Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Gas Wars, Circa 1964-When The Souped-Up Car Ruled The North Adamsville Night-With The “Boss Man’s” ’57 Chevy In Mind

Click on the headline, but only after you have read this entry and after you have made your guess, to link to a 1960s Flashback Website for the answer. For those who graduated in other decades and wish to know the price of gas at the pump in your misbegotten youth you can link from there. Thanks, Internet.

Peter Paul Markin, North Adamsville Class of 1964, comment and question:

How much did it cost for a gallon of gasoline in 1964? In the interest of "speaking" to the wider North Adamsville Graduate audience that might pick this comment up on Facebook just pick your year of graduation and guess from there. Then click on headline to seek the answer

Oil at $100 a barrel. Gasoline over three dollars per gallon at the pump (remember this is being written in September, 2011 in case you pick this up later). No, do not worry, this is not intended to be the start of a political screed about the need to bring the “Seven Sisters” oil monopolists to heel or to break up the international oil cartels, although those are very good ideas. At the beginning of this series of commentaries about the old days in North Adamsville I promised that I would not be political, at least not overtly so. So that is political aspect is no help here. All I want to ask today is whether, through the mist of time, you remember how much gasoline cost when you went to "fill 'er up" in high school.

Now this question requires some honesty on your part. Please, no Googling the Quincy Patriot Ledger or The Boston Globe to search their archives of the time. Nor should you use a graphic calculator to factor back the effect of the rate of inflation on oil since 1964 to come up with an answer. Dear readers, this is not some torturous calculus problem. What you basically need to do is to remember some numbers from when you were daydreaming out the window in study hall at old North Adamsville High. Maybe in between thinking away the hours about that certain she (or he) a couple of rows over and how, well, how you would like to get acquainted with her (or him) or what was up for Saturday when your true corner boy “boss man,” Sid Hemmings, came by to pick you up in his “boss” (hence the Boss Man nickname) ’57 Chevy and you went “cruising” into the great teenage Adamsville Beach night. Or maybe you spotted those numbers when you went out the door, assuming you survived opening that fortress-like door while still thinking about that certain she (or he) whom you almost had enough courage to talk to after class today but only got to a meaningful look, onto Hancock Street after school.

What is this guy talking about with all these study hall and looking out the window references? Just this. Unless you were a total grind and always had your nose in a book then the answer merely requires that you had looked out the window. Directly across the street, Hancock Street, from the school were two gas stations (I believe somewhere near the mass transportation depot parking lot and the MacDonald's are now if you have been in the old town recently) that were always in competition with each other. They, and I am not making this up for I do not have such a vivid imagination, actually were having very public price wars to bring in customers by REDUCING the price of their gas. But enough hints. Your answers, please?

No comment on the 1964 North Adamsville gas wars night would be complete without reference to the manner in which we got the dough to pay for said gas. A lot of kids then got it from mom or pop reflecting the more affluence post-World War II times when the old parents has enough dough to spare for a kid to own his or her own car, and have a gas money allowance to boot. Even in working class North Adamsville. Others, like me and most of my corner boys, my Salducci’s Pizza Parlor night corner boys, walked, hitchhiked or borrowed the “old man’s” car (or that of an older brother) for a be-bop Saturday night romp. That is until I met up with the “Boss Man” mentioned above. Sid Hemming’s, who lived just down the end of my dead-end street, had a ’57 Chevy that he was always working on (and when he wasn’t working on it was riding around, usually with a bevy of girls before the night was over, down that now famous Adamsville Beach night).

For a couple of years he took me in tow. The price, well the price was that I was “in charge” of filling up his tank when it was empty. In short, paying for gas to be “cool.” Since I was poorer than a church mouse and never heard of such a thing as an allowance until somebody told me about them that meant taking my hard-earned money from caddying up at the local private golf course to fill the damn thing. And those golfer guys whether they had dough or not, and they usually did, were cheap when it came caddie pay-off time. A primer in capitalist economics, I guess. So you know, roughly, that gas could not have cost too much. Still, you are duty-bound to guess.

Of course, buying the gas got me nothing when it came to the girls the filled the other seats of Sid’s souped-up car. Well usually got me nothing, that is. See they, most of them prime A-one foxes, only had eyes for Sid, or more correctly Sid’s ’57 Chevy. Hell they were one in the same. Now Sid, whatever his mechanical wizard abilities with an automobile motor were, and I will be kind here, had nothing for looks. Even “cute” was a stretch. And even more of a stretch was that “cute” when Sid was seriously into his auto repair work and smelled of oils, cigarettes and whiskey. Still the girls (read: young women) actually came up to him looking for a ride and, well, just leave it as and. The way it worked is that once the car filled up with girls I was out the door. No problem, well no problem on those few occasions when he left me down at the beach (Adamsville Beach, if you didn’t know), with one of his “cast-offs”. A cast-off being something like some older girl’s sister whom she was kind stuck baby-sitting for and wanted to ditch to have a minute’s passion with Sid, or so that is what I heard they were doing. All I know is that I could hear that old Chevy roaring down the end of the street with Sid at the wheel and one last “pick of the evening” sitting tight next to him. Ya, that was Sid’s way, always Sid’s way.

P.S. For later, post-North Adamsville MBTA station graduates, you are left to your own resources about finding the gas prices.

Labor's Untold Story-From The Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Archives-The Struggle For Working Class Organization-Marx To Lion Philips In Zalt-Bommel (1864)

Markin comment:

Every Month Is Labor History MonthThis post is part of an on-going series under the following general title: Labor’s Untold Story- Reclaiming Our Labor History In Order To Fight Another Day-And Win!

Other Septembers in this series I have concentrated on various sometimes now obscure leaders and rank and file militants in the international working class movement, especially those who made contributions here in America like "Big Bill" Haywood and Eugene V. Debs. This year, given the pressing need for clarity around the labor party question in America(algebraically expressed in our movement as the struggle for a workers party that fights for a workers government) I have gone back to the sources-Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and their correspondence on working class organizationwith various associates and opponents. Strangely, or maybe not so strangely given the state of working class organization here these days, many of their comments, taken in due regard for changed times and circumstances, are germane today. This correspondence is only a start and should just whet the reader's appetite to research further.
Marx-Engels Correspondence 1864

Marx To Lion Philips In Zalt-Bommel (1864)

Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 46;
First published: in International Review of Social History, Assen, 1956.

London, 29 November 1864
1 Modena Villas, Maitland Park, Haverstock Hill

Dear Uncle,

I hope that you are in the best of health despite the abominable weather. All is well here. Except that, to the great alarm of the whole family, I had a most malignant carbuncle below the left breast at the beginning of this month, which kept me in great pain for 2-3 weeks. Other than that, everything has been going well.

The trade crisis, which I predicted to you long before its actual arrival has by this time long since lost its edge, although its consequences in the manufacturing districts proper are still very considerable. On the other hand, I believe a political crisis is to be expected in the spring or early summer. Bonaparte has again reached the point where he will have to make war again if he is to raise a loan. The Venetian business is being kept open (I am acquainted with some of the agents there) so that it can provide a point of contact if need be. It is possible that Bonaparte will again find a way out, and then he will keep the peace (for he is no real Napoleon), but that is rather improbable.

The enclosed printed Address is written by myself. The matter hangs together like this: in September the Parisian workers sent a delegation to the London workers to demonstrate support for Poland. On that occasion, an international Workers’ Committee was formed. The matter is not without importance because 1. in London the same people are at the head who organised the gigantic reception for Garibaldi and, by their monster meeting with Bright in St James’s Hall, prevented war with the United States. In a word, these are the real workers’ leaders in London, with one or two exceptions all workers themselves. 2. On the Parisian side, Mr Tolain (ouvrier himself, as well) et Co. are at the head, i.e., the same people who were prevented by a mere intrigue on the part of Garnier-Pagès, Carnot, etc., from entering the Corps législatif at the last elections in Paris as representatives of the workers there, and 3. on the Italian side, it has been joined by the representatives of the 4-500 Italian workers’ clubs which held their general congress in Naples some weeks ago an event which even The Times considered important enough to merit a few dozen lines in the paper.

Courtesy toward the French and the Italians, who always require florid language, has obliged me to include a few superfluous turns of phrase in the preamble to the ‘Rules’, though not in the ‘Address’.

A few day’s ago I received a letter from America from my friend Weydemeyer, Colonel in the regiment stationed at St Louis (Missouri). Amongst other things, he writes — and these are his exact words:

‘We are regrettably being detained here at St Louis, since, in view of the many “conservative” elements here, a military force is a continuing necessity to prevent a break-out and the possible release of the numerous Southern prisoners. ... The whole campaign in Virginia is a blunder, which has cost us innumerable men. But for all that, the South will not be able to hold out much longer: it has sent its last man into battle and has no fresh army to call upon. The present invasion of Missouri, like the incursions into Tennessee, has only the character of a raid, a foray: there can be no thought of a lasting re-occupation of districts that have been lost.’

When you reflect, my dear Uncle, how at the time of Lincoln’s election 3½ years ago it was only a matter of making no further concessions to the slave-owners, whereas now the avowed aim, which has in part already been realised, is the abolition of slavery, one has to admit that never has such a gigantic revolution occurred with such rapidity. It will have a highly beneficial influence on the whole world.

At a public meeting this week the fellow-member of our race Benjamin Disraeli has again made a dreadful laughing-stock of himself by assuming the mantle of guardian angel of the High Church and Church rates, repudiating criticism in religious affairs. He furnishes the best evidence of how a great talent unaccompanied by conviction creates rogues, albeit gold-braided and ‘Right Honorable’ ones.

Those jackasses in Germany have again made a proper laughing-stock of themselves over the Muller affair, with ex-parson Kinkel at their head.

With kindest regards from the whole family to you and from me to Jettchen, Dr, Fritz et Co.

Ever your faithful nephew

K. M.

“Workers of The World Unite, You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Chains”-The Struggle For Trotsky's Fourth (Communist) International-From The Archives-The Founding Conference Of The Fourth International (1938)-"Salute to Our Living Martyrs And Our Heroic Dead"

Click on the headline to link to the Toward A History Of The Fourth International website for the article listed above.

Markin comment (repost from September 2010):

Recently, when the question of an international, a new workers international, a fifth international, was broached by the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), faintly echoing the call by Venezuelan caudillo, Hugo Chavez, I got to thinking a little bit more on the subject. Moreover, it must be something in the air (maybe caused by these global climatic changes) because I have also seen recent commentary on the need to go back to something that looks very much like Karl Marx’s one-size-fits-all First International. Of course, just what the doctor by all means, be my guest, but only if the shades of Proudhon and Bakunin can join. Boys and girls that First International was disbanded in the wake of the demise of the Paris Commune for a reason, okay. Mixing political banners (Marxism and fifty-seven varieties of anarchism) is appropriate to a united front, not a hell-bent revolutionary International fighting, and fighting hard, for our communist future. Forward

The Second International, for those six, no seven, people who might care, is still alive and well (at least for periodic international conferences) as a mail-drop for homeless social democrats who want to maintain a fig leaf of internationalism without having to do much about it. Needless to say, one Joseph Stalin and his cohorts liquidated the Communist (Third) International in 1943, long after it turned from a revolutionary headquarters into an outpost of Soviet foreign policy. By then no revolutionary missed its demise, nor shed a tear goodbye. And of course there are always a million commentaries by groups, cults, leagues, tendencies, etc. claiming to stand in the tradition (although, rarely, the program) of the Leon Trotsky-inspired Fourth International that, logically and programmatically, is the starting point of any discussion of the modern struggle for a new communist international.

With that caveat in mind this month, the September American Labor Day month, but more importantly the month in 1938 that the ill-fated Fourth International was founded I am posting some documents around the history of that formation, and its program, the program known by the shorthand, Transitional Program. If you want to call for a fifth, sixth, seventh, what have you, revolutionary international, and you are serious about it beyond the "mail-drop" potential, then you have to look seriously into that organization's origins, and the world-class Bolshevik revolutionary who inspired it. Forward.
Markin comment on this document:

Everybody, and that most notably included Leon Trotsky, knew something was going awry with the Bolshevik Revolution by 1923 for many reasons, some of them beyond correction outside of an international extension of the revolution, especially to Germany that would provide the vital industrial infrastructure to aid the struggling Soviet Union. Nevertheless, and this is important to note about serious revolutionary politics and politicians in general, the fight in 1923 still needed to aimed at winning the party cadre over. That was the failing point of many oppositionists, inside and outside the party, then.

By 1933, with the rise of the virtually unopposed rise and consolidation of Nazism in Germany clearly putting paid to the Communist International’s (read: Stalin’s) erroneous strategy, working inside the party, or acting as an expelled fraction of the party, was no longer tenable. Like earlier with the First and Second Internationals the Communist International was now dead as a revolutionary organizational center. Time now to gather, by fits and starts, the cadre for a new international- the Fourth International

A major task then, and now, was the preservation, protection and comfort of revolutionary militants-your own organization's and others. Some, like we here in the United States work under relatively easy conditions (for now anyway). Others work under incredible adversity. An injury to one is an injury to all as the old IWW (Wobblies) slogan went. That is about right.

Friday, September 09, 2011

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-Capitalism in Crisis: Karl Marx Was Right-We Need an All New Ruling Class—the Workers!......And Markin Says Pronto!

Workers Vanguard No. 985
2 September 2011

Capitalism in Crisis: Karl Marx Was Right

We Need an All New Ruling Class—the Workers!

In 2007-2008, the world was plunged into an economic crisis unrivaled since the days of the Great Depression. The con men on Wall Street whose financial swindles were central to this collapse were bailed out to the tune of trillions of dollars. The working class, black people, Latinos, the poor, the sick and the aged have been made to foot the bill, losing their jobs, homes, pensions and virtually anything else that makes life remotely livable. Today, one in six people in the U.S. are unemployed, with the average time out of work close to ten months. Forty-five million people are on food stamps, an increase of 34 percent over the past two years. Those who still have a job are being sweated to work harder for lower wages. In racist America, it’s all the worse for black people and Latinos, who were among the main victims of the banks’ subprime mortgage scams. One-third of black and Latino households have no net worth, with many underwater in debt. The capitalist authors of this ruin have, in the meantime, made out like bandits.

During the “jobless and wageless recovery” of the past two years, corporate profits have broken all historic records. This comes on top of the enormous enrichment of the wealthiest 1 percent of the population, who more than doubled their share of the national income in the past three decades. The government’s “welfare for the rich” schemes have boosted financial speculation, artificially driving up the price of stocks, while the already rotting productive capacity of U.S. capitalism goes through the floor. With the U.S. economy overwhelmingly based on consumer spending—and with the vast majority having no money to spend—this whole house of cards is crashing down again as the economy spirals into a double-dip recession.

For over a month, the stock market has been on a wild roller-coaster ride of panicked buying and selling. Among the detonators of this panic were concerns that the Democratic president of the United States, Barack Obama, had lost control of the imperialist “ship of state” to a pack of deranged Republican Tea Party yahoos. Liberal Democrats and others raged that the Republicans were holding America “hostage” by refusing to raise the debt ceiling unless they got trillions in spending cuts and no rise in taxes for the rich. But it was the Democratic Party president himself who manufactured the myth that the “world’s only superpower” was about to default on its debt like some impoverished Third World country. Even if they didn’t have the money—which they do, and plenty of it—they “can always print money,” as former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan put it.

Obama’s purpose in this charade was not much different from that of the Republicans, as he pushed for a “grand bargain” of massive austerity through slashing more than $4 trillion from so-called “entitlement” programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security over the next decade. His sop of closing a few tax loopholes for the rich was about all the Democrats could choke out to try to maintain the fraud that they are the “friends” of the little guy. And they even caved on that one.

Nonetheless, the recklessness of the Republicans has disturbed Wall Street and even their own party establishment. As Doug Henwood put it in his Left Business Observer (21 August): “Wall Street, the Fortune 500, center-right Dems, non-insane Republicans—who’ve been happy to let the Teabaggers promote the austerity agenda, would now like them to get out of the way. Not only are they undermining the blue-blood status of Treasury bonds, they’re making our political system look foolish on a world stage. But when you use odious and/or lunatic agents, there is always what the CIA types call a ‘disposal problem’.”

The madness of the Republican Party “Tea Baggers” is merely an extreme expression of the depravity of America’s capitalist rulers, who have no other way out of the economic crisis—a crisis of their own making—than to further starve the poor, bust the unions and drive down wages. As the political servants of the same capitalist class, the Democrats are increasingly incapable of even putting a phony “kinder, gentler” facade on the cruel inhumanity of imperialist rule.

It Is Desperately Necessary to Fight!

While Congress was gridlocked over the “debt ceiling,” the imperialist masters of the European Union (EU) were in emergency session to come up with another bailout of Greece—in reality, a bailout of the investments of French and German bankers on the backs of the Greek working class. Then it looked like Spain and Italy might go belly-up as rising interest on their government bonds was freezing them out of money to keep their economies afloat. After EU and IMF bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal totaling hundreds of billions of dollars, the European Central Bank started spending tens of billions more to buy up the bonds of Spain and Italy and drive down interest rates, while the governments of those two countries announced even more savage austerity.

Meanwhile, Britain was exploding in anger ignited by the cop killing of a young black man (see article, page 16). From London to other cities, thousands took to the streets in an upheaval fueled by vicious spending cuts and job slashing. The London Guardian Weekly (19 August) warned: “Together, the global imbalances, the manic-depressive behavior of stock markets, the venalilty of the financial sector, the growing gulf between rich and poor, the high levels of unemployment, the naked consumerism and the English riots are telling us something. This is a system in deep trouble, and it is waiting to blow.”

In Europe, austerity has been met with strikes and protests, at times massive, in defense of workers’ livelihoods. But the workers’ struggles are hamstrung by their reformist misleaders, who accept the inevitability of capitalist austerity while merely pleading that the blows be softened.

In this country, tens of thousands of unionists and their supporters came out in protest early this year against Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker’s union-busting law tearing up the collective bargaining rights of public workers unions. With public workers unions everywhere threatened with obliteration, the Wisconsin protests inspired workers across the country who saw them as the beginning of a fightback against the one-sided class war targeting organized labor. But the bureaucratic misleaders of the AFL-CIO worked overtime to squelch any move toward actually using labor’s strike weapon, channeling the anger of the ranks into support for the Democratic Party with a petition campaign to recall Walker and a number of Republican state legislators.

The decades of betrayals by these labor fakers have encouraged the U.S. rulers in the arrogant belief that they can get away with doing anything to the working class, the poor and most everyone else without provoking any social struggle. But the rulers and their labor lieutenants cannot eliminate the class struggle which is born of the irreconcilable conflict of interests between labor and its exploiters. The same conditions that grind down the workers can and will propel them into battle against the capitalist class enemy. This was seen in the midst of the Great Depression, when, at a brief upturn in the economy, workers began to engage in hard-fought battles to organize industrial unions in this country.

The sit-down strikes, mass pickets and other actions that built the CIO were ignited by the 1934 San Francisco general strike and mass strikes in Toledo and Minneapolis the same year. All of those strikes were led by reds. It was to head off the threat that class battles would challenge capitalist rule that New Deal social programs such as Social Security were implemented. Following World War II, Cold War red purges in the unions drove out socialists and Communists, including the Stalinists who had channeled workers’ discontent into support for Roosevelt’s Democratic Party.

Today, there are no longer avowed socialists with a significant base in the unions. But even in the absence of militants inspired by such political convictions, radical leaders will arise and they will be no less militant. Renewed labor battles will lay the basis for reviving and extending the unions, with a new, class-struggle leadership coming to the fore. For the workers to prevail against their exploiters, they must be armed with a Marxist political program that links labor’s fight to the struggle to build a multiracial workers party that will do away with this entire system of wage slavery through socialist revolution. Fight, don’t starve! Those who labor must rule!

The Bourgeoisie: An Unfit Ruling Class

In the Communist Manifesto, written more than 150 years ago, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels identified the key contradiction of capitalist society, which lies at the root of repeated economic crises. On the one hand, under capitalism production is socialized. But the means of production remain the private property of a few, who appropriate the wealth that is produced by workers’ collective labor.

The boom-bust economic cycles are direct products of the capitalist system of production for profit. Capitalists invest in expanding productive capacity on the assumption that the additional output—autos, houses, etc.—can be sold at the existing rate of profit, at least. However, during periods of expansion the average rate of profit tends to fall. This situation eventually creates a crisis of overproduction, as capitalists produce more goods and services than can be sold at a satisfactory rate of profit. Thus there is the repeated spectacle of masses of workers losing their jobs and being thrown into destitution because too much has been produced. As described by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto:

“Society suddenly finds itself put back into a state of momentary barbarism; it appears as if a famine, a universal war of devastation had cut off the supply of every means of subsistence; industry and commerce seem to be destroyed; and why? Because there is too much civilization, too much means of subsistence, too much industry, too much commerce…. And how does the bourgeoisie get over these crises? On the one hand by enforced destruction of a mass of productive forces; on the other, by the conquest of new markets, and by the more thorough exploitation of the old ones.”

Marx and Engels underlined that the rise of capitalism and the destruction of the feudal order represented a historic advance in the development of the productive forces—science, industry and technology. Yet capitalism in turn became a fetter on the further development of those productive forces. Out of the destitution and destruction produced by capitalism’s inevitable economic crises, the means of production came to be monopolized by fewer and bigger conglomerates. Their ever-growing need for investment funds and other financing led to the domination of finance capital, that is, of banking goliaths.

By the late 19th century, capitalism reached its ultimate, imperialist stage. The capitalists in the advanced industrial countries were driven to wage wars to redivide the world in order to plunder markets and secure spheres of exploitation in less-developed countries. In their competition for world domination, the imperialist powers engulfed the peoples of the world in the barbarism of World Wars I and II, as well as waging countless wars in colonial and semicolonial countries.

The utter irrationality of capitalism reached new depths in the epoch of imperialism. While industrial capitalists continued to concentrate on the production of goods for sale (commodities), the machinations of the giant financial institutions took on unheard-of proportions. As revolutionary Marxist leader V.I. Lenin explained in his 1916 study Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism:

“Although commodity production still ‘reigns’ and continues to be regarded as the basis of economic life, it has in reality been undermined and the bulk of the profits go to the ‘geniuses’ of financial manipulation. At the basis of these manipulations and swindles lies socialised production; but the immense progress of mankind which achieved this socialisation, goes to benefit…the speculators.”

A case in point is the U.S. bourgeoisie, which for decades has shunned investment that would expand and modernize its decaying industrial capacity or repair the country’s crumbling bridges, roads, power lines and levees. Instead, it has squandered much of the economic surplus appropriated through the exploitation of labor on a succession of speculative binges. And in fact it was rampant financial speculation in the housing industry that triggered the current economic crisis.

In Europe, such financial swindles have sharply accentuated the contradictions inherent in the European Union, an unstable consortium of rival capitalist states. At the heart of the EU’s contradictions is the fact that the maintenance of a common currency requires a common state power. That is simply not possible under capitalism. The International Communist League long ago debunked the illusion that the EU could lay the basis for a capitalist United States of Europe. In a statement on the Maastricht Treaty, which laid the basis for the euro, the ICL wrote:

“Since capitalism is organised on the basis of particular national states, itself the cause of repeated imperialist wars to redivide the world, it is impossible to cohere a stable pan-European bourgeois state. A European imperialist ‘superstate’ can be achieved only by the methods of Adolf Hitler, not those of Jacques Delors, the French social-democratic architect of Maastricht.”

—“For a Workers Europe—For Socialist Revolution!”
WV No. 670, 13 June 1997

Only the conquest of state power by the proletariat can lay the basis for a socialist United States of Europe and a rationally planned economy.

As proletarian revolutionary internationalists, we have always opposed the EU as an imperialist trade bloc. Dominated by capitalist France and Germany, the EU’s purpose is to increase their competitive edge against their imperialist rivals in the U.S. and Japan through the increased exploitation of the working class of the EU countries. As the price of entry, the weaker EU states were locked into the euro. Now they are going down, scrambling to meet their debt obligations by driving the working class into the ground. It couldn’t have been otherwise.

In 1848, Marx and Engels indicted the bourgeoisie as “unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society” because “it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery.” If the bourgeoisie of that time was unfit to rule, the imperialist rulers today have long passed their sell-by date.

An Empire in Decline

Beginning with the 1898 Spanish-American War, the capitalist rulers of the rapidly developing U.S. set out to conquer the world, seizing Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines for their own plunder. When they emerged as the dominant imperialist power following World War II, the U.S. imperialists boasted of the beginning of the “American Century.” But by the 1970s, they were seeing their dominance challenged by the rising economic might of Germany and Japan. With its treasury drained by the long, losing war against the Vietnamese workers and peasants, the U.S. was no longer the world’s undisputed capitalist powerhouse. This was signaled by the devaluation of the dollar on 15 August 1971.

To reverse its declining fortunes, the U.S. ruling class launched a campaign to increase profitability through the increased exploitation of the working class—closing auto and steel factories, moving production to low-wage plants in the “open shop” South and to neocolonies in Latin America and Asia, increasing productivity through speedup and the institution of “two-tier” wage and benefits packages for younger workers. A key turning point was the smashing of the PATCO air traffic controllers union in 1981. It was Democratic president Jimmy Carter who drew up the plan to crush PATCO, which was implemented by his Republican successor, Ronald Reagan. The AFL-CIO bureaucrats let Reagan get away with it, crucially by refusing to call out other unions to shut down the airports. This defeat helped usher in a wave of broken unions and busted strikes.

Like Obama today, Reagan manufactured a debt crisis in order to destroy social programs. The “war on poverty” programs enacted to buy social peace in the inner cities following the mass ghetto upheavals of the 1960s were increasingly shredded. But it took Democratic president Bill Clinton to finally eliminate “welfare as we know it.” Acting on Reagan’s racist demagogy about black “welfare queens” living off the back of “hard-working taxpayers,” Clinton abolished Aid to Families with Dependent Children for impoverished single mothers and their families.

Reagan had run a huge deficit spending program, slashing taxes for the rich while borrowing massively from Japanese and German bankers as well as oil-rich Arab sheikdoms. The overriding purpose was a huge military buildup for U.S. imperialism’s Cold War drive against the Soviet Union. Despite its bureaucratic degeneration under Stalin, the Soviet workers state continued to embody the main social gains of the 1917 Russian Revolution. The imperialists were determined to reconquer this vast territory—one-sixth of the planet—for their exploitation.

In 1991-92, the capitalists achieved their counterrevolutionary aim of destroying the world’s first workers state. Coming into office on the back of this “victory,” Clinton promised that the “peace dividend” would revitalize the economy by reducing the massive government debt. But the “dividend” was largely channeled into an orgy of speculative investment in telecommunications and Internet services, the so-called dot-com boom of the mid-late 1990s. That bubble burst in 2000-2001, ushering in another recession.

Clinton’s neoliberal Democrats were followed by the Republican neo-cons of the George W. Bush administration. These nuclear cowboys invaded Afghanistan and Iraq to send a message to the rest of the world that the U.S. remained militarily the top dog on the planet. These wars and occupations were financed through foreign borrowing, while the filthy rich got a tax cut that outdid even the free lunch they got under Reagan. Then the housing-price bubble of the early-mid 2000s burst in 2007-2008, touching off a global financial crisis. Today, we have Barack Obama lamely responding to Standard & Poor’s reduction of its AAA rating of U.S. treasury bonds by declaring that the U.S. has “always been and always will be a triple A country.” The stock market responded by taking a $2 trillion nosedive.

After the Soviet Union’s counterrevolutionary destruction, it appeared that the U.S. imperialists were successful in the quest they had begun almost a century earlier to be the masters of the world. But even as the U.S. has achieved unrivaled military supremacy, its domestic industrial base has continued to corrode. To some in the haughty U.S. ruling class, the decline of the country’s economic might is bereft of any explanation—besides being contrary to “God’s will.” In consequence, a wing of the American bourgeoisie has seemingly gone totally insane.

Even by the lights of their own party’s establishment, the current crop of Republican presidential candidates has gone off the deep end. On the campaign trail in Iowa, Texas governor Rick Perry accused the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, of treason for “printing more money to play politics,” threatening “we would treat him pretty ugly in Texas.” Perry, a dangerous reactionary, is here going after a Republican appointee of the Bush administration whose “soft money” policy has in fact been a boon for the bourgeoisie. By driving real interest rates down below zero, the Fed is essentially paying financial capitalists to borrow from the government—and then invest the money for a profit!

A week before Perry entered the race, he was the star of a 20,000-strong Christian fundamentalist revival meeting where he asked God to save the U.S. economy. Rival presidential candidate Michele Bachmann fervently believes that she and other good Christians are to be gathered in the air to sit at the right hand of God during what some call the coming “Rapture.” In their deranged worldview, Perry and Bachmann have much in common with the mad miracle monk Rasputin, who advised the Russian tsarina in the dying days of the brutal and rotted-out Tsarist Empire. Obama hopes to ride back into the Oval Office as the “sane” alternative, one who can more effectively implement a bipartisan drive to slash every remaining social program that reflects an impulse not to see masses of starving, homeless people in the streets.

There is no question that the current Republican candidates are lunatics. But their lunacy is the reflection of the dangerous irrationality of the U.S. imperialist order. Just as the decadent, crazed and corrupt court of the tsars was swept away by the Russian Revolution, we Marxists are determined to build the revolutionary internationalist party that can lead the workers in overthrowing the decaying rule of American capitalism.

For an International Socialist Planned Economy!

The reformist left pleads that the government “tax the rich” to provide the money for jobs, education, welfare for the poor and other beneficial programs. This refrain was recently taken up by multibillionaire Warren Buffett in a New York Times (14 August) op-ed column titled “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.” In response, a Fox TV business analyst denounced Buffett, one of the world’s wealthiest financial profiteers, as a “socialist”! Actually, it is the fear that the masses might revolt that concerns Buffett, who opined: “Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.”

Amid a sea of millions of unemployed, the corporations and banks are sitting on mountains of cash. But you aren’t going to get your hands on it by appealing to the tax authority of the capitalist state, whose purpose is to guarantee and defend the interests of the bourgeoisie. To resolve their debt crisis, state and local governments are slashing pensions for retirees to pay off bondholders. To “make the rich pay,” the working class has to smash the rule of the bourgeoisie!

In an ideological climate conditioned by the imperialists’ proclamations that the destruction of the Soviet Union proved Marxism to be a “failed experiment,” the prospect of proletarian socialist revolution might appear implausible. But the collectivized economy in the Soviet Union worked! Despite its isolation in a world dominated by imperialism, the Soviet Union, arising from deep backwardness and the destruction of world war, civil war and imperialist intervention, became an industrial and military powerhouse.

Now, two decades after counterrevolution destroyed the Soviet degenerated workers state, many in Russia hark back to when they were guaranteed a job, education, housing, health care and vacations, regretting that they were taken in by the myth of capitalist “democracy.” What undermined the collectivized economy, and ultimately laid the basis for the destruction of the Soviet Union itself, was the parasitic Stalinist bureaucracy, which robbed the workers of their political power and vainly sought to appease the imperialists by selling out workers’ struggles in other countries.

Today, the deep economic crisis in the capitalist countries contrasts sharply with the situation in China, where the industries central to production are collectivized. At the same time that the U.S. and European governments have been bailing out the financial capitalists while making the workers pay, Beijing has massively channeled investment into developing infrastructure and productive capacity. Faced with a growing number of strikes and protests, the regime has increased the income of workers and peasants. However, China’s Stalinist regime undermines the social gains of the 1949 Revolution by conciliating imperialism and promoting “market reforms” that strengthen internal counterrevolutionary forces. In its “partnership” with world capital, the Beijing bureaucracy is subsidizing American imperialism through its huge investment in U.S. treasury bonds, which, among other things, are used to finance the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. As Trotskyists, we stand for the unconditional military defense of the Chinese deformed workers state against imperialism and internal counterrevolution. At the same time, we understand that the defense and international extension of the remaining gains of the 1949 Chinese Revolution require a proletarian political revolution to replace the Stalinist bureaucrats with a revolutionary internationalist leadership and a regime of workers democracy.

As we wrote in our article “Wall Street Nightmare Stalks Working People” (WV No. 921, 26 September 2008):

“You can solve a lot of problems with ‘domestic cash transfers’—make life livable for workers, blacks, Latinos, jobless, homeless, welfare mothers, drug users, etc. And we communists intend to do so. But you have to first smash the power of the bourgeoisie. For that you need to build a workers party, one that doesn’t ‘respect’ the property values of the bourgeoisie, a party that says to the exploited and oppressed: we want more, we want all of it, it ought to be ours, so take it. And when we have the wealth of this country, we will begin to build a planned socialist economy on an international scale. Then we can right some historical wrongs and crimes and pay off some debts left over by our rulers, like some tens of billions of dollars to the Vietnamese and others whose countries have been maimed under the passing treads of American tanks. As for ‘compensation’ to the people who have driven the United States to ruin, we can offer to those who don’t get in our way that they will live to see their grandchildren prosper in a truly humane society.”

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"-Union Tops Call Off Verizon Strike- A Post-Strike Analysis

Markin comment:

The Workers Vanguard below is in line with my own comment reposted just below from an earlier American Left History entry:

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Verizon Workers Head Back To Work- No Contract Victory In Sight

Markin comment:

The Verizon strikers are heading back to work without a new contract. From the outside it is sometimes hard to see what negotiations will produce without a picket line to back them up, if anything. A workers’ strike, short of the struggle for state power, is a moment in the class struggle and a union contract is an “armed truce” in that struggle. Not all strikes, obviously, are successful, or produce the hope for results but returning back to work without a better contract on this one does not make sense. First, the picket lines were holding, and being held militantly in many cases. Secondly Verizon acknowledged that the strike was hurting their customer base. In short the strike was hurting the company’s basic concern-profits. This did not seem like a time to walk off the lines. Period.
Workers Vanguard No. 985
2 September 2011

With Company Out for Blood

Union Tops Call Off Verizon Strike

After 15 days on strike at Verizon locations from Massachusetts to Virginia, some 45,000 members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) were sent back to work by union officials on August 22 without a new contract. The work stoppage—the largest in the U.S. since the 2007 General Motors strike—pitted repair technicians, FiOS installers and call-center workers against a telecom giant out to squeeze them for $1 billion a year in concessions: health care, pensions, work rules, job security, sick leave, even the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Union workers showed their determination and readiness to fight, dogging scab installers and bosses masquerading as repair techs on their rounds. But just as installation and repair orders were beginning to pile up, the CWA and IBEW tops capitulated and called off the strike after buying Verizon’s empty promise that it would negotiate seriously—even though the company had not backed down on any of the issues in dispute.

In the midst of the strike, Verizon, which has made $19 billion in profits over the last four years alone, put out an ad sneering, “They claim we want to strip away 50 years of contract negotiations. THEY’RE RIGHT.” The company prepared for a showdown months in advance, including plans to fly in large numbers of management scabs. With Verizon out for blood, the CWA/IBEW bureaucrats, who were backed into a fight they did not want, folded at the first opportunity, to the bitter frustration of many workers.

For years, Verizon has maneuvered to isolate and weaken the CWA and IBEW. Mergers, acquisitions and the sales of operations, together with jobs lost to attrition and technological advances, have reduced the unionized workforce to 30 percent of the company, concentrated in FiOS fiber-optic and traditional copper landline services. A key reason the courts deregulated the old AT&T monopoly some three decades ago was to dismember its unionized workforce and open the door to non-union outfits. In recent years, Verizon’s non-union workforce has mushroomed, with over 83,000 in the Wireless division alone. The CWA and IBEW tops have relied on empty contractual promises from management, especially a “neutrality” clause supposedly assuring company non-interference in unionization efforts. Having agreed to “neutrality” in a 2000 strike settlement, Verizon has systematically harassed union supporters and closed union shops.

Failing to organize the legion of non-union workers in Verizon’s highly profitable Wireless division, the union bureaucrats during the strike mustered token pickets at Wireless stores. These pickets did not appeal to Wireless workers to join the strike but were aimed instead at mobilizing “public opinion” against the company. Even so, the CWA reported a flurry of calls from non-union workers wanting to join the union. There needs to be a class-struggle fight to organize the unorganized. Labor’s power resides in its collective organization and ability to cut off the flow of profits. The unions can defend themselves only by using their own weapons: mass picket lines, international labor solidarity actions, labor-based mobilizations for health care and other necessities.

Like all labor struggles, the Verizon strike laid bare the class line dividing society: the workers who are forced to sell their labor power in order to survive and the capitalists who reap fabulous profits from exploiting that labor. The CWA and IBEW misleaders undermined the strike by bowing to court injunctions limiting pickets and appealing to the false “friends” of labor in the capitalist Democratic Party to pressure Verizon management. Throughout the strike, the CWA/IBEW tops pitched the battle as a fight for “middle-class jobs,” obscuring the class line between labor and capital. What does a striking worker have in common with a middle-class management scab!

The AFL-CIO bureaucracy has long peddled the lie that any worker with a decent union wage is “middle class.” Now they’re really pushing it as Democratic Party politicians from the White House on down prate about saving “middle-class jobs” in the run-up to the 2012 elections. Even as the AFL-CIO gears up to re-elect Barack Obama, the White House is pushing for trillions in cuts to social programs for working people and the poor. Obama’s health care “reform” last year, with its taxes on “Cadillac” health plans held by union workers, meant that companies like Verizon would try to saddle their workers with the added costs. The Democratic Party accepts the unions’ money and staffers for its election campaigns. But the Democrats represent the capitalist class no less than the Republicans. They made this clear yet again during the strike when the Obama administration launched an FBI investigation against supposed “sabotage” of Verizon property by union members.

With scab management cars clipping and injuring union members on the picket lines, police—including special “anti-terror” units in New York City—escorted strikebreakers into work and arrested striking workers. The cops, embraced by the labor bureaucracy as “fellow unionists,” have no place in the labor movement! Verizon has issued over 100 disciplinary letters against strikers, barring them from returning to their jobs. All labor must demand: Drop all the charges! No reprisals—full amnesty for all strikers!

Faced with the outsourcing of call-center and troubleshooting jobs to the Philippines, Mexico and India, union officials pushed appeals to Verizon “to create good, American jobs.” Fact: Verizon’s strikebreaking efforts were “Made in the U.S.A.” The scabs crossing the picket lines on the Atlantic seaboard were “fellow Americans.” There is no question that Verizon and other corporations have used outsourcing as a way to weaken or bust the unions. But the answer is not the labor bureaucracy’s class-collaborationist chauvinism, which poisons workers’ consciousness by promoting the lie that workers in the U.S. share common interests with their red-white-and-blue exploiters. In February 2010, a call by the CWA for “California work for California workers” took on a chauvinist cast as work shifted across the border to Mexico. A class-struggle labor leadership would support workers’ struggles internationally to organize into unions against the capitalists, of all flags.

Crass flag-waving is hardly surprising coming from the CWA bureaucracy, which has long embraced the aims of U.S. imperialism. In particular, the CWA tops ran point for the imperialists in the Cold War against the Soviet Union by sponsoring and braintrusting the American Institute for Free Labor Development, which worked with the CIA to destroy militant, left-led unions, especially in Latin America.

As we wrote eight years ago, when Verizon workers were facing the exact same issues as today:

“Labor needs a leadership that understands that the ‘partnership’ of labor and capital is a lie, that stands for the complete independence of the working class from the capitalists’ government and political parties. Forging such a leadership through sharp class struggle will be a crucial step in building a workers party that fights for a workers government, which would expropriate the capitalist class and build a planned economy. When those who labor rule, technological advances would not mean workers being thrown onto the scrap heap but would mean reduced workdays, better working conditions and more leisure, and the wealth of society would be used for the benefit of all.”

—“Verizon: For a Solid Strike
to Stop Union-Busting!”
WV No. 807, 1 August 2003

From The Pages Of "Workers Vanguard"- English Cities Erupt Over Racist Cop Killing, Austerity- A Post Riots Analysis

Workers Vanguard No. 985
2 September 2011

Capitalism Loots Wealth Made by Working People

English Cities Erupt Over Racist Cop Killing, Austerity

Free All Arrested for “Looting”!

LONDON—On 4 August, the cops shot and killed a young black man, Mark Duggan, in Tottenham, North London. Contrary to police disinformation circulated at the time, Duggan did not fire any shots. But that did not stop the press from branding the victim as a “gang member” killed in a “shootout” with police. The family of Mark Duggan, a father of four, were given almost no information about his death. Instead they were told to wait for the results of an inquiry by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, known among blacks as the police cover-up commission. Two days after Duggan was gunned down, his family members took part in a protest of some 300 people at a Tottenham police station demanding information, but none was given. Reportedly, police attacked a young woman demonstrator, knocking her to the ground.

There is a limit to the endurance of minority youth, who have been treated like criminals since the time they could walk. For black and South Asian youth in this country, degradation at the hands of the cops, including the relentless use of “stop and search,” is calculated to underline the message: you have no rights whatsoever. The killing of Mark Duggan was one atrocity too far. Anger exploded. Tottenham erupted in flames in scenes reminiscent of the riots in Tottenham’s Broadwater Farm housing project in 1985, which followed the police killing of a black mother.

Little of substance has changed in the lives of black people since that time. This time around, the revolt in Tottenham ignited a mass of social tinder at the bottom of British capitalist society. Rioting spread like wildfire to other areas of London and to parts of Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool. Black, Asian and white youth took to the streets to give the finger to the police, the government and a society in which they manifestly have no stake. For four days, riots by the impoverished and dispossessed swept cities and towns. Britain was exposed to the world as the racist, class-divided hellhole it is.

The arrogant rulers of decaying British capitalism have long regarded workers and the poor, and especially their black and Asian components, as merely an “underclass” deserving neither of education nor training, worthy only of state repression. In an attempt to deny that the cause of the riots is entrenched economic hardship, exacerbated by his government’s savage budget cuts, Conservative (Tory) prime minister David Cameron blamed the riots on “moral decay” and “criminality pure and simple,” insisting that they “were not about poverty.” Vowing to hunt down and jail “suspects,” Cameron seized the opportunity to massively strengthen repression. A vast police dragnet has so far arrested some 2,000 people, on any and every pretext, using information gleaned from trawling social networking sites and CCTV footage (and of course hacking phones). Television news has shown endless footage of gangs of cops brutally smashing down doors of people’s homes to arrest “suspects.”

Shredding any semblance of “due process,” the police are charging suspects before compiling evidence and opposing bail for the majority of those arrested. Cases involving minor offences that would normally result in a reprimand and would not even go to the lower magistrates’ courts are being referred to the Crown courts, which have greater sentencing powers. The vast majority of those arrested are being jailed, regardless of the alleged offence or of any previous convictions. Such a blanket policy of incarceration will vastly increase the numbers of people with criminal records which, for many youth, particularly blacks and Asians, is enough to ensure that they never work in their lives.

The draconian measures meted out in the aftermath of the riots are an escalation of the type of harsh repression meted out to students protesting against education cuts last year. The message from the capitalist rulers to the working class and the oppressed is clear: meekly accept the relentless attacks on jobs and living standards, or else! It is in the direct interests of the working class, especially the trade unions, to oppose these police-state measures and to demand that all charges be dropped against those arrested. We demand: Immediate release of all those arrested and jailed for “looting”!

Prominent politicians are calling for the use of plastic bullets and other weapons that the British state has historically deployed against the oppressed Catholics of Northern Ireland. The same capitalist ruling class that is brutally cracking down on dissent and opposition at home is engaged in imperialist subjugation abroad. Under the Labour Party government, British imperialist armed forces were in the forefront of the bloody occupations of neocolonial Afghanistan and Iraq. Under the present Tory-Liberal coalition government, British imperialism is playing a leading role in the NATO terror bombing of oil-rich Libya. Mocking Cameron’s lying claim that NATO bombs are “protecting civilians” and upholding “democracy,” Qaddafi’s deputy foreign minister urged Cameron to step down on the grounds that “violent repression of peaceful demonstrations by police” showed that “Cameron and his government have lost all legitimacy” (London Daily Telegraph, 11 August). At the outset of the bombing, the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist) issued a statement calling on workers around the world to take a stand for military defence of semicolonial Libya against the imperialist attack (printed in WV No. 977, 1 April).

The flames that engulfed English cities lit up the grotesque class inequality and racist oppression that are endemic to British capitalism. While venal Conservative and Labour spokesmen pontificate against the evils of “looting,” everyone knows that the capitalist rulers are guilty of looting the country’s wealth. The City of London is an international citadel of finance capital whose gleaming office towers represent the opulence that is generated by the grinding exploitation of the working people. Not far from the City are some of the poorest districts in London, where a large percentage of minorities are concentrated. When boom turned to bust, the banks were bailed out (and the gigantic bankers’ bonuses were protected) at massive cost to the taxpayers. Now, at Cameron’s instigation, local councils have begun proceedings to evict families of “rioters” from public housing, while work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith proposed withdrawing benefits from those convicted.

“There Is Nothing Here for Us”

The rioting spread so dramatically because, on top of decades of grinding poverty affecting whites as well as blacks and Asians, the working people are being fleeced to pay for the current economic crisis. Nearly a million people aged 16 to 24 are unemployed. Youth joblessness overall has reached almost 20 per cent and is almost 50 per cent for black youth. Official figures for riot-affected areas such as Hackney, East London, show 44 per cent of children living in poverty.

A growing number of youth are being cast out of productive economic life and dubbed Neets—“not in employment, education or training.” The government tripled tuition fees in higher education and abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance, a small stipend that enabled poor youth to attend college, sparking militant student protests last December. Faced with cutting its budget by 75 per cent, Haringey local council, which covers Tottenham area, closed most of its youth clubs. One youth remarked, “At least we had somewhere to go. Now we walk down the streets, we get pulled over by police. There is nothing here for us” (London Guardian, 29 July).

There Is No Justice in the Capitalist Courts!

In looking at the British “justice” system today, one does not have to be a Marxist to see what class it serves. No one has been arrested from the Metropolitan Police—truly one of London’s most dangerous armed gangs—which has been exposed for receiving hefty sums of cash (in plastic shopping bags) from the gang of Rupert Murdoch & Co. Intimately connected to these outfits, Tory and Labour politicians howl against the “criminality” of anyone who helped himself to a pair of sneakers or a bottle of water. The politicians’ hypocrisy is indeed rich in light of the recent scandal over Members of Parliament (MPs) making taxpayers shell out for the upkeep of their second homes, not to mention the cost of your “duck island” or cleaning out the moat at your country estate!

People accused of involvement in “rioting” are being thrown into prison on ludicrously trivial charges. Two white youths were sentenced to four years in prison for having (jokingly) summoned friends on Facebook to a “riot” that never happened. In Brixton, a black neighbourhood in South London, one person got a six-month sentence for stealing bottles of water worth £3.50. In Manchester an alcoholic who had just been released from prison and had only £4 in his pocket was sentenced to 16 months for taking a box of doughnuts from Krispy Kreme. The truth is that in poor neighbourhoods such as Tottenham, there isn’t much to steal.

The blatant class bias of capitalist “justice” in Britain today recalls the 17th-century English poem protesting the enclosure (i.e., theft) of common lands that were being privatised by the rising bourgeoisie:

“They hang the man and flog the woman

Who steals the goose from off the common

But leave the greater villain loose

Who steals the common off the goose.”

Or, as Friedrich Engels, co-author with Karl Marx of the Communist Manifesto, aptly wrote in his 1845 book, The Condition of the Working-Class in England, the majority of offences against property arise from some form of want because “what a man has, he does not steal.” With the masses being driven to rioting by the increasingly abject conditions of their lives, the Spartacist League/Britain suggests, as an immediate measure, that the government give the “looters” £10,000 each and let them go!

Rioting, however, can do nothing to eliminate the grinding poverty of Britain’s working class. As the Spartacist League/U.S. wrote when Los Angeles exploded following the 1992 acquittal of the cops who beat black motorist Rodney King nearly to death, the looting there was “indeed understandable, but won’t do anything to eliminate the entrenched poverty of America’s inner cities…. The point is not to seize articles of consumption but to expropriate the means of production. And that takes a leap in consciousness and organization to do away with the capitalist order” (WV No. 551, 15 May 1992).

The Socialist Workers Party (SWP), followers of the late Tony Cliff, ludicrously equates looting with the expropriation of the means of production—i.e., the seizure and collectivisation of industry, the banks, etc., by the proletariat. The SWP writes: “Karl Marx was exactly right when he talked about expropriating the expropriators, taking back what they have taken from us. That’s what looting by poor working class people represents and in that sense it is a deeply political act” (Socialist Worker, 13 August). The idea that looting offers a solution to the grinding poverty, racism and oppression besetting black and Asian communities shows that the SWP will mindlessly cheerlead for anything that moves, no matter how far removed from socialist consciousness it may be. But the bottom line for these reformists is to refurbish Labour’s image, which they do with calls to “Jail the Tories, not young people” (Socialist Worker, 20 August) and by hailing what they call a “rising against Tory Britain” (Socialist Worker, 13 August).

Riots are an expression of despair, often including ugly incidents of indiscriminate attacks on individuals. The killing of three young Asian men in Birmingham by a car driven straight at them is a heinous crime. The racial tensions between blacks and Asians during the riots were an outgrowth of the “divide and rule” policies the British rulers apply to divide the proletariat and weaken its struggles, as they did historically to maintain their Empire. In an effort to defuse those tensions, Tariq Jahan, father of one of the victims, courageously appealed for calm, saying, “I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites—we all live in the same community.” He added: “Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home—please.”

There is an urgent need for the working class and oppressed to struggle against the relentless attacks on their livelihoods. The question is how. The current deepgoing economic crisis is part and parcel of the normal workings of the capitalist system. There will be no end to the misery, poverty and repression that afflict the vast majority of the population short of the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist order and the establishment of rule by the working class. The SL/B seeks to forge a multiethnic revolutionary workers party—a Leninist-Trotskyist party—based on a programme for international socialist revolution.

Mobilize Workers’ Social Power!

Britain is the latest country in Europe to be swept by major unrest, reflecting seething anger among the working classes against relentless attacks on their living standards. Particularly in Greece, the working class has waged major class battles, including several general strikes in recent years, but the impact of these struggles has been undermined by the reformist misleaders of the working class, who accept the need for austerity as a solution to the economic crisis. In Britain, the fact that the pent-up fury against the government’s attacks on the working class is being dissipated in outbursts of rioting testifies to the low level of class struggle over the past two decades. This is due in no small part to the failure of the trade-union bureaucracy to mount any effective struggle against austerity and job cuts, allowing the capitalist rulers to ride roughshod over the working people.

Trade-union membership in Britain today is concentrated among low-paid workers in the public sector, with minorities heavily represented. The membership of the rail unions in London Underground and the national railway network, as well as the civil service and postal unions, is multiethnic. Together, these unions have considerable social power. Transport workers in London for example, have the power to bring the city to a halt, including its precious financial district. But mobilising that power requires a political struggle against the reformist trade-union bureaucracy, which is tied to the Labour Party and to the racist capitalist order.

It is through the intervention of Marxists into class and social struggles that a revolutionary workers party will be forged. Such a party would champion the interests of all the oppressed, fighting against racism and other manifestations of chauvinism. An integral part of building this party is the fight for a class-struggle leadership in the trade unions. In Britain today, such a leadership would appeal to disaffected youth by waging a fight for jobs, through demands such as a shorter working week with no loss in pay. A class-struggle leadership would demand union control of hiring and union-run job training and skills programmes to recruit minority youth into the workforce and into the unions. The task of a Leninist party is to bring about the necessary change in consciousness in the proletariat, leading to the understanding that a society run in the interests of the working people—with jobs for all and a decent standard of living—cannot be achieved within the framework of capitalism.

From the point of view of Britain’s working class and oppressed minorities, it makes little difference whether the government is Tory or Labour, historically the social-democratic vehicle that tied the working class to the capitalist order. When the riots erupted both parties (as well as the Liberal Democrats) vied to be seen as the best defenders of the police. Not a single Labour MP—neither the so-called “lefts” nor the handful of black MPs—condemned the cops who killed Mark Duggan. Far from it: Labour spokesmen attacked the government from the right, denouncing the planned cuts to the police budget. Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said, “Police on our streets make our communities safer and make the public feel safer” (BBC, 11 August).

Tottenham’s black Labour MP, David Lammy, ranted to the press about the “totally unacceptable” behaviour of the rioters, voicing only the mildest criticisms of the cops who gunned down Mark Duggan. Nevertheless, Lammy, who symbolises a very small layer of middle-class blacks, was subjected to an outrageous racist tirade by reactionary historian David Starkey on BBC television. Black MP for Hackney Diane Abbott, once regarded as a Labour “left,” chimed in with the “law and order” brigade, calling for curfews to help “regain control of the streets.” Labour’s backing for the racist cops is not new: When he was London mayor, Labour’s Ken Livingstone was unwavering in his support for the police who in 2005 brutally killed Brazilian electrician Jean Charles de Menezes, deemed a “terrorism suspect.” Mark Duggan was killed under the Metropolitan Police’s “Operation Trident,” which supposedly targets “gun crime” among blacks. This operation was begun under Labour home secretary David Blunkett, in consultation with William Bratton, the former police chief of New York and other major U.S. cities whom David Cameron proposes to employ in London.

Minorities and the 1984-85 Miners Strike

The link between class struggle against the capitalist state and the fight against racial oppression seems remote today, but this was not always the case. It is not an accident that the last major assault by the state on Britain’s predominantly black and Asian inner-city areas took place in 1985, the same year as the defeat of the heroic miners strike. For more than a year of bitter class war, miners and their families had defended themselves against an army of police sent by Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government to occupy the coalfields. In the course of the strike, powerful bonds were forged between the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and black and Asian minorities. While blacks and Asians saw in the (predominantly white) miners union a powerful force battling against the state and became enthusiastic supporters of the strike, many miners became convinced of the importance of combating racial oppression.

The defeat of the NUM dealt a severe blow to the workers movement in this country, the effects of which—from accelerating deindustrialisation to gutting the unions—are still felt today. For minority communities, the strike’s defeat also had grave ramifications. In the space of a few weeks, the cops staged racist provocations that sparked explosions of anger in major black and Asian neighbourhoods. A police provocation in September 1985 in Birmingham’s Handsworth was followed weeks later by the police shooting of a black woman, Cherry Groce, in Brixton, sparking a revolt there. Shortly afterwards, Liverpool’s Toxteth area also erupted. When the police invaded Broadwater Farm on 7 October 1985 in the aftermath of the racist cop killing of Cynthia Jarrett, they got more than they bargained for. As residents defended their communities in a raging battle lasting several days, one cop was killed. For this, three innocent youth—Winston Silcott, Engin Raghip and Mark Braithwaite—served years in prison as the result of a police frame-up.

Following the revolts in Handsworth and Brixton, the SL/B noted that in the aftermath of the miners strike, Thatcher was intent on teaching a bloody lesson to the black and Asian population that had warmly supported the miners, warning that this would mean escalating racist attacks. The article stated:

“The Spartacist League has fought to tap the sense of unity between minorities and trade union militants kindled in the miners strike, as part of our perspective of building the multiracial revolutionary workers party which will be a tribune of all the oppressed. We have fought to mobilise the integrated Birmingham labour movement for defence of the Handsworth community against the cop terror. The same is needed in Brixton and elsewhere. Protest strike action by London’s heavily black and Asian Tube and bus workers, for example, could make the racist bosses put a halt to their reign of terror in Brixton. But that takes a political struggle against the racist, pro-capitalist labour misleaders.”

—Workers Hammer No. 73, October 1985

It wasn’t mainly the repression by the viciously anti-union Thatcher government that ensured the defeat of the miners strike. The Labour Party leadership under Neil Kinnock and the Trades Union Congress bureaucracy were openly hostile to the strike. Particularly responsible for the defeat were the “left” trade-union leaders who failed to strike alongside the miners. This includes the dockers union leaders, who sent their members back to work twice during the miners strike. A few years later, the dockers union itself was decimated. The trade-union “lefts” were wedded to the Labour Party, to “gradual change” through Parliament, and hence to the capitalist order.

When the black Labour leader of Haringey council, Bernie Grant, voiced the simple truth that the cops who invaded Broadwater Farm got “a bloody good hiding,” he was widely denounced, including by the Labour leadership. Grant later apologised, but he remained popular among blacks until his death in 2000. Although he was regarded as a troublemaker by the Labour Party leadership, Grant served Labour’s purpose, notably in 1993 when he helped prevent an explosion of rage from “getting out of hand” following the death of Jamaican woman Joy Gardner at the hands of cops who had seized her for deportation. Above all, Grant played his part in fostering illusions among black youth in Labour, the party that had introduced racist virginity tests for South Asian women entering Britain when it was in office in 1974-79.

The unfettered financial boom that characterised the Thatcher years went hand in hand with the destruction of manufacturing jobs, which continued throughout Labour’s years in office. Among those thrown onto the dole queues were the descendants of immigrants from former Caribbean and Indian colonies brought over to do low-paid work in times of labour shortage, particularly after World War II. Not only the former coal and steel producing areas but also the textile manufacturing towns of Oldham and Bradford, which employed thousands of Asian workers, became wastelands of chronic unemployment and poverty.

For a Revolutionary Workers Party!

Today Labour is lurching towards right-wing populism, which is inherently racist, competing with the fascist English Defence League (EDL) for the allegiance of backward white workers. In recent years, Labour leaders and trade-union bureaucrats have embraced the slogan “British jobs for British workers,” historically a rallying cry of the fascists that became prevalent during reactionary strikes against foreign workers on construction sites in 2009. The reformist Socialist Party (SP), section of Peter Taaffe’s Committee for a Workers’ International, wholeheartedly supported these strikes. We categorically denounced these actions and underlined the need for defence of immigrant workers. We pointed out that a class-struggle leadership in the unions would start from an internationalist framework, organising immigrant workers into the unions and collaborating with workers across national boundaries.

In keeping with its long record of supporting the police and prison guards, the SP echoed the Labour leaders during the hoopla over the recent riots, sympathetically quoting a spokesman from the Metropolitan Police Federation bemoaning the low morale among cops due to the government’s intended cuts (, 8 August). Harassment by cops—lyingly depicted by the SP as fellow workers—has now reached the point where black people are 26 times more likely than whites to be stopped and searched by police in England and Wales, according to a study by London School of Economics and others.

The number of deaths, particularly of black people, in police custody is staggering. In March, reggae artist Smiley Culture (David Emmanuel) died during a police raid at his Surrey home, with the cops making the incredible claim that he stabbed himself to death. The same month, Kingsley Burrell Brown died from injuries sustained in the course of being committed to hospital under the Mental Health Act by police in Birmingham. Last month, 21-year-old Demetre Fraser supposedly “committed suicide” by jumping from the 11th floor of a high-rise block in Birmingham when confronted by police. In a single week in August, three people died at the hands of police: 27-year-old Dale Burns died in Cumbria when police subjected him to shocks from a Taser gun and pepper spray; black 25-year-old Jacob Michael died after being pepper sprayed in Cheshire; 53-year-old Philip Hulmes died in police custody in Bolton.

The racist backlash against “looters” has emboldened the EDL, which smelled an opportunity to mobilise vigilantes in some of the riot-hit areas. Under previous Labour governments, the EDL had drawn strength from the “war on terror” that primarily targeted Muslims, as well as from the relentless anti-immigrant campaigns. The EDL is a deadly threat to blacks as well as to Asians, against whom it has staged numerous racist provocations in the past and threatens to do again in East London on 3 September. And make no mistake: these fascists pose a direct threat to the entire working class, as potential shock troops to be deployed against rising class struggle. It is the task of the workers movement to stop them in their tracks.

As distinct from the liberals and reformists who lead Unite Against Fascism, we oppose calls on the capitalist state to “ban the fascists.” It is not hard to see why. In response to the planned EDL march in East London and an anti-fascist counter-demonstration, Home Secretary Theresa May has banned all demonstrations in five London boroughs for a period of 30 days. As Workers Hammer No. 209 (Winter 2009-2010) declared, EDL provocations “must be met with massive protest centred on the trade unions mobilised for defence of Muslims, immigrants and all the intended victims of the EDL scum.” The article continued:

“It is in the interests of the multiethnic working class as a whole to combat these racist terrorists. We call for trade union/minority mobilisations to stop fascist provocations. At the same time, as Marxists we make clear that the decaying capitalist system breeds the social conditions in which the fascists thrive and therefore the struggle against fascism is inseparable from the fight for socialist revolution.”

Out of the social struggles that will inevitably be waged by workers and minorities will arise a new generation of militant leaders. What’s needed is a party dedicated to the task of leading the working class to power. This requires socialist revolution to overthrow the entire capitalist order. Fundamental change in the interests of the working people can only come about through revolutionary internationalist class struggle, which must shatter the framework of capitalism worldwide. Socialist revolution will lay the basis for rationally planned economies based on production for need, not for profit, and for a qualitative development of the productive forces, opening the road to the elimination of poverty and the creation of an egalitarian socialist society.

From The Marxist Archives-From Leon Trotsky-"Capitalist Crisis and Mass Misery"

Workers Vanguard No. 985
2 September 2011

Capitalist Crisis and Mass Misery

(Quote of the Week)

To highlight the brutal workings and irrationality inherent in the capitalist economic system, revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky pointed to the effects of the Great Depression in the U.S., then under Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt. Trotsky’s article, written in 1939, was initially published in excerpted form as an introduction to a selection of Karl Marx’s writings titled The Living Thoughts of Karl Marx.

In 1930 began an ominous growth of unemployment, and in 1933 a more or less systematic aid to the unemployed, who received in the form of relief hardly more than one-half of what they had lost in the form of wages. The illusion of the uninterrupted “progress” of all classes has vanished without a trace. The relative decline of the masses’ standard of living has been superseded by an absolute decline. Workers begin by economizing on skimpy entertainment, then on their clothes and finally on their food. Articles and products of average quality are superseded by shoddy ones, and the shoddy by the worst. Trade unions begin to look like the man who hangs on desperately while going down in a rapidly descending escalator.

With six per cent of the world’s population, the United States holds forty per cent of the world’s wealth. Still, one-third of the nation, as Roosevelt himself admitted, is undernourished, inadequately clothed, and lives under subhuman conditions. What is there to say, then, for the far less privileged countries? The history of the capitalist world since the last war has irrefutably borne out the so-called “theory of increasing misery.” The increase in the social polarity of society is today acknowledged not only by every competent statistician, but even by statesmen who remember the rudimentary rules of arithmetic….

Therefore, to save society, it is not necessary either to check the development of technique, to shut down factories, to award premiums to farmers for sabotaging agriculture, to turn a third of the workers into paupers, or to call upon maniacs to be dictators. Not one of these measures, which are a shocking mockery of the interests of society, are necessary. What is indispensable and urgent is to separate the means of production from their present parasitic owners and to organize society in accordance with a rational plan. Then it would at once be possible really to cure society of its ills. All those able to work would find a job. The work-day would gradually decrease. The wants of all members of society would secure increasing satisfaction. The words “property,” “crisis,” “exploitation,” would drop out of circulation. Mankind would at last cross the threshold into true humanity.

—Leon Trotsky, Marxism in the United States,
Workers Party Publications (1947)

The Latest From “The International Marxist Tendency” Website

Click on to the headline to link to the latest from the International Marxist Tendency website.

Markin comment:

More often than not I disagree with the line of the IMT or its analysis(mainly I do not believe their political analysis leads to adequate programmatically-based conclusions, revolutionary conclusions in any case), nevertheless, they provide interesting material, especially from areas, “third world” areas, where it is hard to get any kind of information (for our purposes). Read the material from this site.

On The 40th Anniversary Of Attica- From San Quentin To Attica To Pelican Bay Never Forget!-With George Jackson, Hugo Pinell, And The Soledad Brothers In Mind

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the Attica (New York) prisoner uprising of September 1971.

Markin comment:

Attica-Never forget! Honor the memory of George Jackson- Free his comrade, Hugo Pinell, now.

Labor's Untold Story-From The Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels Archives-The Struggle For Working Class Organization-Marx To Engels In Manchester (1864)

Markin comment:

Every Month Is Labor History MonthThis post is part of an on-going series under the following general title: Labor’s Untold Story- Reclaiming Our Labor History In Order To Fight Another Day-And Win!

Other Septembers in this series I have concentrated on various sometimes now obscure leaders and rank and file militants in the international working class movement, especially those who made contributions here in America like "Big Bill" Haywood and Eugene V. Debs. This year, given the pressing need for clarity around the labor party question in America(algebraically expressed in our movement as the struggle for a workers party that fights for a workers government) I have gone back to the sources-Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and their correspondence on working class organizationwith various associates and opponents. Strangely, or maybe not so strangely given the state of working class organization here these days, many of their comments, taken in due regard for changed times and circumstances, are germane today. This correspondence is only a start and should just whet the reader's appetite to research further.
Marx-Engels Correspondence 1864

Marx To Engels In Manchester (1864)

Source: MECW Volume 42, p. 11;
First published: in Der Briefwechsel zwischen F. Engels und K. Marx, Stuttgart, 1913.

[London,] 4 November 1864

Dear Frederick,

I was very pleased to hear from you again.

All well here. Myself included, since your departure from here until the day before yesterday, when yet another carbuncle appeared below my right breast. If the thing does not clear up quickly and others appear, I intend to use Gumpert’s arsenic remedy this time.

I would translate your runic rüm hart, etc. as Dutch-Frisian for open heart, clear horizon. But I fear that there may be a quite different explanation, so I give up the riddle.

You must send all the enclosed papers back to me as soon as read. I still need them. So that I do not forget any of the things I wanted to tell you, I am going to number them.

1. Lassalle and Countess Hatzfeldt.

The lengthy document is a copy of a circular that Herwegh’s wife (honi soit qui mal y pense), Emma, sent to Berlin immediately after the catastrophe, so that extracts from it could be put in the newspapers. You will see from it how cleverly Emma manages to put herself and her spineless Georg in the limelight at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end of the report; how the account evades two important points, firstly Rüstow’s meeting with Donniges and daughter, when the latter must have renounced Lassalle before the scene recounted by Emma took place. Secondly: how the duel came about. Lassalle wrote the insulting letter. But then something happened which is not reported and which led directly to the duel.

The suppression of two such important and crucial points makes one sceptical of the accuracy of the account.

The Hatzfeldt letter. On her arrival in Berlin I got Liebknecht to take her a brief letter of condolence from myself. Liebknecht wrote to me that she was complaining ‘I left Lassalle in the lurch’, as if I could have done the man any greater service than by keeping my mouth shut and letting him do as he liked. (In his last speech before the Düsseldorf assizes, he played the part of Marquis Posa with handsome William as Philipp II, whom he was trying to persuade to suspend the present constitution, proclaim universal direct suffrage and ally himself with the proletariat.) You can see what is behind her letter and what she wants of me. I wrote a very amicable but diplomatically discouraging letter in reply. The latterday Redeemer! That personage and the sycophants, who surround her, are mad.

Apropos. A couple of numbers of E. Jones’ Notes to the People (1851, 1852) happened to fall into my hands again; as far as the economic articles are concerned, the main points in them had been written directly under my guidance and partly even in direct collaboration with myself. Well! What do I find in them? That at that time we conducted the same polemic — only better — against the co-operative movement, since it claimed, in its present narrow-minded form, to be the last word, as Lassalle conducted against Schulze-Delitzsch in Germany 10-12 years later.

In his last will and testament Lassalle has ‘installed’ Bernhard Becker, the unfortunate fellow, who was Juch’s editor on the Hermann for a while, as his successor in the office of President of the General Association of German Workers — in his ‘last will and testament’ (like a ruling prince). The Association’s congress meets in Düsseldorf this month, 16 and strong opposition to this ‘decree’ by last will and testament is expected.

Also enclosed, letter from a worker in Solingen, Klings, in fact the clandestine leader of the Rhineland workers (former member of the League). This letter is not to be returned but filed.

2. Workingmen’s International Association

Some time ago, London workers sent an address to workers in Paris about Poland and called upon them to act jointly in the matter.

For their part, the Parisians sent over a deputation headed by a worker named Tolain, who was the real workers’ candidate in the last elections in Paris, a thoroughly nice fellow. (His compagnons were quite nice lads, too.) A public meeting in St Martin’s Hall was called, for 28 September 1864, by Odger (shoemaker, President of the local Council of All London Trades’ Unions and, in particular, also of the Trades’ Unions Suffrage Agitation Society, is which is connected with Bright) and Cremer, a mason and secretary of the Mason’s Union. (These two had arranged the big Trade-Union meeting on North America chaired by Bright in St James’s Hall, ditto the Garibaldi manifestations.) A certain Le Lubez was sent to ask me if I would participate pour les ouvriers allemands [for the German workers], and, in particular, whether I was willing to provide a German worker to speak at the meeting, etc. I provided them with Eccarius, who put on a splendid performance, and I was also present myself in a non-speaking capacity on the platform. I knew that on this occasion ‘people who really count’ were appearing, both from London and from Paris, and I therefore decided to waive my usual standing rule to decline any such invitations.

(Le Lubez is a young Frenchman, i.e. in his thirties; however, he grew up in Jersey and London, speaks capital English and is a very good intermediary between the French and English workers.) (Music teacher and leçons of French.)

At the meeting, which was chock-full (for there is now evidently a revival of the working-classes taking place), Major Wolff (Thurn-Taxis, Garibaldi’s adjutant) represented the London Italian Workingmen’s Society. It was resolved to found a ‘Workingmen’s International Association’, whose General Council is to have its seat in London and is to ‘Intermediate’ between the workers’ Societies in Germany, Italy, France, and England. Ditto that a General Workingmen’s Congress was to be convened in Belgium in 1865. A Provisional Committee was set up at the meeting, with Odger, Cremer and many others, some of them former Chartists, former Owenites, etc., representing England, Major Wolff, Fontana, and other Italians representing Italy, Le Lubez, etc. for France, Eccarius and myself for Germany. The committee was empowered to co-opt as many people as it chose.

So far so good. I attended the first meeting of the committee. A Sub-Committee (including myself) was set up to draft a declaration des principes and provisional rules. Indisposition prevented me from attending the meeting of the Sub-Committee and the subsequent meeting of the full committee.

At these two meetings, which I did not attend, — that of the Sub-Committee and the subsequent one of the full committee — the following occurred:

Major Wolff had submitted the regulations (statutes) of the Italian Workers’ Associations (which possess a central organisation, but, as emerged later, are essentially associated Benefit Societies) to be used by the new Association. I saw the stuff later. It was evidently a concoction of Mazzini’s, and that tells you in advance in what spirit and phraseology the real question, the labour question, was dealt with. As well as how the nationalities question intruded into it.

What is more, an old Owenite, Weston — now a manufacturer himself, a very amiable and worthy man — had drawn up a programme full of extreme confusion and of indescribable breadth.

The subsequent full committee meeting instructed the Sub-Committee to remodel Weston’s programme, ditto Wolff’s regulations. Wolff himself left to attend the congress of the Italian Workingmen’s Associations in Naples and persuade them to join the central association in London.

A further meeting of the Sub-Committee, which again I did not attend, as I was informed of their rendezvous too late. At this meeting, ‘une déclaration des principes’ and a revised version of Wolff’s rules were presented by Le Lubez and accepted by the Sub-Committee for submission to the full committee. The full committee met on 18 October. Eccarius wrote to me that it was a case of periculum in mora [danger in delay], so I went along and was really shocked when I heard the worthy Le Lubez read out a fearfully cliché-ridden, badly written and totally unpolished preamble pretending to be a declaration of principles, with Mazzini showing through the whole thing from beneath a crust of the most insubstantial scraps of French socialism. What is more, the Italian rules had by and large been adopted, whose aim, apart from all their other faults, was really something quite impossible, a sort of central government of the European working classes (with Mazzini in the background, of course). I remonstrated mildly, and, after prolonged debate. Eccarius proposed that the Sub-Committee should subject the thing to further ‘editing’. However, the sentiments expressed in Lubez’ declaration were carried.

Two days later, on 20 October, Cremer representing England, Fontana (Italy) and Le Lubez met at my house. (Weston was unable to be present.) I had not previously had the papers (Wolff’s and Le Lubez) in my hands, so could not prepare anything; but I was absolutely determined that not one single line of the stuff should be allowed to stand if I could help it. To gain time, I proposed that before we ‘edited’ the preamble, we ought to ‘discuss’ the Rules. This was done. It was 1 o'clock in the morning before the first of the 40 Rules was adopted. Cremer said (and that was my whole aim): we have nothing to put before the committee that is to meet on 25 October. We must postpone it until 1 November. But the Sub-Committee can meet on 27 October and attempt to reach a definite conclusion. This was agreed and the ‘papers’ were ‘bequeathed’ to me for my perusal.

I could see it was impossible to make anything out of the stuff. In order to justify the extremely peculiar way in which I intended to edit the sentiments that had already been ‘carried’, I wrote an Address to the Working Classes (which was not in the original plan; a sort of review of the adventures of the working classes since 1845); on the pretext that all the necessary facts were contained in this ‘Address’ and that we ought not to repeat the same things three times over, I altered the whole preamble, threw out the declaration des principes and finally replaced the 40 Rules by 10. Insofar as International politics is mentioned in the ‘Address’, I refer to countries and not to nationalities, and denounce Russia, not the minores gentium [smaller nations]. The Sub-Committee adopted all my proposals. I was, however, obliged to insert two sentences about ‘duty’ and ‘right’, and ditto about ‘Truth, Morality and Justice’ in the preamble to the rules, but these are so placed that they can do no harm.

At the meeting of the General Committee my ‘Address’, etc., was adopted with great enthusiasm (unanimously). The debate on the form of publication, etc., is to take place next Tuesday. Le Lubez has a copy of the ‘Address’ for translation into French and Fontana one for translation into Italian. (For a start there is a weekly called Bee-Hive, edited by Trade Unionist Potter, a sort of Moniteur.) I am to translate the stuff into German myself.

It was very difficult to frame the thing so that our view should appear in a form that would make it acceptable to the present outlook of the workers’ movement. In a couple of weeks, the same people will be having meetings on the franchise with Bright and Cobden. It will take time before the revival of the movement allows the old boldness of language to be used. We must be fortiter in re, suaviter in modo [strong in deed, mild in manner]. You will get the stuff as soon as it is printed.

3. Bakunin sends his regards. He left today for Italy where he is living (Florence). I saw him yesterday for the first time in 16 years. I must say I liked him very much, more so than previously. With regard to the Polish movement, he said the Russian government had needed the movement to keep Russia itself quiet, but had not counted on anything like an 18-month struggle. They had thus provoked the affair in Poland. Poland had been defeated by two things, the influence of Bonaparte and, secondly, the hesitation of the Polish aristocracy in openly and unambiguously proclaiming peasant socialism from the outset. From now on — after the collapse of the Polish affair — he (Bakunin) will only involve himself in the socialist movement.

On the whole, he is one of the few people whom after 16 years I find to have moved forwards and not backwards. I also discussed Urquhart’s denunciations with him. (Apropos: the International Association will probably lead to a rupture between myself and these friends!) He inquired a great deal after yourself and Lupus. When I told him of the latter’s death, he said straightaway that the movement had suffered an irreplaceable loss.

4. Crisis. By no means burnt out on the Continent yet (esp. France). Incidentally, what the crises have lost in intensity, they have now gained in frequency.


K. M.