Saturday, July 13, 2013

***Poet’s (And Songwriter too) Corner- Van Morrison’s “Rave On John Donne”

Markin comment:

I have been mad for John Donne’ s poetry ever since I read his poem Death, Be Not Proud. Yes, I know that he was a metaphysical poet (the two-hearts business) but he “spoke” to me and still “speaks” to me. Fortunately, we socialists are indifferent to a person's personal likes (and dislikes) in music, poetry, literature and art or I would be in big trouble with touting Brother Donne. Thankfully he is long gone and cannot, reasonably, be cited as an active counter-revolutionary and therefore a person we would have to do something about. Whee! Put the subject John Donne (and other poets, mad men Whitman and Yeats) in a song done by Van Morrison and you have something that catches my attention every time. No question.
Rave On John Donne lyrics by Van Morrison

Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
Down through the weeks of ages
In the moss borne dark dank pools

Rave on, down through the industrial revolution
Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age
Rave on down through time and space down through the corridors
Rave on words on printed page

Rave on, you left us infinity
And well pressed pages torn to fade
Drive on with wild abandon
Uptempo, frenzied heels

Rave on, Walt Whitman, nose down in wet grass
Rave on fill the senses
On nature's bright green shady path

Rave on Omar Khayyam, Rave on Kahlil Gibran
Oh, what sweet wine we drinketh
The celebration will be held
We will partake the wine and break the Holy bread

Rave on let a man come out of Ireland
Rave on on Mr. Yeats,
Rave on down through the Holy Rosey Cross
Rave on down through theosophy, and the Golden Dawn
Rave on through the writing of "A Vision"
Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on, Rave on

Rave on John Donne, rave on thy Holy fool
Down through the weeks of ages
In the moss borne dark dank pools

Rave on, down though the industrial revolution
Empiricism, atomic and nuclear age

From The Marxist Archives- Germany: "Democratic" Imperialism and the Lie of Collective Guilt

Workers Vanguard No. 885
2 February 2007
Germany: "Democratic" Imperialism and the Lie of Collective Guilt
(Quote of the Week)

In the wake of World War II, the Fourth International denounced the lie propounded by the capitalist “democracies,” as well as by the Social Democrats and Stalinists, that the German proletariat and the German people as a whole were guilty of the monstrous crimes of Hitlerite fascism. Expressing their solidarity with the working people of ravaged Germany, the Trotskyists reasserted the necessity to sweep away the barbaric capitalist world order through proletarian revolution.
Truth demands that we tell the world proletariat Hitler-fascism was not a pure “German” phenomenon, but the most violent dictatorship of German monopoly capitalism against the German working people.... The guilt of international capitalism in supporting Hitler-fascism is only underlined in retrospect when it plasters the label of “guilty” on the German people in order to squeeze billions in reparations out of them.
Truth further demands that we note the Second World War broke out when Hitler attempted in the interests of German monopoly capitalism to secure a world redivision of markets and spheres of influence. If Hitler, representing belated German imperialism on the world market, appears as the aggressor, the other imperialists cannot thereby be labelled peace-loving democrats, since they simply defended imperialist robberies made at an earlier stage....
We International Communists therefore denounce as the main culprit above all the capitalist system which creates war and fascism. We say to the German proletariat and all other workers that the fall of Hitler-fascism has not assured world peace. Peace can be secured only through the struggle for socialism and the Socialist United States of the World....
In the final analysis the victorious imperialists, as well as the defeated Hitler-fascists and the now hypocritically democratic German bourgeoisie all find their main enemy to be the proletarian revolution. The treatment of the German people on the principle of collective-guilt provides the fascists precisely with new possibilities to fish in the murky waters of nationalism. The danger is all the greater since if the German people are collectively guilty then the Nazis who are the real guilty ones can logically hope to escape punishment.
We warn the German proletariat not to trust this bourgeoisie which now declares itself to be democratic. These new “anti-fascists” in reality are the same capitalist cliques who are already utilizing their connections with the international trusts to reorganize their class front against the German proletariat, and who want to make a pact with the foreign imperialists to load German reparations on the backs of the German people.
—“International Solidarity With the German Proletariat,” Fourth International (January 1946)

The Conference of the Fourth International

Written: April, 1946.
First Published: June 1946
Source: Fourth International, Volume VII, No. 6, June 1946, pp. 163-165.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, November, 2005
Proofread: Scott Wilson
Public Domain: Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line 2005. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the url to this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.

A Great Labor Conquest
The International Conference which convened in Paris in April is a great conquest for the Fourth International, the world party of the socialist revolution. This Conference was held in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles of the postwar period. Despite all the hardships and difficulties, it was a more representative gathering than the Founding Conference of 1938. Participating in the work of the 1946 Conference were delegations from the principal European sections, France, England, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Ireland and Switzerland; in addition there came representatives from the Western Hemisphere and from colonial countries.
In this issue we proudly publish the main political document, “The New Imperialist Peace and the Building of the Parties of the Fourth International,” together with the other resolutions adopted by the Conference and a partial account of its deliberations. The Conference also instructed the newly elected International Executive Committee to draft a Manifesto, the text of which was published in the May 11 issue of The Militant. It will soon be made available in pamphlet form by Pioneer Publishers. We urge every reader to carefully study these documents.
They are basic to a correct understanding of the entire period ahead. They, like the Conference itself, express the authoritative views of world Trotskyism. As a system of ideas and as a living organization incarnating these ideas, the Fourth International wields authority by virtue of its unswerving loyalty to the program of Marxism and the traditions of the Russian Revolution. The Fourth International alone can speak with authority in the name of proletarian internationalism because it alone held up this banner in the interval between the two world wars and throughout the war years. It alone was able to swim against the stream in this era of tragic and catastrophic defeats”, it alone proved capable of understanding, analyzing and assimilating the lessons of contemporary history. That is why it was able to withstand the crucial test of war. All the others fell by the wayside.
The Manifesto of the International Conference correctly states:
The Second International disappeared without a trace and the Social Democratic parties within it became transformed into miserable propaganda agencies of Anglo-American imperialism. The collapse repeated in more grotesque form its performance of 1914-18.
The Third International, after being corroded by years of betrayal, was merely traded out of existence by Stalin in exchange for Wall Street’s Lend-Lease.
All the centrist organizations, like the London Bureau, simply broke up into their component parts.
The Message Of Truth
Never was truth needed more urgently than today, above all the truth about the system in which we live. Yet from all sides are heard the voices of corruption and betrayal, of confusion and prostration, of weakness and hysteria, of deception and falsehood. We hail the International Conference because at this moment of gravest crisis it brings the agonized peoples of the world its message of truth and hope.
The Dark Ages once stood as a popular symbol for unspeakable infamies, horrors and suffering. But the Dark Ages never plumbed the depths of human degradation to which capitalism has sunk. Against the background of miracles of science, amid untold wealth accumulated so painfully through the centuries, at a time when society disposes of a productive apparatus capable of flooding the earth not only with necessities but luxuries—in such circumstances the gangrene of an outlived system is seeping through every pore of the social organism; the very atmosphere is poisoned by fumes of decay; civilization is being drained of all its vital juices. The abominations and villainies of monopoly capitalism have hurled mankind so far back that the human mind is stunned, unable for the moment to grasp the enormity of the disaster.
The bestial visage of monopoly capitalism has fully revealed itself in an unprecedented wholesale destruction of material and spiritual values. Practices and happenings from which men used to recoil in horror have become established as the norm and are being accepted as commonplace.
The Disaster of Cities
From the dawn of civilization the human consciousness has been shocked by natural calamities, especially those that befell cities. Because these are the hearths of culture and progress and have always been cherished as such. Records and historical accounts of disasters that befell cities have come down from antiquity to modern times. The shelves of libraries are filled with factual and fictional material on this subject. The fate in 79 A.D. of Pompeii, a small Roman vacation resort at the foot of volcano Vesuvius, has been remembered through the centuries. The news of the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755 (between 10,000 and 20,000 lives lost; damage, $100 million) made such an impression on the German poet Goethe, a child of six at the time, that he recalled it to his dying day. Hollywood periodically produces films based on the Chicago fire of 1871 (no fatalities listed; damage, $196 million) or the San Francisco earthquake and conflagration of 1906 (452 lives lost; property loss of $350 million). But we have just witnessed the man-made destruction, amid patriotic cheers, of city after city in Europe and Asia. The exact number of victims and the extent of material damage will probably never be known.
The imperialist bourgeoisie has become habituated to acts to which the greatest stigma has universally been attached. Bourgeois historians still shed tears over the burning of the great library of Alexandria by the Arabs in 640 A.D. But the imperialist incendiaries have put to the torch more irreplaceable treasures and monuments than all the vandals of the past.
Not so many years ago the destruction of a single French cathedral was accepted in certain circles as incontrovertible indictment of the Kultur of the Kaiser. The very same people have in the space of a few years spread devastation unequaled by all the man-made and natural catastrophes recorded in the annals of history. At this very moment the super-vandals of Wall Street are busy preparing weapons for subjecting the remaining cities on earth to the same treatment they accorded Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
The “Culture” of Capitalism
Yet we still hear talk of culture. This indecency comes from the lips of those who continue to support capitalism in the name of “democracy.” If these are not the greatest enemies of culture who have walked among men, then ordinary words have lost all their meaning and the human mind all its capacity to reason.
Abstract talk of “humanism” and “humanitarianism” today is brutal mockery. Queen Antoinette, as is well known, advised the starving French people to eat cake if they couldn’t obtain bread. In this single phrase is laid bare the completely antisocial character of the feudal regime. But the French queen was a humanitarian in comparison with such gentlemen as the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Reporting before a Congressional committee on the plight of men, women and children now starving by the millions, Mr. Clinton P. Anderson remarked: “Some people are going to have to starve. We’re in the position of a family that owns a litter of puppies; we’ve got to decide which ones to drown.” In this inability to any longer differentiate between animals and human beings is to be heard the genuine voice of the completely degenerated capitalist class, anti-social to its marrow.
The list of material and spiritual values reduced to muck and gore by the capitalist cannibals is far too long to enumerate. Is there a single ideal that has remained inviolate? If any truth is absolute for our generation it is that for mankind to live, capitalism must perish.
We hail the International Conference because it summons to a mortal struggle against capitalism. The simplest as well as the loftiest concepts of morality, ethics, etc., have no meaning today except in relation to the basic problem of our generation, namely, the life-and-death fight to abolish capitalism. As old Spinoza long ago pointed out the will is inseparably bound up with intellect. The impairment of the former inescapably leads to the disintegration of the latter. The distinctive trait of the revolutionary vanguard is its inexorable will to struggle. It expresses thereby in the most concentrated form the character and historic mission of its class. Among the irrefutable proofs of the virility and power of the world Trotskyist movement is that its will to struggle remains unimpaired.
The Will to Struggle
The masses have no way out from the charnel house of capitalism except through struggle. They have risen time and again, only to be defeated. Why? Because their fighting capacity was invariably sapped by their treacherous Readerships. Today, none renders greater service to the imperialists, than the completely prostituted Stalinist parties. But the Stalinists are only the main detachment of the army of prostitutes in the service of the rulers. Their efforts are supplemented in each country by the native variety of Social Democrats and official trade-union leaders. In their wake follow the scientific, academic, journalistic and other intellectual prostitutes for bourgeois “democracy,” “morality,” “humanism,” “ethical values,” etc., etc.
We hail the International Conference for preserving intact the main guarantees of the coming victory—the principled program of the socialist struggle and the strategy and tactics of the Transitional Program. The principles, strategy and tactics of the Fourth International were not copied from books nor sucked out of anyone’s thumb. They are the product of all the past proletarian struggles, victories as well as defeats, periods of flood-tide as well as of ebb. They represent the generalized experience of the class, the theoretical and political capital handed down from one generation of the proletarian vanguard to the next. They have been tested and re-tested in the fire of events. They have been amended, perfected or altered only to the extent that the historical process itself so dictated. Principled irreconcilability distinguishes Trotsky’s movement from all others, just as it distinguished the movements led by Marx and Lenin. Ours is the orthodox school of Marxism. This must not be understood to mean, as our vilifiers and enemies contend, that we consider our program immutable. No. We adapt the program to the needs of the struggle and bring our analysis up to date in conformity with the events. But we cling to Marxism as the one fundamental analysis of capitalism and society, as well as the one fundamental revolutionary program which has been vindicated in the fires of great experiences and struggles. And by the same token we contemptuously reject all light-minded attempts to overthrow it or discard it.
The Bolshevik Organization
We furthermore note with satisfaction that the International Conference reiterated its determination to build Bolshevik-type parties—the main instrumentalities of the revolution. The organizational principles and structure of Bolshevism were created by Lenin. Half a century ago, when Lenin first began building the Bolshevik Party, failure to grasp its historic role was understandable. Today, after the Russian Revolution, opposition to a democratically-centralist proletarian party is the hallmark of an opportunist. The Fourth International remains in this respect as in all others the only legitimate heir and continuator of Bolshevism.
Finally, we hail the International Conference for its unswerving loyalty to the spirit of internationalism. Marxists attach the greatest value to the international ties of the revolutionary proletariat not out of abstract ethical considerations, but because all the burning problems of society permit of solution only on a world scale. Because of the anti-democratic Voorhees law, the Socialist Workers Party in this country is not affiliated with the Fourth International. But as is clear from our position, we are in complete solidarity with the political ideas and the decisions adopted by the International Conference.
This historic gathering marks a new stage in the development of the world Trotskyist movement. The building of the world party of the socialist revolution was begun in 1928 by small propaganda groups. The tempo of the pre-war epoch forced the revolutionists all the way back to the Marxist circle phase. Recruitment was restricted to individual selection on the basis of theoretical discussion. For a decade the various groups remained almost hermetically sealed from the labor movement. The Founding Conference of the Fourth International in 1938, which adopted the transitional program, laid down the tactical line for the parties to break out of their isolation and win the leadership of the masses. This phase was cut across by the war which furthermore imposed an enforced separation upon the various national sections.
The New Period Ahead
This International Conference liquidates the conditions of enforced separation caused by the war and enables the movement to move forward once again as a united striking force on the world arena. The tempo of the post-war epoch differs radically from the tempos if the pre-war and war periods. The revolutionists have now to adapt themselves not to conditions of isolation, slow growth, and the onrush of reaction but to the epoch of greatest revolutionary convulsions and greatest opportunities for building the revolutionary parties. Historical circumstances have for years placed monstrous obstacles in the path of the Fourth International. Many of these still remain. But the movement that was able to emerge from conditions of war and savage persecution, stronger in numbers (despite proportionately huge losses) and more tempered ideologically (despite the disruption of all connections) will have the strength to win the leadership of the masses and go forward to the socialist revolution.
United Statement and Call for Action to Oppose

U.S./NATO and Israeli War on Syria

No more wars – U.S. out of the Middle East!

(please see the links at the bottom of the statement to endorse the call and provide information on actions)

National Days of Action, June 28- July 17, 2013

The White House’s June 13th announcement that it would begin directly supplying arms to the opposition in Syria is a dramatic escalation of the U.S./NATO war against that country. Thousands of U.S. troops and intelligence personnel are training opposition forces and coordinating operations in Turkey and Jordan. Israel, the recipient of more than $3 billion annually in U.S. military aid has carried out heavy bombing raids against Syria. The Pentagon has developed plans for a “no-fly” zone over Syria, threatening a new U.S. air war.

The pretext for this escalation is the assertion, presented without any actual evidence, that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the conflict that has been raging for more than two years. Like their predecessors, President Obama and other top U.S. officials pretend to be concerned about “democracy” and “human rights” in Syria, but their closest allies in the campaign against Syria are police-state, absolute monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Once again the so-called ‘Responsibility to protect’, R2P, is used as a pretext for NATO to dominate this region.

Just as the false claim of “weapons of mass destruction” was used as justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the allegations that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian military is meant to mask the real motives of Washington and its allies. Their aim is to carry out “regime change,” as part of the drive to create a “new Middle East.”

The invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S.-backed Israeli war in Lebanon in 2006, the 2011 NATO bombing of Libya, the now-escalating war in Syria and the growing threats against Iran are part of a coordinated regional effort by the United States, Britain and France to dominate this oil-rich and strategic region.

The U.S. government cuts basic services and has eliminated hundreds of thousands of public sector workers jobs in the last three years in the name of a discredited austerity which has destroyed the economy, but has unlimited billions available for wars of aggression and NSA surveillance of almost every American.

We join together to call for National Days of Action, June 28- July 15, 2013, to demand:

  • Stop the U.S./NATO/Israeli war and all forms of intervention against Syria!
  • Self-determination free from outside intervention for the Syrian people!
  • Fund people’s needs, not the military!
  • U.S. Out of the Middle East!

The statement is signed by UNAC, ANSWER, UFPJ, Vets for Peace, IAC, Green Party, Progressive Democrats of America, Voices for Creative Non-violence, US Peace Council and many others.

For a full list of sponsors, please click here.

To endorse the statement and actions, click here.

To add an action from your local area, click here.

Free Lynne Stewart Now!

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has DENIED Lynne Stewart’s application for compassionate release. Director Charles E. Samuels, Jr. took this action despite recommendations for compassionate release from Federal Medical Center, Carswell Warden Jody R. Upton and South Central Regional Office Director J.A. Keller, as well as the vetting of Stewart’s release plans by the Federal Probation Office in New York.
The struggle to free Lynne Stewart continues on many fronts. First and foremost, each and every one of us must increase the number of people worldwide who sign the petition.
Lynne Stewart’s condition is deteriorating rapidly. Medical treatment to arrest the cancer that is metastasizing in her body has been halted because she is too weak to receive it. She remains in isolation, as her white blood cell count is so low that she is at risk for generalized infection.
We shall not stand by idly while the Federal Bureau of Prisons murders Lynne Stewart. The Bureau of Prisons can and must reverse its decision.

A message from Lynne Stewart:
6/25/13 - Disappointed but Not Devastated
My Dear Friends, Supporters, Comrades:
I know we are all disappointed to the marrow of our bones and the depths of our hearts by the news that the Bureaucrats, Kafka like, have turned down my request for compassionate release.
Let me say, that we are planning ahead. The letter from the BOP is flawed, to put it mildly. Both factually and medically it has major problems. We intend to go to court and raise these in front of my sentencing Judge Koeltl. At the first sentencing he responded to a query by one of the lawyers that he didn’t want me to die in prison — we’ll see if he can now live up to that. He is of course the same Judge who increased my sentence to 10 years — but this IS very different and we can only hope that we can prevail. Stay tuned for what we need from you. We will never give up.
In the meantime, once again, I grieve for my children and grandchildren who love me so much and had such great expectations of enjoying life together again in our beloved NYC and not just trying to, in the prison visiting room. My Ralph, too, whose dedication and love are only exceeded by the work he does on my behalf — but he is a born fighter and although he hurts, it all comes more naturally to him.
But for everyone else, I hope that your affront at this crass bureaucratic denial of the request, which you by your signatures and letters and phone calls, demanded — How far can we let this go? when a 73-year old woman who IS dying of cancer (maybe not on their timetable,) her life of good works ignored, be shunted aside … “she does not present circumstances considered extraordinary and compelling … at this time.” We must show them that I cannot be ignored, that YOU cannot be ignored.”
Fight On — All of Us or None of Us. An affront to one is an affront to all.
Love Struggle,
Lynne Stewart
EdgeLeft: Peace Movement in Crisis, by David McReynolds

(EdgeLeft is an occasional essay by David McReynolds. It can be reproduced without permission).

This is written reluctantly, because for many of you this involves such complex internal fights that it is a waste of time. But I've found myself involved in so many emails on this matter that I want to sent out this "blast" to a number of folks who have been involved.

About two weeks ago UNAC (United Antiwar Coalition) sent out an urgent call for two weeks of action (starting at the end of June) to protest the NATO/US/Israeli plans to intervene militarily in Syria.

The original signers of the call began with what I would call a fairly small group of hard left Marxist/Leninist groups (not calling names - just trying to describe them), consisting of Workers World, Socialist Action, and the Party of Socialism and Liberation (which was a split from Workers World). Gradually other signers came on, including UFPJ, the Green Shadow Cabinet, and some good centrist groups. But the shots have been called by a small group which - in my view - have dominated UNAC from its beginning.

That small group is not evil. It is committed, hard working, and a legitimate part of the broader movement of resistance to where the US has been going. But it cannot substitute itself for a genuine peace movement, nor can it, by a call to action, actually create such actions.

Already events have rendered the UNAC call pointless, both events in Turkey and, as of the past two days, the tumult in Egypt, where events unfold as I write, and about which I won't comment in this post because as of this moment - 2 p.m. Wednesday, July 3 - no one is sure what is happening.

First, while I am discouraged that the peace movement is disorganized, and no clear coalition exists, it is a hard fact that sectarian left groups cannot substitute for a real peace movement.

I'll give one example out of what is now distant history. During the Vietnam War the "leading members of the coalition" (which at that time included Trotskyists, Communists, Pacifists, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish groups, Academics, Students, and Labor) met at the home of Cora Weiss on a Saturday to discuss what our strategy should be. There were perhaps thirty people present. As we met, the news came that Nixon had ordered the invasion of Cambodia. So our discussion turned, of necessity, to "what can we do about this extraordinary new development".

We knew our limits - and keep in mind that in that room were virtually ALL of the groups opposing the war (with the exception of Workers World, which for reasons of its own had never tried to join the coalition).
We felt that the best we could do was to call on people to come to Washington the next Saturday to hold a vigil in front of the White House.
We knew such a large vigil - we thought we could, with a week to work on it, get a thousand people - would result in arrests.

But after leaving that meeting, in the days immediately ahead, the murders at Kent State took place. Those of you my age will remember that American students "went on strike", a wave of revolutionary fervor
gripped the campuses. By the Saturday when we thought we might have a thousand people, we had 100,000.

My point is that those of us meeting in Cora Weiss' living room did not rally those 100,000 - the National Guard at Kent State did, the murders did. In short, events did.

UNAC is not able to turn out large numbers. It is not a real coalition of peace groups. Sadly,neither is UFPJ (United for Peace and Justice).
Why there is no real coalition at the moment is worth a few words.

There is no question at all that the election of Obama had a deep impact on what had been a powerful anti-war movement, an anti-war movement which had helped elect him.

I personally did not vote for Obama - I voted for the Green ticket in New York State - but I fully understood why people in swing states voted for Obama. I remember, that election night in my apt., the excitement we felt, news of dancing in the streets, of spontaneous demonstrations in front of the White House.

The problem, of course, was that Obama was not a radical, he was someone who promised to end the war in Iraq (which, to a great extent, he has) but who promptly extended it in Afghanistan. There was a mix of feelings which the "far left" (sometimes I want to say "the distant left", so far removed is it from the real politics in this country) never quite understood. For most of us on the left, the election of a black President broke historic barriers - it was, on the level of American racism - a revolutionary step.

There was an additional problem - the nation was in the midst of an economic disaster, which had begun before the election, and which continues to this day. In that climate, when the national (and world)
economy seemed on the brink of collapse, almost any measures, even if they seemed compromises, were essential. It is clear now (and has been for the past several years) that serious legal actions should have been taken against a number of key players on Wall Street, that a number of bankers should have been jailed rather than bailed out.

But - and here we come to the crux of the problem - Obama was never a radical. He operated within the framework of the existing system. Nor was there a serious, united movement of the left which could make serious economic demands. (That didn't happen until "Occupy" emerged suddenly, out of nowhere, some time later).

The peace movement - UFPJ - which had existed as a serious force, was weakened by the election of Obama. We, collectively, did not make a major demand that the US immediately get out of Afghanistan. Many groups did make that demand, but not in a united way. We, as a whole, were slow to oppose the drone strikes.

Some of this could be blamed on that part of the left which had shown itself, at best, naive about Obama. (In the last election the Communist Party - no longer a significant force - actually came out in favor of his re-election). But neither were there serious alternatives. The Socialist Party, of which I'm a member, had a candidate but that candidate was on the ballot almost nowhere. The Greens fared better, (and in New York State got my vote) but in the US electoral system voters tend to chose one of two candidates for President. A long, serious discussion needs to take place on the difference between running socialist (or green) candidates for local offices and running them for President. I know that on the two occasions when I ran for President, 1980 and 2000, I made it a point of telling audiences that I didn't really care whether they voted for me, as I had no chance of winning - that I was running to raise the issues and help start a basic discussion of the problems of American capitalism.

Going back to the UNAC "call" for action, what was interesting was who was not involved in being invited. So far as I know, Democratic Socialists of America, International Socialist Organization (ISO), the Communist Party, Solidarity, Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, and the Socialist Party were not invited. I have heard reports - I can't verify them now - that ISO is split on the Syrian crisis and inclined to support the rebels. I know that DSA, CCDS and the CP tend to support the Democratic Party. Why Solidarity and the SP were not approached I don't know. The point is that by the time the call was issued, a hard core
of left groups which shared a history in the Trotskyist movement had signed on. Whatever else one may say of those groups (and of their fronts - ANSWER, the International Action Center, etc.) they do not speak for the broad American left and emphatically do not speak for the peace movement and cannot substitute for the peace movement.

What disturbed me was the wording of the call. It is simply not true that the US is committed at this point to military aid to the rebels. The US military and State Department are divided, precisely because the rebels have moved steadily toward hard line Islamic elements which are hostile to US control. Nor is it clear that NATO as a whole has reached an agreement. Britain and France have, but there are serious tensions within NATO on a number of matters - not least being the idea of bringing to power a group of radical Islamists in Syria.

And Israel? Israel was guilty of two shocking - and in my view stupid as well as illegal - air strikes on Damascus. But the Israeli military establishment is sharply divided with, I suspect, a majority opposed to efforts to topple Assad. Israel has had a stable border with Syria for some years. Why would it want a new Syrian government that would risk a series of border attacks?

My guess is that Israel was added because it fits the politics of the key "left groups" in UNAC. I'm happy to be extremely critical of Israel but Israel is not responsible for everything that goes wrong in the Middle East.

Ironically the key groups - Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states - that are funding the Syrian opposition and supplying the arms, escaped mention in UNAC's call.

The peace groups surely do need to meet and see what strategy they can work out. And there needs to be an understanding that no artificial exclusion will be imposed (as was the case with UNAC in this most recent call, where some groups were no approached).

All of us need to ask if we are clear on absolute opposition to any shipment of arms to either side. The war in Syria is horrendous. As many as 100,000 people may have died already. Tens upon tens of thousands of refugees have fled across the border into Jordan, into Iraq. In a military sense Assad is stronger today than he was a year ago - which doesn't make him better, it just means the rebels are losing ground, which tempts the Gulf states to send in more weapons.

From my point of view, a political solution is the only possible solution - and this will be extremely hard to achieve. The rebels are reluctant to come to the table because they are weak. But the longer the war goes on, the greater the chance of Syria being torn apart and the nature of Middle East politics changed - for the worst.

I'm writing this in part because the Socialist Party is having an internal discussion about whether or not to join in the UNAC statement (which, given the speed with which the realities of the Middle East are changing, seems foolish) but the issues under discussion are shared in other groups. I am discouraged to find the Greens, who might have played a more neutral and positive role, signing on.

At the moment, UFPJ is no longer really functioning as a major coaltion - and UNAC has never become a major coalition. The road ahead is difficult and unclear. But one real obstacle is for groups that are small and marginal - no matter how good their intentions - thinking they can substitute for a broader and more inclusive peace movement that can bring in the religious community (including that part of the Jewish community which is now willing to be critical of Israeli policy when necessary).

David McReynolds

(David McReynolds is a former chair of War Resisters International, served on War Resisters League staff for 39 years, and has been active in the socialist movement. He is retired, lives on New York City's Lower East Side, and can be reached at:

Forcing down Evo Morales's plane was an act of air piracy

Denying the Bolivian president air space was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world


o The Guardian, Thursday 4 July 2013 14.00 EDT

President Morales arrives back in La Paz, Bolivia. ‘Imagine the response from Paris if the French president's plane was forced down in Latin America.’ Photograph: Zuma/Rex Features

Imagine the aircraft of the president of France being forced down in Latin America on "suspicion" that it was carrying a political refugee to safety – and not just any refugee but someone who has provided the people of the world with proof of criminal activity on an epic scale.

Imagine the response from Paris, let alone the "international community", as the governments of the west call themselves. To a chorus of baying indignation from Whitehall to Washington, Brussels to Madrid, heroic special forces would be dispatched to rescue their leader and, as sport, smash up the source of such flagrant international gangsterism. Editorials would cheer them on, perhaps reminding readers that this kind of piracy was exhibited by the German Reich in the 1930s.

The forcing down of Bolivian President Evo Morales's plane – denied airspace by France, Spain and Portugal, followed by his 14-hour confinement while Austrian officials demanded to "inspect" his aircraft for the "fugitive" Edward Snowden – was an act of air piracy and state terrorism. It was a metaphor for the gangsterism that now rules the world and the cowardice and hypocrisy of bystanders who dare not speak its name.

In Moscow, Morales had been asked about Snowden – who remains trapped in the city's airport. "If there were a request [for political asylum]," he said, "of course, we would be willing to debate and consider the idea." That was clearly enough provocation for the Godfather. "We have been in touch with a range of countries that had a chance of having Snowden land or travel through their country," said a US state department official.

The French – having squealed about Washington spying on their every move, as revealed by Snowden – were first off the mark, followed by the Portuguese. The Spanish then did their bit by enforcing a flight ban of their airspace, giving the Godfather's Viennese hirelings enough time to find out if Snowden was indeed invoking article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution."

Those paid to keep the record straight have played their part with a cat-and-mouse media game that reinforces the Godfather's lie that this heroic young man is running from a system of justice, rather than preordained, vindictive incarceration that amounts to torture – ask Bradley Manning and the living ghosts in Guantánamo.

Historians seem to agree that the rise of fascism in Europe might have been averted had the liberal or left political class understood the true nature of its enemy. The parallels today are very different, but the Damocles sword over Snowden, like the casual abduction of Bolivia's president, ought to stir us into recognising the true nature of the enemy.

Snowden's revelations are not merely about privacy, or civil liberty, or even mass spying. They are about the unmentionable: that the democratic facades of the US now barely conceal a systematic gangsterism historically identified with, if not necessarily the same as, fascism. On Tuesday, a US drone killed 16 people in North Waziristan, "where many of the world's most dangerous militants live", said the few paragraphs I read. That by far the world's most dangerous militants had hurled the drones was not a consideration. President Obama personally sends them every Tuesday.

In his acceptance of the 2005 Nobel prize in literature, Harold Pinter referred to "a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we feed". He asked why "the systematic brutality, the widespread atrocities" of the Soviet Union were well known in the west while America's crimes were "superficially recorded, let alone documented, let alone acknowledged". The most enduring silence of the modern era covered the extinction and dispossession of countless human beings by a rampant US and its agents. "But you wouldn't know it," said Pinter. "It never happened. Even while it was happening it never happened."

This hidden history – not really hidden, of course, but excluded from the consciousness of societies drilled in American myths and priorities – has never been more vulnerable to exposure. Snowden's whistleblowing, like that of Manning and Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, threatens to break the silence Pinter described. In revealing a vast Orwellian police state apparatus servicing history's greatest war-making machine, they illuminate the true extremism of the 21st century. Unprecedented, Germany's Der Spiegel has described the Obama administration as "soft totalitarianism". If the penny is falling, we might all look closer to home.

Committee to Elect Seamus Whelan

We are organizing for $15/hour and a union all over Boston. Previously we've done standouts in Copley Sq and Codman Sq. The Vote Whelan campaign is different in this way from politics as usual. We see this as an opportunity to build in our communities.

In Boston, $15/hour is a minimum to afford rent, high food costs, and utility bills, not to mention transportation costs. To win this, we'll need to organize new unions at fast food places, big box stores, and other service sector jobs. We'll need to have rallies in communities showing our support!

This Saturday will be such a rally. We'll be meeting in Egleston Square at 10am, holding signs, gathering petition signatures, and talking to people about the $15/hour minimum wage.
Please let us know you are attending by rsvp'ing here:
This is also a great opportunity to get to know our campaign better. We look forward to seeing you all there! Also, stick around afterwards to help with canvassing in the JP/Roxbury neighborhoods.
Seamus at Codman Sq

Vote Whelan
Committee to Elect Seamus Whelan · 50 Saxton St, Apt 1, Boston, MA 02125, United States
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You can also keep up with Vote Whelan on Twitter or Facebook.

Statement by Edward Snowden to human rights groups at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport

Friday July 12, 15:00 UTC

Edward Joseph Snowden delivered a statement to human rights organizations and individuals at Sheremetyevo airport at 5pm Moscow time today, Friday 12th July. The meeting lasted 45 minutes. The human rights organizations included Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch and were given the opportunity afterwards to ask Mr Snowden questions. The Human Rights Watch representative used this opportunity to tell Mr Snowden that on her way to the airport she had received a call from the US Ambassador to Russia, who asked her to relay to Mr Snowden that the US Government does not categorise Mr Snowden as a whistleblower and that he has broken United States law. This further proves the United States Government’s persecution of Mr Snowden and therefore that his right to seek and accept asylum should be upheld. Seated to the left of Mr. Snowden was Sarah Harrison, a legal advisor in this matter from WikiLeaks and to Mr. Snowden’s right, a translator.

Transcript of Edward Joseph Snowden statement, given at 5pm Moscow time on Friday 12th July 2013. (Transcript corrected to delivery)

Hello. My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.

It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.

I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."

Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.

That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.

Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.

Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.

I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.

This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

If you have any questions, I will answer what I can.

Thank you.
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Hands Off Syria! JOBS Not War!

Public Forum - Hear Joyce Chediac, Lebanese-American Activist and Editor of "Gaza, Symbol of Resistance"

Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 6:00 PM!

The Action Center, 284 Amory Street, Jamaica Plain at the Brewery Complex, steps from the Stony Brook Stop on the Orange Line

For a discussion on:

- How to join in the fight to demand money for people's needs like JOBS, public education and healthcare NOT racism and war.

- U.S. weapons to Syrian contra ("rebel") forces, Israeli bombing of Syria, bases in Turkey, plans for a No-Fly Zone and how the U.S. uses Syria's neighbors in a new proxy war with the goal of total domination in the region;

-Understand how the U.S.-led strategy of economic devastation and sanctions works to destabilize the economy, weaken health facilities, destroy communications, cultural institutions, education, food production and sanitation;

- Understand the revolutionary developments in Egypt and the role of the U.S. and their clients, the Egyptian military

- The parallels with Iraq and Libya, Syria's overlooked economic development and its regional and secular policies;

- How to combat the corporate media, politicians and others that are attempting to whip up public sentiment for an all-out U.S./NATO/Israeli war on Syria;

For more information, call 617-286-6574

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Victory To The California Prison Hunger Strikers!

Hunger Strike by California Inmates, Already Large, Is Expected to Be Long

Jim Wilson/The New York Times
A solitary confinement unit at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. Solitary confinement is the focus of a statewide hunger strike that started this week.
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LOS ANGELES — Nearly 29,000 inmates in California state prisons refused meals for the third day Wednesday during a protest of prison conditions and rules. The protest extended to two-thirds of the 33 prisons across the state and all 4 private out-of-state facilities where California sends inmates, corrections officials said.
Thousands of prisoners also refused to attend their work assignments for a third day, and state officials were bracing for a long-term strike.
Once the state tallies the official number of participants, the hunger strike could become the largest in state history. A similar hunger strike over several weeks in 2011 had about 6,000 participants at its official peak, corrections officials said, and a strike that fall had about 4,200.
The protest is centered on the state’s aggressive solitary confinement practices, but it appeared to have attracted support from many prisoners with their own demands for changes in prison conditions.
Jules Lobel, the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights and the lead lawyer in a federal lawsuit over solitary confinement, said he expected the strike to go on for much longer than previous ones because inmates would refuse to accept anything less than a legally binding agreement for immediate changes.
“Last time, they took promises of reforms, but they are not going to do that again, because two years later the reforms have not materialized in any real way,” Mr. Lobel said.
“This could become a very serious situation over time, because it seems we have a substantial group of people who are prepared to see it to the end if they don’t get real change,” he said.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation does not officially recognize a strike until inmates have refused nine consecutive meals; officials said the number of prisoners who had gone that far would not be tallied until Thursday.
California is facing the threat of being charged with contempt of court after a Supreme Court order in May 2011 to reduce its prison population by 10,000 inmates this year. The court said crowding and terrible conditions inside the prison system constituted inhumane treatment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. On Wednesday, the state filed for a stay of the court’s order to release prisoners.
Gov. Jerry Brown has repeatedly said that the state has gone as far as it can to release low-level offenders and reduce crowding at the prisons, and that it is providing adequate medical care for inmates. But last month, a federal judge criticized the system for allowing potentially lethal valley fever to spread through two jails in Central Valley and ordered the state to move 2,600 inmates at risk of catching the disease.
A small group of inmates in solitary confinement at the maximum-security Pelican Bay State Prison, in a remote area near the Oregon border, called for the protest months ago. They have complained that inmates are being held in isolation indefinitely for having ties to prison gangs. Some have been held for decades without phone calls, access to rehabilitation programs or time outdoors.
Ten inmates at High Desert State Prison in Northern California began their own hunger strike last week and were being monitored by medical staff for signs of distress, officials said. Their demands, made in a letter, include cleaner prison facilities, better food and more access to the prison library. Prisoners at several other facilities also issued demand letters, which were displayed on a Web site supporting the strikers.
The organizers timed the protest to coincide with the start of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, which began this week; state officials said that would make it more complicated to determine how many prisoners were fasting out of religious obligation rather than in protest.
Prison officials said the protests had not caused any major disruptions.
“These actions have been talked about for months,” said Jeffrey Callison, a spokesman for the corrections department. “We have been preparing to make sure that the rules are enforced consistently.”
After the protests two years ago, corrections officials promised to use new criteria in placing inmates in solitary confinement and to create a process by which inmates could get out of isolation. Corrections officials say that of 382 inmates who have been screened, roughly half have qualified to return to the general population. But about 10,000 inmates remain in solitary confinement units.
Carol Strickman, a lawyer with Legal Services for Prisoners With Children who negotiated on behalf of inmates during the last hunger strike, said allies of the inmates had no way of verifying how many were taking part this time. During the last strike, officials prohibited participants from communicating with family and friends.
“Officials have this bunker mentality, but now it’s like a house of cards is falling down,” Ms. Strickman said. “There have been so many problems for decades, and now they are being forced to deal with them all at once.”
by Gerry Condon
Just as Bradley Manning’s court martial was getting under way, four leading members of Veterans For Peace – Brian Willson, Diane Wilson, Elliott Adams and Tarak Kauff - began fasting in solidarity with over 100 hunger striking prisoners in the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
After fasting for 28 days, Brian Willson was hit by a car while riding his three-wheeled handcycle, and he was forced to suspend his hunger strike. He is reportedly healing well. Diane Wilson ended her hunger strike after 56 days, but only after being arrested for climbing over the White House fence. As of Friday, July 12, Elliott Adams is on Day 58 of his hunger strike and Tarak Kauff is on day 36, and counting….
Bradley Manning himself makes strong connections to Guantanamo. During a pre-trial hearing several months ago, he stated that he had released not only the Iraq War Logs, the Afghan War Diaries, and State Dept. cables, but also the Detainee Assessment Briefs, short U.S. govt. reports on each of the prisoners detained at Guantanamo.
At Bradley’s court martial this week, prosecution and defense lawyers jousted over the level of harm that may have been caused by the release of the Detainee Assessment Briefs. Retired Col. Morris Davis, who was the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, testified that the detainee assessments, referred to as “baseball cards” at Guantanamo, were not very useful and not always accurate. Col. Davis said that much of the same information was publicly available, that the assessments contained no actionable intelligence and were not of significant value to any enemies of the United States.
Another defense witness this week revealed that Bradley Manning had expressed great concern about the fate of the prisoners at Guantanamo. In an online chat with Lauren McNamara, Bradley wrote:
(10:28:59 PM) bradass87: question: guantanamo bay, the closure is good, but what do we do about the detainees =\
(10:33:01 PM) bradass87: well, some of them are actually pretty dangerous indeed… some of them weren’t dangerous before, but are now in fact dangerous because we imprisoned them for so long (don’t quote me on that, for the love of my career), and others might, with a little more than an apology would easily fit back into society… who’s who… worryingly, you can’t really tell
(10:35:45 PM) bradass87: the reason that’s difficult: the things we have tried them on are classified information, connected with other pieces of classified information… so if a trial is done, it might have to be done in some kind of modified trial, where pieces of evidence which are classified are presented only in a classified environment
(10:38:59 PM) bradass87: some of them are indeed dangerous, and those that have left have, and i as a liberal and someone against gitmo will tell you… yes, many of those previously released, even though innocent before, are quickly recruited as leading figures for new wings of extremist groups
Bradley Manning was held in solitary confinement for ten months and suffered other abuses at the hands of authorities at the Quantico Marine Brig. Only a worldwide outcry freed him from those torturous measures. He is now allowed to mingle with other prisoners, to exercise, to have clothing, a blanket and pillow, and to sleep without being constantly awakened. The Quantico brig has been closed for good.
So Bradley Manning understands the plight of the Guantanamo prisoners very well. He sympathized strongly with them even before he was a prisoner himself.
30,000 CALIFORNIA PRISONERS BEGIN HISTORIC STRIKECoincidentally, this week 30,000 prisoners launched a hunger and work strike in California (quickly spreading to other states), demanding their dignity and human rights, and calling for an end to indefinite solitary confinement. Some of the prisoners are expressing solidarity with prisoners in Guantanamo as well as with Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel. Profound links are being made in what is shaping up to be a historic struggle.
VFP hunger strikers Elliott Adams and Tarak Kauff remain strong and determined, despite having lost a lot of weight. They insist that the best way to support them is to learn what is happening to the prisoners – at Guantanamo and Pelican Bay - and to do something about it. They are making themselves available to speak to VFP chapters and community meetings via Skype.
To arrange for Elliott or Tarak to speak in your community, contact Gerry Condon at or call him at 206-499-1220.
For more information on the campaign to support hunger striking prisoners in Guantanamo and California, go
For a great report on the dramatic final day of Bradley Manning’s defense in the merits part of his court martial, go here.
Soon prosecution and defense lawyers will deliver their closing arguments, the military judge will render her verdict, and the sentencing phase, expected to go for two to three weeks, will commence. The Bradley Manning Support Network is calling for international days of action on Saturday, July 27.

This message sent via Google Groups "CloseGitmo.Net Solidarity" group.

National Days of Action to Oppose U.S. War on Syria


Stop U.S. War & all forms of intervention against Syria!

Self-determination free from outside intervention

for the Syrian people!

Saturday, July 20, Park St., 1:00 pm

The White House’s announcement that it would begin supplying arms to the opposition in Syria and is considering a “no fly” zone over Syria is a dramatic escalation of ongoing U.S. involvement in war against that country. The U.S. has been training opposition forces and coordinating operations coming from neighboring countries. Israel, the largest recipient of U.S. military aid, bombed Syria, and other close U.S. allies supplying weapons are police-state monarchies Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Just as the false claim of “weapons of mass destruction” was used as justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the unproved allegations that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian military mask the real motives of Washington and its allies. Their aim, as in Iraq, is to carry out “regime change,” as part of the drive to dominate this oil-rich and strategic region.

While the U.S. government cuts basic services and has eliminated hundreds of thousands of public sector workers jobs, it finds unlimited billions available for wars of aggression and NSA surveillance of every American.

National Days of Action to Oppose U.S. War on Syria

No more wars – U.S. out of the Middle East!

Fund people’s needs, not the military!

From Archives Of “Boston Occupier”

Click on the headline to link to the Boston Occupier Archives.
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Defend the Occupy movement! Hands Off All Occupy Protestors!

Criminalizing Black Freedom: Assata Shakur on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List

By May 7, 2013Comment 1
On Thursday, May 2, 2013, Eric Holder’s Justice Department re-opened a 40-year-old case, adding Assata Shakur to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List alongside an inflated reward to $2 million for Shakur’s capture, rehashing the U.S. criminalization and militarization of Black freedom, ideas, and struggle, while testing the U.S.’s power over Cuba in the wake of the Castro regime.
Assata Shakur–a former member of the Black Panther Party, political leader and activist– spent years organizing for the Black Liberation Movement, currently lives in Cuba in exile as a political refugee. Shakur participated in student struggles, anti-war and African-American liberation movements in the 1970′s. Targeted under the 1970′s COINTELPRO program, Shakur was convicted on a charge of murder that many believe to be false, and put behind New Jersey’s prison bars. In 1979, Shakur escaped from prison and fled to Cuba for political asylum, leading the state of New Jersey to put a $1 million dollar reward on her head.
The labeling of Shakur as a terrorist has implications for her safety, and extends beyond her own case.
First, if Shakur is recognized by the U.S. government as a “terrorist,” will the U.S. leverage non-judicial action against her and kill her without a trial (as has been done with others on this list, including Americans)? Will drones be sent to Cuba, similarly to Yemen and Pakistan?
In addition to the consequences of labeling Shakur a terrorist, the DOJ’s decision represents an expansion of the term terrorist—possibly setting a precedent where anybody convicted of murder, and with a background of revolutionary organizing, can be reclassified as a terrorist.
Shakur is now 66 years old, and has been living in exile for the past 30 years. Dr. Angela Davis, an activist, writer and professor at University of California Santa Cruz, along with Lennox Hinds, Shakur’s attorney, responded on Democracy Now in Shakur’s defense on Friday May 3.
In response to the DOJ’s's renewed militarization of Shakur’s case, Davis said on Democracy Now that there is a “…slippage between what should be protected free speech—that is to say, the advocacy of revolution, the advocacy of radical change—and what the FBI represents as terrorism. You know, certainly, Assata continues to advocate radical transformation of this country, as many of us do. You know, I continue to say that we need revolutionary change. This is why it seems to me that the attack on her reflects the logic of terrorism, because it precisely is designed to frighten young people, especially today, who would be involved in the kind of radical activism that might lead to change.”
Alongside Davis, Lennox said, “Now, why today is Assata Shakur now being branded a terrorist? If we look at the definition of terrorism, does Shakur fit the definition of a terrorist? Terrorist is the use of, or the threat of force, against a civilian population to achieve political ends. What happened in the case of Assata Shakur? You have heard, in her own words, this woman was a political activist. She was targeted by whom? J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in a program that was called COINTELPRO. That program was unveiled by whom? Frank Church, Senator Frank Church, in the 1970s. He chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee. That committee determined that the FBI was using both legal, but mostly illegal, methods—to do what? In the FBI’s own words, they wanted to discredit, to stop the rise of a black messiah—that was the fear of the FBI—so that there would not be a Mau Mau, in their words, uprising in the United States.”
In Shakur’s open letter to Pope John Paul II in 1998, she wrote, “I have advocated and I still advocate revolutionary changes in the structure and in the principles that govern the United States. I advocate self-determination for my people and for all oppressed inside the United States. I advocate an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism, and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty.”
Last week New Jersey plastered glowing billboards which read “Wanted Terrorist Joanne Chesimard A/K/A Assata Shakur Murder of a Law Enforcement Officer.” The new billboards are reminiscent of the 1970′s Wanted posters for Shakur. New Jersey and the FBI are not even capable of getting Assata Shakur’s name correct. When women’s names are erased by institutionalized racism, herstory must live on in the heart, and in narratives of the people speaking in her defense.
Special thanks to Boston Occupier editor Josh Sager for his questions about drones, and connections between drones and Assata Shakur.