Saturday, January 05, 2013

From The Pen Of Joshua Lawrence Breslin-Gothic Modern Noir- Robert Young’s “The Second Woman”

The Second Woman, starring Robert Young, Betty Drake, Warner Brothers, 1950
…funny, not comic laugh funny, not joke on the street funny, but maybe just plain old ordinary human nature funny, the strangest kind, how lust for revenge, hell, let’s call it by its right name, bloodlust for revenge, will twist a man or woman up inside so much they, well, they will not hesitate at the crime of crimes, murder. Take Ben Sheppard, successful California real estate developer, whose family had been in California since practically before those stinking bracero conquistador Aztec days and he had the land grants to prove it. He had been successful beyond his wildest dreams as he hit the post-war (post- World War II to not confuse anyone on which war) California real estate god gold rush before most people could even identify that august state on a map (and given three chanced to boot).

Yes, he was selling dream, California-blessed fading orange sun-sized dream of cozy little sea-side inlet bungalows and other prime new world a-borning valley housing tracts to those eager G.I.s back from the Pacific war and then welded to the California coast that they had noticed when they embarked on those leaky troop transports headed on to ancient island battlefields. To those who had prospered, war prospered, in the great okie/arkie dust bowl migration and eager to shake the dust off, the sod off, and the from hunger off with some little California modern to replace the trailer park digs. And Ben could look forward to selling, once they settled down from the boom-boom pacific coast highway chicken runs and the late night abandoned sex in their hot rods, those very sons and daughters of that eastern migration.(Ben, realistic to the core when it came to real estate, if not in other matters, knew that he would never capture the serious white trash market, the guys and their mamas who were burning up the highways and scaring the bejesus out of honest citizens on their boom-boom-boom Harleys and Indians. He would leave that market to the stinking braceros. ) So Ben Sheppard, well respected, well- connected Ben Sheppard was on easy street.

Oh sure he had had some problems like we all do. A wife, a wife who came from good old Spanish land grant family, and knew senor this and senora that, going back to Cortez and Balboa, who had run off one night with his gabacho stinking building site foreman, some low mex bato loco as it turned out when he tried to trace them later. Run off in one of his brand new Hudson coupes, she waving some silky mex-colored scarf trailing in the wind as she, half- drunk as usual, kissed him off as he watched them in the driveway of his hacienda, yelling “Adios, gusano, adios,”leaving him with his young daughter. His private detectives never did find her (or him) although he had them search the whole west coast and right down into fellaheen Mexico.

Of course, as one would expect as that daughter, Vivian, came of age, he had his problems with her, her and the boys, those hot rod boys who were thrilling all the young coast girls with their dare-devil antics, their golden boy good-looks and their ,ah, bedroom eyes. One incident at a LaJolla road house had cost him plenty to hush up, hush up about her age (under age for drinking) , hush up about what she was caught doing in some tar paper back lot joy shack and with whom, and hush up those guys involved too. She certainly had some of her mother’s spitfire whorish ways in her, for a while anyway, until he sent her away to school in the east. And until Jeff (played by Robert Young), his main dream house and dream California architect, caught her fancy when she came back from the east cured of her wildness. And so things stood until the war came, and Jeff was off to the Pacific.

After Jeff got back from the Pacific wars they were to be married. Ben, who had treated Jeff like a son and had pushed hard for his projects before the banks and other interested parties, was the happiest he had been had been since that whorish wife left him. Then the very night before the wedding, Jeff, Jeff drunk as a skunk had taken one of Ben’s Hudson coupes, and taken his Vivian for a coast ride, a fatal, fatal to Vivian, high speed coast ride. Jeff had murdered, there was no other word for it in his mind, none, his only daughter. The cops said accident, everybody else just said it was tragic and moved on. Even Jeff was eaten up by what he done, eaten up to the core and consumed himself in work. But when a man murders, and the more Ben thought about it the more that word really was the only word for it, a man, a father if he was really a father must avenge that death, and avenge it anyway he could. And that is when he began to hatch his nefarious plots.

Meanwhile Jeff, starting to have the fog lift a little from his traumatic involvement in Vivian’s dead, began to have a very odd string of bad luck. A favored horse came up lame and had to be put away. A favorite dog died under mysterious circumstances, a favored rose bush too. Things, very strange things kept happening and as they did those around him began to sense that Jeff’s wheels were coming off. When his house (a very Frank Lloyd Wright-ish house) nettled atop an inlet rock cove burned to the ground he almost went over the edge. And those around him looked twice when he approached them.

But see not all Jeff’s luck was bad, not by any means, because during this time a niece house guest of a neighbor, Ellen (played by Betty Drake), came his way, they fell for each other big, and she, a trained CPA (Certified Public Accountant, no other meaning for those in steeped in cyberspace lingo) while not cooing with Jeff, stood by her man, big time as well, and helped to find out why Jeff was having some very bad days against all the laws of probability, luck- wise that is. Needless to say no CPA (remember what that means) would fall for a murderer so she/he/they began to unravel the details that led up to those pieces of bad luck. Guess who they zeroed in on. Yes, Ben. And guess what Ben found out to his misfortunate. Well I will leave that to your viewing. But here is a hint. Vivian had a little more of her mother’s laughing brown eyes whore still left in her that old Ben realized. Still that revenge thing, that bloodlust revenge thing, well it was pretty strong. And has been part of the human condition for a while.

Greece: The menace of Golden Dawn
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Dec 30, 2012
By Amalia Ioizidou
Greece has a proud anti-fascist history and yet, in 2012, a neo-fascist party, Golden Dawn, won 7% of the vote (over 400,000 votes), and 18 members of parliament.
Amalia Loizidou, first published in "Socialism Today", magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales)

Even in villages that had been wiped out by the Nazis in the second world war, such as Distomo and Kalavryta, Golden Dawn averaged 6%. Why is this happening? Can it be stopped, and how? Below are extracts from articles by Xekinima (CWI in Greece), collated and translated for "Socialism Today" by AMALIA IOIZIDOU.
GOLDEN DAWN IS a neo-fascist party, a gang of thugs and criminals. Their leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, has a criminal record, most notably for planting bombs in cinemas that showed left-wing films. Recently, it was revealed that he is the co-owner of a hotel that operates as a brothel. Other members of Golden Dawn’s leadership have also been convicted for criminal offenses. Currently, there are court cases on-going against four of its MPs.
Many commentators expected Golden Dawn to moderate its public violence upon entering parliament. In fact, its hooligan behavior has increased, with 63 attacks within two months. It followed up its electoral success with a near-fatal arson attack on an abandoned factory used as a refuge for immigrants in Patras. There are daily reports of attacks against immigrants and anti-fascist activists. In parliamentary speeches, Golden Dawn MPs have threatened school student occupations. Its members have leafleted gay bars with the sinister threat ‘you are next’.
Even the international media were forced to take notice when Golden Dawn members attacked a theater cast and audience of a play it judged to be blasphemous. In an echo of the 1930s they have injured members of left parties and organisations during activities to build for the last 48-hour strike (6/7 November). This follows on from the infamous scenes of Golden Dawn spokesman, Elias Kasidiaris, physically attacking Rena Dourou, a woman candidate for the Syriza radical left coalition party, and Liana Kanelli, a female MP for the KKE (Communist Party), live on TV.
Turning point
THE TURNING POINT for Golden Dawn, however, was not the most recent general elections in May and June. It was the municipal elections in Athens in 2010. Its leader, Michaloliakos, was elected as a councilor with 5.27% of the vote – in contrast to the 0.51% it got in the 2009 national elections. This gave Golden Dawn a certain legitimacy in the eyes of some Greeks by changing the image they had of being merely a marginalized group of extremist thugs.
Undoubtedly, the desperate social and economic situation in Greece has fueled the rise of Golden Dawn. But the crisis alone does not entirely explain its sudden growth. It is also necessary to understand the tactics that Golden Dawn has used and the failings of mainstream and left parties to offer a way out of the crisis. As long as there are absolutely deprived areas with massive poverty and unemployment then problems will arise in relation to criminality and general social breakdown. In these conditions, Golden Dawn and fascism in general have a golden opportunity to rise.
Golden Dawn’s electoral success in 2010 was the result of consistent local campaigns it had launched in the deprived neighborhoods. Whose fault is it, they endlessly asked, that these areas are deprived? Whose fault is it that there is such extreme poverty, unemployment, criminality, and no hope for the future? Its answer, of course, is to blame immigrants and foreigners, not the big-business bosses or capitalists. On the basis of this propaganda, Golden Dawn intervened in schools. It went petitioning. It went door to door and organised demonstrations. This was the way it built its electoral profile and recruited supporters.
Anti-austerity rhetoric
GOLDEN DAWN HAS also been aided in its rise by the use of anti-austerity rhetoric. In Greece, support for the far-right over the past few years was expressed in a party called LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally). But LAOS voted in favor of the first memorandum of cut-backs dictated by the troika – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund. It also participated in the coalition government of the appointed technocrat prime minister, Lucas Papademos (in office from November 2011 to May 2012). Following this, LAOS was seen as an ally of the troika and on the side of the memorandum. As a result, it plunged into crisis and lost out to Golden Dawn. The more traditional far-right currents moved towards Golden Dawn as the ‘most authentic’ version of Greek nationalism.
Golden Dawn clearly understood that allowing the left to monopolize the anti-austerity movement would give it a huge advantage in the battles for hearts and minds. Positioning itself against the memorandum meant being on the side of the massive anti-austerity current that is developing within Greek society. This is how the Golden Dawn had the chance to have, according to its own website, its “most militant sections acting in the, until now, ‘red areas’.”
Most of its supporters are young people who have nothing left to hope for. Over half of the youth in Greece are currently unemployed. Those in employment mostly work in horrible conditions, in precarious jobs and on extremely low wages. Golden Dawn had its best results among students and youth (9.5%), farmers (9.3%) and unemployed (9.1%). It is seen as providing easy answers to their problems – blaming immigrants – and as a party that is against corrupt politicians.
Yet, despite its boasts, Golden Dawn has not even touched a hair of any government politician, bankers, etc. The only ones its members threaten, and have physically attacked, are politicians of the left parties. Alarmingly, one out of every two police officers voted for Golden Dawn. It is widely known that the Greek police, especially the riot police (MAT), have close relationships with Golden Dawn. Recently published documents prove this. This is illustrated by the fact that when Golden Dawn members are on the streets they do not get attacked by the police like other demonstrators. On the contrary, they are being protected by the MAT.
Golden Dawn’s obvious slogans are ‘foreigners out’ and ‘Greece for the Greeks’. It also proclaims ‘Golden Dawn against everyone’. That slogan should really be ‘Golden Dawn against anyone that fights back’. The rest – ship-owners, big business, and capitalism in general – have nothing to fear. In parliament, Golden Dawn has backed increased tax relief for the ship-owners while, in Athens, it allocated publicly-owned municipal parking for use by private companies. Many other similar examples could be listed.
Last spring, Golden Dawn members provoked media workers by circling their demonstration on scooters, insulting the workers, giving Nazi salutes, and making obscene gestures. On 7 November in Volos, they were waiting outside of their offices for the participants of the general strike demo, holding clubs in their hands. On this occasion the demo was too big for them to be able to attack it. They also threatened teachers’ union officials because of their support for anti-fascist action.
This also has a theoretical expression. In a number of Golden Dawn website articles it is made clear that it is against strikes on the grounds that strikes create “hatred among fellow Greeks”. It has declared publicly that it opposes specific strikes in specific workplaces, factories, etc. Its dominant theme is that all Greeks are of the same nation, blood and race – not that there are poor and rich, workers and bosses, oppressed and oppressors. According to Golden Dawn, therefore, Greeks must sit tight because, when they strike or demonstrate, they “serve the division that the system wants”. This position is not at all different from the government’s and the bosses’, of the system and the establishment.
The clearest proof for all of the above is the consistent absence of the Golden Dawn from the mobilizations of the workers’ and youth over the past two-and-a-half years, in all the general strikes, massive demonstrations, occupations of the squares, etc.
Refugees, immigrants and ultra-nationalism
GOLDEN DAWN’S ultra-nationalism finds its expression in a virulent and xenophobic campaign against refugees and immigrants, demanding their complete removal from Greece. It claims that this is the only way to solve unemployment, poverty and criminality. Golden Dawn tries to present itself as a solution to these problems in an utterly racist fashion. For example, it accompanies old ladies to cashpoints and to the banks to collect their pensions offering them ‘protection’ against so-called ‘foreign thugs’. Yet, over the last two years, unemployment has tripled without a respective increase in the number of immigrants and refugees. In fact, many have sought a better life elsewhere.
Golden Dawn says: “Big problems demand extreme solutions. A revolutionary vanguard is necessary to destroy the rotten political establishment. This vanguard, after the disappearance of the so-called ‘revolutionary left’, can only be nationalist”. Its demagogy is full of nationalism, with scenarios denouncing ‘traitors’ and ‘conspiracies against the nation’. The irony is that Greek capitalism (the ruling class) has already compromised with the neo-colonialism of the troika and its lenders. This is not unique to Greek capitalism, as it is a central characteristic of the way global capitalism functions. The weaker bourgeois classes historically survived by choosing more powerful bourgeois classes as their ‘protectors’.
Golden Dawn’s ‘revolution’, and its view of the ‘destruction’ of the establishment, sees no role for the millions of workers, oppressed and young people. It sees it as the work of the ‘nationalist vanguard’, which will impose the model of Mussolini, Hitler and the junta of the colonels, which ruled Greece from 1967-74. In reality, the role of Golden Dawn in the event of counter-revolution, would be as a deadly auxiliary to the military and other reactionary state forces.
In relation to the central question of the Greek crisis and austerity, Golden Dawn’s position really is for a renegotiation of the memorandum. It does not call for a repudiation of the debt because it does not want to clash with Greek capital, which it considers as the locomotive of the economy. Greek capital, for its part, does not want to and cannot clash with its bosses in Germany, the EU, the USA, etc.
Failure of the left
THE RISE OF Golden Dawn – and, generally, of the rise of racism, nationalism, the far-right and neo-fascism throughout Europe and elsewhere – is also the result of the failure of the left to respond to the urgent needs of the workers in the worst crisis of capitalism in a generation and the consequent defeats of the movement.
In Greece there was an underestimation of Golden Dawn and the dangers it represented. The left often merely denounced violent attacks, pointing at the historic experience of fascism, or limited itself to a narrow ‘humanitarian’ and not at all class-based and internationalist understanding of immigration.
Additionally, the left’s political absence in the deprived neighborhoods left a vacuum to be filled by Golden Dawn, which had a consistent presence and daily activity in those areas. There was also a superficial belief that a demonstration through those neighborhoods would be enough to ‘exile’ Golden Dawn from the area.
Most of all there was a refusal of the major forces of the left to unite and create common residents’ committees of both Greek and immigrants, which would develop a plan on how to face their common issues. The combined power of the different left parties and organisations was never used to develop initiatives and actions that would unite the workers and youth, including the refugees and immigrants, of these areas.
How can the Golden Dawn be stopped?
FOR MANY YEARS Xekinima (CWI in Greece) has been active around anti-racism and anti-fascism. It called for a united front of the left, the trade unions, and the movement against Golden Dawn even before it managed to establish itself as a party with elected representatives. The situation today is even more serious. What is needed is a new big anti-fascist effort. The united participation and common action of the left is crucial. Xekinima has repeatedly called for this with concrete proposals, before the last elections and the huge electoral rise of the Golden Dawn.
After the elections, Xekinima put forward the following steps to make this a reality: the creation of anti-fascist committees in every neighborhood, workplace, school and university; the creation of self-defense groups in areas which have become dangerous for left and anti-fascist activists; for the campaign to be systematic to counteract the neo-fascists’ daily propaganda within the neighborhoods; and the need for Greeks and immigrants to unite in a common struggle in order to tackle their common problems.
Xekinima also proposes a motion in the trade unions calling for members of neo-fascist organisations, especially Golden Dawn, to be barred from membership. This became a tradition after the fall of the junta in the 1970s, both in the workplaces and student unions. It is important that such decisions are taken in the union branches, in order to protect the workers’ struggles that are developing and that will inevitably rise in the future.
A number of anti-fascist committees are being set up in different areas of Athens and other cities. Xekinima has taken the initiative for the creation of some of these committees. It is noticeable that local activists from different organisations are endorsing this effort. Additionally, the role that the teachers’ union has played in a number of areas is also significant, including taking the decision, officially, to take up the issue of anti-fascism in the schools and with students.
Unfortunately, the main left parties (Syriza and the KKE) have not responded to this danger urgently enough. The KKE is tackling this issue with its usual sectarian approach. Syriza had mentioned the need for anti-fascist action but without any organised initiatives, apart from those taken by some of its components separately. However Syriza’s central secretariat has recently changed its stand and is now in favor of anti-fascist committees.
In addition, there are other smaller left organisations that either do not comprehend the importance of anti-fascist struggle or, when they do participate, try to hijack them or function in such a way that they obstruct the movement instead of helping it (such as the Greek SWP).
Historically, fascism has found fertile ground to grow in times of austerity, mass poverty and unemployment. This is why it is crucial to combine our programme and tactics in relation to anti-fascist action with a programme against cuts and austerity, and against the core of this problem which is systemic. The problem, in other words, is capitalism. Capitalism, as a last resort, will again turn to a dictatorial regime to preserve itself. The capitalists will not hand over power to fascistic forces like Golden Dawn, but they will use them as an auxiliary to the military, riot police, etc, as a lethal weapon against the workers’ organisations. The working class in Greece is far from being defeated, but political mistakes can lead to defeats, as in Germany in the past. That is why the above are very important developments.
Firstly, the left in Greece must patiently explain the phenomenon of migration. Whose fault is it that there are deprived areas with poverty and homeless immigrants? It needs to explain why this phenomenon will not stop as long as there is poverty, hunger and wars. If done correctly, such an explanation can even attract sections of society that have been affected by Golden Dawn’s propaganda. Besides, Greece is a country whose population in the past had migrated in waves, and whose youth is again leaving (or trying to) to go abroad because of the crisis.
However, it is also crucial to have a socialist programme in the agenda. It is necessary to explain persistently and patiently who is to be blamed for the crisis and austerity. The real positions of Golden Dawn have to be exposed consistently. It is not against the memorandum, as it tries to present itself, but against workers’ mobilizations and the movement of resistance.
It is necessary also to oppose all cuts and austerity, to demand money for the needs of society and not for the bankers. A state needs to be organised in a way that drug and people trafficking networks are punished instead of the victims, a justice system that will also punish all police officers who collaborate in racist acts, as well as the neo-fascists. All of these must be linked with the need to develop a planned, democratically controlled economy on the basis of the needs of the big majority of the population and not a handful of families and big multinationals.
Greeks should refuse to pay the debt. Then they should move to the nationalization of the banking system and all strategic units and big businesses, under democratic workers’ control with absolute transparency. Such a solution would act as an inspiration to other workers across Europe struggling against austerity. It would be a beginning to establishing a socialist confederation of Europe which will put an end to the nightmarish existence of a capitalist Europe united only by poverty and unemployment.

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Rage against rape, India
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Jan 2, 2013
By New Socialist Alternative (CWI India)
"This system’s mind-set perpetuates hatred against women and disregards the fundamental right of women for freedom"
Protests have broken out across India following the gang rape of a young women on a bus in Delhi which are now likely to continue following the victim’s tragic death. These protests, and the initial brutal attacks on protesters in Delhi, have brought to the fore the questions not just of women’s safety and rights but also of police and political corruption and oppression rooted in both India’s feudal legacy and modern capitalist development. Following this link you will find a statement which New Socialist Alternative, CWI supporters in India, has produced.

Egypt: Referendum vote shows fall in support for President Mursi
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Dec 20, 2012
By David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)
Regime squeezed between workers’ opposition to austerity and ruling class
President Mursi’s referendum on a new constitution for Egypt has not produced the strong vote in favor he hoped for. Ten out of 27 governorates (regions) voted on Saturday 15th December, with 4.6 million (56.5%) voting in favor and 3.5 million (43.5%) against.
What was striking was that barely one in three turned out to vote. 52% voted in the second round of the presidential election in June when Mursi was elected. The numbers not voting were increased by new measures requiring residents to go to their registered district to vote. This is estimated to have deprived ten million of their right to vote, particularly those who have moved to cities to work who could not take time off to travel back to their original home. Clearly the regime’s aim is to strengthen the relative weight of the generally more conservative rural areas.
The vote is being taken over two days (with the rest of the country voting on 22nd December) because the Judges’ Club refused to supervise polling stations in opposition to Mursi’s attempted power grab that made him unchallengeable in the courts. In the face of mass opposition on the streets, Mursi partly backed down, conceding that his extra powers would not continue beyond the referendum. Opposition parties have reported many cases of vote-rigging and absence of independent supervision at polling stations.
Voting analysis of the first round shows major cities, where the concentration of the working class is highest, opposed the constitution. Cairo governorate voted 43.1% for the constitution, and 56.9% against. Gharbiya governorate in the Nile delta, including the industrial cities of Mahalla Al-Kubra and Tanta, voted 47.9% for and 52.1% against. A narrow majority voted against in Alexandria. Meanwhile, in more rural Assiut 76.1% voted for.
The vote also shows a fall in support for Mursi and right-wing political Islam since the parliamentary elections twelve months ago, when over 70% voted for the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party or the more conservative Salafist party, Nour. A full analysis of trends will need to wait until the whole country has voted.
Little support for new constitution
It seems the new constitution will be passed, but by little more than about one voter in five. That is a very weak position for Mursi and his government, who are being squeezed between growing opposition to his attempts to impose austerity from workers and the poor and pressure from the ruling class.
The government attempted to introduce new taxes and raise existing ones, as part of a deal to get a $4.8 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. Within hours, the government reversed its announcement and postponed any tax rises until after the constitution referendum was out of the way and asked the IMF to postpone the loan.
The most prominent opposition leaders in the newly-formed National Salvation Front are not talking about tax rises for the poor while big business continues to make huge profits. Limiting their campaign to constitutional issues means they will not build mass support among the workers and poor masses. The daily struggle to survive, as food and cooking gas prices rise, is a higher priority for the millions who did not vote.
After two years of upheavals there are many who wish for a more stable life. The jobs situation remains desperate, especially as tourism will be hit again by the recent street battles, as well as continuing recession in Europe.
The poor who did vote for the constitution can be won away from support for right wing political Islam if the growing independent trade unions organize together, building a political party based on the interests of the working class and campaigning for a clear socialist programme. That would refute attempts by Mursi to paint the opposition as supporters of the old Mubarak regime. Notwithstanding Mursi’s conflicts with some parts of the old elite, his government is defending the interests of big business, who continue to take profits from out of the pockets of the working class and poor, just as under Mubarak and SCAF. A second, socialist revolution is needed to end their rule.

South Africa: Founding of Workers and Socialist Party
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Jan 2, 2013
By DSM (CWI South Africa)
WASP will now mobilize support for the party
Press Release, Dec 17, 2012, DSM Executive Committee, the Strike and Workers’ Committee Representatives of Bokoni Platinum, Harmony Gold, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Royal Bafokeng and Murray Roberts.
An event that has the potential to change the political landscape of South Africa, like Marikana has done on the industrial plane, was quietly marked in the founding of a new political party, the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) this week-end. The Democratic Socialist Movement, affiliate of the Committee for a Workers International and representatives of strike committees of Bokoni Platinum in Limpopo, Royal Bafokeng and Murray and Roberts in Rustenburg, North West and KDC in Carltonville, Gauteng founded the party. This took place despite seemingly unrelated but more than likely to be deliberate acts of sabotage in the form of the withdrawal of the permission hours after it was granted to hold the rally at a stadium in Limpopo, the draconian bail conditions of leaders of the Bokoni Platinum strike committee and the shunning of the event by the media.
Despite suffering these setbacks in planning what was meant to be a rally and media conference to announce the intention to launch the party and to celebrate the release on bail of key leaders of the Bokoni Platinum Strike Committee leaders, the representatives who could make it there on their own after the rally was called off were undeterred and determined to proceed with what had to be pared down to a founding meeting of the Workers and Socialist Party. What especially lifted the spirit of those gathered was the reading out of some of the messages of support from Harmony Gold, Anglo Gold Ashanti and sister organisations of the DSM in Nigeria, Venezuela, China and others including of the sole member of the Irish Socialist Party in the European Parliament, Paul Murphy.
The need for such a party was clearly evident in the reports given by strike committee leaders of the situation that exists at various mines around the country after the return to work. At Bokoni Platinum a virtual state of emergency has been imposed and workers found not be at work in the surrounding villages are frog marched to report for duty at the mine. At Harmony Gold, workers have resumed strike action and elsewhere discontent is simmering just below the surface as many of the demands for which workers came out on strike as far back August, at the huge cost of lost income and in the lives sacrificed on the koppies of Marikana and surrounding areas remain unresolved and unmet.
Despite the modest founding of the Workers and Socialist Part with just 20 delegates present, it has made concrete the idea of an alternative based on a socialist programme committed to nationalization of the commanding heights of the economy of which the mining industry remains a key component. The WASP will have to put as one of its key demands the nationalization of the mines under the direct ownership, management and control of workers in the process leading to the socialist transformation of society which is the only basis on which a lasting solution to the problems of mine workers and working class as a whole can be found. The historic first step in the process towards the launch of what until this time has been referred to as a mass workers party will build the strike committees as the first battalion in the struggle to unite workers in the mines, factories and farms, communities and students into a formidable force that will tie the historical knot between the events at Marikana and those at Sharpeville on 21st March 2013.
The WASP will have to distinguish itself from all other political parties by its clearly socialist programme, its approach to electoral politics as but one terrain of struggle and by its public representatives being subject to the right of immediate recall and to a workers wage. It will demonstrate the irrelevance of the ANC conference where candidates contesting for leadership are all committed to the preservation of the enslavement of the working class under capitalism - the very system WASP is dedicated to abolishing
In the coming days and months leading to its launch the WASP will mobilize support for the party with a resolution calling for the building of the party to popularize the idea of an alternative in organised formations such as unions, community organisations, social movements and like-minded political organisations who will be invited to adopt the resolution as part of their formal affiliation to the WASP. The WASP will be fighting party that will unite service delivery protests, student struggles against unaffordable tuition fees and workplace struggles against short time, retrenchments and labor broking. As part of the mobilization for the launch, WASP militants will fan out across the country to amass a million signatures in preparation for contesting the 2014 elections. WASP will also lead a campaign for the recall of all incompetent and corrupt councillors to replace them with WASP representatives - workers representatives on a workers wage. WASP will put its full weight behind campaigns against corruption and e-tolling.
A series of regional rallies to report on the adoption of the resolution spelling out the broad outlines of what will be in the programme of WASP will culminate in the launch of the party on Sharpeville Day as part of the strategy to register what will be unapologetically a Workers and Socialist Party.
Issued by:

DSM Executive Committee, the Strike and Workers’ Committee Representatives of Bokoni Platinum, Harmony Gold, Anglo Gold Ashanti, Royal Bafokeng and Murray Roberts.
December 17, 2012

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Film Review: Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln
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Jan 3, 2013
By Patrick Ayers and Eljeer Hawkins
The theatrical release of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is situated between important events and anniversaries. This past September 22 marked the 150th anniversary of the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, November 6 saw the re-election of the first black president, Barack Obama, to a second term and January 1, 2013 is the 150th anniversary of the final implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation as a war measure. It declared "all persons held as slaves" within the rebel states "are, and henceforward shall be free.”
The Making of Lincoln
Lincoln is based in part on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s award winning biography of Lincoln, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Lincoln adapted for the screen by award winning playwright Tony Kushner. Lincoln is directed by Spielberg and stars Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field. It has already garnered a number of Golden Globe nominations and will certainly get Oscar nominations.
Lincoln focuses on efforts to pass the Thirteenth Amendment toward the end of the Civil War. After winning reelection in 1864, Lincoln took the opportunity in the final days of the outgoing “lame duck” session of Congress to pass the amendment. Passage was not guaranteed, even though the Republicans had a strong majority. Lincoln had to deal with opposition in his Cabinet, his party, and also win support from some Democrats (who had been the main party of the slave owners). The film clearly intends to highlight Lincoln's skills as a political leader in a period of crisis. The film also attempts to humanize Abraham Lincoln who suffered from bouts of depression not dealt with fully in the film. Lincoln’s propensity to tell stories and parables to enforce his point to soldiers and cabinet members is in full display.
Some of the most touching and powerful scenes are with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln portrayed by Sally Field and the profound grief of the passing of their son Willie at the age of 11. These also include moments of play with Lincoln’s younger son Tad and his strained relationship with his son Robert Todd Lincoln, who wanted to enlist into the union army despite Mary Todd’s disapproval. Robert Todd will join the union army in the final weeks of the war.
Great leaders
Daniel Day-Lewis is absolutely mesmerizing; epitomizing his methodical approach to acting. Lewis becomes Lincoln in body, spirit and mind. Through the sentimental and grandiose imagery in Spielberg’s directing Lincoln almost appears as a god-like figure. Undoubtedly, the choice by the filmmakers to make a film about Lincoln's character in the limited context of the battle for the Thirteenth Amendment is meant to amplify Lincoln's role in events.
At one point in the film Lincoln asks a soldier in the White House, “Are we fitted to the times we are born into?” And the soldier answers, “I don't know about myself - you maybe.” The problem here for those that wish to fully appreciate Lincoln's role in history, is that the filmmaker's choice of events don't help paint the full portrait of the “times” that Lincoln had to “fit into”.
By almost entirely featuring debates in the halls of power in Washington, the film is not able to explore the role of the masses in the historical process. Without the slaves, small farmers, workers, and others who were radicalized by events leading up to the 1861 outbreak of war – and even more so after – Lincoln would not have had a platform from which to lead. To fully understand the qualities of Lincoln's leadership, it is vital to place his role in the context of the broader historical process. This could have been done in a few minutes at the beginning of the film. But, the choice by the filmmakers of Lincoln to provide a narrow focus, without providing a full historical context, serves to render history as being made by great people ordained by a power greater then themselves.
The Second American Revolution
“The struggle has broken out because the two systems can no longer live peaceably side by side on the North American continent. It can only be ended by the victory of one system (chattel slavery) or the other (free labor).” – Karl Marx
The Civil War ended in a revolutionary war against the slave-owning planters, who had dominated U.S. politics for decades before the war. By abolishing slavery, the material basis of their economic and political power was rooted out. This revolution was necessary because the first American Revolution – the war for Independence from Britain – ended in a compromise between the capitalist ruling class in the North, and the slave-owning planters in the South.
Many at that time thought slavery was a dying institution. But, with the invention of the cotton gin, and the development of the industrial revolution, demand for cotton lead to a rapid growth of slavery – and in a far more brutal form than before capitalism. This strengthened the slave-owning planters and they dominated politics in the U.S. until 1860 through their two party system – the Democrats and the Whigs.
Due to the destructive effect of cotton plantations on the soil, planters were constantly in search of new land. This brought them into collision with the rapidly growing population of small farmers in the North who wanted new lands for small “free soil” farms, not large slave plantations. In 1854, small farmers and slave-owners fought a war in Kansas over whether the new state would be a slave state.
With the rapid growth of capitalism in the North, which had its own political agenda, the two systems – the chattel slave system and the free labor capitalist system – increasingly came into conflict. The refusal of the slave-owning planters to relinquish their power made a revolution absolutely necessary.
The industrialists were in a position to lead a historic movement against the slave owners, but they had to mobilize the masses to do it. The Republican Party was launched in 1854 out of a growing democratic movement against the “slave power.” Along with the small farmers and industrialists, the new party brought together abolitionists and workers organizations that recognized an opportunity to build a powerful movement to crush the “slave power” and open the way for a radical transformation of society. The Republican program had a limited goal of stopping the spread of slave lands, but this was enough to herald a death sentence for the slave system.
Added to this opposition in the North, the slave owners constantly lived in fear of slave rebellions. With the growth of slavery to over 4 million human beings working in bondage, this fear became even greater. The slave-owners were completely dependent upon racist ideology and a state apparatus that ruthlessly enforced its needs, including enforcing fugitive slave laws and repressing abolitionist agitation. Anti-democratic measures against abolitionists spread fears in the North that the “slave power” was a threat to democratic freedoms.
In 1859, John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry raised alarm bells, not just because it raised the specter of a slave rebellion, but also because John Brown, who had fought in Kansas against the slave owners, was celebrated by many Radical Republicans in the North. When Lincoln was elected president in 1860, the slave-owners had already decided that their only hope for defending their interests was an armed uprising against the North and secession.
This was the broad historical process leading up to Lincoln's election and the outbreak of war. On the basis of two antagonistic systems, conflict and war were inevitable.
To his credit, Lincoln fulfilled a historical necessary role in the struggle against the class of slave-owning planters. There was a historic need for the abolition of slavery and revolution. Lincoln’s determination to abolish slavery before the end of the civil war was essential for the subsequent development of capitalism over the coming decades. This also led to the development of a powerful working class, the only class in history capable of establishing a society truly based on equality. For these reasons, Karl Marx and his American allies supported Lincoln and the Union army during the war. They argued against the idea that abolition would lead to greater competition between workers and instead argued how the working class would be strengthened by the freeing of black labor from bondage. “Labor in the white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded,” wrote Marx in Capital.
A People’s History and Hollywood
Lincoln wasn't an abolitionist and did not set out to abolish slavery. He also held racist views. Lincoln earlier supported colonization projects for a segment of free ex-slaves given the option to migrate to Africa and the Caribbean. Lincoln was contradictory and cautious. Lincoln would state on September 18, 1858, during the first Lincoln and Stephan Douglas debate, “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people . . . . I as much as any man am in favor of the superior position assigned to the white race."-Abraham Lincoln, First Lincoln-Douglas Debate, Ottawa, Illinois, Sept. 18, 1858, in The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln vol.3, pp. 145-146,
But, Lincoln was a supporter of “free labor” which was crucial for mobilizing the northern small farmers, tradesmen and workers, who volunteered to fight in droves. It also drew the ire of the Democratic Party, the main political prop of slavery, who whipped up racist opposition to the “Black Republicans,” as they were called by the Democrats.
Lincoln was a talented orator who could connect with an audience from poor farmers to lawyers. We get a glimpse of this at the beginning of Spielberg's film, when Lincoln discusses with two soldiers, one black and one white. Both of them seem inspired, reciting Lincoln's Gettysburg Address by memory.
Lincoln’s thinking and actions were pushed by the intensifying social conflict pressure from below which was decisive in forcing him to adopt new bold proposals. Slaves themselves put pressure on the Union leaders to abolish slavery as a war measure, as they increasingly fled to northern lines in the course of the war. Termed ‘contrabands of war’ fleeing slaves were seen as striking an important blow to the economic power of the South. Abolitionist sentiments also grew enormously after the outbreak of war, thanks to the agitation of the abolitionists.
The Army represented some of the most radicalized sections of the northern workers and small farmers. It resembled nothing like the U.S. Army today, which is built through a poverty draft. The Civil War was a political war, and the Union Army was politicized. Although there was conscription, there were also thousands of willing volunteers, because they believed that crushing the “slave power” was important to the struggle for a better society. Members of labor unions, socialists and other radicals played an important role in joining and forming militias to become part of the union army. Union soldiers overwhelmingly voted for Lincoln in the 1864 election.
Slaves Struggle for Their Own Emancipation
In the opening scene of Lincoln, a black soldier raises issues about the racist treatment of black soldiers. But, it is merely a token reference to the racial tensions between the white Union leaders and the black soldiers. The movie Glory, released in 1989 and starring Matthew Broderick and Denzel Washington, explores much more the dynamic tension between Union leaders fighting to preserve the Union and further their careers, and black soldiers fighting for social liberation. The struggle by the slaves for their own social liberation was a decisive driving force of events that propelled Lincoln to ultimately abolish slavery.
Unfortunately, the black characters in Lincoln are used as set pieces lacking any real development, dialogue or influence on events. It’s greatly troubling that there’s no mention or portrayal of important African American leaders like the abolitionist freedom fighter Frederick Douglass or the conductor of the Underground Railroad Harriet Tubman who joined the Union forces. Lincoln in the last year of his life sought Douglass’s thoughts on the question of slavery, post-civil war and black enfranchisement.
In the film Mary Todd Lincoln’s confidant and seamstress Elizabeth Keckley is portrayed by actress Gloria Reuben. Keckley, a former slave herself, headed up the Contraband Relief Association made up of slaves who escaped the confederacy. The Contraband Relief Association and black abolitionists impressed upon Lincoln to give up on the colonization project, inviting contraband members to the White House and pressuring union army officials to critically examine slavery.
The film also gives the false impression that the Thirteenth Amendment came from Lincoln when in fact the Radical Republicans and abolitionist movement introduced the amendment in January 1864. The Radical Republicans were years ahead of Lincoln by advocating ending slavery with full universal equality among the races and political, economic and social enfranchisement as the radical reconstruction period (1868-1877) illustrates.
Radical Republicans like Thaddeus Stevens are portrayed as compromisers in the film, because they lowered emphasis on their broader demand for equality for blacks, thus preventing the Democrats creating a distraction from the central goal of passing the Emancipation Proclamation. But the compromises they made were important to the material destruction of slavery. This sort of compromise advances the struggle of the oppressed. It has nothing in common with the compromises made before 1860 that helped maintain slavery.
The film Lincoln allows us to re-examine the 16th president of the United States in a critical manner. It provides a background for further exploring the horrendous conditions African-Americans and working people faced following the end of the subsequent period of radical reconstruction, and the speedy rise of the U.S. as an imperial capitalist nation. The massive social struggles around the civil war bring up important issues that are played out in the continuing battles today to end racial, class, sexual and gender exploitation under U.S. and global capitalism. 150 years after abolition of slavery, the working class and poor are still the true agents of revolutionary change on the stage of world history.

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