Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ancient dreams, dreamed-The New Course - Magical Realism 101

The great Mandela cried, cried to the high heavens, for revenge against the son’s hurt, now that the son had found his way, a strange way but a way. Freed from prisons and placed in solitary barred, steel-barred root rooms to wager his personal bet, bet of his life, on freedom. Freed from manacle shackled past get aheads, go aheads, keep your head down to get ahead, eyes straight forward, no lefts or rights, hell, no, meet some nice working class girl, find some forty years, a pension and a gold watch, and produce, produce what. And prison freed from now sour bourgeois dreams, bobby (kennedy) dreams, okay, okay but that is what they were and one need not be a Marxist (or marxist) to know that road led to perdition and without even trying.

Ya, and that road, that bobby road, represented the character flaw, that certain tilting to the winds instead of against them like some old baby boy donkey ride Sancho Panza and his pal and all the windmills in Holland or Palm Springs could not change that. Ya, free, prison free and his dream hair grows a little longer each day and his dream beard begins to be bushy like some old time Old Testament archangel avenger of hurts, his own first and the other hurts. And like some righteous John Brown, just to name a name, a Calvinist avenger name, blown out of Kansas prairie fires and set smack daub in Harpers Ferry hellholes he cultivates that long flow hair and beard, dreamed.

But a dame, pardon me, 1971 women’s consciousness-raising and righteous too, a woman always comes with it, the dream hair and beard. One hard night, one tossed night some apparition out of a Puritan dream, all quakerly and severe, he saw some Croton-on-the-Hudson vision. A woman passed momentarily in fierce struggles, fierce outside the walls struggle, not noticed, not noticed until that night, not pretty, not blonde, not, well, not everywoman, but fierce, fierce in about six difference ways and maybe, just maybe capable of fierce loves.

Another hard night, tossed too, a free-form dream of Chicago, hog butcher to the world, wheat fields and wholesomeness just beyond in now no longer John Brown-like prairies. A daughter, some brown-eyed, brown-haired, brown-skinned semite butcher’s, kosher butcher, maybe, daughter, who spoke of spirit dreams, and wrote blue-eyed poems and of goyim sillies, and he was happy, happy that she wrote of fierce blue-eyes just when he had been ready to throw in the towel. And then that certain character flaw, that fidget, that endless fidget, neither left or right, came in as he tried to have the whole world. Imagine that, imagine some fierce blue-eyed boy could shake all that, and forget those blue-eyed words in that blue-eyed poem. And shake (and forget) to endless sorrows. Hell, damn, hell.

This last time, the last restless night, came one out of hell Manhattan and one thousand and one anxieties, neuroses, and her own father time hurts. No righteous Hudson puritan or Midwestern semite daughter she. No, princess semite she. What a pair they will be. Remind me to tell you sometime how they met, dream met, in some snowy do-good cabin/assembly hall build to curse the darkness of one thousand wars and one hundred fights against those damn wars. And for a minute she, he, they were happy, happy in each other’s vagrant landless company. Then certain madnesses came forth. And short dope snorts, and peyote dream buttons, all mixed in sometimes blank, sometimes the door of perception but I just cribbed that, not the perceptions the thought, okay.

What a ride, lord, what a ride, and lusts and screams and crazed rants were just a little part of it before that damn fidget, what, redhead, blonde, dirty blonde, path crossed his way.

And fame, local lore fame, built out of impossible combinations of minute fortitude, hour righteousness, and day of reckoning, day of reckoning and passing with flying colors. And a certain swagger came to his feet in the high heaven black Madonna of a night. But no such feeling can (or, truth, should), last too long and in that Black Madonna night he began to fidget, fidget just a little. Some fidget ignited by refused dreams of white picket fences, dogs, and two point three kids (exactly two point three he never tired of saying as she, the Black Madonna, reddened at the thought). And he, he made for great leaps, and straw dogs. Hell it could have been easy, very easy but she couldn’t see it that way, and he didn’t except when he needed her refuge, lovingly or just shelter.

And on those shelter days no cigarette hanging off the lip now (she would not allow it see, not cool and it aggravated her condition, whichever one it was at the time. So no Winston filter-tipped seductions, no need, and no rest except the rest of waiting, waiting on the days to pass until the next coming, and the next coming after that.

Ah, sweet Mandela, turn for me, turn for me and mine just a little. He cursed the darkness on those days, and the light too, for he had made that leap that he only heard about in his head when he had had a few dreams and was feeling warrior king brave to take on all comers, tricky dick, vance packard, spiro agnew, hell even sparring a norman mailer now that they were on the same side (or at least he thought they were on the same side, same side advertising for themselves and their heroics, their armies of the night collective moment). And dreams of being right, ha.

Then one day some news came from above, no, hell no, not that above, the above of mundane chain-of-command drop down and let you know freedom day was near. Anti-climactic, anticlimactic for a man who expected to grow old in stir, and kind of dug it (excuse beat reversion memory of Harvard Square leavings when he thought this world would be some literary break-out and not righteous avenger of hurts, did I said his own first of all. If he didn’t, he lied).

Free at last but with a very, very sneaking feeling that this was a road less traveled for a reason, and no ancient robert frost blasted two roads to guide one… Just look at blooded Kent State, or better, blooded Jackson State. Christ.

Let’s Redouble Our Efforts To Save Private Bradley Manning-Join us at Fort Meade June 6-8th to support Bradley Manning!

Click on the headline to link to a Private Bradley Manning website page.

Markin comment:

The Private Bradley Manning case is headed toward a fall trial. Those of us who support his cause should redouble our efforts to secure his freedom. For the past several months there has been a weekly vigil in Greater Boston across from the Davis Square Redline MBTA stop (renamed Bradley Manning Square for the vigil’s duration) in Somerville from 1:00-2:00 PM on Fridays. This vigil has, to say the least, been very sparsely attended. We need to build it up with more supporters present. Please join us when you can. Or better yet if you can’t join us start a Support Bradley Manning weekly vigil in some location in your town whether it is in the Boston area or Berkeley. And please sign the petition for his release. I have placed links to the Manning Network and Manning Square website below.

Bradley Manning Support Network

Manning Square website

The following are remarks that I have been focusing on of late to build support for Bradley Manning’s cause.

Veterans for Peace proudly stands in solidarity with, and defense of, Private Bradley Manning.

We of the anti-war movement were not able to do much to affect the Bush- Obama Iraq War timetable but we can save the one hero of that war, Bradley Manning.

I stand in solidarity with the alleged actions of Private Bradley Manning in bringing to light, just a little light, some of the nefarious war-related doings of this government, under Bush and Obama. If he did such acts they are no crime. No crime at all in my eyes or in the eyes of the vast majority of people who know of the case and of its importance as an individual act of resistance to the unjust and barbaric American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I sleep just a shade bit easier these days knowing that Private Manning may have exposed what we all knew, or should have known- the Iraq war and the Afghan war justifications rested on a house of cards. American imperialism’s gun-toting house of cards, but cards nevertheless.

I am standing in solidarity with Private Bradley Manning because I am outraged by the treatment meted out to Private Manning, presumably an innocent man, by a government who alleges itself to be some “beacon” of the civilized world. Bradley Manning had been held in solidarity at Quantico and other locales for over 500 days, and has been held without trial for much longer, as the government and its military try to glue a case together. The military, and its henchmen in the Justice Department, have gotten more devious although not smarter since I was a soldier in their crosshairs over forty years ago.

These are more than sufficient reasons to stand in solidarity with Private Manning and will be until the day he is freed by his jailers. And I will continue to stand in proud solidarity with Private Manning until that great day.

Immediate Unconditional Withdrawal of All U.S./Allied Troops And Mercenaries From Afghanistan! Hands Off Iran! Free Bradley Manning Now!

"God knows what happens now. Hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms...

I want people to see the truth... because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public."

—online chat attributed to Army RFC Bradley Manning

Accused Wikileaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning,

a 23-year-old US Army intelligence analyst, is accused of sharing a video of the killing of civilians— including two Reuters journalists—by a US helicopter in Baghdad, Iraq with the Wikileaks website.

He is also charged with blowing the whistle on the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and revealing US diplomatic cables. In short, he's been charged with telling us the truth.

The video and documents have illuminated the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and brines play in international diplomacy.

Half of every edition of The New York Times has cited one or more of these documents during the past year. The leaks have caused Amnesty International to hail Wikileaks for catalyzing the democratic middle eastern revolutions and changing journalism forever.

What happens now is up to YOU!

Never before in U.S. history has someone been charged with "Aiding the enemy through indirect means" by making information public.

A massive; popular outpouring of support for Bradley Manning is needed to save his life.

We are at a turning point in our nation's history. Will we as a public demand greater transparency and accountability from pur elected leaders? Will we be governed by fear and secrecy? Will we accept endless war fought with our tax dollars? Or, will we demand the right to know the truth—the real foundation of democracy.

Here are some actions you should take now to support Bradley:

» to sign the petition. Then join our photo petition at

» Join our facebook page, savebradley,
to receive campaign updates, and follow SaveBradley on twitter

» and
download our Organizer Toolkit to learn howyou can educate community members, gain media attention, and donate toward Bradley's defense.

The People Have the Right to Know...

Visit to learn howyou can take action!

What did WikiLeaks reveal?
"In no case shall information be classified... in order to: conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency... or prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of the national security."

—Executive Order 13526, Sec. 7.7. Classification Prohibitions and Limitations

"Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is this awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest."

—Robert Gates, Unites States Secretary of Defense

PFC Bradley Manning is a US Army intelligence specialist who is accused of releasing classified information to WikiLeaks, an organization that he allegedly understood would release portions of the information to news organizations and ultimately to the public.

Was the information that PFC Manning is accused of leaking classified for our protection and national security, as government officials contend? Or do the revelations provide the American public with information that we should have had access to in the first place? Just

what are these revelations? Below are some key facts that PFC Manning is accused of making public.

There is an official policy to ignore torture in Iraq.

The "Iraq War Logs" published by WikiLeaks revealed that thousands of reports of prisoner abuse and torture had been filed against the Iraqi Security Forces. Medical evidence detailed how prisoners had been whipped with heavy cables across the feet, hung from ceiling hooks, suffered holes being bored into their legs with electric drills, urinated upon, and sexually assaulted. These logs also revealed the existence of "Frago 242,"an order implemented in 2004 not to investigate allegations of abuse against the. Iraqi government This order is a direct violation of the UN Convention Against Torture, which was ratified by the United States in 1994. The Convention prohibits the Armed Forces from transferring a detainee to other countries "where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture." According to the State Department's own reports, the U.S. government was already aware that the Iraqi Security Forces engaged in torture (1).

U.S. officials were told to cover up evidence of child abuse by contractors in Afghanistan.

U.S. defense contractors were brought under much tighter supervision after leaked diplomatic cables revealed that they had been complicit in child trafficking activities. DynCorp — a powerful defense contracting firm that claims almost $2 billion per year in revenue from U.S. tax dollars — threw a party for Afghan security recruits featuring boys purchased from child traffickers for entertainment. DynCorp had already faced human trafficking charges before this incident took place. According to the cables, Afghan Interior minister HanifAtmar urged the assistant US ambassadorto"quash"the story.These revelations have been a driving factor behind recent calls for the removal of all U.S. defense contractors from Afghanistan (2).

Guantanamo prison has held mostly innocent people and low-level operatives.

The Guantanamo Files describe how detainees were arrested based on what the New York Times referred to as highly subjective evidence. For example, some poor farmers were captured after they were found wearing a common watch or a jacket that was the same as those also worn by Al Queda operatives. How quickly innocent prisoners were released was heavily dependent on their country of origin. Because the evidence collected against Guantanamo prisoners is not permissible in U.S. courts, the U.S. State Department has offered millions of dollars to other countries to take and try our prisoners. According to a U.S. diplomatic cable written on April 17, 2009, the Association for the Dignity of Spanish Prisoners requested that the National Court indict six former U.S. officials for creating a legal framework that allegedly permitted torture against five Spanish prisoners. However,"Senator Mel Martinez... met Acting FM [Foreign Minister] AngelLossada... on April 15. Martinez... -underscored that the prosecutions would not be understood or accepted in the U.S. and would have an enormous impact on the bilateral relationship"(3).

There is an official tally of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Even though the Bush and Obama Administrations maintained publicly that there was no official count of civilian casualties, the Iraq and Afghanistan War Logs showed that this claim was false. Between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. government counted a total of 109,000 deaths in Iraq, with 66,081 classified as non-combatants. This means that for every Iraqi death that is classified as a combatant, two innocent men, women or children are also killed (4),


(1)Alex Spillius, "Wikileaks: Iraq War Logs show US ignored torture allega-
tions,"Telegraph, October 22,2010.

(2)foreign contractors hired Afghan 'dancing boys; WikiLeaks cable
reveals', December 2,2010,

(3) Scott Shane and Benjamin Weiser.The Guatanamo Files: Judging De­tainees'Risk, Often With Rawed Evidence'New York Times, April 24,2011,;'US embassy cables: Don't pursue Guantanamo criminal case, says Spanish attorney general', December 1,2010,

(4) Iraq War Logs Reveal 15,000 Previously Unlisted Civilian Deaths,', October 22,2010,'d/2010/ oct/22/true-civilian-body-count-iraq

Ancient dreams, dreamed-An Unexplained Interlude - Magical Realism 101

Twenty come and gone, dead. Old new uniform, resplendent college joe uniform complete with white-socked penniless loafers, gone, passed on to some Goodwill basket and mercifully back to all- weather, all-season patterned, usually, brown though, flannel shirts (yes, summers too, despite whacked out metabolisms that are out of synch, sweating, okay, perspiring, but we have been through that all before and the writer will just continue to write, write through rums sweats and wine sweats and whiskey neat sweats, gone are the slugfest whiskey working-class brave beer chaser days, and the quarters too, and take his chances, black chinos and, as if to put paid to those who wondered at the change and made surly comments about beat-ness, beatitude and the such, moccasins, comfortable, soft-feel moccasins, in a sea of penniless (mainly) white-socked loafers. Topped off, and gladly, since junior high Frankie Larkin king hell king of the junior league corner boy night times, remind me to tell you sometime about that mad man and his mad escapades but not now because we are discussing somber moods, midnight sunglasses to keep the rubes, the cheerleaders, and the plain nosy at bay.

New uniform too. Drunk, whisky high-shelf drunk, when in the chips, whisky back alley low shelf liquor store rotgut whisky drunk, when on the bum, drunk in some atlantic bayside bar, complete with mushrooming arrivisite boats of all sizes and descriptions although most look as seaworthy as the Titanic, looking at delicious nubile sights all dressed, or rather undressed in bikinis, halters and shorts, or any cool and look-able combination which I am too weary, too eye-candy weary to fully describe just now, for a while anyway.

Or some Southie hard week’s work done and quarters clinking gents only bar (ladies by invitation and accompaniment only so mostly manly rough-house and steady-handed drinking ) no adornments, nothing but hard stools and wet mahogany countertops with pickled eggs and other strange jerky things to work up hard thirsts, as if the thirst that I (and not just I) came in that unadorned, unpainted door (squeaky too) to quench needed aphrodisiac drunk, with beer chasers (just plunk down the extra quarter and bang).

Or some mondaytuesday wednesdaythrursday hangover drunk night spent neon-lighted in Kenmore Square chick-heavy dives like Skirt-Chaser’s Pub, High Heaven Angel Cafe, or Come And Get It Brother, If You Can Club (don’t look those google names up but I don’t need to draw you, you of all people, a diagram that here were meat market-worthy establishments filling the night with bare flesh, plenty is the hope, up from nowhere hope, high-end whiskeys (in the chips or don’t bother), and early morning romps along the Charles.

Drunk and no memories of old time North Adamsville, Irish town, faux Little Dublin town, Irish granite city old time quarries and sweat town, back in the day old time Wasp city of presidents but not lately town, simple storefront father and older brother bars used simply to get a few quick ones before home and bed, or after some convenient excuse softball games until one in the morning (or maybe two depending on blue law local rules for public houses versus cafes versus, hell, bowling alleys and brothels) And no memories of the first time Uncle Jim set me up for an underage wink, wink drink and the first few tastes went down hard, and I almost threw up and then the beer chaser (clink those quarters, please), settled me, and sleep, head on countertop sleep. And the shawlies howled at the moon for days (and secretly wink, wink proclaimed manhood, poor Uncle Jim’s sister there will be hell to pay before that young lad is done, no question) and then some midnight scandal between Miss Molly somebody and a very married (and child heavy) Mister Midnight Rider somebody took all of their attention away from some half-arsed (no sic here) teenage boy trying to quickly to raise manhood’s bar. That scene, that Uncle Jim who was held in bad odor for other misdemeanors by the shawlies on his own hook, would be filed for future reference and sixteen forms of comparison with their own sparkling white just gone to confession (daily confession it seems now that I think of it, why?) jimmies and kathies.

And damn if they were not right, maybe not future reference right but right on the basics the named bars, Joe’s, Jim’s, Irish Pub, Dublin Grille, Café, Club, to infinity, Artie’s Bayside Club, The Sea ‘n Surf (and six forms of cuddle up dancing, drunk as a skunk, but cutting a figure, and best, walking out midnight doors, hand in hand with some foxy red-headed twist out for just the night and heading to some small town home in the morning, some dark-eyed, black-haired beauty with dancing eyes and loose morals who was slumming just then looking for ocean-aired adventure and not kansas hayseeds and she, yes, she, and I quote, hit pay dirt, or some skinny brunette with a hollow leg who just wanted to walk along the adjacent beach but who for one more hollow leg drink, some gin and tonic thing, could be persuaded to watch the “submarine races”), The Shakers (strictly high-end WASP Philly girls looking for shanty irish thrills before marrying some third cousin stockbroker and bliss).

Names, nameless, no legion. Girls and gin get it, no gin no girl, no girl no gin, get it and no bliss and no dreams, no endless night dreams of dainty curves and longing caresses, get it. Endless dreams and endless longings. And whiskey, whiskey with fewer beer chasers.

And the 24/7/365 years fell down drunk. Then some staggered midnight vista street, some 1967 staggered midnight, no dough having spent the last quarters on some fruitless pina colada senorita no go, walking drunken streets cabs stopping for quick jack roller fares, or funny, real jack rollers coming up empty and mad, maybe killing mad. Walking, legs weak from lack of work and hour on hour of stool-sitting and stewing over pina colada no gos, brain weak, maybe wet, push on, push on, find some fellaheen relieve for that unsatisfied bulge, that gnawing at the brain or really at the root of the thing. A topsy-turvy time, murder, death, the death of death, the death of fame, murder, killing murder, and then resolve, wrong resolve and henceforth the only out, war, war to the finish although who could have known that then. Who could have known that tet, lyndon, bobby, Hubert, tricky dick war-circus thing then. And not drunk, get it.

Friday, May 25, 2012

In Honor Of The 200th Anniversary Of Ned Ludd And The Luddites-For E.P. Thompson (No, This Is Not A Rock Group)

Link to;

Friday, 25 May 2012

25th May 1812: A Hosier, James Tarratt, gives evidence before the Select Commitee into the Framework-knitters Petitions

Prior to Monday 25th May 1812, those giving evidence before the Parliamentary Select Committee into the Framework-knitters Petitions had been the Framework-knitters themselves. But five days after the Committee had last sat, a Hosier called James Tarratt gave evidence.

Tarratt was a lace manufacturer from Nottingham. He started his evidence by echoing the views of the Framework-knitters who had presented evidence earlier: that the manufacturer of single press lace had greatly injured the trade, and that although there was a difference in price between this form of lace and others, single press was effectively worthless after the first time it was washed as it lost shape. He advocated the prohibition of single press lace.He also took the framework-knitters line on cut-ups.

Tarratt also called for the prohibition of truck, and that a printed schedule of prices paid by the hosier should be displayed on each workplace, but agreed with the Committee that the prohibition of foreign trade was the 'principal cause' of the 'decay' of the trade.

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25th May 1812: The Lancaster Special Commission commences

Baron Alexander Thomson (left) & Sir Simon le Blanc (right)
On Monday 25th May 1812, the special Assize to try those committed for trial during the recent disturbances in Lancashire - a Special Commission - commenced at Lancaster Castle, where the prisoners were also held.

The Judges presiding over the trial - Baron (Sir Alexander) Thomson and Sir Simon le Blanc - had arrived at 6.00 p.m. on the previous Saturday, having left London on Thursday 21st May, and were met by the High Sheriff, Edward Greaves, before proceeding to formally open the court on the same day. The Leeds Mercury of 23rd May informed that Mr Justice Chambre and Mr Baron Graham were also present.

Monday began with the swearing-in of the Grand Jury, who were as follows:

Joseph Radcliffe, of Royton, Esq. Foreman,
Isaac Blackburne, of Bank-Hall,
John Birley, of Blackburn,
Thomas Drinkwater, Irwell-House,
William Farrington, of Shawe-Hall,
Henry Fielden, of Witton,
Ralph Fletcher, of Tonge-with-Haulgh,
Thos. Gillibrand, of Chorley,
Nathanial Gould, of Salford,
Wm. Hulton, of Hulton,
Wm. Horton, of Rochdale,
Strethill Harrison, of Lancaster,
Wm. Jones, of Broughton,
John Lever, of Alkrington,
Thomas Leyland, of Walton,
Edmund Rigby, of Ellel Grange,
Benjamin Rawson, of Darley,
Miles Sandys, of Graithwaite,
John Silvester, of Chorley, and
John Simpson, of Hope, Esquire.

The foreman of the Jury was Joseph Radcliffe, the Magistrate from the West Riding who had his hands full dealing with Luddites there. His pre-eminent position these trials is a fact rarely mentioned by historians. Also notably present was Colonel Ralph Fletcher. Even allowing for the wide differences between the modern trial system and that of 200 years ago, it would be difficult to pick a more prejudiced and partial jury than this.

The Lancaster Gazette of 6th June 1812 gave a brief, summarised account of the Judges' charge to the Jury:

An admirable Charge was given to them, by Baron Thomson, in which he stated the law which applied to the different cases which would come before them. Persons breaking into warehouses, mills, or shops, and setting fire to them, or stealing or destroying any goods therein, were guilty of felony, without benefit of clergy. Persons guilty of administering or aiding and consenting to the administering of unlawful oaths, were liable to seven years transportation. He concluded with exhorting them to use their utmost endeavours, in their respective neighbourhoods, to restore and promote the public tranquillity.

The Court was then adjourned to the following morning, when the trials would commence in earnest


Markin comment:

I place some material in this space which may be of interest to the radical public that I do not necessarily agree with or support. Off hand, as I have mentioned before, I think it would be easier, infinitely easier, to fight for the socialist revolution straight up than some of the “remedies” provided by the commentators in these entries. But part of that struggle for the socialist revolution is to sort out the “real” stuff from the fluff as we struggle for that more just world that animates our efforts.

We are witnessing a brand new and fascinating phenomenon - our society is becoming integral. It is no longer about banks and industries establishing partnerships all over the world, exchanging raw materials, merchandise, food supplies and so on. Today, even the world's cultures and education systems are merging into a single, universal composite. All of these elements are interconnected and interdependent in every way.

It is no accident that the modern media have made it possible for everyone to be informed of everything that's happening in the world. Such transparency enables people to connect on a whole new level - across racial, cultural, and national divides. It also puts us at a greater degree of mutual dependence than ever before.

When there is this kind of dependence in a tightly connected family, whose members care for each other, it benefits all. Everyone is responsible for everyone else, and no one is left behind. Otherwise, the family falls apart.

The problem is that precisely because we've been integrated on a global scale, we simply cannot divorce each other. Though hatred and contempt may run rampant, it doesn't change the facts of the matter one bit. Nature has imprisoned us on this planet, this tiny surface, and we have nowhere to run from each other.

With each passing day, our interdependence grows stronger. In the past, when individuals or nations clashed, the worst they could do was simply "remove" the rival. Today, the smallest conflict is fraught with colossal global ramifications. Opinions aside, it's becoming increasingly obvious that everybody in the world is dependent on (and responsible tor!)
everybody else.

This presents us with a serious problem, because as our arsenals grow in their destructive power, our hearts remain filled with envy, lust for control, cruelty, and spitefulness. This mutual hatred clouds our common sense, and if it continues to swell, we could easily wind up destroying ourselves.

It is clear that nature is pushing us toward greater mutuality and interconnectedness, which is unavoidable, like in a family that cannot be divorced. So what do we do about it? We must find a solution. And the solution is clear and unequivocal: restore peace "in the family," in the home that is our planet, between all nations and people. This cannot be achieved by aggressive action, but only by everyone's free choice, made with complete integrity.

By actualizing this single solution that underlies our very survival, we will surely learn how to tackle all the other issues affecting us. As a result, all nations will live as a unified society, a single family. We will know what every individual and nation needs and how we can work to complement each other. We will know how to educate the world - the "grown-up children" and the actual children, the next generation, so they will have a benevolent, warm, and gentle world to live in. Our power of mutuality will ensure humankind's safety against its egoistic attempts to seif-destruct.


History teaches us that many of our predicaments and perhaps our primary foe in battling today's global crises is the ego. It seems as though doing away with it would improve everything. But the ego is not the enemy. Indeed, it is our very nature, and any attempt to suppress or ignore egoism carries disastrous consequences.

For hard proof we needn't look any farther than the communist regime of the former Soviet Union. Human nature will outlast any regime or experiment that contradicts it. In a war against the ego we are doomed to fail from the start, so in order to avoid the mistakes of the past, let's take a different approach and learn to use the ego to our benefit.

In the 1950s, the now iconic Asch series of experiments proved that public opinion is of primary importance to an individual. Applying this principle to society as a whole, it becomes clear that the "be-all end-all" target of all human endeavors is social status.

We slave away for a bigger house, a newer car, or a fatter bank account only because society dictates that these things are valuable. In essence, though, they are not the goal but mere means to it, while the goal is achieving higher social status. If we lived in a culture where big muscles or high intelligence were the pinnacle of prestige, we would be compelled by society to put the same amount of effort toward achieving excellence in those areas, paying little to no mind to material possessions.

Now imagine a switch got flicked, and we were no longer venerated for our ability to hoard virtual zeroes in the bank, throw the pigskin, or manipulate the stock market. There would be no pleasure in these achievements, and we wouldn't have any fuel to go after them. And if such things were actually scorned or ridiculed, we would gladly and readily relinquish them all.

It follows that by changing the values in society, even artificially, the entire game gets transformed. If our offspring, friends, and neighbors respected and admired us for our contributions to society, and despised pursuit of personal interests, the same indomitable ego which is threatening the world today would be channeled toward collective benefit and the common good.

The key to such a transformation is public opinion. If we build an environment with abundant examples of favorable behavior toward society, we will finally begin to utilize human nature correctly. Not only is it the only way to survive in the new integral world, but we will also begin to tap the truly limitless potential inherent to humankind. info@amalgamag. com

Songs (Chants Today)To While Away The Class Struggle By-In Honor Of The SEIU Saint James Street (Boston) Janitors

Markin comment:

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

Chant #1 Boston escucha . Estamos en la lucha

Chant #2 De norte a sur De este a oeste Ganaremos esta lucha Cueste lo que cueste

Chant #3
Con la Union
Pa lante Siempre Pa'Iante
Con el Pueblo
Pa'Iante Siempre Pa'Iante
Nuestros ninos
Pa'Iante Siempre Pa'Iante
Pa'Iante Siempre Pa'Iante

Chant #4
Esta lucha no se para
Ni con nieve! Ni con agua!

Chant #5 No pare Sigue Sigue

Chant #6 Que queremos? Justicia!!! Cuando? Ahora!!!

Chant #7
Estamos aqui en la calle porque se puede
Si Se Puede
Marchando por la justicia porque se puede
Si Se Puede
Exigiendo nuestros derechos porque se
Si Se Puede

Chant #7
Arriba la Union Abajo la explotacion

Chant #8 Miren Escuchen Venga lo que venga Si aqui no hay justicia Aqui va haber candela

Chant #9 Se Puede? Si Se Puede!!!

Chant #10

Hey people What
I got a story What
I'll tell the whole wide world this is union territory

Chant #11
Ante up!
We want good jobs
Ante up!
We'll fight the boss!
Ante up!
We need healthcare
Ante up!

Chant #12

Here's a little story that must be told
About a big bad union with so much soul
Is on a roll
Fighting hard organize
All across the globe

Chant #13 Mira! Oye! Que se mueve? Somos el 99!

Chant #14

Cuando luchamos? Ganamos! When we fight? We win!

From The SEIU Boston-The Struggle Continues- Victory To The Saint James Street Janitors!

Capital Properties, the owner of 31 St. James Avenue, recently made the decision to hire an irresponsible contractor, Crystal Bright, to
provide cleaning services there. Crystal Bright pays poverty wages, and did not make an offer of employment to the dedicated contracted janitors who had cleaned the building for years.

Crystal Bright is a bottom feeder that undermines regional wage and labor standards. These types of irresponsible contractors often use tactics to undercut responsible contractors, such as denying workers a voice
on the job or misclassifying workers as independent contractors in order to avoid paying payroll taxes and workers compensation insurance.

Today, a delegation of the displaced contracted janitors and community supporters traveled to New York City to speak with Capital Properties about the company's decision to hire an irre­sponsible contractor and how it harms hardworking families in Boston.

Over the past several years, the janitorial industry as whole — including workers, cleaning contractors, building owners, elected leaders, and the Boston community at large - have come together to ensure that Boston is lifting the standards of the janitorial industry. In 2002, thousands of janitors in the Boston region went on strike to improve the standards of the cleaning industry. In the coming months, 14,000 janitors will be negotiating a new contract to continue improving standards for this industry.

Crystal Bright is trying to turn good jobs into bad by undermining the standards that Boston has worked so hard to create. As a building owner, Capital Properties can ensure that the cleaning jobs at 31 St. James are good , jobs—not poverty-wage jobs—by choosing a responsible
cleaning contractor.

Please call Capital Properties at 212-980-0090 and urge them to help create good jobs, not poverty-wage jobs, for property service workers in Boston. * SEIU Local 615 * 26 West St. Boston, MA 02111 * 617-523-6150 * * @seiu615
Crystal Bright unfair. No request to cease services or deliveries.

The Latest From The British Leftist Blog-"Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism"

Link to:

Markin comment:
While from the tenor of the articles, leftist authors featured, and other items it is not clear to me that this blog is faithful to any sense of historical materialism that Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin or Leon Trotsky would recognize I am always more than willing to "steal" material from the site. Or investigate leads provided there for material of interest to the radical public-whatever that seemingly dwindling public may be these days.

The Latest From “The Rag Blog”-Mariann G. Wizard : 'Inside/Out': The Poetry of Marilyn Buck

Markin comment:

I find this The Rag Blog very useful to monitor for the latest in what is happening with past tense radical activists and activities. Anybody, with some kind of name, who is still around from the 1960s has found a home here. So the remembrances and recollections are helpful for today’s activists. Strangely the politics are almost non-existent, as least ones that would help today, except to kind of retroactively “bless” those old-time left politics that did nothing (well, almost nothing) but get us on the losing end of the class (and cultural) wars of the last forty plus years. Still this is a must read blog for today’s left militants.

BOOKS / Mariann G. Wizard : 'Inside/Out': The Poetry of Marilyn Buck

The poetry of Marilyn Buck

By Mariann G. Wizard / The Rag Blog / May 10, 2012

The Rag Blog's Mariann Wizard will join fellow poets Czarina Aggabao Thelen, Lilia Rosas, Jorge Renaud, Michelle Mejia, and Jane Madrigal (San Quilmas) at "Inside/Out: a Reading and Celebration of a new poetry book by former political prisoner Marilyn Buck," presented by Red Salmon Arts at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at Resistencia Book Store, 1801-A South First St., Austin.
[Inside/Out: Selected Poems by Marilyn Buck; Foreword by David Meltzer (2012: City Lights Books, San Francisco); Paperback; 128 pp.; $13.95.]

Marilyn Buck's fellow poet and mentor David Meltzer writes that once when he was visiting her in Dublin Federal Correctional Center (prison), she expressed a desire to be known "not as a political prisoner poet, but simply as a poet."

For this collection, racing against uterine cancer until her death, she and a small group of now-surviving artistic and political friends (Meltzer, Felix Shafer, and Miranda Bergman, with poet Jack Hirschman and City Lights publisher Elaine Katzenberger) selected 63 poems that will give general poetry lovers their first real opportunity to savor her body of work.

Marilyn Buck was a Ragstaffer in Austin and Newsreel activist in San Francisco before becoming active in the Black Liberation movement. She died in August, 2010, in her 63rd year, after 25 years in federal prison and 19 days of freedom.

She began writing poetry in prison as one of the few means of self-expression open to her. As she wrote in her Master's thesis, On Becoming a Poet and Artist: Beyond Censorship to Re-Imagination (New College of California, Fall 1999, author's copy), "I was a censored person by virtue of being a political prisoner. Ironically, defiance of State censorship reduced me to self-censorship. Nevertheless, I needed to affirm myself... I turned to poetry, an art of speaking sparely, but flagrantly."

Buck's earlier collections (a chapbook, Rescue the Word [San Francisco and New York: Friends of Marilyn Buck, 2001], and a CD, Wild Poppies [San Francisco: Freedom Archives, 2004]), and other published works, while including poems that didn't spring from political or criminal convictions or fugitive experience, leaned heavily in that direction and by her choice.

While Inside/Out certainly doesn't slight her political and prison-related work, we may also see several other facets of a woman who was much more than a one-dimensional icon. In almost all, she preserves her hallmark "spare... but flagrant" style.

Some selections will be familiar to Buck's readers, and already beloved. "Clandestine Kisses" celebrates love against the rules with defiant elán. Like many of her poems, it summons a vision of irrepressible life finding a foothold in a world of steel and concrete.

"Woman with Cat and Iris" is another understated, sleight-of-hand creation: a tranquil Sunday morning illusion of normalcy dissolves in clanging steel doors and the shouts of guards, but the cat and flower linger, Cheshire-like, in the mind.

Marilyn wrote often about how the human mind can escape the sterility of prison, even for a moment; road maps, perhaps, for other prisoners, of whatever barred crucible, with "Gone" the most direct. "Night Showers," celebrating washing off the pain and grief of each day along with its grit and grime, and "Woman's Jazz Band Performs at Women's Theater" also mine this theme.

Incarceration is in large part a punishment because of its sensory deprivation. Deprivation from color, movement, textures, tastes, rain, the moon, etc., loom large in Buck's work, but as Meltzer notes, it also bursts with music.

The jazz cadences of her longer poems beg for a saxophone's honk and moan, a conga's quick counterpoint. The centrality of music and poetry in liberation struggles past and present, personal and political, is never lost on her. Here are a few lines from the previously unpublished "Reading Poetry":

Chao Ut reads Vietnamese poetry
I tell her she reads well
she smiles...

she reads another poem
it sounds like music, I say
yes I'll read it again
the way we everyday talk
she reads
do you hear?
yes, I say...
Or this, from "Boston Post Road Blues":

...I wait in the car's darkness I count
minutes and coins
11:00 I step through blinking neon
into the vacant booth drop coins
and hear a click

the plum-colored voice
Baby I'm here
trumpet notes tap along my spine
my delight a waterfall
blues turn bold
intimate in the dark…
Buck had a dry, playful wit, well-known to friends but seldom given rein in her published work. It's nice to find it here in a few poems such as "Definition":

when I was much younger
than I am now
my mom told me
look out for tall dark strangers
I thought she meant
look for one
Many poems seen for the first time in this collection are intensely personal. "Our Giant" recalls the darker side of Marilyn's father. Louis Buck was defrocked as an Episcopal priest for opposing segregation. Crosses were burned on the family's lawn during Marilyn's childhood.

A courageous, outspoken crusader to the world, he was a controlling tyrant to his wife and children, demanding perfection, as he defined it, from each of them:

brooding Irish Atlas
props long-legged baby
in the window of a '47 car
(a car I remember better
than my father's sweet attentions)
the only clue left of kindness
a bled-orange Kodacolor

a handsome rundown football player
like a thundering giant
he dangled our lives from his fingertips
four morsels
we hovered over the chasm of his rage
our tears seasoned his wounds
swallowed whole
we were regurgitated
each daybreak...
When Marilyn's increasing radicalism led to her involvement in Black Liberation groups embracing armed self-defense, their estrangement increased. After she became a fugitive from the law, she and her father had no contact for many years.

Yes Louis' uncompromising ideals and stubborn courage clearly informed much of her own conduct, including, some might say, the self-destructive parts. Their reconciliation before his death was extremely important to Marilyn. Here she expresses the terror, admiration, and eventual compassion he inspired:

...he was our giant, defrocked
he stomped in "jesus sandals"
stained the silken robes
of rich men's hypocrisy
a jeremiah in farmboy overalls
and starched Mexican wedding shirt

titanic storms flayed his flesh
too angry to leave this too-small world…
Her mother, Virginia, to whom the volume is dedicated, is also recalled in "Loss." Her death from the same type of cancer that would claim Marilyn was not only a grievous loss in itself, but a blow to the hope that Marilyn might survive to a healthy old age in freedom.

Virginia Buck defied (and eventually divorced) Louis, visiting as often as possible the daughter she "could not save... from vengeful-suited men nor from myself." Marilyn was not allowed to attend either parent's funeral, another deprivation that took a deep emotional toll.

Besides her poetry, much still uncollected, Marilyn Buck over time developed her ability to express herself "sparely yet flagrantly," making significant contributions to radical and liberation theory and discussion, contributing to numerous journals and publications.

She taught herself Spanish, and in 2008 City Lights published her translation of exiled Uruguayan poet Cristina Peri Rossi's collection, State of Exile, in a bilingual volume.

In prison, Marilyn became a certified literacy instructor and taught hundreds of women to read. She learned and taught yoga, became an advocate for women's healthcare, and organized AIDS education and prisoner fundraising activities. She mentored uncountable prisoners, prisoners' family members, and poets around the world. She was a voracious reader who maintained a vast and varied correspondence, including with my grateful self.

One fault with Inside/Out is that is doesn't tell when the poems were written, except those with dates in their titles. This would have been useful not only to academic readers but to friends and fellow poets who will long to know when such epic works as "Blake's Milton: Poetic Apocalypse" and "Revelation" were composed. Much longer than most of her other poems, these works blaze with intense visions wherein prison walls have neither substance nor meaning, such as these lines from "Revelation":

...Do you see demons and desolation, hear sounds
of screams, wailing? Or smell sulfur burn
behind your tongue – a taste of wormwood
and aloes? Or encounter the touch as a torch upon the skin?
You imagine fire but it might be ice...
There are no apologies here, no appeals for special consideration. As she rejected white-skin privilege in life, binding herself to oppressed people in words and deeds, Marilyn Buck sought no deathbed, deus ex machina salvation from prison, cancer, or the condemnation of the self-righteous.

For those who loved and miss her, Inside/Out is a special gift, long dreamed-of. For those who don't know her, or who've had limited knowledge of her as person or poet, here she is at last free to speak outside State restraints. No more bars, shackles, solitary confinements, or super-max jails.

The last poem included is "The First Year You Learn to Wear the Robes":

his teacher told him on stepping into the Zen priesthood

to wrap one robe and then another, is not as simple as it looks
rather this is not a simple matter of getting dressed, not a covering
a process of finding oneself inside one's situation,

a prisoner must learn to wear robes of absence
prepared to live this day
In my heart, I see Buck's eager spirit wearing new robes now, a rebel angel inspiring poets and activists around the world to work compassionately yet relentlessly for justice, peace, and freedom. She lives this day, and tomorrow, in the words left behind.

[Mariann G. Wizard, a Sixties radical activist and contributor to The Rag, Austin's underground newspaper from the 60s and 70s, is a poet, a professional science writer specializing in natural health therapies, and a regular contributor to The Rag Blog. Read more poetry and articles by Mariann G. Wizard on The Rag Blog.]

Inset art above: Hand-rubbed woodcut print of Marilyn Buck by Chicana artist Jane Madrigal, from her forthcoming collaborative project/exhibition: "Revolutionary Women Woodcuts."

Read articles (and poems) by and about Marilyn Buck on The Rag Blog.

The Rag Blog

The Latest From The “Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox” Blog

Click on the headline to link to Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox blog for the latest from her site.

Markin comment:

I find Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox rather a mishmash of eclectic politics and basic old time left-liberal/radical thinking. Not enough, not nearly enough, in our troubled times but enough to take the time to read about and get a sense of the pulse (if any) of that segment of the left to which she is appealing. One though should always remember, despite our political differences, her heroic action in going down to hell-hole Texas to confront one President George W. Bush when many others were resigned to accepting the lies of that administration or who “folded” their tents when the expected end to the Iraq War did not materialize. Hats off on that one, Cindy Sheehan.

The Latest From “The International Marxist Tendency” Website-The relevance of the Transitional Programme today – Introduction to the Indonesian edition

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.

The relevance of the Transitional Programme today – Introduction to the Indonesian edition –Part One

Written by Alan Woods Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Twenty years ago the powerful repressive Stalinist police states fell one after another under the pressure of mass upsurges. The collapse of Stalinism was a dramatic event and a turning point in world history. But in retrospect it will be seen as only the prelude to something even more dramatic: the death agony of world capitalism.

Leon TrotskyThe fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the bureaucratic Stalinist regimes of Russia and Eastern Europe provoked a wave of euphoria in the West. The demise of Stalinism was heralded as the "end of Socialism." The final victory of the "free market" was trumpeted from the pages of learned journals from Tokyo to New York. The strategists of capital were exultant. Everything would be for the best in the best of all capitalist worlds. But only a few years later all these dreams of the bourgeoisie and the reformists lie in ashes.

Francis Fukuyama even went so far as to proclaim the "end of history." By this he meant that capitalism was now the only possible system for humanity, and that revolution was henceforth off the agenda. But the since then the wheel of history has turned 180 degrees. All the optimistic predictions of the bourgeoisie have been reduced to rubble.

The collapse of Stalinism was not the end of history, but only the first act in a drama, which has ended in the most serious crisis in the history of world capitalism. The unprecedented ideological offensive against the ideas of Marxism has now reached its limits. In society as in classical mechanics it is true that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. And a general reaction against capitalist barbarism has begun.

Written in 1938, Trotsky’s remarkable work T he Transitional Programme seems even more relevant today than when it was written. For a long time it appeared that Trotsky’s prognosis referred to a distant historical period, as remote from present day reality as some far-flung galaxy is from the earth. On the surface capitalism appeared to have successfully solved its problems and the Marxian theory of crisis seemed to be out of date.

Now all this has been stood on its head. The bourgeois economists are unable to explain the present crisis, which they said would never occur. Official economics presents a picture of confusion, incompetence and disarray. Not long ago Paul Krugman, a prominent economist, confessed that for the past 30 years macroeconomic theory has been “at best spectacularly useless, at worst, positively harmful”.

By contrast, The Transitional Programme now seems to have been written, not 73 years ago, but yesterday. Its description of the state of the world economy can be applied to the present crisis without changing a single dot or comma. Here we see the colossal superiority of the Marxist method.

Trotsky wrote in the Transitional Programme: “The capitalists are tobogganing towards disaster with their eyes closed.” Today, however, it is necessary to make just one change to that affirmation. Nowadays the capitalists are tobogganing towards disaster with their eyes wide open. They can see what’s happening. They can see what’s coming. But they can do absolutely nothing to prevent it.

The bourgeoisie is not capable of understanding the real causes of crises. Their main theory is really a throwback to Say’s Law, which says that supply and demand will eventually balance, and if left to themselves, the markets will find the correct level. This theory leaves out of account the fundamental contradictions of the capitalist economy, in which there is no automatic correlation between supply and demand and always tends towards overproduction.

The problem for the bourgeoisie is that it used up the instruments that should be used to get out of a slump in order to delay the onset of recession. Now they cannot have recourse to these methods precisely when they need them. How can they reduce the rate if interest, when it is already close to zero? And how can they increase state expenditure, when the state is already bankrupt? And how can they expand credit, when people are struggling to pay off the colossal burden of debt left over from the boom period?

To these questions the bourgeois have no answer. The continuation of this decrepit and degenerate system threatens to drag the entire world down into an abyss of crises, unemployment, suffering and degradation. It threatens to undermine all the gains of the past, and even to threaten the existence of human culture and civilization. What is required is a fundamental transformation of society from top to bottom. The words of Karl Marx retain all their power today: the alternative before humankind is: socialism or barbarism.

But how is this great transformation to be achieved? The socialist revolution cannot be achieved by the actions of a small minority. It can only be carried out by the masses themselves. But how can the small forces of revolutionary Marxism conquer the masses? How can we advance from “A” to “B”? This central question is answered by Trotsky in the Transitional Programme.

The Transitional Programme is an attempt to link the struggle for slogans for bettering the condition of the masses to the idea of the Socialist Revolution through transitional slogans. As distinct from the old minimum and maximum programme of the Social Democracy, the Transitional Programme represents the transition from capitalism to the socialist revolution.

The socialist revolution would be unthinkable without the day-to-day struggle for advance under capitalism. Only in and through the struggle can the working class acquire the necessary experience and organization to challenge the capitalist system. Sectarians and ultra lefts cannot understand this. They stand aloof from the day-to-day struggles of the workers, and therefore doom themselves to impotence.

The task of the advanced guard of the proletariat is not to lecture the masses from the sidelines. In order to find a road to the masses, it is necessary to fight alongside them, to participate in each and every struggle, for even the most modest gains, while at each stage linking the struggle to the perspective of socialist revolution. Herein is the essence of transitional demands.

>Trotsky versus Stalin

The power of Trotsky’s ideas is clear today to any unbiased person. But when he wrote this document, the man who was, together with Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, the founder of the Red Army, was living the life of a lonely exile, persecuted and driven from one country to another: one man against the whole world.

In all the annals of history we will scarcely find a similar case when all the resources of a vast state apparatus were mobilized to destroy one man. In vain Trotsky strove to find a place of exile. All the doors of the so-called western democracies were firmly shut against him, in what the French surrealist poet Andre Breton described as “the planet without a visa”.

Expelled from the Communist Party of Russia in 1927 as the result of the machinations of Stalin and his bureaucratic apparat, Trotsky was later sent into exile (1929) in far-off Turkey. By such bureaucratic means Stalin and his henchmen thought they would silence the leader of the Bolshevik-Leninists (the Left Opposition). But they were mistaken. Trotsky would not be silenced.

From his exile on the island of Prinkipo, he organized the counter attack of the genuine forces of Bolshevism-Leninism. Trotsky set up the International Left Opposition, which began to regroup all those who remained loyal to the ideas of Lenin, the Bolshevik Party and October.

Incapable of answering Trotsky’s political arguments, Stalin and the bureaucracy answered with acts of repression. The Left Opposition in Russia was suppressed by force and its members sacked from their jobs, harassed, and later arrested, imprisoned and murdered. This was the start of a systematic persecution that involved the murder of all Trotsky’s comrades, collaborators, friends and even his children. Finally in Mexico in August 1940 Stalin succeeded in his main aim: the assassination of Trotsky.

The Fourth International

Trotsky founded the International Left opposition in order to regroup all those who remained true to the ideas of Bolshevik-Leninism. Though formally expelled from the ranks of the Communist Parties and the Communist International (Comintern), Trotsky and his followers still considered themselves to be part of the Communist movement, fighting for readmission and for the reform of the Communist Parties, the Communist International and the USSR.

The betrayal of the German working class in 1933, arising from the failure of the Communist International to offer a united front to the Social Democratic workers against Hitler, was a turning-point. When even this terrible defeat did not create a ripple in their ranks, Trotsky was forced to conclude that the Communist International was dead as a force for world socialism. It was now necessary to prepare the way for the organisation of a Fourth International, untarnished with the crimes and betrayals which besmirched the Reformist and Stalinist Internationals.

In the main, the pre-war period was one of preparation and orientation and selection of cadres or leading elements to be trained and steeled theoretically and practically. In contrast to the sectarian groups, Trotsky always addressed himself to the mass organizations of the working class. He did not adopt a tone of shrill denunciation when dealing with the reformist workers, but followed Lenin's slogan: Patiently explain.

Trotsky's method, like that of Marx and Lenin, was a combination of two things: an implacable defence of ideas and principles, and an extremely flexible approach to tactics and organizational questions. We can see this method in the Transitional Programme and in all Trotsky’s discussions with his collaborators at this time.

But Trotsky faced many difficulties. As in the days after the collapse of the Second International, the revolutionary internationalists were small and isolated. The forces of the new international were weak and immature. Even more serious was the total isolation from the proletarian mass organizations. This worried Trotsky greatly.

As a means fo overcoming the isolation of the movement from the mass organizations of the Social Democracy and Communist party, Trotsky advocated entry into the Social Democratic parties in France, Britain and other countries in the 1930s. In order to win the best workers, it was necessary to find a way of influencing them. This could only be done by working together with them in the mass organizations. This flexible approach was a means of preparing the cadres for the great events which impended.

The defeats of the working class in Germany, France and in the civil war in Spain, the result of the policies of the Second and Third Internationals, prepared the way for the Second World War, confronting the new International with new challenges. It was in this atmosphere that the 1938 founding conference of the Fourth International took place.

But there were problems from the very start. Many of the cadres were disoriented by the collapse of the Third International and demoralized by the rise of Stalinism. Most were inclined towards sectarianism and ultra leftism. Fortunately they had the guidance and assistance of Trotsky, and the perspectives of great historical events.

But the leading cadres lacked the necessary theoretical depth to think independently. The assassination of Trotsky in August 1940 dealt a devastating blow to the young and untested forces of the International. They never understood Trotsky’s method and were incapable of adjusting to the new situation that developed during and after the Second World War.

Trotsky’s prognosis falsified

Unfortunately, the leaders of the Fourth International were not up to the level of the tasks posed by history. In 1938 Trotsky predicted that within ten years nothing would be left of the old traitor organizations, and the Fourth International would have become the decisive revolutionary force on the planet. The basic analysis was correct, but every prognosis is conditional; the multiplicity of factors, economically, politically, socially, can always result in a different development than that foreseen.

The perspective of Trotsky was that of war, which in its turn would provoke revolution. This is not the place to deal with the extremely complex unfolding of the Second World War. War is the most complicated of all equations. The result of the Second World War was foreseen by nobody. Neither Trotsky nor Roosevelt, neither Hitler nor Stalin foresaw it.

As predicted by Trotsky, the War gave a tremendous impetus to revolution in Italy, Greece, France, Britain, Eastern Europe and the Colonial countries. But, for reasons not anticipated by Trotsky, the revolutionary wave was headed off by the betrayals of Stalinism and reformism. In place of revolution in Western Europe, we had counter-revolution in a democratic form.

The betrayal of the Stalinists and reformists provided the political precondition for a new period of capitalist upswing from 1948-73. The perspectives worked out by Trotsky in 1938 were falsified by history. In Eastern Europe, the Stalinists took over and set up new deformed workers states, in the image of Stalin's Moscow. The victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949 further strengthened Stalinism for a whole period.

The degeneration and collapse of the Fourth International after Trotsky's death was mainly due to objective factors - mighty economic upswings of world capitalism, the renewed illusion in reformism and Stalinism, meant that, for a whole period, the forces of genuine Marxism could not expect big gains. However, the leaders of the IV International made serious mistakes that in the end wrecked the new International.

In war, in periods of advance, good generals are important. But in a period of retreat, they are more important still. With good generals, you can retreat in good order, with a minimum of losses, keeping your forces intact, to prepare for a more favourable situation. With bad generals, you turn a defeat into a rout.

These new historical phenomena, although foreshadowed in Trotsky's writings, were a closed book to the so-called leaders of the International. Deprived of Trotsky's leadership the leaders of the Fourth made a series of fundamental mistakes. We cannot go here into the details of the disastrous policies pursued by the leaders of the so-called Fourth International. These are dealt with elsewhere (see Ted Grant’s The Programme of the International). Suffice it to say that not one of these people was capable of analysing the new situation, or adjusting to it. That spelled disaster for the International, which was still-born.

Only the leadership of the RCP in Britain was able to readjust to the new situation on a world scale after 1945. For this we have to thank one man - Ted Grant. His writings on economics, war, the colonial revolution, and particularly Stalinism, were, and still remain, classics of modern Marxism. It was on this basis that the forces of genuine Marxism were able to regroup and build under difficult conditions.

Basing himself on the writings of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, comrade Ted was able to keep together a small group of loyal comrades in the dark and difficult years of capitalist upswing that followed the Second World War, when the forces of genuine Marxism were reduced to a tiny handful internationally. Today the International Marxist Tendency – the organization that was founded by Ted Grant, has kept alive the programme, the theory, the methods and the ideas of Marxism and holds high the banner of Leon Trotsky – the banner that alone can bring victory.

The relevance of the Transitional Programme today – Introduction to the Indonesian edition –Part Two

Written by Alan Woods Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Nowhere is the Transitional Programme more relevant than in Indonesia – a country that occupies a very important place in the perspectives for world revolution. Its working class has a rich revolutionary tradition, which still survives though it was drowned in blood in 1965.

The Indonesian Revolution

Suharto came to power on the basis of the mass murder of supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party. These atrocities were planned and carried out with the active participation of the imperialists. For thirty-two years, this bloody tyrant ruled Indonesia with a rod of iron, having come to power over the corpses of over a million people.

For three decades extreme violence was used against Indonesian farmers, workers and urban poor. For all this timethese so-called democrats were content to turn a blind eye to Suharto’s bloody dictatorship, because he gave them the necessary “stability” to rob and exploit the Indonesian people. To the very last minute, Washington tried to back up Suharto and the dictatorship.

Suharto was overthrown by the revolutionary movement of the masses. Once it began, the movement quickly acquired an all-Indonesian character. What was extraordinary is not only the sweep of the movement but also the lightening speed with which consciousness developed, passing rapidly from an elementary protest against worsening living standards to open political protests in the teeth of repression and police violence.

From the beginning the workers showed their unerring revolutionary instinct by supporting the students. Numerous reports bear witness to the fact that workers participated on the students’ demonstrations: Only the revolutionary movement of the Indonesian proletariat, uniting in struggle with the students, peasants and oppressed nationalities, can carry through the transformation of society.

This shows that te Indonesian working class is very strong and willing to fight. Once it is organised to fight under the banner of the socialist revolution, it would be an unstoppable force. But the absence of a genuine Bolshevik leadership derailed the magnificent movement that began in 1998. We said at the time that this is the beginning of the revolution, not only in Indonesia but in the whole of Asia, but warned that the false policies of the leaders could end in defeat. We wrote the following:

“The revolutionary potential is immense. But, in the absence of the subjective factor, so is the potential for defeat. Over a period of two, three or five years, the question of power will be posed before the working class one time after another. If there existed even a small revolutionary nucleus, the entire situation could be transformed. but in the absence of this, And with the disastrous policies being pursued by the CP leadership [PRD, the People’s Democratic Party], the magnificent revolution in Indonesia can again end in defeat.

“The revolution will pass through various stages, of which we are now merely witnessing the first act. The possibility of victory for the working class will depend on the quality of the leadership. The students and workers have already displayed great courage and initiative. Armed with a correct programme and perspective, victory would be assured. But if the necessary leadership is not built, then chaos can develop, and even elements of barbarism, as in Uganda and Somalia, leading to the break-up of Indonesia. Either the greatest of victories or the most terrible of defeats—these are the only two options before the Indonesian revolution.”

This remains true today. Temporarily the Indonesian Revolution has been side-tracked onto the road of so-called bourgeois democracy. This means that the same old oppressors remain in control. This is the dictatorship of Capital disguised as democracy.

The decisive factor that is missing is the subjective factor—a revolutionary party and leadership capable of providing the necessary organisation, programme and perspective to unite the movement and guide it to the seizure of power. If a genuine communist party had existed, it would have quickly moved towards taking power. Only the lack of the subjective factor prevented this from coming about in 1998.

The leaders of the movement – especially the PRD youth who were trained in the Menshevik/Stalinist two-stage theory – who in 1998 advocated the slogan demokrasi and postponed the struggle for socialism to a dim and distant futurewere misleading the masses. If democracy to mean anything, it must mean the transfer of power to the overwhelming majority of the people: the workers and poor peasants.

That is why the slogan demokrasi is being replaced on the streets by the call for revolusi. The demand for socialism will grow to the degree that the workers and peasants realize that their most elementary needs cannot be satisfied as long as the land, the banks and big industries remain in the hands of a tiny minority of wealthy parasites.

Only the democratic rule of the working class can cleanse Indonesian society of all the accumulated filth and corruption of the past and commence the movement in the direction of a socialist society.

The relevance of Trotskyism today

The sickness of the 21st century is well known to students of history. We can observe the same symptoms in every period of decline, when a given socio-economic system has exhausted its potential and become a brake on human development.

Capitalism has long ago reached its limits. It is no longer capable of developing the means of production as it once did. It is no longer capable of offering meaningful reforms. In fact, it is no longer able to tolerate the continuation of the reforms of the past that provided at least some of the elements of a semi-civilized existence in the advanced capitalist countries.

Now all the gains so painfully won by the working class in the past are under threat. But the workers and youth will not surrender their conquests without a fight. The stage is set for an unprecedented explosion of the class struggle.

On the threshold of the twenty-first century, the very existence of the human race is threatened by the ravishing of the planet in the name of profit; mass unemployment, which was confidently asserted to be a thing of the past, has reappeared in all the advanced countries of capitalism, not to speak of the nightmare of poverty, ignorance, wars and epidemics which constantly afflict two thirds of humanity in the so-called "Third World." There is war after war and terrorism is spreading like a dark stain all over the planet. On all sides there is pessimism and a deep sense of foreboding about the future, mingled with irrational and mystical tendencies.

The bourgeois economists, politicians, and journalists understand nothing of what is happening. Only dialectical materialism can help us to understand what is happening on a world scale. The bourgeois empirical method is incapable of understanding the processes that are at work at a deeper level. Dialectics teaches us things can and do and will suddenly change into their opposite.

The Arab revolution is a fundamental turning point in history. Events are moving at lightning speed. Since just the beginning of 2011, we have witnessed the Arab Revolution. This is a symptom that something fundamental has changed in the entire situation. The Arab Revolution appeared to the bourgeoisie as something inexplicable. It seemed to it happened suddenly, without warning. In reality it was an expression of the impasse of capitalism on a world scale.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union there has been an avalanche of books which claim to “expose” the October Revolution and its most important leaders, Lenin and Trotsky. There is nothing new in this. For the ruling class it is never sufficient to defeat a revolution. It is necessary to cover it with a mountain of lies and slanders, to eradicate its memory. The purpose of this is clear: to discredit the Bolshevik revolution in the eyes of the new generation.

But these attacks will not be able to halt the march of history. Today the ideas of Leon Trotsky are more relevant than ever before. They find an ever-growing echo in the ranks of the workers’ movement in all countries. Even in the ranks of the Communist Parties, where previously the ideas of Trotsky were reviled, the rank and file is looking to them with growing interest and sympathy as the only real Marxist explanation of the degeneration and collapse of the USSR.

All over the world a new generation is beginning to move into action. We see the same revolutionary ferment everywhere: from Tunisia to Egypt, from Spain to Greece. Even in the USA, we have seen the movement in Wisconsin and the mass anti-capitalist demonstrations in New York. With differing speeds and intensity, it is the same process that is unfolding on a world scale.

>The new generation is looking for a banner, a programme and an idea and is increasingly revolutionary in outlook. To this new generation the ideas of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky offer a guide and compass that they will need in order to find their way to the road that leads to socialism – the revolutionary road. It is to this new generation of fighters that I dedicate the Indonesian translation of these important works of Marxism.

The Latest From The Partisan Defense Committee-Free The Class-War Prisoners-Free Mumia Abu-Jamal, Free Leonard Peltier, Free Lynne Stewart And Her Co-Workers-Free The Remaining Ohio 7 Prisoners!-U.S. Expands Domestic Spying Machine

Click on the headline to link to the Partisan Defense Committee website.

Reposted from the American Left History blog, dated December 1, 2010.

Markin comment:

I like to think of myself as a fervent supporter of the Partisan Defense Committee, an organization committed to social and political defense cases and causes in the interests of the working class and, at this time of the year, to raising funds to support the class-war prisoners’ stipend program. Normally I do not need any prompting in the matter. This year, however, in light of the addition of Attorney Lynne Stewart (yes, I know, she has been disbarred but that does not make her less of a people’s attorney in my eyes) to the stipend program, I read the 25th Anniversary Appeal article in Workers Vanguard No. 969 where I was startled to note how many of the names, organizations, and political philosophies mentioned there hark back to my own radical coming of age, and the need for class-struggle defense of all our political prisoners in the late 1960s (although I may not have used that exact term at the time).

That recognition included names like black liberation fighter George Jackson, present class-war prisoner Hugo Pinell’s San Quentin Six comrade; the Black Panthers, as represented here by two of the Omaha Three (Poindexter and wa Langa), in their better days and in the days when we needed, desperately needed, to fight for their defense in places from Oakland to New Haven; the struggle, the fierce struggle, against the death penalty as represented in Mumia’s case today; the Ohio 7 and the Weather Underground who, rightly or wrongly, were committed to building a second front against American imperialism, and who most of the left, the respectable left, abandoned; and, of course, Leonard Peltier and the Native American struggles from Pine Ridge to the Southwest. It has been a long time and victories few. I could go on but you get the point.

That point also includes the hard fact that we have paid a high price, a very high price, for not winning back in the late 1960s and early 1970s when we last had this capitalist imperialist society on the ropes. Maybe it was political immaturity, maybe it was cranky theory, maybe it was elitism, hell, maybe it was just old-fashioned hubris but we let them off the hook. And have had to fight forty years of rear-guard “culture wars” since just to keep from falling further behind.

And the class-war prisoners, our class-war prisoners, have had to face their “justice” and their prisons. That lesson should be etched in the memory of every pro-working class militant today. And this, as well, as a quick glance at the news these days should make every liberation fighter realize; the difference between being on one side of that prison wall and the other is a very close thing when the bourgeois decides to pull the hammer down. The support of class-war prisoners is thus not charity, as International Labor Defense founder James P. Cannon noted back in the 1920s, but a duty of those fighters outside the walls. Today I do my duty, and gladly.
11 May 2012

U.S. Expands Domestic Spying Machine

Bipartisan Assault on Civil Liberties

On April 26, the House of Representatives passed the benign-sounding but deeply ominous Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). Under the pretense of seeking to secure the country’s computer networks from “terrorists,” “cybercriminals” and foreign governments, CISPA provides legal authority for the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Defense to obtain detailed and sensitive personal information over the Internet without first obtaining a search warrant, which is supposedly required for intercepting phone and postal communications. The legislation offers immunity to corporations that convey the information to the Feds and exempts such data troves from the government’s disclosure obligations under the Freedom of Information Act.

If enacted, CISPA will give a blessing to the massive phone and cybersnooping already securely in place. In late 2005, it was revealed that the NSA was intercepting not only communications abroad but also those of U.S. citizens, without first procuring warrants. A glimpse of the scope of such snooping was provided by retired AT&T worker Mark Klein, who came forward to reveal how the NSA had tapped into AT&T’s fiber-optic cables to obtain a copy of much of the country’s Internet data flow. Klein’s revelations became Exhibit A in a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to expose and stop the illegal government data mining (see “Phone Worker Exposes Government Spying Network,” WV No. 953, 26 February 2010).

In an April 20 interview with Democracy Now!, longtime NSA staffer William Binney recalled that the system implemented at AT&T, supposedly in response to the September 11 attacks, had in fact been developed earlier. According to Binney, the NSA was “prepared to deploy about eight months before 9/11.” The NSA spy system at AT&T was set up under George W. Bush at the time of the Pentagon’s notorious Total Information Awareness project, which was run by convicted Contragate criminal John Poindexter. Following a public outcry over revelations of the project’s massive accessing of e-mail and other information on the Internet, Poindexter resigned and Congress made a show of cutting off funding for the project. In his interview, Binney declared that Poindexter’s project had been made public “to test the waters in Congress to see how they would be receptive to something they were already doing.” Binney resigned from the NSA in protest when the surveillance program he helped develop was applied to U.S. citizens.

The NSA-telecom spy network that Mark Klein revealed was just the tip of the iceberg. In San Antonio, Texas, the NSA has converted an old Sony factory nearly as large as a football stadium into a facility to intercept data. The NSA is putting the finishing touches on its Utah Data Center in the desert town of Bluffdale—a $2 billion project, five times larger than the U.S. Capitol, slated for operation next year. Coursing through its servers and routers will be complete contents of e-mails, cellphone calls, Google searches, parking receipts, travel itineraries, books purchased and much more. As revealed in an article by James Bamford in Wired magazine (15 March), the NSA has established listening posts across the country and has created a supercomputer with the aim of breaking the most sophisticated encryption codes, thus trying to remove one of the ways people can protect their privacy.

To put it bluntly, the government wants to know what you do, where you are, what political activities you engage in, what you read, what music you listen to, who you sleep with, what your bedmate reads, what his or her political affiliations are, etc. If George Orwell’s Big Brother were watching, he would be on the short end of a sibling rivalry.

The “war on terror” was launched as a rationale for both the imperialist occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq and for expanding state repressive powers at home. As the Spartacist League and the Partisan Defense Committee wrote in our 2003 amici curiae (friends of the court) brief on behalf of Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen seized and detained by the government as an “enemy combatant” in the “war on terror”: “Like the ‘war against communism’ and the ‘war against drugs,’ this ‘war’ is a pretext to increase the state’s police powers and repressive apparatus, constricting the democratic rights of the population.”

Orwellian Nightmare

Forty-two Democrats joined Congressional Republicans in voting for CISPA, though other Democrats have voiced vague civil libertarian concern about the bill. CISPA now has to go before the Senate, and President Obama has threatened to veto the bill, stating apprehension that the law fails to institute “privacy, confidentiality, and civil liberties safeguards.” This dance of the Democrats and Republicans is almost as old as the fox-trot. After voting nearly unanimously for the USA-Patriot Act in 2001, Democrats in Congress have made a ritual of balking at the renewal of various of its provisions, only to fall into line. When the NSA phone intercepts were first revealed, Congressional Democrats feigned outrage. But after squawking a bit they voted to authorize the NSA program in 2007 and voted for its renewal a year later. In 2009, Obama’s Justice Department won dismissal of the EFF lawsuit.

As the CEO of the most dangerous imperialist power in the world, Obama is concerned that CISPA might undermine receipt of data from the private sector, which should be done “in a way that permits appropriate sharing within the Government.” Joined by the American Civil Liberties Union, which opposes CISPA, the Obama administration proposes that such data mining be overseen not by an intelligence agency like the NSA but by a “civilian” agency, namely, the Department of Homeland Security, the massive government agency that is a centerpiece of the “war on terror.” With less fanfare, the Obama administration has reportedly drafted legislation that would force the Internet industry to insure that the government have “backdoor” access to all forms of Internet communication.

Already, by Binney’s estimate, the Feds have amassed some 20 trillion records of communications by U.S. citizens through its monitoring of the Internet. Meanwhile, cellphones are being tracked without warrants by police forces across the country, and cellphone tracking software can pinpoint the location of a phone and record where the user has been for at least the past month. Added to this is the FBI’s Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative (SAR) that is amassing tens of thousands of files on those alleged to have “acted suspiciously.” Surveillance video cameras are becoming ubiquitous, and the Feds and police departments are deploying drones the size of model airplanes to spy on the population.

A convenient tool for snooping and prying has been handed to the government by social media sites. In the current era of facebooking and tweeting, everything from one’s personal pictures and job information to political commentary and “friends” lists is made available to the public. Homeland Security has used sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for surveillance and data collection. Local police departments regularly monitor social media sites as a way to snoop and ensnare their victims in the name of “fighting crime.” Employers spy on potential job hires and impose discipline on employees for “inappropriate” off-duty conduct or “inflammatory” remarks. An article on the AlterNet Web site (16 January 2008) summarized how social networking sites are “priming a new generation for complacency in a surveillance society.” Facebook now has 840 million users worldwide.

Facebook is so financially valuable precisely because of its ability to collect enormous amounts of highly sensitive information and distribute it commercially to third parties widely and quickly. Facebook objected to an earlier Internet monitoring proposal—the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA)—fearing that the company might be targeted for copyright infringement. But Facebook as well as Google have come out in support of CISPA. What this new legislation mandates is not fundamentally different from what Zuckerberg & Co. have been allowing the government to do all along. But it provides such Internet giants legal protection against being sued by a user for handing over their information to government agencies.

The Capitalist Terrorists’ “War on Terrorism”

First enacted under George W. Bush, the USA-Patriot Act had already given the government’s secret police vastly expanded authority to tap phones, search homes, scour financial records, interrogate librarians and place people under arrest without probable cause that a crime has been committed. But it was the Clinton administration that laid the groundwork for Bush’s war on civil liberties, which has now been extended under Obama. In the 1990s, the NSA had already begun scanning international e-mails without warrants through its Echelon program. Measures such as Clinton’s Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, enacted in response to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing of a federal office building, would later be expanded as part of the “war on terror.”

We have always insisted that such repressive measures—whatever their pretext—will be used against labor, leftists, blacks and others deemed opponents of the government. American history is rich with examples of this. The 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act, purportedly adopted to control the growth of monopolies, was used to bust strikes and break up unions as “unlawful conspiracies.” The 1970s RICO “anti-racketeering” laws, which supposedly targeted the Mafia, were used to break strikes and exert government control over unions like the Teamsters. In 2002, amid the U.S. rulers’ campaign for “national unity” against “terrorism,” the Homeland Security chief phoned the West Coast ILWU longshore union’s International president to warn that a strike would “threaten national security,” with the Bush administration later threatening to bring in Navy scabs in the event of a strike.

The capitalist rulers need their repressive state apparatus to control the workers they exploit and the minorities they oppress. The capitalists constitute a minuscule, ruthless class. They own the banks and major industries, producing nothing themselves while reaping trillions in profit out of the sweat and blood of working people and harvesting poverty, misery, death and destruction around the world. The vast class divide sows the seeds for class and social struggle.

Democracy under capitalism provides the trappings that mask the dictatorship of capitalist exploiters over the working class and the oppressed—enforced through the cops, courts and prisons that make up the capitalist state. As Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin wrote in his 1918 work The Proletarian Revolution and the Renegade Kautsky:

“Bourgeois democracy, although a great historical advance in comparison with medievalism, always remains, and under capitalism is bound to remain, restricted, truncated, false and hypocritical, a paradise for the rich and a snare and deception for the exploited, for the poor....

“There is not a single state, however democratic, which has no loopholes or reservations in its constitution guaranteeing the bourgeoisie the possibility of dispatching troops against the workers, of proclaiming martial law, and so forth, in case of a ‘violation of public order,’ and actually in case the exploited class ‘violates’ its position of slavery and tries to behave in a non-slavish manner.”

The ultimate target of the capitalist political police is the proletariat, whose role in producing the wealth of this society gives it the social power to choke off profits and to overthrow the capitalist system. At the turn of the 20th century, the Russian tsars propped up their decrepit rule by unleashing an army of agents provocateurs and Okhrana (secret police) against that country’s small but rapidly growing working class and the Marxist circles that sprouted up at the time. But this was the hallmark of a dying ruling class. In October 1917, the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Trotsky led the Russian proletariat to power, overthrowing capitalist rule on one-sixth of the globe. While we Marxists see in that revolution a model for the proletariat of the world, the bourgeoisie to this day sees it as a calamity whose repetition must be prevented at all costs.

Government Spying from FDR to Obama

From the time he threw his hat into the ring five years ago, Obama made clear that he was dedicated to running a more efficient and effective “war on terror.” Many of those who ardently supported Obama closed their eyes and covered their ears hoping for a reversal of the excesses of the Bush years. As the Obama administration has not merely adopted those practices but bolstered and expanded them over the past three years, these liberal and reformist leftists whine like a jilted paramour.

On Obama’s watch, the Justice Department has invoked “state secrets” to shield the government from lawsuits by America’s torture victims and has greatly stepped up prosecutions for leaks to the press. Among those victimized for getting out some truth is Bradley Manning, a 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst suspected of passing on to WikiLeaks a video showing a U.S. Apache helicopter firing on Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists in 2007 as well as other evidence of imperialist crimes.

Further escalating “anti-terror” repression, Obama late last year signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), sanctioning the indefinite military detention of any persons, including U.S. citizens, accused of supporting “terrorism.” Under “material support” to terrorism laws, the Obama government has gone after the Freedom Road Socialist Organization on the basis of purported links to the secular-nationalist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Colombia’s FARC guerrillas. In the eyes of the U.S. rulers, the “crime” committed by these reformists—who supported Obama’s election—is siding with victims of the Zionist butchers and Colombian death squads. Obama’s Justice Department also quadrupled the sentence for 72-year-old leftist attorney Lynne Stewart, who was imprisoned for zealously defending her client, a blind Islamic cleric convicted for an alleged plot to blow up NYC landmarks in the early 1990s. Stewart, who has cancer, is appealing the vindictive ten-year sentence.

The reformist International Socialist Organization (ISO), while not openly campaigning for Obama, celebrated his election as “the end of far too many years” of Republican rule and gushed that his victory was “transformative.” More recently, in editorials like “Claiming the Republican Agenda As His Own” (, 13 July 2011), the ISO castigates Obama for betraying his constituency: “Turns out the president many expected to revive the New Deal is out to bury it instead.”

The ISO is here promoting a long-held myth, stemming from the New Deal of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, that the interests of workers and minorities can be defended and advanced through the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Roosevelt’s New Deal consisted of palliative reforms intended to stifle the huge workers upsurge that created the mass, integrated industrial unions of the CIO in the 1930s and to legally hamstring the burgeoning labor movement. In his efforts to subordinate the working class to the capitalist state, FDR was aided by the Communist Party (CP) and other reformists who helped channel the workers’ upsurge into support for his Democratic Party.

It was under FDR that the secret police became the FBI. In fact, Democratic administrations have led the efforts to unleash such forces against the workers movement. The origins of both the U.S. political police and domestic spying apparatus were in interimperialist World War I and, following the Bolshevik Revolution, the Red Scare of 1919-21 under Democratic president Woodrow Wilson. The central agency in this apparatus was the newly formed Bureau of Investigation and its General Intelligence Division (GID), headed by J. Edgar Hoover. Within months of its formation in 1919, the GID had compiled a list of 55,000 names—antiwar dissidents, left-wing socialists, members of the Industrial Workers of the World—and went on to pursue the fledgling U.S. Communist movement. The Wilson administration also carried out the deportation of thousands of foreign-born radicals in the 1919-20 Palmer Raids.

Amid the wave of working-class radicalization that broke out in the period of the Great Depression—epitomized by the 1934 citywide strikes in Minneapolis, Toledo and San Francisco, all led by reds—FDR rechristened Hoover’s organization as the FBI in 1935. A year later, he gave Hoover the authority to run secret intelligence activities against the U.S.’s “enemies.” The FBI proceeded to investigate virtually every member of the Communist Party and its affiliates as well as left-wing labor leaders in the coal mining, steel, shipping, garment and newspaper industries. The FBI expanded the wiretapping of phones, which was explicitly authorized by FDR in 1940 despite being earlier declared illegal by the Supreme Court.

In 1939, five days after the outbreak of World War II in Europe, FDR gave the agency greater powers. For 20 years, Hoover had demanded an anti-subversive law. Now he got it in the form of the 1940 Smith Act. Ostensibly directed against Nazi sympathizers, the law outlawed the advocacy of revolution and membership in organizations deemed guilty of such advocacy. The Smith Act’s first victims were 18 leaders of the then-Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and leaders of the militant Minneapolis Teamsters Local 544. The SWP denounced the Second World War as an interimperialist war in which revolutionaries took no side between the competing Allied and Axis powers, while standing foursquare in defense of the Soviet Union.

It is well known that in 1942, Roosevelt ordered the roundup and detention of 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast. Less well known is that more than two years earlier the FBI had started drafting lists of thousands to be rounded up in the case of a national emergency, overwhelmingly leftists. At the height of the post-WWII Cold War against the Soviet Union, liberal Democratic Congressman Hubert Humphrey was the driving force behind the 1954 Communist Control Act outlawing the CP. This was the period that gave birth to the NSA, whose overriding purpose was to spy on the Soviet Union. In the 1960s under Lyndon Johnson and his attorney general Ramsey Clark, the anti-Communist COINTELPRO program was expanded into a bloody vendetta against black radicals, especially the Black Panther Party, 38 of whose members were killed by police and Feds and hundreds more railroaded to prison.

For a Workers Party, Tribune of the People!

In his book Revolutionary Socialism (1918), Louis Fraina, who would play a leading role in the early American communist movement, wrote: “Government having engaged itself to promote finance-capital in its imperialistic projects, it becomes increasingly un-democratic.” He also noted the increasing power of the imperial presidency, a tendency which is “particularly strong and typical in the United States.”

Ultimately, what the government gets away with in its increasing drive to regiment the working class and most everyone else in this society is dependent on the level of class and social struggle. From the rights for workers to organize in unions to the smashing of legalized segregation, every gain for the exploited and oppressed has been won through hard and bitter struggle. And the bourgeoisie, driven by the lash of capitalist competition, has fought to take back their concessions to the masses. Formal legal restrictions were placed on the cops and the government’s political police in the wake of the massive struggles for black civil rights in the 1950s and ’60s and against the Vietnam War. But those restrictions have since been largely eroded.

The Spartacist League is dedicated to building a revolutionary workers party that would champion the struggles of the exploited and the oppressed against the vicious capitalist rulers. In so doing, such a party would impart the consciousness that the depravities of capitalist rule can only be ended once and for all with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie by a workers government—the dictatorship of the proletariat. 

* * *

(reprinted from Workers Vanguard No. 1002, 11 May 2012)

Workers Vanguard is the newspaper of the Spartacist League with which the Partisan Defense Committee is affiliated.