Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Latest From The National Committee To Free The Cuban Five

Click on headline to see the latest on the world-wide defense of the Cuban Five. Free them ahora!

From The "By Any Means Necessary" Blog- On Leonard Peltier

Former FBI Agent, “Peltier was Wrongfully Convicted”Posted: November 19, 2010 by Rowland Túpac Keshena in Ideas: Secret State, Places: Southern Turtle Island (United States), Struggles: Indigenous Struggles, Struggles: Prisons/Prisoners
1A Native comrade on Facebook put me onto this. Thanks go out to him.

M. Wesley Swearingen, FBI Secrets: An Agents Expose (Available on ):

Former FBI agent M. Wesley Swearingen, stated:

“I was an FBI agent in Los Angeles when Leonard Peltier was convicted, and I know from FBI documents that I read and from statements made by fellow FBI agents, that Peltier was wrongfully convicted of murdering two FBI agents just because the agents investigating the case wanted someone to pay for killing the two FBI agents. I know, for a fact, that the FBI is also covering up its culpability in the death of the two FBI agents.”
Swearingen is the same agent who exposed the FBI misconduct in the case of Geronimo Pratt, whose conviction was eventually overturned. Pratt was set free after 20 years of false imprisonment. If you still think that the FBI and the U.S. government are the good guys.. stop and think again.

From The Rengade Eye BLog-After The Obama Mid-Term Elections

Tuesday, November 09, 2010
Stratfor: The World Looks at Obama After the U.S. Midterm Election
By George Friedman
November 04, 2010

The 2010 U.S. midterm elections were held, and the results were as expected: The Republicans took the House but did not take the Senate. The Democrats have such a small margin in the Senate, however, that they cannot impose cloture, which means the Republicans can block Obama administration initiatives in both houses of Congress. At the same time, the Republicans cannot override presidential vetoes alone, so they cannot legislate, either. The possible legislative outcomes are thus gridlock or significant compromises.

U.S. President Barack Obama hopes that the Republicans prove rigidly ideological. In 1994, after the Republicans won a similar victory over Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich attempted to use the speakership to craft national policy. Clinton ran for re-election in 1996 against Gingrich rather than the actual Republican candidate, Bob Dole; Clinton made Gingrich the issue, and he won. Obama hopes for the same opportunity to recoup. The new speaker, John Boehner, already has indicated that he does not intend to play Gingrich but rather is prepared to find compromises. Since Tea Party members are not close to forming a majority of the Republican Party in the House, Boehner is likely to get his way.

Another way to look at this is that the United States remains a predominantly right-of-center country. Obama won a substantial victory in 2008, but he did not change the architecture of American politics. Almost 48 percent of voters voted against him. Though he won a larger percentage than anyone since Ronald Reagan, he was not even close to the magnitude of Reagan’s victory. Reagan transformed the way American politics worked. Obama did not. In spite of his supporters’ excitement, his election did not signify a permanent national shift to the left. His attempt to govern from the left accordingly brought a predictable result: The public took away his ability to legislate on domestic affairs. Instead, they moved the country to a position where no one can legislate anything beyond the most carefully negotiated and neutral legislation.

Foreign Policy and Obama’s Campaign Position

That leaves foreign policy. Last week, I speculated on what Obama might do in foreign affairs, exploring his options with regard to Iran. This week, I’d like to consider the opposite side of the coin, namely, how foreign governments view Obama after this defeat. Let’s begin by considering how he positioned himself during his campaign.

The most important thing about his campaign was the difference between what he said he would do and what his supporters heard him saying he would do. There were several major elements to his foreign policy. First, he campaigned intensely against the Bush policy in Iraq, arguing that it was the wrong war in the wrong place. Second, he argued that the important war was in Afghanistan, where he pledged to switch his attention to face the real challenge of al Qaeda. Third, he argued against Bush administration policy on detention, military tribunals and torture, in his view symbolized by the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.

In a fourth element, he argued that Bush had alienated the world by his unilateralism, by which he meant lack of consultation with allies — in particular the European allies who had been so important during the Cold War. Obama argued that global hostility toward the Bush administration arose from the Iraq war and the manner in which Bush waged the war on terror. He also made clear that the United States under Bush had an indifference to world opinion that cost it moral force. Obama wanted to change global perceptions of the United States as a unilateral global power to one that would participate as an equal partner with the rest of the world.

The Europeans were particularly jubilant at his election. They had in fact seen Bush as unwilling to take their counsel, and more to the point, as demanding that they participate in U.S. wars that they had no interest in participating in. The European view — or more precisely, the French and German view — was that allies should have a significant degree of control over what Americans do. Thus, the United States should not merely have consulted the Europeans, but should have shaped its policy with their wishes in mind. The Europeans saw Bush as bullying, unsophisticated and dangerous. Bush in turn saw allies’ unwillingness to share the burdens of a war as meaning they were not in fact allies. He considered so-called “Old Europe” as uncooperative and unwilling to repay past debts.

The European Misunderstanding of Obama

The Europeans’ pleasure in Obama’s election, however, represented a massive misunderstanding. Though they thought Obama would allow them a greater say in U.S. policy — and, above all, ask them for less — Obama in fact argued that the Europeans would be more likely to provide assistance to the United States if Washington was more collaborative with the Europeans.

Thus, in spite of the Nobel Peace Prize in the early days of the romance, the bloom wore off as the Europeans discovered that Obama was simply another U.S. president. More precisely, they learned that instead of being able to act according to his or her own wishes, circumstances constrain occupants of the U.S. presidency into acting like any other president would.

Campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, Obama’s position on Iraq consisted of slightly changing Bush’s withdrawal timetable. In Afghanistan, his strategy was to increase troop levels beyond what Bush would consider. Toward Iran, his policy has been the same as Bush’s: sanctions with a hint of something later.

The Europeans quickly became disappointed in Obama, especially when he escalated the Afghan war and asked them to increase forces when they wanted to withdraw. Perhaps most telling was his speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, where he tried to reach out to, and create a new relationship with, Muslims. The problem with this approach was that that in the speech, Obama warned that the United States would not abandon Israel — the same stance other U.S. presidents had adopted. It is hard to know what Obama was thinking. Perhaps he thought that by having reached out to the Muslim world, they should in turn understand the American commitment to Israel. Instead, Muslims understood the speech as saying that while Obama was prepared to adopt a different tone with Muslims, the basic structure of American policy in the region would not be different.

Why Obama Believed in a Reset Button

In both the European and Muslim case, the same question must be asked: Why did Obama believe that he was changing relations when in fact his policies were not significantly different from Bush’s policies? The answer is that Obama seemed to believe the essential U.S. problem with the world was rhetorical. The United States had not carefully explained itself, and in not explaining itself, the United States appeared arrogant.

Obama seemed to believe that the policies did not matter as much as the sensibility that surrounded the policies. It was not so much that he believed he could be charming — although he seemed to believe that with reason — but rather that foreign policy is personal, built around trust and familiarity rather than around interests. The idea that nations weren’t designed to trust or like one another, but rather pursued their interests with impersonal force, was alien to him. And so he thought he could explain the United States to the Muslims without changing U.S. policy and win the day.

U.S. policies in the Middle East remain intact, Guantanamo is still open, and most of the policies Obama opposed in his campaign are still there, offending the world much as they did under Bush. Moreover, the U.S. relationship with China has worsened, and while the U.S. relationship with Russia has appeared to improve, this is mostly atmospherics. This is not to criticize Obama, as these are reasonable policies for an American to pursue. Still, the substantial change in America’s place in the world that Europeans and his supporters entertained has not materialized. That it couldn’t may be true, but the gulf between what Obama said and what has happened is so deep that it shapes global perceptions.

Global Expectations and Obama’s Challenge

Having traveled a great deal in the last year and met a number of leaders and individuals with insight into the predominant thinking in their country, I can say with some confidence that the global perception of Obama today is as a leader given to rhetoric that doesn’t live up to its promise. It is not that anyone expected his rhetoric to live up to its promise, since no politician can pull that off, but that they see Obama as someone who thought rhetoric would change things. In that sense, he is seen as naive and, worse, as indecisive and unimaginative.

No one expected him to turn rhetoric into reality. But they did expect some significant shifts in foreign policy and a forceful presence in the world. Whatever the criticisms leveled against the United States, the expectation remains that the United States will remain at the center of events, acting decisively. This may be a contradiction in the global view of things, but it is the reality.

A foreign minister of a small — but not insignificant — country put it this way to me: Obama doesn’t seem to be there. By that he meant that Obama does not seem to occupy the American presidency and that the United States he governs does not seem like a force to be reckoned with. Decisions that other leaders wait for the United States to make don’t get made, the authority of U.S. emissaries is uncertain, the U.S. defense and state departments say different things, and serious issues are left unaddressed.

While it may seem an odd thing to say, it is true: The American president also presides over the world. U.S. power is such that there is an expectation that the president will attend to matters around the globe not out of charity, but because of American interest. The questions I have heard most often on many different issues are simple: What is the American position, what is the American interest, what will the Americans do? (As an American, I frequently find my hosts appointing me to be the representative of the United States.)

I have answered that the United States is off balance trying to place the U.S.-jihadist war in context, that it must be understood that the president is preoccupied but will attend to their region shortly. That is not a bad answer, since it is true. But the issue now is simple: Obama has spent two years on the trajectory in place when he was elected, having made few if any significant shifts. Inertia is not a bad thing in policy, as change for its own sake is dangerous. Yet a range of issues must be attended to, including China, Russia and the countries that border each of them.

Obama comes out of this election severely weakened domestically. If he continues his trajectory, the rest of the world will perceive him as a crippled president, something he needn’t be in foreign policy matters. Obama can no longer control Congress, but he still controls foreign policy. He could emerge from this defeat as a powerful foreign policy president, acting decisively in Afghanistan and beyond. It’s not a question of what he should do, but whether he will choose to act in a significant way at all.

This is Obama’s great test. Reagan accelerated his presence in the world after his defeat in 1982. It is an option, and the most important question is whether he takes it. We will know in a few months. If he doesn’t, global events will begin unfolding without recourse to the United States, and issues held in check will no longer remain quiet.


From The HistoMat Blog- Why Obama Was Shellacked

Sunday, November 14, 2010
Grace Lee Boggs on why Obama was shellacked

Two years ago, in the fall of 2008, over a million citizen activists of all ethnic groups, mostly young people, often accompanied by middle-aged or elderly independents, went door to door, urging voters to go to the polls and elect Barach Obama to the White House.

We/they did this because we believed and hoped that this charismatic black man could bring about the transformational changes we urgently need at this time on the clock of the world when the U.S. pursuit of unlimited economic growth has reached its social and ecological limits.

In 2010, despite the impassioned appeals of Barack, Michelle and Democratic Party stalwarts, many of us didn't even go to the polls ourselves on November 2, let alone urge others to do so, Ralph Nader estimates there were 28 million NoShows.

We need to probe the lessons of this experience, shared by many millions directly or indirectly.

The main lesson, I believe, is that the tremendous changes we now need and yearn for in our daily lives and in the direction of our country cannot come from those in power or by putting pressure on those in power.

We ourselves have to foreshadow or prefigure them from the ground up.

Civil and Voting rights for blacks didn't come from the White House or from masses demonstrating in front of the White House. They came after the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-6, the Freedom Rides in 1961, the 1963 Children's Crusade in Birmingham, Mississippi Freedom Summer and Freedom Schools, and the 1964 Selma to Montgomery March.

In other words, they came only after hundreds of thousands of black Americans and their white supporters had accepted the challenge and risks of ourselves making or becoming the changes we/they want to see in the world...
Full article here - see also this piece by Charlie Kimber. The struggle against Obama's and Cameron's imperialist war in Afghanistan continues this Saturday with a demonstration in London, Afghanistan: Time to Go
Labels: afghanistan, America, Barack Obama

posted by Snowball @ 6:53 PM 0 comments

Friday, November 19, 2010

*Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-"Free Leonard Peltier"

Click on the title to link a YouTube film clip from AIM performing Free Leonard Peltier.

In this series, presented under the headline Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By, I will post some songs that I think will help us get through the “dog days” of the struggle for our communist future. I do not vouch for the political thrust of the songs; for the most part they are done by pacifists, social democrats, hell, even just plain old ordinary democrats. And, occasionally, a communist. Sadly though, hard communist musicians have historically been scarce on the ground and have rather more often than not been fellow-travelers. Thus, here we have a regular "popular front" on the music scene. While this would not be acceptable for our political prospects, it will suffice for our purposes here. Markin.

Markin comment:

Free Leonard Peltier Now and not just in song either.

From "The Workers Press"- On Union Organizing

Thursday, November 11, 2010

You know what's disgusting? Union-Busting!

My fiance stumbled upon something this week when asked by her supervisor at work to check the company email for a pending order. The owner of the business where she is employed - who knows Julie's political association and my history working with unions and helping organized membership in St. Louis' SD MNEA SEEA - has been receiving email offers to attend an online "webinar" course on how to identify and squash union organizing drives in the workplace.

This is nothing new, of course, as the bosses have been keeping each other up to speed on the best tactics to counteract workplace unionism since the beginning of the organized Labor Movement. The link to this particular training course, however, reveals a network dedicated to the purpose of busting workers unions and allowing management to maintain and tighten their dictatorship over the average worker and thereby increase exploitation of labor.

This is just one more concrete example of why legislation like The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) is absolutely ESSENTIAL reform legislation, one which workers and their unions ought not compromise on, under any circumstance. Also, ongoing oppression of workers and ever shrinking workers' unions in the private sector and the continued reliance of Organized Labor upon the "democratic" Party for struggle on the political front further necessitate that Labor break cleanly away from the Dems and found a party of our own, truly of, for, and by the vast Working Class majority; a mass Party of Labor. Only thus can we build the sort of grassroots, local campaigns to build a mass basis for a strong national campaign for legislation like EFCA and to fight uncompromisingly for the REAL interests of America's Working Class majority.

The link to this "webinar" is posted below. I think I just found my next project, investigating and exposing the networks employers and management use to prevent workers from organizing and establishing even the faintest hint of workplace democracy or collective bargaining.

Here is the link:
Posted by PaulJosephPoposky at 1:17 PM Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Google Buzz

From "The Rag Blog"-Alice Embree : Making the War Personal at Under the Hood

We can’t give you anything...
Making the war personal

By Alice Embree / The Rag Blog / November 14, 2010
We can’t give you anything but war, buddy

That’s the only thing we’ll hire you for, buddy...
These lyrics, to the tune of “I can’t give you anything but love, baby," were on my mind as several of us made a now familiar drive to Killeen, Texas, last weekend. The words were written by Vernell Pratt of the 70s-era Soeur Queens. They have a relevant ring in this recession.
Attend the 'Hoodstock Flashback' benefit for Under the Hood at Jovita's in Austin, Sunday, November 14, 2010, 6-11 p.m. See details below.
I probably wouldn’t have known anyone in our current “volunteer” army if I hadn’t gotten involved with the coffeehouse Under the Hood in Killeen, Texas. Comparisons are often made to the Vietnam-era GI resistance, particularly because Under the Hood’s predecessor, the Oleo Strut, was well known in that resistance.

Yes, there was a Vietnam-era draft that made the war personal for a generation. You could avoid mucking through the jungles in the boot-steps of French colonialists if you were privileged. George W. Bush is certainly an example. But what was markedly different was the economic landscape. This recession has provided a perfect storm for military recruitment. Piled onto the jobless landscape, you have escalating college, health care, and housing costs.

The soldiers entering the military in the post-911 atmosphere do so for reasons of patriotism and pocketbook. They are lured by lies about Iraq’s relationship to the Twin Towers and never told about the previous U.S. relationship with jihadists in Afghanistan while the Russians were there. But the lure of steady pay, bonuses, and benefits is almost a no-brainer given the devastated job market.

Monthly paychecks, housing subsidies, recruitment bonuses, deployment bonuses, medical and dental care for soldiers and their dependents, post-discharge VA care, and assistance for education. It is no accident that soldiers refer to their “job” and their “contract” all the time. It is no accident that any soldier who resists a deployment is forced to make a careful calculus of the monetary cost. An “Other Than Honorable” discharge often means re-paying a bonus, losing healthcare, and losing access to college assistance.

The Baby Boomers who were in Austin remember college with $70 rents, tuition of $50 a semester, coffee for seven cents in the Chuck Wagon. Not so, in this environment where college graduation means the “commencement” of daunting loan payoff.

Meanwhile we veer through the current political landscape with blinders. Does anyone, besides Michael Moore, ever speak about the relationship of mounting deficits and endless war? Does anyone really believe that continuing tax cuts for the wealthy has a relationship to job creation? Haven’t the tax cuts been in place? How’s that been working out for job creation?

We are in one of the best run shill games ever. Stagnant wage growth, transfer of wealth to the wealthiest, a ransacked job market, global companies packing manufacturing jobs off to the lowest bidders on the planet. The “housing bubble” was a Wall Street con man’s paradise with average folks piling on debt and Wall Street trading derivatives of that debt until the house of cards fell down and they got bailed out with taxpayer dollars.

Meanwhile, back at Fort Hood in Killeen, suicides are continuing their record-breaking pace. Multiple deployments with no end in sight have taken their toll with outright casualties and walking casualties, with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). We hear about it on Veteran’s Day and then almost everyone tunes it out.

Please don’t tune out an alternative this Sunday. Support Under the Hood’s mission to provide a free speech zone, a pro-soldier, anti-war presence a mile from the gates of the largest military base in the country, Fort Hood. Sunday, November 14th, 6-11, Jovita’s in Austin, $10 dollars. If you can't attend, you can support Under the Hood through its website, here.

[Alice Embree is a long-time Austin activist and organizer, a former staff member of The Rag in Austin and RAT in New York, and a veteran of SDS and the women's liberation movement. She is active with CodePink Austin and Under the Hood Café. Embree is a contributing editor to The Rag Blog and is treasurer of the New Journalism Project.]

From The SteveLendmanBlog-Class Warfare Jeopardizing American Workers' Security

Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Class Warfare Jeopardizing American Workers' Security

Class Warfare Jeopardizing American Workers' Security - by Stephen Lendman

Warren Buffett once said:

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning," Obama's deficit-cutting agenda the latest battle.

On May 4, Hugo Radice, Life Fellow of the University of Leeds School of Politics and International Studies, headlined an article, "Cutting Public Debt: Economic Science or Class War?" asking:

"Is cutting the public debt really an objective economic necessity, or is it actually a deeply political stance, reflecting the interests of the business and financial elites?"

Analyzing historical public policies, he explained the shift from earlier Keynesianism to "the unchallenged hegemony of free-market neoliberalism since the early 1990s." In fact, over the past three decades, it was notable, beginning under Britain's Margaret Thatcher and America's Ronald Reagan, establishing practices that succeeding administrations hardened. As a result, Britain's New Labour governs like Conservatives while American Democrats mimic Republicans, especially on imperial and pocket book issues.

Radice calls it class warfare, pitting private wealth against public good, "a new common-sense" based on property rights, individualism, and notion that free markets work best so let them, including the right to demand massive public spending cuts, ones Radice says "are not, repeat not, economically necessary."

Nonetheless, for over 30 years, they've been ongoing. Since the mid-1970s, real wages haven't kept pace with inflation. Benefits have steadily eroded. High-paying jobs disappeared. Improved technology forced wage earners to work harder for less. More than ever, "free" markets work only for those who control them.

As a result, the class struggle between haves and have-nots escalated. A handful of powerful winners emerged. Wealth disparity extremes became unprecedented. Exploitation increased and successive crises, busts following speculative booms. Easy credit fueled them by excess lending and spending as well as high public and private debt levels. To heal, officials now call for "shared sacrifice," their sharing, our sacrifice.

Richard Wolff calls mainstream economics "faith-based." For Michael Hudson it's "junk economics," a Wall Street power grab, holding industrial America and wage earners hostage, debt peonage the final solution, benefitting only a powerful, elite few.

Today's buzzword across Europe and America is austerity, Obama's deficit commission declaring war on ordinary workers. Targeted are their jobs, benefits, standard of living, and retirement futures from draconian cuts. A scam to transfer greater wealth to the rich, trillions more than already looted, the grandest of grand theft, class warfare of the worse kind, a bipartisan scheme to wreck the economy and working Americans for profit.

After endorsing deficit commission proposals, a second New York Times editorial headlined "Waiting for the President," saying:

There's "no way to wrestle the deficit under control without both cutting spending and raising taxes." Everything "must be on the table," Obama out in front promoting it. Watching from the sidelines increases odds "it will never go anywhere." Strong White House leadership is needed to support "the commission's plain truths."

The Times editorial, other mainstream opinions, and Obama's deficit cutters avoided constructive alternatives, the right way to address high debt, foster economic growth, and lift all boats equitably. Obvious ones include:

-- waging war on concentrated wealth and power;

-- an across-the-board populist agenda, elevating social justice as issue one;

-- slashing the defense budget, minimally in half, ideally much more, including closing overseas bases, reducing force levels, ending foreign occupations, and renouncing imperial wars;

-- a progressive income tax replacing today's dysfunctional one;

-- removing the payroll tax ceiling, taxing all earned income at the same rate;

-- empowering workers to bargain collectively with management on equal terms;

-- a guaranteed living wage, adjusted by urban, rural, state and local considerations;

-- a guaranteed income for the indigent;

-- real regulatory reform, reinstituting vital ones eroded or lost;

-- abolishing monopoly and oligopoly power;

-- strengthening public education;

-- enacting universal, single-payer healthcare, excluding predatory insurers, except as a voluntary option;

-- returning money creation power to Congress as the Constitution mandates;

-- a Tobin Tax to make Wall Street and rich investors pay their fair share; and

-- establishing government of, by, and for the people for real.

Benefits of a Tobin Tax

Besides discouraging speculation, economist Robert Pollin estimates that at one-half of one percent, about $350 billion annually can be raised. A one-tenth of one percent tax on the estimated $500 trillion in annual derivatives trades could bring up to $500 billion a year. Depending on volumes and taxable trading threshold levels, those figures might be greater or smaller but nonetheless considerable. Most important, they'd help grow the economy productively, cut the deficit, and raise everyone's standard of living equitably, especially working Americans left out of bipartisan equation thinking - corrupted for America's aristocracy, Wall Street giants most of all.

Instead ordinary Americans are sacrificed on the alter of capitalist excess, their pain the price for its gain, a shocking indictment of a broken system - venal, depraved, degenerate, and criminal, deserving a dagger in its heart to kill it before making workers serfs, including destroying their retirement security.

America's Growing Retirement Crisis

In the May 2006 issue of Monthly Review, Teresa Ghilarducci titled her article "The End of Retirement," saying:

"Scarcely a day passes without a new pension nightmare: Social Security privatization," corporations ending private pensions, declining household savings, cancelled retirement healthcare benefits, and "401(k) accounts becoming '201(k)s,' " having replaced traditional pensions, defined benefit obligations fast disappearing.

These developments reflect a nightmarish reality. Today's "ownership society" forces everyone to manage their financial futures, leaving them vulnerable to marketplace uncertainties, a task few have enough expertise to handle, especially during hard times, eroding years of built up resources savagely, what older workers may be unable to recoup.

Conditions are far worse today than in May 2006. Yet Ghilarducci said "For the first time in US history, every source of retirement income is under siege: Social Security, personal savings, and occupational pensions." Also Medicare for retirees, their dependents, and the disabled, as well as Medicaid for the nation's poor - vital income-equivalent plans without which millions would be uninsured or underinsured, leaving them vulnerable to the catastrophic illness costs.

In July 2010, Professor James W. Russell, writing in Socialism and Democracy, titled his article, "Retirement Crisis in the United States," saying:

"The great 30-year experiment in 401(k) and similar retirement financing schemes that depend on stock market investments has failed. Even before the" 2008 crash, it was clear, the signs "everywhere that very few workers would be able to accumulate enough wealth through these accounts to insure" their retirement futures.

Like Russell, economist Richard Wolff explains that until 1980, each generation since the 19th century was better off financially than previous ones, including more retirement security. No longer, workers since victimized by institutionalized inequality. Examples include eroded union representation, mostly in commerce and industry, stagnant wages, weakened or lost benefits, and high-risk defined contribution plans replacing secure defined benefit ones.

By 1935, during the Great Depression, 34 European nations and America established social insurance programs. It was a watershed time, "consistent with the socialist value of solidarity through socialization of support for children, the elderly, the disabled, and others unable to" to work productively for a living.

Social Security in America As Amended

The Social Security Act became law when Franklin Roosevelt signed it on August 14, 1935, perhaps his finest hour, a measure during hard times against the 50% poverty rate. It still is when US poverty rates are soaring, perhaps heading for Great Depression levels or higher.

The program works well as mandated, taxing active workers and their employers to support eligible retirees, their dependents and the disabled. As Russell explains: "It is a formula that has worked remarkably well since its inception, producing the federal government's most successful and popular domestic program."

Employers also began offering pensions in a package of other benefits. It worked the same way, they and workers contributing for retirees, "a pay-as-you-go formula" - simple, effective, and assured, based on employment tenure under individual company plans.

The Revenue Act of 1978, however, changed things, its sections 401(k), 403(b), and 457 letting retirement plan contributions be made with pretax dollars. Though intended to encourage workers to participate in defined benefit plans, employers used it advantageously, increasingly switching them to defined contribution ones, providing no assurance of enough income at retirement.

In contrast, "defined benefit plans are progressive reforms within capitalist societies that are consistent with guaranteeing old age support as worker or social rights." Today, they're fast disappearing, victimized by neoliberal "reforms" for business, especially financial industry predators, not employees.

Russell cites two reasons why 401(k)s failed:

-- by falsely assuming worker investments (mostly stock market ones) will provide a secure retirement; given other lifetime obligations, including medical expenses, home purchases and mortgage payments, and college tuitions, it's not possible for most people; and

-- the financial services industry profits hugely from private investment plans, siphoning off large commission amounts that add up through the years; as a result, American workers have subsidized the industry's expansion while jeopardizing their own futures.

In contrast, government or business provided plans are "dedicated purely to supporting retirement instead of creating private wealth," often more for investment firms than their customers, and therein lies the problem. Instead of secure retirement income, having enough depends on marketplace uncertainty that in crisis times can be ruthless, destroying years of savings quickly, savagely, and unfairly.

As a result, for millions, 401(k)s and similar plans have been poison, failing to deliver on promises. Three arguments were made to sell them:

-- they'd way outperform traditional pensions - untrue;

-- retirement income would "owned" - true, but it hardly matters; and

-- they'd be portable - importantly true in a highly mobile society, jobs and careers today changed more often than earlier.

A major problem is how commonly these plans are used - for home purchases, medical expenses, college tuitions, other needs, or discretionary ones, depleting funds intended for retirement.

In contrast, Social Security works as intended by financing it, not private wealth or profits for industry predators. Bogusly, critics claim it's going bankrupt when, in fact, it's sound and secure if properly administered, needing only modest adjustments at times to keep it that way.

Moreover, as explained above, simple revenue enhancement methods exist, including a progressive income tax; removing the payroll tax ceiling, taxing all earned income at the same rate; and instituting a Tobin Tax - combined they might keep Social Security flourishing for a millennium, for sure a century or two, and more.

"They could and should be (ways to expand) Social Security benefits and (begin) phas(ing) out employment-based retirement plans" that don't deliver on promises. Retirement plans should have fundamental goals - to provide predictable, adequate income amounts, adjusted for inflation, delivering as much annual working lifetime earnings as possible. Achieving it depends on replacing today's "three-legged stool" - "Social Security, employment-based benefit(s), and personal savings - with a national system in which Social Security accounts for the" lion's share of income, "topped off by personal savings" that for most people are meager.

A Final Comment

For American workers, achieving retirement security is simple and achievable, but not with opposition from powerful, destructive forces - financial giants complicit with government, willing bipartisan majorities plotting to jeopardize the future of millions. A previous article explained how, accessed through the following link:

Only mass outrage can stop them from slashing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social benefits on the way to ending them - a venal plot to make America another banana republic, its working millions oppressed serfs, their present and future security destroyed. Obama and congressional majorities support this in league with big money backers, largely Wall Street racketeers profiting hugely from sucking public and personal wealth to themselves. The die is cast. It's their future or ours. There's no in between. Grassroots activism only, or lack of it, will decide.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

posted by Steve Lendman @ 4:46 AM

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The Latest From "Socialist Appeal"-"French Workers Show The Way"

French Workers Show the Way
Written by Socialist Appeal
Wednesday, 17 November 2010

In Europe as in the US, workers are being told that austerity is the only way to deal with the crisis. In other words, workers are supposed to pay for the bosses’ mess! While the rich continue to get richer, the majority are supposed to tighten their belts further and “take one for the team.” But in Greece, Ireland, Italy, Romania, Ukraine, and above all in France, workers and youth are fighting back.

Despite all the anti-French jokes and “Freedom Fries” mania of the last few years, let’s give the French workers and youth their due: when their rights and quality of life is being threatened by the capitalists and their political representatives, they fight tenaciously to defend what is rightfully theirs. They pour onto the streets, organize strikes and paralyze society as a way of showing the power of the working class if it is organized and mobilized. With even worse attacks on US workers in the pipeline, their struggle is an example we can learn from!

The economic crisis of the last two years has increased France’s state debt to 80% of GDP and the ruling class wants to make the workers pay for it. After handing out billions of Euros to the banks, now the state hopes to “save” 70 billion Euros with an attack on workers’ pension rights. Sound familiar?

The pensions “reform” is seen as crucial for the ruling class in France. Under current legislation, French workers can choose to retire at 60 years of age if they have accumulated 41 years of Social Security contributions, and can draw a full state pension at 65. The right wing Sarkozy government wants to increase the minimum retirement age to 62, with 42 years of Social Security payments, and the full pension age to 67.

On Friday, October 22, the French government managed to get the pensions package passed through the Senate. The increasingly unpopular government of Sarkozy, faced with an unprecedented movement of strikes, demonstrations, road blockades, mass pickets and general assemblies, hoped that this, would bring the mass movement to a halt. This does not seem to be happening, however. Opinion polls showed that 59% of the population were in favor of the continuation of the movement even after the approval of the law. The government refers only to a “minority of radicals holding the country to ransom” and the media hide the real extent of the strike.

But the support for the movement has been broad indeed and there is a growing mood in the movement that isolated “days of action” are no longer enough to force the government to retreat. Since the beginning of September there have been six days of action, three of which saw the participation of more than three million people in demonstrations all over the country. After the national day of action on October 12, with 3.5 million people on the streets, a number of sectors started indefinite strikes, notably the refinery workers and the railway workers. Despite the stubborn refusal of the national trade union leaders to call a general strike, section after the section of workers have joined a growing national movement whose focus has become the idea that only by bringing the economy to a halt can the government be defeated.

“Given the mood of the rank and file we cannot put an end to the movement,” trade union leaders both from the CFDT and the CGT, explained, almost apologetically. However, instead of giving the movement a clear lead, calling for a general strike, the only step that would make the movement stronger they called for yet another two “national days of action.” As a matter of fact the trade union leaders seemed to be more worried about “debordement” (being overtaken by the movement), than about giving the struggle a clear lead.

This left the movement without a clear direction, but despite that, stoppages, road blockades, strikes and all sorts of initiatives to maintain the movement strong developed at the initiative of the rank and file and local and regional trade union bodies. On the eve of the vote on the law, thousands of workers and students marched in Paris in two separate demonstrations, one called by the student organizations, the other at the initiative of General Assemblies of railway workers, postal workers, and others. Both demonstrations attempted to reach the Senate building, but were stopped by anti-riot police. The main problem was that, lacking a call on the part of the national leadership, they did not have the necessary numbers.

The government has responded with violence and repression. There are now plenty of eyewitness reports and video evidence showing the presence of agent provocateurs at student demonstrations and orchestrating violence at demonstrations in general. The CGT union has denounced cases of plain-clothes police officers wearing CGT stickers or even CGT steward arm-bands playing a role in creating violent incidents during demonstrations. In order to defend their demonstration against provocateurs and anti-riot police, the last student demonstration was stewarded by trade unionists.

At the same time, realizing the key role in the movement played by the strike at the refineries, the government has used violent and legal means to attempt to break the resolve of the workers.

Using emergency laws which are supposed to deal with cases of “national emergency” the government moved to “conscript” all workers at the Grandpuits refinery on Friday 21, after violently breaking up the picket line. With 430 workers, Grandpuits is the smallest of the six Total refineries in the country, but supplies 70% of the Ile-de-France region. In effect this means that workers are ordered to go back to work or else they face jail sentences. This is an unprecedented attack on the right to strike, which shows the truth contained in the Marxist analysis that the capitalist state (police, the laws, etc) is, in the last analysis, “armed bodies of men in defence of private property.”

The movement of the French workers has captured the imagination of millions of workers, youth and trade union activists all over the world. They can see the French workers taking a firm stand against attacks which are very similar to the ones they are suffering.

It is an extraordinary confirmation of the power of the working class today. What is needed is a clear call for a general strike. If this does not come from above, the local and regional inter-professional general assemblies should link up at a departmental and also national level, through elected representatives, in order to give the movement a clear leadership. Despite all the obstacles that they face, the French workers have marvelous revolutionary traditions. This is the country of the General Strike of 1936 and the revolutionary events of May 1968.

But make no mistake about it: US workers also have magnificent, militant working class traditions. We at Socialist Appeal are confident that American workers will have a few surprises in store for the capitalists in the tumultuous battles of the class struggle that lie ahead.

From The "In Defense Of Marxism" Website-Britain: Biggest student demonstration in decades ‑ and this is just the beginning

Britain: Biggest student demonstration in decades ‑ and this is just the beginning

Written by Adam Booth and Ben Peck
Friday, 12 November 2010

Events have taken a turn in Britain as the first mass reaction took place this week against the programme of vicious cuts being introduced by the Tory-led coalition. On Wednesday, November 10th, London witnessed an overwhelming response from the students as a demonstration of over 50,000 marched in protest at the attacks taking place in Higher Education.

The demonstration, a joint demo by the National Union of Students (NUS) and the University and College Lecturers Union (UCU), marked a turning point for the class struggle in Britain, which will be seen by workers everywhere as the first expression of the anger and frustration developing within society as a whole. Not since the protests against the Iraq war have such numbers been seen in Britain, and even the famous student protests against the Vietnam War in Grosvenor Square in 1968 were only slightly larger.

Fees and cuts
In 1998 the New Labour government scrapped free education and grants. Despite an election promise not to, New Labour passed a law in 2004 to increase the cost of tuition fees in Higher Education (HE - university level education) from £1,250 to £3,290 per year. The law only narrowly passed in the House of Commons, with Tony Blair having to rely on support from the Tories in order to overcome a Labour backbench rebellion.

In light of the capitalist crisis the Browne Review recommended on October 12th this year that universities be allowed to charge unlimited fees for tuition, going significantly further than what had been expected. This reveals the depths of the crisis. Despite the new Tory-Liberal coalition government promises to take on board the recommendations of the Browne review, the government drew back from the brink for fear of the social and political consequences. In the end they announced plans to allow fees of up to £9,000 per year. Although students will not be required to pay any of this money upfront, the debt that they accumulate will be borrowed at interest – interest that will go straight to the banks!

In addition to the increasing fees, the coalition government announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) on October 20th that the teaching budget to universities would be cut by 40%. This raises the possibility of entire universities closing, along with course closures at most universities. Students, therefore, will not be the only ones affected by the cuts; the UCU estimates that over 22,000 jobs in universities are at risk, including both lecturers and support staff.

The picture is just as bleak in FE (Further Education - education for 16 to 18 year olds), with planned cuts of 25%. FE institutions educate and train more over-16 students than sixth forms and universities put together. They are clearly needed: some one million 16 to 24-year-olds are classified as "NEETS" – not in education, employment, or training. The education maintenance allowance (EMA), of up to £30 per week for poor families, is to be scrapped. Nationally 46% of FE students get the EMA; in poorer areas the figure is nearer to 80%.

These cuts, which form part of a generalised attack on public services, are tearing up the so-called consensus politics of the past two decades. The illusion that in Britain there existed a type of "meritocracy", no matter how imperfect, where your kids had the opportunity to reach the top with a bit of hard work, has been shattered. It is of no surprise, therefore, that bubbles of anger are beginning to float to the surface.

National demonstration
Until recently the movement against university cuts had been primarily led by university staff, who were facing the more immediate repercussions of the crisis, in the form of job losses, wage freezes, and attacks on pensions and conditions. As a result, the UCU has been out on strike a number of times over the past year, both in HE and FE institutions.

The NUS leadership, however, has not matched this level of militancy in the recent period, and even went as far as to abandon its official position on campaigning for free education at the 2008 national conference.

As details of the Browne Review and the CSR emerged over the last month, activity in universities began to accelerate. Student unions across the country, with the backing of the NUS, gave a great deal of support to the protest, and meetings about how to fight fees and cuts grew in size. Protests at individual universities, such as the 1000-strong march at Oxford University, gave an indication of the mood that was developing.

On the day of the march it was clear from the beginning that there was a change in the air. The roar of students marching in the distance could be heard at the starting point. A carnival atmosphere seemed to take hold of the march. It was clear to see, as more and more students arrived, and the scale of the turn-out became apparent, that the demonstration was becoming intoxicated with recognition of its own strength.

Since the financial crisis in 2008 many have watched what is being prepared in society with a sort of stunned silence. People have grumbled that there is no voice or movement for those who wish to fight the cuts. Yet the atmosphere among the students was electric. It was as if, after a period of feeling impotent and isolated, the students had found that they were not alone, that they were part of a bigger movement with a definite purpose.

A last minute surge of attendees from universities, along with the presence of many school students from London who had boycotted school for the day, pushed the numbers to over 50,000, according to estimates given by the NUS. Such numbers were truly staggering, and were an amazing sight to behold, with the vibrant student protest filling the streets of central London for over five hours. The number of 50,000 was all the more impressive considering that the protest was almost entirely made up of students, with some university staff, and that it was the middle of the week, thus requiring students to skip classes and not allowing other workers to show solidarity. So buoyant was the mood of the students that, as opposed to the typical stereotype of student lethargy, the march spilled out of its starting position and left before the scheduled time.

New layer of students politicised
It was clear that for the majority of the people on the demonstration, this was their first experience of a large scale protest. This is an extremely positive step for the student movement and for the class struggle in general. A mass movement of workers and youth will be needed to defeat the cuts, and a new generation of student activists is a necessary step towards such a movement.

The large number of new student activists was also reflected by the political slogans on display. In general, the majority of people were angry about the rising fees. This was especially the case for the large number of school students at the demonstration, who will be the first in the firing line when it comes to the proposed £9,000 per year fees. The majority of banners and chants were for “free education”, and not for the official NUS position of a "graduate tax" (in which a progressive tax is placed upon the income of graduates once in work). This shows that the new layers that were getting involved are far ahead of the NUS leadership.

There was an excellent turn-out from Scottish students, who are not immediately affected by the measures being introduced by the Tories, but clearly understand that they will not be able to escape the attacks that are coming.

Despite the leadership of the NUS, with its support of a graduate tax and with no clear strategy to defeat the cuts, the mood was excellent. In particular the school students, many who said they were encouraged to skip classes by their teachers, were grabbing bundles of Socialist Appeal leaflets and handing them out. Flyers were literally being torn out of the comrades’ hands. Again this shows the political nature of the demonstration and the need for a leadership with a clear strategy to fight the cuts.

History shows that the mood that develops among the student population is a reliable barometer for the mood in wider society. This was famously the case in France in May '68, where it was first the movement of the students that anticipated the magnificent movement of the French workers, who later carried out the 10 million-strong general strike which almost toppled capitalism in France.

Sit-down protest in front of Parliament. Photo by Porstmouth Student Union.Recent events in France have certainly been an inspiration for British workers and youth, and there is no mistaking the fact that British society has been influenced by the example of France.

This fact, in relation to the student demo, has been commented on by much of the bourgeois media - that the NUS and the UCU carried out a "French-style" demonstration. The Wall Street journal comments that perhaps Prime Minister David Cameron should be asking Sarkozy to loan them the notorious riot-busting CRS to tackle the students. When the British students are accused of "acting French", what is being acknowledged is that the students are becoming radicalised.

NUS leadership miscalculates
Before the day of the march Police estimates were for a turnout of 10,000. The estimate coming from the NUS was 30,000. Both clearly misjudged the mood that had been building up among the student population as over 50,000 students turned out.

This is an answer to those on the left who have tried on numerous occasions in the past period to play the very irresponsible game of demanding the creation of a “new, radical, democratic, fighting” national union of students. Essentially they have tried to split the NUS, claiming it only fit for beer tokens and clothing discounts. What they have not understood is that the NUS is the traditional organisation of the student movement in Britain. In the 1960s it moved radically to the left under the pressure of events. The present leadership of the NUS was shaped in a period of relative class peace, which was based on the boom. It is only an imperfect reflection of the consciousness of the movement below, which in turn is shaped by the hammer blow of events. In the coming period the NUS will be pushed much further to the left as the students try to shape it into an organisation that represents their interests.

Students shouting slogans. Photo: Geoff Dexter.Today, with over 80% of students having to work part-time to make ends meet, the student body as a whole has become proletarianised and is very definitely on the left. As the crisis has struck, this has been shown in practice: faced with increasing anger amongst students, the NUS leadership was forced, firstly, into organising a special “cuts conference” in June 2009, and then to announce a national demonstration jointly with the UCU. Such announcements represented a qualitative change in the student movement, which has been confined to small-scale university occupations over issues such as Gaza in recent years.

As a traditional organisation of the students the reserves of support that the NUS has at its disposal cannot be underestimated, as Wednesday's mobilisation reveals.

The NUS leadership has been dominated by reformist careerists in the last decade. The last thing NUS president Aaron Porter wanted – who, unlike his New Labour predecessors, has had the misfortune of being “born in interesting times” – was this demonstration, which he was forced to call under pressure from below. The choice of a weekday for the demonstration was meant to keep the attendance low. The NUS leadership hoped that the protest could be used to quietly allow students to let off some steam, in much the same way as trade union leaders in Europe have used one-day general strikes to allow some pressure out of the labour movement. In reality the national demonstration of students was a success despite the leadership, and will only have served to raise the consciousness of the new layer of youth that has entered onto the arena of the class struggle. What shaped the mood was the widespread discontent which exists throughout British society, and has been concentrated in the "excluded generation" of under-25s who are fast realising what impact the cuts will have.

Students protesting outside Tory HQ. Photo: Geoff DexterAn attempt has been made by the media to play down the real meaning of this mass demonstration of students, by concentrating all their reports on what happened at the Millbank Tower, which hosts the Conservative Party headquarters. The windows of the building were smashed in, with a few dozen student occupiers reaching the roof. This attracted a much wider periphery of two or three thousand (or more), who stood outside the building directing chants against the Tories for several hours, until police reinforcements arrived to beat back the remaining protestors and evacuate the building. Although the attack on the Millbank Tower was clearly initiated by a minority of ultra-lefts, it was evident that large numbers of students looked on with sympathy. One student said: "this is what happens when those in power attack ordinary people".

In and of itself this action has solved nothing and is not a method that the labour movement would adopt. But one has to recognise that the severity of the government's attacks is provoking an extremely angry mood among students and the responsibility for such a situation should be placed where it belongs, on the shoulders of the Tories and the boss class they represent.

In his response to the media, Porter, unfortunately preferred to use his air-time to concentrate on condemning the occupiers of the Millbank Tower, accusing an “unrepresentative minority” of “ruining it for everyone” rather than directing his main fire at the Tories for the violence they are visiting on the British working class. Such outbursts of violence are nothing compared to what the Tories have in store for working people and youth in this country.

Students getting inside the Millbank building. Photo: Geoff DexterThe capitalist press have jumped on this question. It is in itself a sensationalist news story that will sell a lot of papers. More importantly it distracts from the real question, which is, in the first place, "why are the students marching?" Cameron and fellow Tory, London Mayor Boris Johnson, have been quick to condemn the students. One student commented online that the they had gone from being portrayed as "lazy hippies to hooded yobs", and that while it is merely "hi-jinks" for the Bullingdon club (a notorious and exclusive Tory dining club at Oxford university) to smash up restaurants, when Tory HQ is attacked "things have gone too far". Cameron, who has been on a trade mission to China, explained to the Chinese press that British students were experiencing a tax-hike "so that foreign students can pay less (!)".

Had the anarchists gone tearing down Oxford St, smashing shop windows, it would have been seen as the usual crowd of ultra-lefts carrying out acts of vandalism. However, the Millbank incident will have been seen in a different light by many. This is because this was the headquarters of the party of the bankers and big business, the party that is destroying the very basis of a civilised existence for millions of workers.

Students have reported a sympathetic response from ordinary working class people. An example of this was reported by students of Worcester University, who on the way back from the demo stopped off at a service station, where a little old lady serving behind the check-out, on recognising the students from the news, reportedly remarked "…good on you lads, somebody has to show those Tories we will not be walked over."

The role of the police at the Millbank occupation presents an interesting question. Thatcher in the 1980s always took care to look after the police, raising their wages whilst they attacked the miners and printers. Today this is not the case and the police are suffering the same cuts. A couple of years ago 25,000 police marched through the streets of London in protest over their wages and conditions. This shows us the depth of the capitalist crisis, where the bourgeoisie are eating into their traditional reserves of support.

Occupiers on the roof of Tory HQ. Photo: SonniesEdgeHowever, we have to distinguish ordinary police officers from Chiefs of Police. In the bourgeois press the next day the message to the police was clear. Under the guise of "sincere concerns" that the police had been cowed by the previous years' bad press at the G20, where a demonstrator – Ian Tomlinson – died after police brutality, the question was raised: "are the police too restricted in their actions?' The message is clear. From now on, we will see a much more aggressive stance on the part of the police in the coming period. And that is not because of what happened at Millbank. The bourgeoisie has launched a severe attack on workers and there is no room for compromise.

The serious bourgeoisie will not be too concerned about a little damage to private property, which they can easily afford to replace – and which in any case comes in very useful as a propaganda tool to justify their stepping up of police repression. What they are concerned about is this militant mood of the students infecting the rest of the working class. The government knows it has no concessions to offer - therefore it will offer the baton instead. What was in their interests was to let the occupiers have their way, to let rip and provide the bourgeois press with some images to splash on the front pages. They wish to demonise the students, and the idea of fighting the cuts. More importantly they wish to prepare public opinion for the real battles they foresee against an aroused working class in the future.

Having considered all the above, what would be dangerous is the idea that "direct action" by students alone can stop the Tory attacks. Effective direct action can only be carried out by the organised labour movement, mobilised with a programme to nationalise the banks under the democratic control of the working class – the only class that has the power to take on the bankers and capitalists and their stooge Tory government.

Where next for students?
For most of the 50,000 students at the national demonstration, the question in the minds now will be “what next?” It is clear that demonstrations alone will not defeat the cuts. The huge demonstrations of over one million people in London in 2003 against the Iraq war failed to stop the Blair government. The ruling class can tolerate demonstrations, however strong, as long as these do not challenge their right to govern over society. What is required is a movement that can bring this government down.

The immediate task for students now is to build a fighting campaign against the fees and cuts in every university, in association with school students and university staff. Pressure must be put on student union leaders on every campus to call for mass meetings of students, along with the various unions representing staff – the UCU, Unite, and Unison. These campaigns must be linked up with the local labour movement, in order to build a mass movement of workers and youth against the cuts. The great events of May 1968 in France have shown what is possible when students and workers unite and fight.

Ultimately we must tell the truth to students and workers: the reforms of the past – free education, universal healthcare, retirement at 65 on a decent pension – are no longer possible under capitalism. A radical transformation of society is needed.

The national demonstration of students was important because it was the first step in linking up the student movement with the wider working class. What was clear was that this changed mood has not dropped from the sky. It is the first point of escape for the seething discontent that has accumulated as a result of the cuts. This mood the Tories cannot cut back, and is raging just beneath the surface.

Thousands of students went home to their respective universities with a story to tell and a political education a hundred times more valuable than what can be gained from a textbook or a seminar. Hundreds of thousands of others looked on, and are beginning to draw their own conclusions.

Remember the 10th of November. It marks an important beginning in Britain. The movement of the students marks the first step in the class struggle, a prelude to the awakening of the British working class.

Photo gallery

See also Geoff Dexter's gallery:

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Latest From The School Of The Americas Watch Website- Down With American Imperialism In Latin America! Close The Fort Benning SOA!

Click on the headline to link to the School Of The Americas Watch website.

From The United For Peace With Justice Website.

Vigil to Close the School of the Americas

Submitted by ujpadmin on Sat, 07/17/2010 - 1:50pm.

When: Thursday, November 18, 2010, 1:00 am to Sunday, November 21, 2010, 11:00 pm

Where: Fort Benning, GA

Start: 2010 Nov 18 - 1:00am
End: 2010 Nov 21 - 11:00pm

The November Vigil to Close the School of the Americas at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia will be held from November 18-21, 2010. The annual vigil is always held close to the anniversary of the 1989 murders of Celina Ramos, her mother Elba and six Jesuit priests at a the University of Central America in El Salvador.

November 2010 will mark the 20th anniversary of the vigil that brings together religious communities, students, teachers, veterans, community organizers, musicians, puppetistas and many others. New layers of activists are joining the movement to close the SOA in large numbers, including numerous youth and students from multinational, working-class communities. The movement is strong thanks to the committed work of thousands of organizers and volunteers around the country. They raise funds, spread the word through posters and flyers, organize buses and other transportation to Georgia, and carry out all the work that is needed to make the November vigil a success. Together, we are strong!

Vigil and Rally at the Gates, Nonviolent Direct Action, Teach-In, Concerts, Workshops and a Anti-Militarization Organizers Conference
There will be exciting additions to this year's vigil program. Besides the rally at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia with inspiring speakers and amazing musicians from across the Americas, the four day convergence will also include an educational teach-in at the Columbus Convention Center, several evening concerts, workshops and for the first time, the Latin America Solidarity Coalition will stage a one-day Anti-Militarization Organizers Conference on Thursday, November 18, 2010.
Shut Down the SOA and Resist U.S. Militarization in the Americas
Our work has unfortunately not gotten any easier and U.S. militarization in Latin America is accelerating. The SOA graduate led military coup in Honduras, the continuing repression against the Honduran pro-democracy resistance and the expansion of U.S. military bases in Colombia and Panama are grim examples of the ongoing threats of a U.S. foreign policy that is relying on the military to exert control over the people and the resources in the Americas. Join the people who are struggling for justice in Honduras, Colombia and throughout the Americas as we organize to push back.

Spread the word: Click here to tell a friend about the November Vigil.
For more information, visit

**From The Jaan Laaman Blog- A Shout-Out For The Partisan Defense Committee- A Shout-Back-Free The Ohio 7s Jaan Laaman And Tom Manning Now!

Click on the headline to link to the Ohio 7s' Jaan Laaman Blog

Markin comment:

A Shout-Back Free The Ohio 7s Jaan Laaman And Tom Manning Now!

From The Free the San Francisco 8 Website-Latest Update

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Report from court November 18 - Delay and phantom evidence
In a brief appearance in court today on the last remaining charge in the San Francisco 8 case, Judge Moscone set December 3 to hear arguments as to whether there will be an evidentiary hearing on possible wiretap evidence. The defense filed a motion for the hearing after a retired San Francisco police officer let slip his having heard of such evidence, which had previously been denied by the prosecution. Although supporters in the courtroom were fewer than before, there was still a visible presence reaffirming to all parties that we are not going away.

If the judge grants the motion, the evidentiary hearing will be held December 15. Note that this will be limited to the existence (or not) of wiretaps; it is not the long-delayed Preliminary Hearing to determine whether there will even be a trial. The continued delays and the piecemeal revelations of lost, hidden, destroyed, and phantom evidence only strengthen the defense motion to drop the "charges" due to prejudicial delay. Actually, the "charges" have now dwindled to a single charge against a single remaining defendant, Francisco "Cisco" Torres.

In addition to hearing arguments on the motion for an evidentiary hearing, the judge will also use December 3 to schedule future court dates.

Come to court December 3 at 9:30 a.m., Department 23. Representing our continuing support is crucial, even at these "routine" court appearances
Posted by SF8 Webster at 2:55 PM

A Jeff Bridges Retrospective-The Taming of the Old American West-“Bad Company”- A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for Bad Company 

DVD Review

Bad Company, Jeff Bridges, Barry Brown, directed by Robert Benton, Universal, 1972

No, I am not going to start off this piece by going on and on about how Jeff Bridges’ Oscar-winning performance in Crazy Hearts as down-and-out country singer/songwriter Bad Blake was merely an extension of him as a modern young Texas dude, Duane Jackson, in Peter Bogdanovitch’s film adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s The Last Picture Show. Although, now that I think about it, I could. Rather, though I want to use my time to look at this film, Bad Company, as an example of that then (1972) fairly new look at the old American West through other than rose-colored glasses.

McCabe and Mrs. Miller and The Wild Bunch are probably better known, and rightly so, for breaking down the black and white view of the old wild West that those of us who came of age in the dawn of the television era (black and white television, to boot) of the early 1950s and formed our view of the “cowboys and Indians” from the seemingly endless Westerns that ran on Saturday morning (and Saturday afternoon at the movie house, alternating with scary horror or monster movies). The good guys wore white, the bad guys black and the Indians, well, it was kind of left unsaid but the only good one was a dead one. The above mentioned films, this film, and writers like McMurtry and Cormac McCarthy helped to bring some realism, some naturalism to the layers of myth and mis-history.

Take the plot of Bad Company. A young man (Barry Brown), the hero of the film or rather better the anti-hero, of good Ohio family, aided and abetted by that family, is furnished with the means to avoid being conscripted into the Union Army during the later stages of the American Civil War. Said naïve young man learns the lessons of survival in the rough and tumble West before he even gets past Missouri. From there, aided by roustabout and ne’er-do-well Jeff Bridges (being, well, prankster Jeff Bridges), and his gang, he pushes on trying, trying against all odds to keep on the right side of the law (read: frontier justice, not necessarily the same thing). In the end, he does what he has to do to survive. Old Gene Autry, old Hop-along Cassidy, old Roy Rogers might not have been able to fathom that, but you and I can.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

**On The Engagement Of The United Kingdom’s Prince William And His Kate- The View From The Left- Abolish The Monarchy, House Of Lords And State Churches- In Honor Of Gerrard Winstanley

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for 17th century English communist, Gerrard Winstanley

Markin comment:

Okay, this should be short and sweet and a “no-brainer” for international leftist militants. In fact it seems odd, and should give us pause, that we have to comment on the question of the abolition of the monarchy, especially in the homeland of the first serious and important bourgeois revolution in Western society, the United Kingdom. But, to paraphrase a remark Karl Marx once famously made, mankind makes its own history…but not always to its own design, or liking.

Obviously from reading the headline to this entry I, for one, am not weak in the knees and all weepy over the recent announcement from the British royal family that Prince William, eldest son of Prince Charles and a leading heir to the throne, in short, on the short list in line to be the once and future king, Defender of the Faith, and a million other titles attached from sunnier Empire days, including, for all I know, Emperor of India, that he and his Kiss Me, Kate were engaged. From the media blitz (and future blitz) on this we will hear from every possible source about their doings or not doings from here on in. Every teary-eyed closet monarchist in the world, including not a few not so-closeted British Laborite monarchists like Mr. Anthony Blair will have his or her say on the matter. Including the numerous misty-eyed closet (and not so-closeted) monarchists here in republican America.

Now I have nothing personal against Prince William. I have nothing personal against marriage, his or any other, but I most certainly have something against the remnants of medieval society that should have been abolished (and stayed abolished) about 1650. And moreover, cruel as history is, come revolution time, our socialist revolution time, old Prince William or whatever king or queen is on the throne at the time can act, as they have acted in history, as a focal point for counter-revolutionary resistance. So to avoid all that unpleasantness (nice British English word, right?) fight to abolish the monarchy, the House of Lords, and the state churches now. Then Citizen William and his fetching Citizen Kate can enjoy the benefits of our socialist future just like everyone else. And Gerrard Winstanley can officially take his rightful place as one of the early innovators of British and world human progress.

**From The Pen Of 17th Century English Communist Gerrard Winstanley-The Law of Freedom in a Platform-To His Excellency Oliver Cromwell(1952)

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for 17th English English communist, Gerrard Winstanley.

Markin comment:

On a day when there has been a full-court press media blitz (with endless blitzes 24/7/365 to come ) over the engagement of British heir to the throne Prince Williams and his Kate I feel compelled to reach back the mid-17th century for a little wisdom about kings, kingships and the struggle for human progress. True Leveller (Digger) Gerrard Winstanley came immediately to mind (although Levelers John Lilburne and Robert Overton also received my consideration). Abolish the British monarchy now! Fight for Workers Republics (and keep them)!
The Law of Freedom in a Platform (1652)

To His Excellency Oliver Cromwell

God hath honoured you with the highest honour of any man since Moses’s time, to be the head of a people who have cast out an oppressing Pharaoh. For when the Norman power had conquered our forefathers, he took the free use of our English ground from them, and made them his servants. And God hath made you a successful instrument to cast out that conqueror, and to recover our land and liberties again, by your victories, out of that Norman hand.

That which is yet wanting on your part to be done is this, to see the oppressor’s power to be cast out with his person; and to see that the free possession of the land and liberties be put into the hands of the oppressed commoners of England.

For the crown of honour cannot be yours, neither can those victories be called victories on your part, till the land and freedoms won be possessed by them who adventured person and purse for them.

Now you know, Sir, that the kingly conqueror was not beaten by you only as you are a single man, nor by the officers of the Army joined to you, but by the hand and assistance of the commoners, whereof some came in person and adventured their lives with you; others stayed at home and planted the earth and paid taxes and free-quarter to maintain you that went to war.

So that whatsoever is recovered from the conqueror is recovered by a joint consent of the commoners: therefore it is all equity, that all the commoners who assisted you should be set free from the conqueror’s power with you: as David’s law was, The spoil shall be divided between them who went to war, and them who stayed at home.

And now you have the power of the land in your hand, you must do one of these two things: first, either set the land free to the oppressed commoners who assisted you and paid the Army their wages; and then you will fulfil the Scriptures and your own engagements, and so take possession of r your deserved honour:

Or secondly, you must only remove the conqueror’s power out of the King’s hand into other men’s, maintaining the old laws still; and then your wisdom and honour is blasted for ever, and you will either lose yourself, or lay the foundation of greater slavery to posterity than you ever knew.

You know that while the King was in the height of his oppressing power, the people only whispered in private chambers against him: but afterwards it was preached upon the house-tops that he was a tyrant and a traitor to England’s peace; and he had his overturn.

The righteous power in the creation is the same still. If you and those in power with you should be found walking in the King’s steps, can you secure yourselves or posterities from an overturn? Surely no.

The spirit of the whole creation (who is God) is about the reformation of the world, and he will go forward in his work. For if he would not spare kings who have sat so long at his right hand governing the world, neither will he regard you, unless your ways be found more righteous than the King’s.

You have the eyes of the people all the land over, nay I think I may say all neighbouring nations over, waiting to see what you will do. And the eyes of your oppressed friends who lie yet under kingly power are waiting to have the possession given them of that freedom in the land which was promised by you, if in case you prevailed. Lose not your crown; take it up and wear it. But know that it is no crown of honour, till promises and engagements made by you be performed to your friends. He that continues to the end shall receive the crown. Now you do not see the end of your work unless the kingly law and power be removed as well as his person.

Jonah’s gourd is a remembrancer to men in high places.

The worm in the earth gnawed the root and the gourd died, and Jonah was offended.

Sir, I pray bear with me; my spirit is upon such a lock that I must speak plain to you, lest it tell me another day, ‘If thou hadst spoke plain, things might have been amended’.

The earth wherein your gourd grows is the commoners of England.

The gourd is that power which covers you, which will be established to you by giving the people their true freedoms, and not otherwise.

The root of your gourd is the heart of the people, groaning under kingly bondage and desiring a commonwealth’s freedom in their English earth.

The worm in the earth, now gnawing at the root of your gourd, is discontents, because engagements and promises made to them by such as have power are not kept.

And this worm hath three heads. The first is a spirit waiting opportunities till a blasting wind arise to cause your gourd to wither; and yet pretends fair to you, etc.

Another spirit shelters under your gourd for a livelihood, and will say as you say in all things; and these are called honest, yet no good friends to you nor the commonwealth, but to their own bellies.

There is a third spirit, which is faithful indeed and plain-dealing, and many times for speaking truth plainly he is cashiered, imprisoned and crushed: and the oppressions laid upon this spirit kindles the fire which the two former waits to warm themselves at.

Would you have your gourd stand for ever? Then cherish the root in the earth, that is the heart of your friends, the oppressed commoners of England, by killing the worm. And nothing will kill this worm but performance of professions, words and promises, that they may be made free men from tyranny.

It may be you will say to me, ‘What shall I do?’ I answer, ‘You are in place and power to see all burdens taken off from your friends, the commoners of England.’ You will say, ‘What are those burdens?’

I will instance in some, both which I know in my own experience and which I hear the people daily complaining of and groaning under, looking upon you and waiting for deliverance.

Most people cry, ‘We have paid taxes, given free-quarter, wasted our estates and lost our friends in the wars, and the task-masters multiply over us more than formerly.’ I have asked divers this question, ‘Why do you say so?’

Some have answered me that promises, oaths and engagements have been made as a motive to draw us to assist in the wars; that privileges of Parliament and liberties of subjects should be preserved, and that all popery and episcopacy and tyranny should be rooted out; and these promises are not performed. Now there is an opportunity to perform them.

For first, say they, ‘The current of succeeding Parliaments is stopped, which is one of the great privileges (and people’s liberties) for safety and peace; and if that continue stopped, we shall be more offended by an hereditary Parliament than we were oppressed by an hereditary king’.

And for the commoners, who were called subjects while the kingly conqueror was in power, have not as yet their liberties granted them: I will instance them in order, according as the common whisperings are among the people.

For, they say, the burdens of the clergy remains still upon us, in a threefold nature.

First, if any man declare his judgment in the things of God contrary to the clergy’s report or the mind of some high officers, they are cashiered, imprisoned, crushed and undone, and made sinners for a word, as they were in the pope’s and bishops’ days; so that though their names be cast out, yet their High Commission Court’s power remains still, persecuting men for conscience’ sake when their actions are unblameable.

Secondly, in many parishes there are old formal ignorant episcopal priests established; and some ministers who are bitter enemies to commonwealth’s freedom and friends to monarchy are established preachers, and are continually buzzing their subtle principles into the minds of the people, to undermine the peace of our declared commonwealth, causing a disaffection of spirit among neighbours, who otherwise would live in peace.

Thirdly, the burden of tithes remains still upon our estates, which was taken from us by the kings and given to the clergy to maintain them by our labours; so that though their preaching fill the minds of many with madness, contention and unsatisfied doubting, because their imaginary and ungrounded doctrines cannot be understood by them, yet we must pay them large tithes for so doing. This is oppression.

Fourthly, if we go to the lawyer, we find him to sit in the conqueror’s chair though the kings be removed, maintaining the kings’ power to the height; for in many courts and cases of law the will of a judge and lawyer rules above the letter of the law, and many cases and suits are lengthened to the great vexation of the clients and to the lodging of their estates in the purse of the unbounded lawyer. So that we see, though other men be under a sharp law, yet many of the great lawyers are not, but still do act their will as the conqueror did; as I have heard some belonging to the law say, ‘What cannot we do?’

Fifthly, say they, if we look upon the customs of the law itself, it is the same it was in the kings’ days, only the name is altered; as if the commoners of England had paid their taxes, free-quarter and shed their blood not to reform but to baptize the law into a new name, from kingly law to state law; by reason whereof the spirit of discontent is strengthened, to increase more suits of law than formerly was known to be. And so, as the sword pulls down kingly power with one hand, the kings’ old law builds up monarchy again with the other.

And indeed the main work of reformation lies in this, to reform the clergy, lawyers and law; for all the complaints of the land are wrapped up within them three, not in the person of a king.

Shall men of other nations say that notwithstanding all those rare wits in the Parliament and Army of England, yet they could not reform the clergy, lawyer and law, but must needs establish all as the kings left them?

Will not this blast all our honour, and make all monarchical members laugh in their sleeves, to see the government of our commonwealth to be built upon the kingly laws and principles?

I have asked divers soldiers what they fought for; they answered, they could not tell; and it is very true, they cannot tell indeed, if the monarchical law be established without reformation. But I wait to see what will be done; and I doubt not but to see our commonwealth’s government to be built upon his own foundation.

Sixthly, if we look into Parishes, the burdens there are many.

First, for the power of lords of manors remains still over their brethren, requiring fines and heriots; beating them off the free use of the common land, unless their brethren will pay them rent; exacting obedience as much as they did, and more, when the King was in power.

Now saith the people, ‘By what power do these maintain their title over us! ‘Formerly they held title from the King, as he was the conqueror’s successor. But have not the commoners cast out the King, and broke the bond of that conquest? Therefore in equity they are free from the slavery of that lordly power.

Secondly, in parishes where commons lie, the rich Norman freeholders, or the new (more covetous) gentry, over-stock the commons with sheep and cattle; so that inferior tenants and poor labourers can hardly keep a cow, but half starve her. So that the poor are kept poor still, and the common freedom of the earth is kept from them, and the poor have no more relief than they had when the king (or conqueror) was in power.

Thirdly, in many parishes two or three of the great ones bears all the sway in making assessments, over-awing constables and other officers; and when time was to quarter soldiers, they would have a hand in that, to ease themselves and over-burden the weaker sort; and many times make large sums of money over and above the justice’s warrant in assessments, and would give no account why, neither durst the inferior people demand an account, for he that spake should be sure to be crushed the next opportunity; and if any have complained to committees or justices, they have been either wearied out by delays and waiting, or else the offence hath been by them smothered up; so that we see one great man favoured another, and the poor oppressed have no relief.

Fourthly, there is another grievance which the people are much troubled at, and that is this: country people cannot sell any corn or other fruits of the earth in a market town but they must either pay toll or be turned out of town. Now say they, ‘This is a most shameful thing, that we must part with our estates in taxes and free-quarter to purchase the freedom of the land and the freedom of the towns, and yet this freedom must be still given from us into the hands of a covetous Norman toll-taker, according to the kings’ old burdensome laws, and contrary to the liberty of a free commonwealth.’

‘Now,’ saith the whisperings of the people, ‘the inferior tenants and labourers bears all the burdens, in labouring the earth, in paying taxes and free-quarter beyond their strength, and in furnishing the armies with soldiers, who bear the greatest burden of the war; and yet the gentry, who oppress them and that live idle upon their labours, carry away all the comfortable livelihood of the earth.’

For is not this a common speech among the people? ‘We have parted with our estates, we have lost our friends in the wars, which we willingly gave up, because freedom was promised us; and now in the end we have new task-masters, and our old burdens increased: and though all sorts- of people have taken an Engagement to cast out kingly power, yet kingly power remains in power still in the hands of those who have no more right to the earth than ourselves.

‘For,’ say the people, ‘if the lords of manors and our taskmasters hold title to the earth over us from the old kingly power, behold that power is beaten and cast out.

‘And two acts of Parliament are made: the one to cast out kingly power, backed by the Engagement against King and House of Lords, the other to make England a free commonwealth.

‘And if lords of manors lay claim to the earth over us from the Army’s victories over the King, then we have as much right to the land as they, because our labours and blood and death of friends were the purchasers of the earth’s freedom as well as theirs.

‘And is not this a slavery,’ say the people, ‘that though there be land enough in England to maintain ten times as many people as are in it, yet some must beg of their brethren, or work in hard drudgery for day wages for them, or starve or steal and so be hanged out of the way, as men not fit to live in the earth, before they must be suffered to plant the waste land for their livelihood, unless they will pay rent to their brethren for it?’ Well, this is a burden the creation groans under; and the subjects (so called) have not their birthright freedoms granted them from their brethren, who hold it from them by dub law, but not by righteousness.

‘And who now must we be subject to, seeing the conqueror is gone?’

I answer, we must either be subject to a law, or to men’s wills. If to a law, then all men in England are subjects, or ought to be, thereunto: but what law that is to which every one ought to be subject is not yet established in execution. If any say the old kings’ laws are the rule, then it may be answered that those laws are so full of confusion that few knows when they obey and when not, because they were the laws of a conqueror to hold the people in subjection to the will of the conqueror; therefore that cannot be the rule for everyone. Besides, we daily see many actions done by state officers, which they have no law to justify them in but their prerogative will.

And again if we must be subject to men, then what men must we be subject to, seeing one man hath as much right to the earth as another, for no man now stands as a conqueror over his brethren by the law of righteousness?

You will say, ‘We must be subject to the ruler’. It is true, but not to suffer the rulers to call the earth theirs and not ours, for by so doing they betray their trust and run into the line of tyranny; and we lose our freedom and from thence enmity and wars arise.

A ruler is worthy double honour when he rules well, that tis, when he himself is subject to the law, and requires all others to be subject thereunto, and makes it his work to see the laws obeyed and not his own will; and such rulers are faithful, and they are to be subjected unto us therein, for all commonwealth’s rulers are servants to, not lords and kings over, the people. But you will say, ‘Is not the land your brother’s? And you cannot take away another man’s right by claiming a share therein with him.’

I answer, it is his either by creation right, or by right of conquest. If by creation right he call the earth his and not mine, then it is mine as well as his; for the spirit of the whole creation, who made us both, is no respecter of persons.

And if by conquest he call the earth his and not mine, it must be either by the conquest of the kings over the commoners, or by the conquest of the commoners over the kings.

If he claim the earth to be his from the kings’ conquest, the kings are beaten and cast out, and that title is undone.

If he claim title to the earth to be his from the conquest of the commoners over the kings, then I have right to the land as well as my brother, for my brother without me, nor I without my brother, did not cast out the kings; but both together assisting with person and purse we prevailed, so that I have by this victory as equal a share in the earth which is now redeemed as my brother by the law of righteousness.

If my brother still say he will be landlord (through his covetous ambition) and I must pay him rent, or else I shall not live in the land, then does he take my right from me, which I have purchased by my money in taxes, free-quarter and blood. And O thou spirit of the whole creation, who hath this title to be called King of righteousness and Prince of Peace: judge thou between my brother and me, whether this be righteous, etc.

‘And now’, say the people, ‘is not this a grievous thing that our brethren that will be landlords, right or wrong, will make laws and call for a law to be made to imprison, crush, nay put to death, any that denies God, Christ and Scripture; and yet they will not practise that golden rule, Do to another as thou wouldst have another do to thee, which God, Christ and Scriptures hath enacted for a law? Are not these men guilty of death by their own law, which is the words of their own mouth? Is it not a flat denial of God and Scripture?’

O the confusion and thick darkness that hath over-spread our brethren is very great. I have no power to remove it, but lament it in the secrets of my heart. When I see prayers, sermons, fasts, thanksgiving, directed to this God in words and shows, and when I come to look for actions of obedience to the righteous law, suitable to such a profession, I find them men of another nation, saying and not doing; like an old courtier saying ‘Your servant’, when he was an enemy. I will say no more, but groan and wait for a restoration.

Thus, Sir, I have reckoned up some of those burdens which the people groan under.

And I being sensible hereof was moved in my self to present this platform of commonwealth’s government unto you, wherein I have declared a full commonwealth’s freedom, according to the rule of righteousness, which is God’s Word. It was intended for your view above two years ago, but the disorder of the times caused me to lay it aside, with a thought never to bring it to light, etc. Likewise I hearing that Mr Peters and some others propounded this request, that the Word of God might be consulted with to find out a healing government,[1] which I liked well and waited to see such a rule come forth, for there are good rules in the Scripture if they were obeyed and practised. Thereupon I laid aside this in silence, and said I would not make it public; but this word was like fire in my bones ever and anon, Thou shalt not bury thy talent in the earth; therefore I was stirred up to give it a resurrection, and to pick together as many of my scattered papers as I could find, and to compile them into this method, which I do here present to you, and do quiet my own spirit.

And now I have set the candle at your door, for you have power in your hand, in this other added opportunity, to act for common freedom if you will: I have no power.

It may be here are some things inserted which you may not like, yet other things you may like, therefore I pray you read it, and be as the industrious bee, suck out the honey and cast away the weeds.

Though this platform be like a piece of timber rough hewed, yet the discreet workmen may take it and frame a handsome building out of it.

It is like a poor man that comes clothed to your door in a torn country garment, who is unacquainted with the learned citizens’ unsettled forms and fashions; take off the clownish language, for under that you may see beauty.

It may be you will say, ‘If tithes retaken from the priests and impropriators, and copyhold services from lords of manors, how shall they be provided for again; for is it not unrighteous to take their estates from them?’

I answer, when tithes were first enacted, and lordly power drawn over the backs of the oppressed, the kings and conquerors made no scruple of conscience to take it, though the people lived in sore bondage of poverty for want of it; and can there be scruple of conscience to make restitution of this which hath been so long stolen goods? It is no scruple arising from the righteous law, but from covetousness, who goes away sorrowful to hear he must part with all to follow righteousness and peace.

But though you do take away tithes and the power of lords of manors, yet there will be no want to them, for they have the freedom of the common stock, they may send to the store-houses for what they want, and live more free than now they do; for now they are in care and vexation by servants, by casualties, by being cheated in buying and selling and many other encumbrances, but then they will be free from all, for the common store-houses is every man’s riches, not any one’s.

‘Is it not buying and selling a righteous law?’ No, it is the law of the conqueror, but not the righteous law of creation: how can that be righteous which is a cheat? For is not this a common practice, when he hath a bad horse or cow, or any bad commodity, he will send it to the market, to cheat some simple plain-hearted man or other; and when he comes home will laugh at his neighbour’s hurt, and much more etc.

When mankind began to buy and sell, then did he fall from his innocence; for then they began to oppress and cozen one another of their creation birthright. As for example: if the land belong to three persons, and two of them buy and sell the earth and the third give no consent, his right is taken from him, and his posterity is engaged in a war.

When the earth was first bought and sold, many gave no consent: as when our crown lands and bishops’ lands were sold, some foolish soldiers yielded, and covetous officers were active in it, to advance themselves above their brethren; but many who paid taxes and free-quarter for the purchase of it gave no consent but declared against it as an unrighteous thing, depriving posterity of their birthrights and freedoms.

Therefore this buying and selling did bring in, and still doth bring in, discontent and wars, which have plagued mankind sufficiently for so doing. And the nations of the world will never learn to beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, and leave off warring, until this cheating device of buying and selling be cast out among the rubbish of kingly power.

‘But shall not one man be richer than another?’

There is no need of that; for riches make men vain-glorious, proud, and to oppress their brethren; and are the occasion of wars.

No man can be rich, but he must be rich either by his own labours, or by the labours of other men helping him. If a man have no help from his neighbour, he shall never gather an estate of hundreds and thousands a year. If other men help him to work, then are those riches his neighbours’ as well as his; for they may be the fruit of other men’s labours as well as his own.

But all rich men live at ease, feeding and clothing themselves by the labours of other men, not by their own; which is their shame, and not their nobility; for it is a more blessed thing to give than to receive. But rich men receive all they have from the labourer’s hand, and what they give, they give away other men’s labours, not their own. Therefore they are not righteous actors in the earth.

‘But shall not one man have more titles of honour than another?’

Yes. As a man goes through offices, he rises to titles of honour till he comes to the highest nobility, to be a faithful commonwealth’s man in a Parliament House. Likewise he who finds out any secret in nature shall have a title of honour given him, though he be a young man. But no man shall have any title of honour till he win it by industry, or come to it by age or office-bearing. Every man that is above Sixty years of age shall have respect as a man of honour by all others that are younger, as is shewed hereafter.

‘Shall every man count his neighbour’s house as his own, and live together as one family?’

No. Though the earth and storehouses be common to every family, yet every family shall live apart as they do; and every man’s house, wife, children and furniture for ornament of his house, or anything which he hath fetched in from the store-houses, or provided for the necessary use of his family, is all a property to that family, for the peace thereof. And if any man offer to take away a man’s wife, children or furniture of his house, without his consent, or disturb the peace of his dwelling, he shall suffer punishment as an enemy to the commonwealth’s government, as is mentioned in the platform following.

‘Shall we have no lawyers?’

There is no need of them, for there is to be no buying and selling; neither any need to expound laws, for the bare letter of the law shall be both judge and lawyer, trying every man’s actions. And seeing we shall have successive Parliaments every year, there will be rules made for every action a man can do.

But there is to be officers chosen yearly in every parish, to see the laws executed according to the letter of the laws; so that there will be no long work in trying of offences, as it is under kingly government, to get the lawyers money and to enslave the commoners to the conqueror’s prerogative law or will. The sons of contention, Simeon and Levi, must not bear rule in a free commonwealth

At the first view you may say, ‘This is a strange government’. But I pray judge nothing before trial. Lay this platform of commonwealth’s government in one scale, and lay monarchy or kingly government in the other scale, and see which give true weight to righteous freedom and peace. There is no middle path between these two, for a man must either be a free and true commonwealth’s man, or a monarchical tyrannical royalist.

If any say, ‘This will bring poverty’; surely they mistake. For there will be plenty of all earthly commodities, with less labour and trouble than now it is under monarchy. There will be no want, for every man may keep as plentiful a house as he will, and never run into debt, for common stock pays for all.

If you say, ‘Some will live idle’: I answer, No. It will make idle persons to become workers, as is declared in the platform: there shall be neither beggar nor idle person.

If you say, ‘This will make men quarrel and fight’:

I answer, No. It will turn swords into ploughshares, and settle such a peace in the earth, as nations shall learn war no more. Indeed the government of kings is a breeder of wars, because men being put into the straits of poverty are moved to fight for liberty, and to take one another’s estates from them, and to obtain mastery. Look into all armies, and see what they do more, but make some poor, some rich; put some into freedom, and others into bondage. And is not this a plague among mankind?

Well, I question not but what objections can be raised against this commonwealth’s government, they shall find an answer in this platform following. I have been something large, because I could not contract my self into a lesser volume, having so many things to speak of.

I do not say, nor desire, that every one shall be compelled to practise this commonwealth’s government, for the spirits of some will be enemies at first, though afterwards will prove the most cordial and true friends thereunto.

Yet I desire that the commonwealth’s land, which is the ancient commons and waste land, and the lands newly got in by the Army’s victories out of the oppressors’ hands, as parks, forests, chases and the like, may be set free to all that have lent assistance, either of person or purse, to obtain it; and to all that are willing to come in to the practice of this government and be obedient to the laws thereof. And for others who are not willing, let them stay in the way of buying and selling, which is the law of the conqueror, till they be willing.

And so I leave this in your hand, humbly prostrating my self and it before you; and remain

Novemb. 5, A true lover of commonwealth’s
1651. government, peace and freedom,
Gerrard Winstanley.