleaguered Palestinian people who are in desperate straits in Gaza and the West Bank. That would, at least, give us a little something to hang on to in defense of them. Moreover, Hezbollah, as I understand it, in Arabic means “Army of God”. Hell, militant leftists are in a bad way in the Middle East when the “Army of God” is the ‘progressive’ side in a conflict.

When the deal goes down Hezbollah is eventually the same force we will have to fight if we want to see a desperately needed socialist solution in the Middle East, as hard as that solution is to imagine today. If anyone needs a quick history lesson on this remember the kindred spirits of Hezbollah who, gladly assisted by the American government, fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980’s. Most of those fighters went on to form the Taliban. No, these are definitely not our people. However, that is another fight for another time. Right now in this situation this is what we are up against. Yes, we make our own history- but, damn, let’s start to set the terms of engagement around so we can at least support forces that can see past the 8th century. Enough said.

Friday, April 28, 2006

*FREE LEONARD PELTIER!!-He Must Not Die In Prison!

Click on the title to link to the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee Web site.



Thirty years ago, on 6 February 1976, American Indian Movement (AIM) leader Leonard Peltier was seized by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in western Canada. Peltier had fled there after a massive U.S. government attack the previous June—by FBI and Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) agents, SWAT cops and white vigilantes—on South Dakota's Pine Ridge reservation during which two FBI agents were killed. After Canadian authorities held Peltier for ten months in solitary confinement in Oakalla Prison, he was extradited to the U.S. on the basis of fabricated FBI testimony. In 1977, Peltier, a member of the Anishinabe and Lakota Nations, was convicted and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences on frame-up murder charges stemming from the shooting of the two FBI agents.

While Peltier had sought refuge in Canada, two others charged in the agents' killings were acquitted in a federal court in Iowa. Jurors stated that they did not believe the government witnesses and that it seemed "pretty much a clear-cut case of self-defense" against the FBI invasion. In Peltier's trial the prosecution concealed ballistics tests showing that his gun could not have been used in the shooting, while the trial judge ruled out any chance of another acquittal on self-defense grounds by barring any evidence of government terror against the Pine Ridge activists. At a 1985 appeal hearing, a government attorney admitted, "We can't prove who shot those agents."

AIM had been in the Feds' gun sights because of its efforts to fight the enforced poverty of Native Americans and the continued theft of their lands by the government and energy companies, which were intent on grabbing rich uranium deposits under Sioux land in South Dakota. The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee stated in 2004: "Virtually every known AIM leader in the United States was incarcerated in either state or federal prisons since (or even before) the organization's formal emergence in 1968, some repeatedly." Between 1973 and 1976, thugs of the Guardians of the Oglala Nation (GOON), armed and trained by the hated BIA and FBI, carried out more than 300 attacks in and around Pine Ridge, killing at least 69 people.
As we wrote during the fight against Peltier's threatened deportation, "The U.S. case against Peltier is political persecution, part of a broader attempt by the FBI to smash AIM through piling up criminal charges against its leaders, just as was done against the Black Panthers" (PTFNo. 112, 4 June 1976). AIM and Peltier were targeted by the FBI's deadly Counter-intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) of disruption, frame-up and murder of the left, black militants and others. Under COINTELPRO, 38 Black Panthers were killed by the FBI and local cops. Panther leader Geronimo ji Jaga (Pratt) spent 27 years in prison for a crime the FBI knew he could not have committed before finally winning release in 1997. Mumia Abu-Jamal—also an innocent man— remains on Pennsylvania's death row today.

In November 2003, a federal appeals court ruled, "Much of the government's behavior at the Pine Ridge Reservation and in its prosecution of Mr. Peltier is to be condemned. The government withheld evidence. It intimidated witnesses. These facts are not disputed." But the court still refused to open the prison doors for Peltier. Last year, U.S. District Court judge William Skretny turned down Peltier's request for documents suppressed by the government, even while acknowledging that he could have been acquitted had the government not improperly withheld them. Peltier attorney Michael Kuzma stated that the evidence withheld by the government amounts to a staggering 142,579 pages!

On February 24, Skretny again ruled that the FBI can keep part of its records secret in the name of "national security." Peltier noted in a message to the March 18 protests against the Iraq occupation, "Our government uses the words 'national security' and fighting the war on transnational terrorism as a smoke screen to cover up further crimes and misconduct by the FBI." Also this February, defense attorney Barry Bachrach argued in St. Louis federal court that the federal government had no jurisdiction in Peltier's case, since the shootings occurred on a reservation.

Millions of people have signed petitions for Peltier over the years, including by 1986 some 17 million people in the former Soviet Union. His frame-up, like that of Geronimo ji Jaga and Mumia Abu-Jamal, demonstrates that there is no justice in the capitalist courts of America. While supporting all possible legal proceedings on behalf of the class-war prisoners, we place no faith whatever in the "justice" of the courts and rely solely on the power of mass protest centered on the integrated labor movement.

After Peltier's third appeal for a new trial was denied in 1993, thousands of prominent liberals, celebrities and others—ranging from Willie Nelson to Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa—called for a presidential pardon. In a recent column titled "Free Leonard Peltier!" (5 February), Mumia Abu-Jamal wrote: "Many Peltier supporters put their trust in a politician named Bill Clinton, who told them that when he got elected he 'wouldn't forget' about the popular Native American leader. Their trust (like that of so many others) was betrayed once Clinton gained his office, and the FBI protested. In the waning days of his presidency, he issued pardons to folks like Marc Rich, and other wealthy campaign contributors. Leonard Peltier was left in his chains!"

Peltier is one of 16 class-war prisoners to whom the Partisan Defense Committee sends monthly stipends. For more information on his case, or to contribute to Peltier's legal defense, write to: Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, 2626 North Mesa #132, El Paso, TX 79902. Free Leonard Peltier and all class-war prisoners!