Saturday, August 05, 2017

We Are In A Cold Civil War-Join The Anti-Fascist Resistance-For Labor/Black Action to Stop Fascists!

We Are In A Cold Civil War-Join The Anti-Fascist Resistance-For Labor/Black Action to Stop Fascists!

By Frank Jackman

Usually I place articles and announcement from various left-wing and progressive groupings that I do not necessarily agree with but think that the general radical-left liberal milieu might find of interest in a blog site dedicated to American Left History (and its complement cultural component) past and present. I have noted more than once that I usually do not comment on the views expressed and if I do have differences I can either write my own comments or if the differences are severe or reflect bad taste not post the item. Occasionally in the struggle against the ugly forces that have reared their heads in the age of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States and apparently nothing but a common criminal and maybe a sociopath, have felt the wind at their backs under his tenure I find some article or statement which I am in general agreement with and will as here take the time to express general if not total solidarity with the views expressed by others.  

The most important point made in the article belong which deals with an analysis and program to defeat the emergent serious extra-parliamentary right-wing threat is that we must learn the hard lessons of history on the question of stopping the fascist and fascistic elements in the egg. If that had been done in Germany at any point up to and including 1933 the history of the Western world could very well have taken a different trajectory and we would today probably not be faced with what looks like yet again a global right-wing counter-revolutionary movement baring its knuckles. Closer to home we have to nip the small but growing fascist threat which seemingly is turning the cold civil war we have been facing for a while now and which is getting more heated in the bud- and in the streets.

A second point to note is knowing what period we are in and who is and who is not going to benefit from the rise of the fascists (call them as they call themselves “the alt-right” it is the same damn thing that has been with us since post-World War I times). The rise of Trump was by parliamentary means-by regular bourgeois norms elections and does not represent a fascist take-over as some claim. The ruling class at this moment has not been defeated anyplace in the world militarily, at least where it would fatally hurt, as it did in Germany after their World War I defeat and that ruling class here is not now, and I emphasize not now, confronted by any militant mass left-wing movements that would threaten their power necessitating the need to go beyond their normal military/police forces to curb.   

As this cold civil war heats up there will be plenty of those in the opposition, on our side, who want to call on the government to stop the fascists, or better yet, call on the opposition party, the Democrats, to do something about the matter. Wrong. While we may unite with all who want to oppose the fascist threat on the streets, including democrats, to rely on the good offices of any establishment political organization to do our work for us is fool-hardy and in the end dangerous. We must rely centrally on our ability to gather masses of working people and the oppressed to stop these sewer rats. History shows no other way but a straight up fight to the finish or else these scumbags, excuse my vulgar usage but we are in a fierce fight and the niceties of everyday politics are not called for, will be further emboldened. Those who profess some “rational” and “reasoned” approach to deal with this life-threatening menace are doomed to the scrap heap.

Finally there is no room for being “liberal” in this fight. These fascists are not a literary/political club movement we can debate with or permit to spew their trash talk under the banner of “free speech.” Those who thought that approach might work in the Weimar Republic in the 1920s and early 1930s either had to flee into exile or found themselves in some death camp. We can give no quarter here. Period. 

So yes, for once, on this issue of fighting the emerging fascist threat I stand in solidarity with the views expressed below with its sober analysis and program to fight the menace right now.  


Workers Vanguard No. 1110
21 April 2017
For Labor/Black Action to Stop Fascists!
Fascists Fueled by Trump Election
Hundreds of Jewish headstones desecrated. Women wearing the headscarf attacked on the streets. Two software engineers from India shot, one fatally, in Kansas in February by a Navy vet who howled, “Get out of my country.” A Sikh American shot in his driveway in Kent, Washington, last month by a masked white man screaming, “Go back to your own country.” Timothy Caughman, a 66-year-old black man, murdered on the streets of Manhattan on March 20 by a white-supremacist who had come to New York City from Baltimore with the express purpose of killing black men.
The race-terrorists have been emboldened by the campaign and victory of the right-wing demagogue Donald Trump, and are taking their cue from the unabashed racism and anti-immigrant vitriol emanating from the White House. The ultimate aim of the fascists, including those who congregate around the “alt-right,” is racial genocide and the destruction of workers organizations, including unions and the left.
The race-terrorists have played on the racist backlash against Barack Obama, America’s first black president. Obama’s eight years in office offered nothing to black and working people; the Democratic Party no less than the Republicans represents the very capitalist order that breeds fascism. During the Obama administration, conditions for black people and workers continued to worsen while cops wantonly gunned down black people on the streets. More industrial areas turned into rust bowls, while strongholds of union power continued their steep decline. Obama rigorously pursued U.S. imperialism’s war aims abroad, while ramping up the “war on terror” at home, which targets Muslims in particular. The fascist thugs feed off anger and frustration arising from economic devastation; they scapegoat black people, immigrants and minorities for the misery inflicted on the population by the capitalist rulers.
On April 15, when hundreds of “protesters” descended on downtown Berkeley for a pro-Trump rally, the fascists infesting the crowd made clear that they were out for blood. Chanting “Hitler did nothing wrong” and giving Nazi salutes, they viciously attacked antifa activists and leftists with clubs, flagpoles and knives. One viral video shows Nathan Damigo, head of the fascist group Identity Evropa, punching a woman in the face. Last June, in Sacramento, white-supremacists of the Traditionalist Workers Party and the Golden Gate Skinheads stabbed and slashed at least seven anti-fascists, sending them to the hospital. In Berkeley, anti-fascists were able to defend themselves from fascist violence but a number were injured.
Individual acts of courage are not enough to smash the fascist threat. What is needed are massive, integrated, disciplined mobilizations based on the social power of the multiracial working class. The workplace is the only real point of integration in American society, providing the potential basis for unity in struggle to defend working people and the oppressed. Black workers in particular can be the living link that unites the power of the working class with the anger of the ghettos.
The union movement has been flat on its back for many years under a misleadership that is committed to capitalism and has shackled the unions to the Democratic Party. A fight by militant unionists to organize labor/black power to crush the fascists can give the working class a taste of its social power. It is the fascists—not black people, immigrants, Muslims, Jews, leftists and others—who must be made to feel the sting of fear.
Who Are These Scum?
Today, many fascist groups in the “alt-right” claim that they are something different from the Klan and Nazis. They dress in “respectable” suits and ties and promote themselves as intellectuals. One of their leading voices is Richard Spencer, führer of the innocuously named National Policy Institute (NPI). When the NPI held a conference in Washington, D.C., shortly after Trump’s election, Spencer responded to the audience’s stiff-armed Nazi salutes by declaring: “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” (the latter a translation of the Nazi slogan “Sieg Heil”).
Allied with Spencer is Identity Evropa, which describes itself as an organization of “awakened Europeans” and requires that its members be of “European, non-Semitic heritage.” Its leader, Damigo, is a former Marine who was twice deployed to Iraq. After returning, he held up an immigrant taxi driver at gunpoint in San Diego in 2007, believing the man was Iraqi. While in prison for four years, he immersed himself in the writings of “former” Klansman David Duke. Before founding Identity Evropa in March 2016, Damigo—who describes black people as “inferior to whites, genetically”—was a leader of the now-defunct National Youth Front, the youth arm of the white-supremacist American Freedom Party.
Identity Evropa is currently waging a campaign, called “Project Siege,” to recruit from College Republicans. Its members have appeared at colleges and its posters and stickers have been spotted on campuses around the country. These posters consist of Greco-Roman images with slogans like, “Protect Your Heritage.” Their slick website serves as a portal for those who claim racial superiority and who deny the Holocaust. As part of their recruitment drive, Damigo, Spencer and others held a rally on 6 May 2016 at UC Berkeley, the former bastion of left-wing student protest.
Today, outfits like Identity Evropa, the Traditionalist Workers Party and others are still small. But they will strike with force, as seen in Sacramento and Berkeley. It is vital that they be crushed in the egg before they grow. Against those who call for bans on “hate speech” or who argue for “free speech” for fascists, we say that when these race-terrorists rear their heads they must be repulsed through mass protest. Fascism is not about speech or ideas; it is about racist terror. “Anti-extremism” bans, whether instituted by campus administrations or government forces, will always be used to silence leftists, anti-racists and minority activists.
Fascism in the U.S. is rooted in the defeat of the Confederacy by the Union Army in the Civil War, when 200,000 black soldiers and sailors played a key role in destroying slavery. The Klan and other race-terrorists came into being after that victory and bloodily suppressed the newly freed slaves. No less than the KKK, the fascist vermin in the “alt-right” represent a threat to the very right of black people to exist. They aim to reverse the verdict of the Civil War.
Prepare to Fight!
Unlike Germany in the 1930s, when the Nazis rose to power and went on to carry out the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, America’s capitalist rulers do not at this time feel the need to resort to fascism. The U.S. is not a defeated imperialist power, as Germany was after World War I, nor does the U.S. bourgeoisie currently face a challenge to its rule from the working class. The daily terror meted out by the cops against black people and minorities is today deemed sufficient to keep the oppressed in check. At the same time, the capitalist rulers hold the fascist shock troops in reserve, to be unleashed at times of social crisis in order to spike any prospect of revolutionary struggle by the working class.
The Trump administration is not fascist, but the fascists sure as hell have a lot of friends in high places. Trump appointed as his chief strategist Stephen Bannon, a well-known “white nationalist” who took over Breitbart News and turned it into “the platform of the alt-right,” as he boasted. Trump’s top counter-terrorism advisor, Sebastian Gorka, is reportedly a member of the Vitezi Rend, a Hungarian organization that harks back to the fascistic interwar dictatorship of Admiral Horthy—Gorka wore its medal at Trump’s inauguration ball. Stephen Miller, one of Trump’s senior advisors, joined Richard Spencer in organizing an anti-immigrant event at Duke University in 2007. He went on to work for notorious racist and defender of the Confederacy, Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. One could go on.
Bolstered by their high-ranking friends, the fascists have put the left in their deadly sights. We of the Spartacist League were targeted earlier this year, when a fascist secretly videoed one of our comrades distributing Workers Vanguard at the D.C. inauguration protests. The fascist posted the video on YouTube and vowed to “infiltrate” our organization. In Berkeley, the fascists made it clear that they are targeting leftists by chanting “commies, off our street!” It is a matter of life and death for the left to fight for united-front actions, based on the power of the unions, to beat back the fascist threat. In such united fronts, every organization must be free to put forward its political program in the course of struggle. As Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky put it: “March separately, but strike together!”
During the presidency of Ronald Reagan, much like today, the official racism of the White House encouraged the Klan and Nazis. When the fascists tried to hold rallies in major urban centers, the Spartacist League and Partisan Defense Committee initiated and organized labor/black mobilizations. From Washington, D.C., where the Klan threatened to stage an anti-immigrant provocation, to Chicago, where the Nazis took aim at a Gay Pride demonstration, and elsewhere, we succeeded in sparking protests of thousands to stop the fascists. At the core of these actions were contingents of determined workers from the multiracial unions standing at the head of the black poor, immigrants and all the intended victims of fascist terror.
These mobilizations required a constant political struggle—against the cops, courts and other forces of the capitalist state, as well as capitalist politicians. Fearing the specter of labor/black power, Democratic mayors and other officials preached “tolerance” and “peace.” They called diversionary rallies far from where the fascists intended to march while violence-baiting those who wanted to stop fascist violence. And time and again, they were joined by reformist leftists who promoted reliance on the Democrats. When, in October 1999, we issued a call to stop the Klan from marching in New York City, the International Socialist Organization refused to endorse and instead joined a diversion organized by the Democrats where they shared the platform with a Latino police association. It should be an elementary understanding for leftists that the cops are the enemy. Historically, the policeman and the Klansman have often been the same man.
What is needed is a fight to finish the Civil War through an American workers revolution that achieves the promise of black equality, the liberation of all the exploited and oppressed and puts the last nail in the coffin of the fascist killers. The labor/black mobilizations we initiated are a small example of the leadership and forces needed to build a party of our class in struggle against the capitalist enemy. In the face of the growing fascist menace, we must be prepared to mobilize.  

*100thAnniversaryOfTheRussianRevolution - A Liberal's View Of Leon Trotsky-Professor Carmichael's Biography Of The Bolshevik Revolutionary

*100thAnniversaryOfTheRussianRevolution - A Liberal's View Of Leon Trotsky-Professor Carmichael's Biography Of The Bolshevik Revolutionary




As readers of this space may know I make no bones about being an admirer of the work of Leon Trotsky (see archives). I also believe that the definitive biography of the man is Isaac Deutscher’s three-volume set. Nevertheless, others have written biographies on Trotsky that are either less balanced than Deutscher’s or come at it from a different angle with a different ax to grind. Joel Carmichael’s is a standard liberal democratic take on Trotsky’s life and work. Mr. Carmichael, as others before and after him like Irving Howe, takes on the huge task of attempting to whittle down one of the big figures of 20th century history against the backdrop of that mushy Cold War liberalism that retarded the intellectual development of even fairly critical Western minds in the post-World War II period.

That standard academic response invoked admiration for the personality and intellectual achievements of Trotsky the man while abhorring his politics, especially those pursued as a high Soviet official when he had political power. In the process Mr. Carmichael tries to account for Trotsky’s ‘fall’ from power in the psycho-biographic parlance that was popular in the 1970’s. In short, Mr. Carmichael concludes essentially that if only Trotsky was less of a loner and a better Bolshevik Party infighter his personal fate and history may have worked out better. Hell we, Trotsky’s admirers, have been screaming about his very important failure to umambiously lead the 1923-24 fight against the Stalinization of the Bolshevik Party (also known following the French revolutionary example as the Themidorian reaction) struggle for years. All without benefit of pseudo-Freudian analysis, by the way. In the end Mr. Carmichael’s take on Trotsky demonstrates more about the weakness of the liberal psycho-biographical method than a serious examination into Trotsky’s politics. There are some chasms that cannot be breeched and this is one of them.

In classic fashion Carmichael, as others have done as well, sets up Trotsky’s virtues early. Thus he recognizes and appreciates the early romantic revolutionary and free-lance journalist in the true Russian tradition who faced jail and exile without flinching; the brilliant, if flawed, Marxist theoretician who defied all-comers at debate and whose theory of permanent revolution set the standard for defining the strategic pace of the Russian revolution; the great organizer of the revolutionary fight for power in 1917 and later organizer of the Red Army victory in the Civil War; the premier Communist literary critic of his age; the ‘premature’ anti-Stalinist who fought against the degeneration of the revolution; the lonely exile rolling the rock up the mountain despite personal tragedy and political isolation. However, my friends, Carmichael’s biographical approach tries to debunk an intensely political man by one who plainly is a political opponent of everything that Trotsky stood for. I only wish he had been more honest and open about it rather than use psycho-babble as a device. Thus, all Carmichael’s patently obvious and necessary recognition of Trotsky as one of the great figures of the first half of the 20th century is a screen for taking Trotsky off of Olympus.

And here again Carmichael uses all the wearisome formulas in the liberal democratic handbook; the flawed nature of Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution as applied to Russia in 1917 and also to later semi-colonial and colonial countries; the undemocratic nature of the Bolshevik seizure of power in regard to other socialist parties; the horrors of the Civil War which helped lead to the degeneration of the revolution; Trotsky’s recognized tendency as a Soviet official to be attracted to administrative solutions; his adamant defense of the heroic days of the Bolshevik party and the Soviet Union, even in its degenerated state, against all comers until the end of his life; his weakness as a party political organizer in the fierce intra-party factional struggles and later in attempting to found new communist parties and a new international.

Of course the kindest interpretation one can make for Carmichael’s polemic, like that of Irving Howe who approached Trotsky’s life from the social-democratic perspective, is that he believes like many another erstwhile biographer that Trotsky should have given up the political struggle and become- what? Another bourgeois academic or better yet an editor of Partisan Review or The Nation? Obviously Mr. Carmichael did not pay sufficient attention to the parts that he considered Trotsky’s virtues. The parts about the intrepid revolutionary with a great sense of history and his role in it. And the wherewithal to find his place in it. Does that seem like the Trotsky that Carmichael has written about? No. A fairer way to put it is this. Trotsky probably represented the highest expression of what it was like to be a communist man, warts and all, in the sea of a non-Communist world. And that is high historical praise indeed. Let future biographers take note.

The100thAnniversaryYearOfTheBolshevik-LedOctoberRevolution-Lessons- *From The Pen Of Leon Trotsky- On The Anniversary Of His Death- Stalin as a Theoretician (1930)

Click on the headline to link to the Leon Trotsky Internet Archives for an online copy of the article mentioned in the headline.

Markin comment:

The name Leon Trotsky hardly needs added comment from this writer. After Marx, Engels and Lenin, and in his case it is just slightly after, Trotsky is our heroic leader of the international communist movement. I would argue, and have in the past, that if one were looking for a model of what a human being would be like in our communist future Leon Trotsky, warts and all, is the closest approximation that the bourgeois age has produced. No bad, right?

Note: For this 70th anniversary memorial I have decided to post articles written by Trotsky in the 1930s, the period of great defeats for the international working class with the rise of fascism and the disorientations of Stalinism beating down on it. This was a time when political clarity, above all, was necessary. Trotsky, as a simple review of his biographical sketch will demonstrate, wore many hats in his forty years of conscious political life: political propagandist and theoretician; revolutionary working class parliamentary leader; razor-sharp journalist ( I, for one, would not have wanted to cross swords with him. I would still be bleeding.); organizer of the great October Bolshevik revolution of 1917; organizer of the heroic and victorious Red Army in the civil war against the Whites in the aftermath of that revolution; seemingly tireless Soviet official; literary and culture critic: leader of the Russian Left Opposition in the 1920s; and, hounded and exiled leader of the International Left Opposition in the 1930s.

I have decided to concentrate on some of his writings from the 1930s for another reason as well. Why, with such a resume to choose from? Because, when the deal went down Leon Trotsky’s work in the 1930s, when he could have taken a political dive and found a safe haven in some literary salon, I believe was the most important of his long career. He, virtually alone of the original Bolshevik leadership (at least of that part that still wanted to fight for international revolution), had the capacity to think and lead. He harnessed himself to the hard, uphill work of that period (step back, step way back, if you think we are “tilting at windmills” now). In that sense the vile Stalinist assassination in 1940, when Trotsky could still project years of political work ahead, is not among the least of Stalin’s crimes against the international working class. Had Trotsky lived another ten years or so, while he could not have “sucked” revolutions out of the ground, he could have stabilized a disoriented post-World War communist movement and we would probably have a far greater living communist movement today. Thanks for what you did do though, Comrade Trotsky.

Songs To While Away The Class Struggle By-In Honor Of The Frontline Defenders Of The International Working Class-From Our Forebears The Diggers Of The English Revolution-“The World Turned Upside Down”

Click on the headline to link to a YouTube film clip of Billy Bragg (Known In This Space As Narrator Of Woody Guthrie And His Guitar: The Machine Kills Fascists )performing The World Turned Upside Down.
An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend The International Working Class Everywhere!

Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!
A Five-Point Program As Talking Points

*Jobs For All Now!-“30 For 40”- A historic demand of the labor movement. Thirty hours work for forty hours pay to spread the available work around. Organize the unorganized- Organize the South- Organize Wal-Mart- Defend the right for public and private workers to unionize.

* Defend the working classes! No union dues for Democratic (or the stray Republican) candidates. Spent the dough instead on organizing the unorganized and on other labor-specific causes (good example, the November, 2011 anti-union recall referendum in Ohio, bad example the Wisconsin gubernatorial recall race in June 2012).

*End the endless wars!- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops (And Mercenaries) From Afghanistan! Hands Off Pakistan! Hands Off Iran! U.S. Hands Off The World!

*Fight for a social agenda for working people!. Quality Healthcare For All! Nationalize the colleges and universities under student-teacher-campus worker control! Forgive student debt! Stop housing foreclosures!

*We created the wealth, let’s take it back. Take the struggle for our daily bread off the historic agenda. Build a workers party that fights for a workers government to unite all the oppressed.
As Isaac Deutscher said in his speech “On Socialist Man” (1966):

“We do not maintain that socialism is going to solve all predicaments of the human race. We are struggling in the first instance with the predicaments that are of man’s making and that man can resolve. May I remind you that Trotsky, for instance, speaks of three basic tragedies—hunger, sex and death—besetting man. Hunger is the enemy that Marxism and the modern labour movement have taken on.... Yes, socialist man will still be pursued by sex and death; but we are convinced that he will be better equipped than we are to cope even with these.”
Emblazon on our red banner-Labor and the oppressed must rule!

Markin comment:

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


If John Milton was the literary muse of the English Revolution then the Diggers and their leader, Gerrard Winstanley, were the political muses.

The World Turned Upside Down

We will not worship the God they serve, a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve.
In 1649 to St. George's Hill
A ragged band they called the Diggers came to show the people's
They defied the landlords, they defied the laws
They were the dispossessed reclaiming what was theirs.
We come in peace, they said, to dig and sow
We come to work the lands in common and make the waste
ground grow

This earth divided we will make whole
So it may be a common treasury for all "**
The sin of property we do disdain
No man has any right to buy or sell the earth for private gain

By theft and murder they took the land
Now everywhere the walls spring up at their command
They make the laws to chain us well
The clergy dazzle us with heaven, or they damn us into hell

We will not worship the God they serve,
a God of greed who feeds the rich while poor folk starve
We work and eat together, we need no swords
We will not bow to masters, nor pay rent to the lords

Still we are free, though we are poor
Ye Diggers all, stand up for glory, stand up now!
From the men of property the orders came
They sent the hired men and troopers to wipe out the Diggers'

Tear down their cottages, destroy their corn
They were dispersed - only the vision lingers on
Ye poor take courage, ye rich take care
This earth was made a common treasury for everyone to share
All things in common, all people one
They came in peace - the order came to cut them down


The100thAnniversaryYearOfTheBolshevik-LedOctoberRevolution-Lessons- From The Archives *From The Wilds Of Cyberspace-The Latest From The "Internationalist Group" Website-Hands off WikiLeaks!-Defend PFC Bradley Manning!

Click on the title to link to the website mentioned in the headline for the latest news and opinion from that site.

Hands off WikiLeaks!

Defend PFC Bradley Manning!

On July 6, the U.S. military announced that charges have been filed against Private First Class Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking classified material – in particular providing the (in)famous “Collateral Murder” video to the investigative website WikiLeaks. PFC Manning, a military intelligence analyst, has been held since some time toward the end of May by the U.S. Central Command at a military base in Kuwait. The video shows U.S. helicopter gunships cold-bloodedly gunning down two reporters and other civilians, first aid responders and children in Baghdad in 2007. Its release provoked a storm of outrage worldwide, and it has by now been seen by millions of viewers on the Internet. The “hacker” who fingered Private Manning to the Army brass, Adrian Lamo, also alleges that Manning claimed to have passed on video of a massacre of some 125 civilians by U.S. forces near Garani, Afghanistan in May 2009.

The Pentagon claims that in addition, Manning released some 150,000 State Department cables. WikiLeaks denies that it has the diplomatic cables, but says it is preparing to release the video of the Garani massacre (for background on this case of mass murder, see our article, “Defeat U.S. War on Afghanistan and Iraq,” The Internationalist No. 30, November-December 2009). While refusing on principle to name its sources or confirm whether Manning is one, WikiLeaks has retained U.S. civilian lawyers for him. However, the military has not allowed them to contact their client. Manning’s friends and the government informant Lamo say that he was suffering a crisis of conscience over the conduct of the U.S. war, read “horrifying” contents of secret U.S. diplomatic correspondence, and wanted to spark “debate” and “reform.”

If Bradley Manning did indeed help to uncover evidence of U.S. imperialism’s war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and if he did try to bring to light the secret dealings of U.S. diplomats and spies, these were justified acts evidencing rare moral courage. Class-conscious workers and all defenders of democratic rights should hail Manning as a hero. Exposing U.S. imperialism’s crimes and tearing the curtain of secrecy from its plots can save the lives of innocent people by helping to put an end the Pentagon’s reign of terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. That’s why the U.S. government under the liberal Democrat Barack Obama is pursuing “whistle blowers” with a vengeance. Under the charges brought against him, a court-martial could sentence Manning to up to 52 years behind bars. We demand: Free Bradley Manning now!

In the wake of the revelations of Manning’s arrest, government officials told the Daily Beast news website (10 June) that they were seeking Julian Assange, an Australian who is the main figure of WikiLeaks. Assange dropped from sight for several weeks, rightly worried that he is in danger, but surfaced in Brussels on June 21 to speak at a seminar on freedom of information at the European parliament. A lengthy article on Assange in the New Yorker (7 June) magazine pooh-poohed such concerns, referring to “A low-grade fever of paranoia [that] runs through the WikiLeaks community.” But Daniel Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1972 revealed the “Pentagon Papers,” a top-secret “Defense” Department study of the Vietnam war, commented in a Daily Beast interview (11 June) that “on May 3, 1972, a dozen CIA assets from the Bay of Pigs, Cuban émigrés were brought up from Miami with orders to ‘incapacitate me totally.’”

Only in the past? Hardly. Despite post-Watergate laws banning assassinations, U.S. leaders today openly proclaim their supposed authority, under war powers voted by Congress following the 11 September 2001 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and their intention to have government hit squads murder or kidnap “enemies,” foreign citizens and Americans alike, without the pretense of a judicial procedure. In testimony to the House Intelligence Committee on February 3, the then Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair declared that American citizens could be assassinated by their “own” government overseas. Make no mistake, Julian Assange is in real danger from the same imperialist war criminals that have Bradley Manning in a military jail. Hands off Julian Assange and WikiLeaks!

In the Daily Beast interview, Ellsberg congratulates Assange for “doing good work for our democracy” and says that if Manning did what he is alleged to have done, he “upheld his oath of office to support the Constitution.” Ellsberg asserted that “our national security” would benefit from the release of diplomatic cables allegedly intercepted by Manning, but counsels Assange to withhold “dangerous” government secrets from the public. Wikileaks has indeed done very good work, not only in decoding the encrypted videos revealing the U.S. war crimes, but also in verifying the authenticity of documents and establishing contact with the families of the victims. But talk of “our democracy” is delusional. Today, a Pentagon Papers case would never win in a Supreme Court that just ruled that even political speech in support of anyone deemed a “terrorist” by the U.S. government can be outlawed. And the Democrats in the White House are worse than the Republicans in going after whistle blowers.

“In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions. His administration has taken actions that might have provoked sharp political criticism for his predecessor, George W. Bush....”
–New York Times 11 June
The imperialist “democracy” that the liberals believe in and the Democratic administration they elected operate torture camps from the Guantánamo Bay naval base stolen from Cuba to the Bagram air force base in Afghanistan. Over two million, mostly black and Latino men railroaded on non-violent drug “crimes,” are imprisoned within U.S. borders. Tens of thousands of working-class immigrants are being held in private jails and concentration camps, while some 400,000 are deported every year. U.S. military power and billions of dollars in subsidies prop up theocracies and dictatorships throughout the Near East from Israel to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the “oildoms” of the Persian/Arab Gulf, while the U.S. plans an endless occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq (where combat missions are soon to be rebranded “stability operations”). The generals, diplomats and spies who conspire to maintain U.S. dominance over the world will go to great lengths to silence those who would expose their machinations and crimes.

What’s behind all this is that U.S. imperialism is bogged down in losing wars. The caste of military and political specialists who manage these wars for Wall Street is rife with internecine rivalries. This was highlighted recently when high-flying General Stanley McChrystal, who president Obama had installed as commander of the Afghanistan/Pakistan war in May 2009, “resigned” after being hastily summoned to the Oval Office when a profile of this martinet in Rolling Stone quoted him and his staff disparaging the president and his political and diplomatic staff. As the editors’ lead to that article succinctly put the mindset of the “Runaway General,” McChrystal “seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.” So Obama seized the chance to play Harry Truman vs. General McArthur in the name of civilian supremacy, but while firing the general arguably most likely to carry out a coup d’état, he replaced him with the one most likely to order it (Gen. David Petraeus).

As the situation on the ground continues to elude the Pentagon’s grasp, the generals and diplomats are especially in need of the services of their colleagues in the “free but responsible” imperialist media. And the media oblige. According to Glenn Greenwald of (18 June), Manning offered the “Collateral Murder” video to David Finkel of the Washington Post, but the Post stayed silent. As Greenwald writes,

“When the NYT learned in 2004 that the Bush administration was illegally eavesdropping on Americans without warrants, George Bush summoned the paper’s Publisher and Executive Editor to the Oval Office, demanded that the story not be published, and the paper complied by sitting on it for a full year until after Bush was safely re-elected. When The Washington Post’s Dana Priest learned that the CIA was maintaining a network of secret prisons – black sites – she honored the request of ‘senior U.S. officials’ not to identify the countries where those prisons were located so as to not disrupt the U.S.’s ability to continue to use those countries for such projects.”

Nor, it should be noted, has the press (or any civil liberties group) so far come to the defense of Manning and Assange. The New Yorker article even argued that, after all, the wanton killing shown in the “Collateral Murder” video didn’t violate the military’s rules of engagement. But that, after all, is the point: this carnage is all legal according to the bloodthirsty imperialist rulers.

And that includes Obama just as much as George W. Bush. As we have insisted over and over against those leftists who called Iraq “Bush’s war,” this is a bipartisan imperialist war. The Obama administration has continued the policy of warrantless wiretapping, spying on political dissidents, and CIA kidnappings and assassination. From “Che” Guevara to Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, this “democracy” has always resorted to murdering its perceived enemies. While exposure of the imperialist war makers’ crimes will hardly convince them to “reform,” revelations such as the “Collateral Murder” video perform a valuable service in exposing the crimes of a vicious ruling class that can only be – and must be – defeated and swept away by a revolutionary mobilization of working-class power. ■

Songs For Our Times-Build The Resistance-Steppenwolf's "America When Are You Now...We Can't Fight Lone Against The Monster"

Songs For Our Times-Build The Resistance-Steppenwolf's "America When Are You Now...We Can't Fight Lone  Against The Monster"   

During, let’s say the Obama administration or, hell, even the Bush era, for example  we could be gentle angry people over this or that notorious war policy and a few others matters and songs like Give Peace A Chance, We Shall Overcome, or hell, even that Kumbaya which offended the politically insensitive. From Day One of the Trump administration though the gloves have come off-we are in deep trouble. So we too need to take off our gloves-and fast as the cold civil war that has started in the American dark night heads to some place we don’t want to be. And the above song from another tumultuous time, makes more sense to be marching to. Build the resistance!

Steppenwolf – Monster Lyrics

Once the religious, the hunted and weary
Chasing the promise of freedom and hope
Came to this country to build a new vision
Far from the reaches of Kingdom and pope

Like good Christians some would burn the witches
Later some got slaves to gather riches

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands, to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

And once the ties with the crown had been broken
Westward in saddle and wagon it went
And till the railroad linked ocean to ocean
Many the lives which had come to an end

While we bullied, stole and bought a homeland
We began the slaughter of the red man

But still from near and far to seek America
They came by thousands to court the wild
But she just patiently smiled and bore a child
To be their spirit and guiding light

The Blue and Grey they stomped it
They kicked it just like a dog
And when the war was over
They stuffed it just like a hog

And though the past has its share of injustice
Kind was the spirit in many a way
But its protectors and friends have been sleeping
Now it's a monster and will not obey

The spirit was freedom and justice
And its keepers seemed generous and kind
Its leaders were supposed to serve the country
But now they won't pay it no mind
Cause the people grew fat and got lazy
Now their vote is a meaningless joke
They babble about law and order
But it's all just an echo of what they've been told

Yeah, there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin'

The cities have turned into jungles
And corruption is stranglin' the land
The police force is watching the people
And the people just can't understand
We don't know how to mind our own business
'Cause the whole world's got to be just like us
Now we are fighting a war over there
No matter who's the winner we can't pay the cost

'Cause there's a monster on the loose
It's got our heads into the noose
And it just sits there watchin'

America, where are you now
Don't you care about your sons and daughters
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster

America, where are you now
Don't you care about your sons and daughters
Don't you know we need you now
We can't fight alone against the monster


Friday, August 04, 2017

A View From The Left-An Appreciation of Chuck Berry

A View From The Left-An Appreciation of Chuck Berry

Workers Vanguard No. 1112
19 May 2017
An Appreciation of Chuck Berry
23 April 2017
To Workers Vanguard,
Chuck Berry (1926-2017) was very nearly the last of the black pioneers of rock’n roll from the 1940s and 50s including Little Richard, Ike Turner, Howlin Wolf and more, who lived, performed and innovated from the time of Jim Crow segregation and lynch law until well into the 21st Century. Chuck’s parents and grandparents on both sides knew their slave-born ancestors and passed on to him their names, relationships and stories.
Like others before him, Chuck bucked his Baptist parents’ opposition to play “the devil’s music”. Consigned to the category of “race music”, he and his fellow rockers were exploited by promoters and recording companies, cheated of the rights to their songs, and later saw their songs covered with far greater commercial success by admiring white American performers and British invaders (Roll Over Beethoven, Sweet Little Sixteen). John Lennon was quoted as saying, “If you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry.’”
Unable to make a living from their recordings, these musicians toured at an exhausting pace, staying in segregated accommodations and playing to segregated audiences. Where there were no hotels for blacks, they slept in their cars and ducked the police. They were virulently hated by politicians and law enforcement when white kids, especially white girls, began to literally dance across the color line, touching the explosive intersection of sex and race under capitalism. From Billie Holiday to Ray Charles, black musicians were targeted for beatings, confiscation of earnings, arrest and imprisonment, typically for sex, drugs and taxes. Chuck was hounded under the Mann Act, once for travelling with a married 17-year old and once with a teen prostitute. He was imprisoned for tax evasion (i.e., failure to set aside money to pay outrageously regressive self-employment taxes).
Chuck built on previous musical advances, including those of Johnny Johnson, T-Bone Walker and Bob Wills, melding blues and country swing with his own style. He was a vivid story teller of the poor man’s experience (Nadine, No Money Down, Memphis Tennessee). He combined his slyly provocative lyrics, signature duck walk and a hard-driving rhythm, “the backbeat, you can’t lose it”. He made the crossover to biracial and teenage audiences, shedding his exploitive managers, signing with Chess Records, and getting a grip on the rights to his songs.
Chuck was prominent among the musicians who boldly broke the color line in performance venues. He was unapologetic, and an icon for the 1960s generation who rebelled against the strictures of family and religion, imperialist war and racial oppression. The Freedom Riders, those who sat in at lunch counters, those who marched against the Vietnam War grew up on his music, knew his songs and his story. The life and hard times of Chuck Berry exemplified the fact that there is no original American music or culture without black music and culture. Beating all odds, Chuck Berry died in bed at his home at the age of 90.
Ruth Ryan

As The 100th Anniversary Of World War I Continues -The Anti-War Resistance Builds –The Russian Revolution Breaks The Logjam

As The 100th Anniversary Of World War I Continues -The Anti-War Resistance Builds –The Russian Revolution Breaks The Logjam    
The events leading up to World War I (known as the Great War before the world got clogged up with expansive wars in need of other numbers and names and reflecting too in that period before World War II a certain sense of “pride” in having participated in such an epic adventure even if it did mow down the flower of European and in some cases colonial youth from all classes) from the massive military armament of almost all the capitalist and imperialist parties in Europe and elsewhere in order to stake their claims to their unimpeded share of the world’s resources had all the earmarks of a bloodbath early on once the industrial-sized carnage set in with the stalemated fronts (as foretold by the blood-letting in the American Civil War and the various “small” wars in Asia, Africa, and, uh, Europe in the mid to late 19th century once war production on a mass scale followed in the train of other less lethal forms of  industrial production).
Also trampled underfoot in the opposing trenches, or rather thrown in the nearest trash bin of the their respective parliamentary buildings were the supposedly eternal pledges against war in defense of one’s own capitalist-imperialist  nation-state against the working masses and their allies of other countries by most of the Social-Democrats and other militant leftist formations (Anarchists, Syndicalists and their various off-shoots)representing the historic interest of the international working-class to stop those imperialist capitalist powers and their hangers-on in their tracks at the approach of war were decisive for 20th century history. All those beautifully written statements and resolutions that clogged up the international conferences with feelings of solidarity were some much ill-fated wind once bullet one came out of gun one.
Other than isolated groups and individuals, mostly like Lenin and Trotsky in exile or jail, and mostly in the weaker lesser capitalistically developed countries of Europe the blood lust got the better of most of the working class and its allies as young men rushed to the recruiting stations to “do their duty” and prove their manhood. (When the first international conference of anti-war socialists occurred in Switzerland in 1915, the famous Zimmerwald conference, one wag pointed out that they could all fit in one tram [bus].) Almost all parties assuming that the damn thing would be over by Christmas and everyone could go back to the eternal expressions of international working-class solidarity after the smoke had settled (and the simple white-crossed graves dug in the vast bone-crushed cemeteries that marked the nearby battle fields too numerous to mention). You see, and the logic is beautiful on this one, that big mail-drop of a Socialist International, was built for peace-time but once the cannons roared then the “big tent” needed to be folded for the duration. Jesus.  
Decisive as well as we head down the slope to the first months of the second year of the war although shrouded in obscurity early in the war in exile was the soon to be towering figure of one Vladimir Lenin (a necessary nom de guerre in the hell broth days of the Czar’s Okhrana ready to send one and all to the Siberian frosts and that moniker business, that nom de guerre not a bad idea in today’s NSA-driven frenzy to know all, to peep at all), leader of the small Russian Bolshevik Party ( a Social-Democratic Party in name anyway adhering to the Second International under the sway of the powerful German party although not for long because “Long Live The Communist International,”  a new revolutionary international, would become the slogan and later order of the day in the not distant future), architect of the theory of the “vanguard party” building off of many revolutionary experiences in Russia and Europe in the 19th century (including forbears Marx and Engels), and author of an important, important to the future communist world perspective, study on the monopolizing tendencies of world imperialism, the ending of the age of “progressive” capitalism (in the Marxist sense of the term progressive in a historical materialist sense that capitalism was progressive against feudalism and other older economic models which turned into its opposite at this dividing point in history), and the hard fact that it was a drag on the possibilities of human progress and needed to be replaced by the establishment of the socialist order. But that is the wave of the future as 1914 turned to 1915 in the sinkhole trenches of Europe that are already a death trap for the flower of the European youth.  
Lenin also has a "peace" plan, a peace plan of sorts, a way out of the stinking trench warfare stalemate eating up the youth of the Eurasian landmass. Do what should have been done from the beginning, do what all the proclamations from all the beautifully-worded socialist manifestos called on the international working-class to do. Not a simple task by any means especially in that first year when almost everybody on all sides thought a little blood-letting would be good for the soul, the individual national soul, and in any case the damn thing would be over by Christmas and everybody could start producing those beautifully worded-manifestos against war again. (That by Christmas peace “scare” turned out to be a minute “truce” from below by English and German soldiers hungry for the old certainties banning the barbed wire and stinking trenches for a short reprieve in the trench fronts in France and played soccer before returning to drawn guns-a story made into song and which is today used as an example of what the lower ranks could do-if they would only turn the guns around. Damn those English and German soldiers never did turn the damn things around until too late and with not enough resolve and the whole world has suffered from that lack of resolve ever since.)
Lenin’s hard-headed proposition: turn the bloody world war among nations into a class war to drive out the war-mongers and bring some peace to the blood-soaked lands. But that advanced thinking is merely the wave of the future as the rat and rain-infested sinkhole trenches of Europe were already churning away in the first year as a death trap for the flower of the European youth.   
The ability to inflict industrial-sized slaughter and mayhem on a massive scale first portended toward the end of the American Civil War once the Northern industrial might tipped the scales their way as did the various German-induced wars attempting to create one nation-state out of various satraps almost could not be avoided in the early 20th century once the armaments race got serious, and the technology seemed to grow exponentially with each new turn in the war machine. The land war, the war carried out by the “grunts,” by the “cannon fodder” of many nations was only the tip of the iceberg and probably except for the increased cannon-power and range and the increased rapidity of the machine-guns would be carried out by the norms of the last wars. However the race for naval supremacy, or the race to take a big kink out of British supremacy, went on unimpeded as Germany tried to break-out into the Atlantic world and even Japan, Jesus, Japan tried to gain a big hold in the Asia seas.
The deeply disturbing submarine warfare wreaking havoc on commerce on the seas, the use of armed aircraft and other such technological innovations of war only added to the frenzy. We can hundred years ahead, look back and see where talk of “stabs in the back” by the losers and ultimately an armistice rather than decisive victory on the blood-drenched fields of Europe would lead to more blood-letting but it was not clear, or nobody was talking about it much, or, better, doing much about calling a halt before they began the damn thing among all those “civilized” nations who went into the abyss in July of 1914. Sadly the list of those who would not do anything, anything concrete, besides paper manifestos issued at international conferences, included the great bulk of the official European labor movement which in theory was committed to stopping the madness.
A few voices, voices like Karl Liebknecht (who against the party majority bloc voting scheme finally voted against the Kaiser’s war budget, went to the streets to get rousing anti-war speeches listened to in the workers’ districts, lost his parliamentary immunity and wound up honorably in the Kaiser’s  prisons) and Rosa Luxemburg ( the rose of the revolution also honorably prison bound) in Germany, Lenin and Trotsky in Russia (both exiled at the outbreak of war and just in time as being on “the planet without a passport” was then as now, dangerous to the lives of left-wing revolutionaries and not just them), some anti-war anarchists like Monette in France and here in America “Big Bill” Haywood (who eventually would controversially flee to Russia to avoid jail for his opposition to American entry into war), many of his IWW (Industrial Workers Of the World) comrades and the stalwart Eugene V. Debs (who also went to jail, “Club Fed” for speaking the truth about American war aims in a famous Cleveland speech and, fittingly, ran for president in 1920 out of his Atlanta Penitentiary jail cell),  were raised and one hundred years later those voices have a place of honor in this space.
Those voices, many of them in exile, or in the deportations centers, were being clamped down as well when the various imperialist governments began closing their doors to political refugees when they were committed to clapping down on their own anti-war citizens. As we have seen in our own times, most recently in America in the period before the “shock and awe” of the decimation of Iraq in 2002 and early 2003 the government, most governments, are able to build a war frenzy out of whole cloth. Even my old anti-war amigo from my hometown who after I got out of the American Army during the Vietnam War marched with me in countless rallies and parades trying to stop the madness got caught in the bogus information madness and supported Bush’s “paper war” although not paper for the benighted Iraqi masses ever since (and plenty of other “wise” heads from our generation of ’68 made that sea-change turn with him).
At those times, and in my lifetime the period after 9/11 when we tried in vain to stop the Afghan war in its tracks is illustrative, to be a vocal anti-warrior is a dicey business. A time to keep your head down a little, to speak softly and wait for the fever to subside and to be ready to begin the anti-war fight another day. “Be ready to fight” the operative words.
So imagine in the hot summer of 1914 when every nationality in Europe felt its prerogatives threatened how the fevered masses, including the beguiled working-classes bred on peace talk without substance, would not listen to the calls against the slaughter. Yes, one hundred years later is not too long or too late to honor those ardent anti-war voices as the mass mobilizations began in the countdown to war, began four years of bloody trenches and death.                  
Over the next period as we continue the long night of the 100th anniversary of World War I and beyond I will under this headline post various documents, manifestos and cultural expressions from that time in order to give a sense of what the lead up to that war looked like, the struggle against its outbreak before the first frenzied shots were fired, the forlorn struggle during and the massive struggles after it in places like Russia, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the hodge-podge colonies all over the world map, in order to create a newer world out of the shambles of the battlefields. 

Leon Trotsky

The Peace Programme of the Revolution

(November 1917)

Delivered: November, 1917
Source: Leon Trotsky: What Is A Peace Programme, Lanka Samasamaja Publications, Colombo, Ceylon, May 1956, pp.22-27.
First Published: This speech by Leon Trotsky is reproduced from pp.315-318 of the volume The Proletarian Revolution in Russia by Lenin and Trotsky, edited by Louis C. Fraina and published in 1918 in New York.
Transcription/Mark-up for TIA: A. Lehrer/David Walters.
Proofreading: Einde O’Callaghan, December 2006.

Publisher’s Introduction

The book is now a rarity, and, as far as we know, there is no other translation of this speech available. The title given to the speech is ours.
In his editorial note, Fraina says in part:
“The first move toward the conclusion of peace was the offer of the Soviet government to all belligerents to declare an armistice on all fronts and open general peace negotiations. A day or two after this offer was made, Leon Trotsky, Commissar of Foreign Affairs, delivered an address in Petrograd to an audience of 12,000 people ...”


In this building on November 5, I spoke to a popular meeting at which the question of an All-Russian Congress was being discussed, and all voices raised in favour of Soviet power. The question which has been most emphatically before the people in all the eight months of the Revolution is the question of war and peace, and we maintained that only a power basing its authority directly on the people could put an end to the slaughter. We maintained that the secret treaties must be published, and declared that the Russian people, not having made these treaties, could not be bound to carry out the conquests agreed upon therein. Our enemies answered that this was demagogy. You would never dare if you were in power, they said, to do this for then the Allies would oppose us. But we maintained that the salvation of Russia was in peace. We pointed out that the prolonged character of the war was destroying the Revolution, was exhausting and destroying the country and that the longer we should fight the more complete the slavish position we should then occupy so that at last we should merely be left the choice of picking a master.
We desire to live and develop as a free nation: but, for the conclusion of peace, we had to overthrow the power of the bourgeoisie and of Kerensky. They told us we would be left without any supporters. But on November 7, the local Soviet of Petrograd took the initiative upon itself, as well as the responsibility and with the aid of the garrison and the workers accomplished the coup d’etat, appeared before the Congress of Soviets then in session and said: “The old power in the country is broken, there is no authority, anywhere and we are obliged to take it into our own hands.” We have said that the first obligation devolving upon the new power is the offering of peace parleys on all fronts for the conclusion of a peace without annexations or indemnities on the basis of self-determination of peoples, that is, each people through popular elections, must speak for itself the decisive word: Do they wish to enter into a confederation with their present sovereign state, enjoying full autonomy under it or do they wish to separate themselves from it and have full independence?
We must put a stop to a condition in which the strong can, by force of arms, compel the weak to assume what conditions of life the strong may desire: every people, be it great or small, must be the master of its own fate. Now, this is the programme not of a party, not of a Soviet, but the whole people, excepting the predatory party which dares call itself the Party of Popular Liberty but which in reality is an enemy of popular liberty, fighting against peace with all its might. With the exception of this party, the whole Russian people has declared that it will not tolerate the use of force. And this is the spirit in which we issue our peace decree.
On the day on which we passed this decree, Krasnov’s Cossacks rebelled and danger threatened the very existence of the Soviet power. Yet, hardly had they been defeated and the Soviet power strengthened, than our first act was to turn to the Allied and German powers, simultaneously, with a proposition for peace parleys on all fronts. Our enemies, the Cadets and their appendages, said that Germany would ignore us – but it has turned out otherwise, “and we already have the assent of Germany and Austria-Hungary to the holding of peace parleys and preliminary peace on the Soviet formula. And even before that, as soon as we obtained the keys to the case of secret diplomatic correspondence, we published the secret treaties, thus fulfilling an obligation that we had assumed toward the people when we were still an insignificant opposition party. We said then and we say now that a people cannot shed their blood and that of their brothers for treaties that they have not themselves concluded, have never read or even seen. To these words of mine the adherents of coalition made reply: Do not speak to us in this tongue; this is not the Modern Circus. [1] And I answered them that I have only one tongue, the tongue of a socialist, and I shall speak in this tongue to the country and to you, to the Allies and the Germans.
To the adherents of the coalition, having the souls of hares, it seemed that to publish the secret treaties was equivalent to forcing England and France to declare war on us. But they did not understand that their ruling circles throughout the duration of the war have been talking the people into the idea that the treacherous, cruel enemy is Germany and that Russia is a noble land and it is impossible within twenty four hours to teach them the opposite. By publishing the secret treaties we have incurred the enmity of the governing classes in those countries but their peoples we have won to our support. We shall not make a diplomatic peace; it will be a people’s peace, a soldier’s peace, a real peace. And the outcome of our open policy was clear: Judson appeared at the Smolny Institute and declared, in the name of America, that the protest to the Dukhonin staff against the new power was a misunderstanding and that America had no desire to interfere in the internal affairs of Russia and, consequently, the American question is disposed of.
But there is another conflict that is not yet settled. I must tell you about it. Because of their fight for peace, the English Government has arrested and is now detaining in concentration camp George Chicherin [2], who had devoted his wealth and his knowledge to the peoples of Russia, England, Germany and France, and the courageous agitator of the English workers, the emigrant Petrov. I have communicated in writing with the English Embassy, saying that Russia was now permitting the presence within her borders of many wealthy Englishmen who are engaged in counter-revolutionary conspiracies with the Russian bourgeoisie and that we were therefore all the more disinclined to permit Russian citizens to be thrown into English prisons; that consequently all those against whom there were no criminal charges should be liberated at once. Failure to comply with this request will mean that we shall refuse passports to English subjects desiring to leave Russia. The People’s Soviet Power is responsible for the well-being of the entire people; wherever its citizens may be, they shall enjoy its protection. If Kerensky spoke to the Allies like a shop-attendant to his boss, we are prepared to show that we shall live with them only on terms of equality. WE have more than once said that anyone who counts on the support and friendship of the free and independent Russian people must approach them with respect for them and for their human dignity.
As soon as the Soviets found themselves with power in their hands, we proposed peace parleys in the name of the Russian people. We had a right to speak in the name of the people, for everything that we proposed, as well as the whole programme of the People’s Commissars, consists of doctrines and propositions voted on and passed in hundreds and thousands of Soviets, factories and works, that is, by the entire people. Our delegation will speak an open and courageous language: Do you agree to the holding of an immediate peace conference on all fronts? And if they say yes we shall ask them to invite their governments and allies to send their delegates. Our second question will be: Do you mean to conclude peace on a democratic foundation? If we are forced to make peace alone, we shall declare to Germany that it is inadmissible to withdraw their troops from the Russian front to some other front since we are making an honourable peace and cannot permit England and France to be crushed by reason of it.
Secret diplomacy shall not be tolerated for a single moment during the negotiations. Our flyers and our radio service will keep all the nations informed of every proposition we make, and of the answers they elicit from Germany. We shall be sitting in a glass house, as it were, and the German soldiers, through thousands of newspapers in German, which we shall distribute to them, will be informed of every step we take and of every German answer.
We say that Lithuania and Courland must themselves decide the question, with whom they will join forces and that Germany must not in words only but in deeds heed the free expression of the will of the peoples. And if, after these frank and honourable declarations, the Kaiser refuses to make peace, if the banks and exchanges which profit by the war destroy our peace, the nations will see on whose side is the right and we shall come out the stronger, the Kaiser and the financiers the weaker. We shall feel ourselves to be not the vanquished but the victors for peace hath its victories not less renowned than war. For a nation that has assumed power after having cast out its enemies, such a nation is victorious. We know no other interests than those of the people, but these interests are identical with the interests of the people of all nations.
We declare war upon war. The Czars are afraid of the conclusion of peace, are afraid that the people will ask for an accounting of all the great sacrifices they have made and all the blood they have shed. Germany, in agreeing to peace negotiations, is heeding the will of her people. She knows that they want her to answer and that if she does not answer the Russian Revolution will become the ally of the German people. France and England ought to come to the discussion on the conclusion of peace, but if they do not, their own peoples, who will know of the course of the transactions, will cast them out with rods. The Russian representatives at the peace table will be transformed into plaintiffs; the peoples will sit in judgement of their rulers. Our experience of the manner in which rulers have treated their peoples in the forty months of the war has not been wasted. “In your name”, we shall say to our brothers, “understand that the moment you turn your revolutionary strength against your bourgeoisie not one Russian soldier will shoot!” This promise will be given in your name and we shall keep it.
November 1917


1. A large hall for mass meetings in Petrograd where this particular address of Trotsky was also delivered. – L.C.F.
2. Who was released and subsequently became Commissar of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Government. – L.C.F.    

From The Lenin Internet Archives- Lenin And The Fight Against Imperialist War (1914-1917)-Principles Involved in the War Issue (1916)

From The Lenin Internet Archives- Lenin And The Fight Against Imperialist War (1914-1917)-Principles Involved in the War Issue (1916)

Markin comment:

It would seem almost unnecessary to comment on Lenin’s Bolshevik positions on imperialist war, as exemplified by his analysis of the war that he actually had to fight against, World War I. Those positions reflected his understanding that with that war the nature of capitalism had changed, definitively, from a progressive step for humankind to just a squalid, never-ending struggle among “thieves” for control of the world’s resources. It would have seemed almost unnecessary to mention this, that is, for earlier leftist generations who were familiar with his various slogans centrally-“the main enemy is at home” (adapted from German revolutionary Karl Liebknecht-“not one penny, not one man for the imperialist war”- “turn the guns the other way” (toward your own rulers)-and, specific to Bolsheviks- “fight for a new workers international, the Third International” (to replace bankrupt Second International).

Now, especially after the past several anti-war rallies that I have attended, I am not sure who among the attendees is familiar with his work. With all the pacifist, stop war in general, peace now, let all men and women be brothers and sisters rhetoric ringing in my ears I have to assume not. More importantly, I do not see such slogans (or anything close to them) emblazoned on any banners lately. Thus, in a month when we of the international communist movement honor Lenin anyway (along with the aforementioned Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, the Rose of the revolution) this series will try to familiarize those who seek a better struggle against imperialist war than is being presented now with “red” anti-war positions.
V. I. Lenin

Principles Involved in the War Issue

Published: First published in 1931 in Lenin Miscellany XVII. Written in German in December 1916. Translated from the German. Published according to the manuscript.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1964, Moscow, Volume 23, pages 152-160.
Translated: M. S. Levin, The Late Joe Fineberg and and Others
Transcription\Markup: R. Cymbala
Public Domain: Lenin Internet Archive 2002 (2005). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.
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Swiss Left Social-Democrats are unanimous in rejecting the defence of the fatherland principle in the present war. The proletariat, at any rate its best elements, is likewise opposed to defence of the fatherland.

Hence, on this most burning issue confronting contemporary socialism in general and the Swiss Socialist Party in particular, it would appear that necessary unity has been achieved. Closer examination, however, is bound to lead us to the conclusion that it is only seeming unity.

For there is absolutely no clarity, let alone unanimity, that a declaration against defence of the fatherland places exceptionally high demands on the revolutionary consciousness and revolutionary viability of the party that makes such a declaration, providing, of course, that it is not reduced to a hollow phrase. And such a declaration does become a hollow phrase if we merely reject defence of the fatherland without being fully aware of, i.e., without appreciating, the demands implied, without realising that all propaganda, agitation, organisation, in short, the sum total of party activity must be radically changed, “regenerated” (to use Karl Liebknecht’s expression) and adapted to the supreme revolutionary tasks.

Let us carefully consider what rejection of fatherland defence implies, if we approach it as a serious political slogan that must really be carried out.

First. We call on the proletarians and the exploited of all the belligerent countries, and of all countries faced with the danger of war, to reject defence of the fatherland. We definitely know now, from the experience of several of the warring countries, what this actually implies in the present war. It implies rejection of all the foundations of modern bourgeois society, the undermining of the very roots of the modern social system, and not only in theory, not only “in general”, but in practice, directly and immediately. Is it not clear that this can be accomplished only if we go beyond the firm theoretical conviction that capitalism has fully matured for its transformation into socialism and accept the practical, direct and immediate carrying out of such transformation, i.e., the socialist revolution?

Yet that is nearly always lost sight of in discussing refusal to defend the fatherland. At best there is “theoretical” acceptance of the fact that capitalism is ripe for transformation into socialism. But immediate, radical change of all aspects of party activity in the spirit of the directly imminent socialist revolution—that is shunned!

The people, it is alleged, are not prepared for that!

But that is ridiculously inconsistent. Either, or. Either we do not proclaim immediate rejection of defence of the fatherland—or we immediately develop, or begin to develop, systematic propaganda for immediate socialist revolution. In a certain sense the “people”, of course, are “not prepared” either to reject fatherland defence or accept socialist revolution. But that does not justify two years—two years!—of procrastination and delay in starting to systematically prepare them!

Second. What is being opposed to the policy of defence of the fatherland and civil peace? Revolutionary struggle against the war, “revolutionary mass actions”, as recognised by the 1915 Aarau Party Congress resolution. No doubt a very good decision, but ... but the party’s record since that congress, the party’s actual policy, show that it has remained a paper decision.

What is the aim of revolutionary mass struggle? The party has made no official statement, nor is the question being discussed in general. It is either taken for granted, or frankly admitted, that the aim is “socialism”. Socialism is being opposed to capitalism (or imperialism).

That, however, is absolutely illogical (theoretically) and void of all practical meaning. Illogical because it is too general, too nebulous. “Socialism” in general, as an aim, as the opposite of capitalism (or imperialism), is accepted now not only by the Kautsky crowd and social—chauvinists, but by many bourgeois social politicians. However, it is no longer a matter of contrasting two social systems, but of formulating the concrete aim of the concrete “revolutionary mass struggle” against a concrete evil, namely, the present high cost of living, the present war danger or the present war.

The whole Second International of 1889–1914 opposed socialism to capitalism in general, and it was precisely this too general “generalisation” that brought on its bankruptcy. It ignored the specific evil of its age, which Frederick Engels nearly thirty years ago, on January 10, 1887, characterised in the following words:

“...a certain petty-bourgeois socialism finds representation in the Social-Democratic Party itself, and even in the ranks of the Reichstag group. This is done in the following way: while the fundamental views of modern socialism and the demand for the transformation of all the means of production into social property are recognised as justified, the realisation of this is declared possible only in the distant future, a future which for all practical purposes is quite out of sight. Thus, for the present one has to have recourse to mere social patchwork...” (The Housing Question, Preface).[1]

The concrete aim of “revolutionary mass struggle” can only be concrete measures of socialist revolution, and not “socialism” in general. The Dutch comrades have given a precise definition of these concrete measures in their programme (published in the Bulletin of the International Socialist Committee No. 3, Berne, February 29, 1916): annulment of the national debt, expropriation of the banks and big industry. When we suggest that these absolutely concrete measures be included in an official party resolution, and be systematically explained in the most popular form, in day-to-day party propaganda at public meetings, in parliamentary speeches, in legislative proposals—we get the same procrastinating, evasive and thoroughly sophistical reply that the people are not yet prepared for this, and so on and so forth!

The point is, however, that we should begin preparing them right now, and firmly stick to this work!

Third, the party has “accepted” revolutionary mass struggle. Very well. But is the party capable of waging it? Is it preparing for it? Is it studying these problems, gathering together the necessary material, setting up the proper bodies and organisations? Is it discussing the issues among the people and with the people?

Nothing of the kind! The party clings to its old line—a thoroughly parliamentarian, thoroughly trade union, thoroughly reformist and thoroughly legalistic line. The party remains manifestly incapable of facilitating the revolutionary mass struggle and leading it. It is obviously making no preparations whatever for this. The old routine rules supreme and the “new” words (rejection of fatherland defence, revolutionary mass struggle) remain mere words! And the Lefts, failing to realise this, are not mustering their forces, systematically, perseveringly and in all fields of party activity, to combat the evil.

One can only shrug one’s shoulders on reading, for in stance, the following phrase (the last) in Grimm’s theses on the war issue:

“In conjunction with trade union organisations, party bodies must in this event [i.e., the calling of a mass railway strike if there is a danger of war, etc.] take all the necessary measures.”

The theses were published in the summer, and on September 16, the Schweizerische Metallarbeiter-Zeitung,[2] issued over the names of its editors, 0. Schneeberger and K. Dürr, contained the following phrase (I was on the verge of saying, the following official reply to Grimm’s theses or pious wishes):

“...The phrase ‘the worker has no fatherland’ is in very poor taste at a time when the workers of all Europe, in their overwhelming majority, have for two years been standing shoulder to shoulder with the bourgeoisie on the battlefields against the ‘enemies’ of their fatherland, while those who remain at home want to ‘live through it’ despite all the poverty and hardship. Should we be attacked by a foreign power we shall doubtlessly see the same picture in Switzerland too!!!”

What is this if not “Kautsky” policy, the policy of the impotent phrase, Left declaration and opportunist practice, when, on the one hand, resolutions are proposed urging the party, “in conjunction with trade union organisations”, to call for revolutionary mass strikes, and, on the other, no struggle is waged against the Grütli, i.e., social-patriot, reformist and thoroughly legalistic, trend and its supporters within the party and the trade unions?

Are we “educating” the masses or corrupting and demoralising them if we fail daily to say and prove that “leading” comrades like 0. Schneeberger, K. Dürr, P. Pflüger, H. Greulich, Huber and many others hold exactly the same social-patriot views and pursue exactly the same social-patriot policy as the one Grimm so “courageously” exposes and castigates... when it concerns the Germans (in Germany) and not the Swiss? Rail against the foreigners, but protect one’s “own” “fellow-citizens”.... Is that “internationalist”? Is that “democratic”?

This is how Hermann Greulich describes the position of the Swiss workers, the crisis of Swiss socialism and also the substance of Grütli policy within the Socialist Party:

“...The standard of living has risen insignificantly and only for the top strata [hear! hear!] of the proletariat. The mass of workers continue to live in poverty, beset by worry and hardship. That is why, from time, to time, doubts arise as to the correctness of the path we have been following. The critics are looking for new paths and place special hope on more resolute action. Efforts are being made in that direction, but as a rule [?] they fail [??] and this increases the urge to revert to the old tactics [a case of the wish being father to the thought?].... And now the world war ... drastic decline in the standard of living, amounting to outright poverty for those sections which in the past still enjoyed tolerable conditions. Revolutionary sentiments are spreading. [Hear! hear!] In truth, the party leadership has not been equal to the tasks confronting it and all too often succumbs [??] to the influence of hot heads [??].... The Grütli-Verein Central Committee is committed to a ‘practical national policy’ which it wants to operate outside the party... Why has it not pursued it within the party? [Hear! hear!] Why has it nearly always left it to me to fight the ultra-radicals?” (Open Letter to the Hottingen Grütli-Verein, September 26, 1916.)

So speaks Greulich. It is not at all, therefore, a matter (as the Grütlians in the party think, and hint in the press, while the Grütlians outside the party say so openly) of a few “evil-minded foreigners” wanting, in a fit of personal impatience, to inject a revolutionary spirit into the labour movement, which they regard through “foreign spectacles”. No, it is none other than Hermann Greulich—whose political role is tantamount to that of a bourgeois Labour Minister in a small democratic republic—who tells us that only the upper strata of the workers are somewhat better off now, while the mass is steeped in poverty, and that “revolutionary sentiments are spreading” not because of the accursed foreign “instigators”, but because of “the drastic decline in the standard of living”.

And so?

And so, we shall be absolutely right if we say:

Either the Swiss people will suffer hardships that will increase with every passing week and they will be faced daily with the threat of involvement in the imperialist war, i.e., of being killed in the capitalists’ interests, or they will follow the advice of the finest part of their proletariat, muster all their forces and carry out a socialist revolution. ]]

Socialist revolution? Utopia! “A remote and practically indefinable” possibility!...

It is no more a utopia than rejection of fatherland defence in the present war or revolutionary mass struggle against it. One should not be deafened by one’s own words or frightened by the words of others. Nearly everyone is prepared to accept revolutionary struggle against the war. But one must visualise the magnitude of the task of ending the war by revolution! No, it is not a utopia. The revolution is maturing in all countries and the question now is not whether to continue to live in tranquillity and tolerable conditions, or plunge into some reckless adventure. On the contrary, the question is whether to continue to suffer hardship and be thrown into the holocaust to fight for alien interests, or to make great sacrifices for socialism, for the interests of nine-tenths of mankind.

Socialist revolution, we are told, is a utopia! The Swiss people, thank God, have no “separate” or “independent” language, but speak the three world languages of the neighbouring warring countries. It is not surprising, therefore, that they are in such close touch with developments in these countries. In Germany, things have reached a point where the economic life of 66 million people is directed from one centre. The national economy of a country of 66 million is run from this one centre. Tremendous sacrifices are imposed on the vast majority of the people in order that the “upper 30,000” can pocket thousands of millions in war profits, and that millions die in the shambles for the enrichment of these “finest and noblest” representatives of the nation. And in the fase of these facts, of this experience, is it “utopian” to believe that a small nation, with no monarchy or Junkers, with a very high level of capitalism and perhaps better organised in various unions than in any other capitalist country, will try to save itself from hunger and the danger of war by doing the very same thing that has already been practically tested in Germany? With the difference, of course, that in Germany millions are being killed and maimed to enrich a few, open the road to Baghdad, conquer the Balkans, whereas in Switzerland it is merely a matter of expropriating a maximum of 30,000 bourgeois, i.e., not condemning them to perish, but to the “horrible fate” of receiving “only” 6,000–10,000 francs income and giving the rest to the socialist workers’ government in order to ward off hunger and the war danger.

The Great Powers, however, will never tolerate a socialist Switzerland and will use their immensely superior strength to crush the socialist revolution at the very beginning!

That, undoubtedly, would be so if, first, the beginnings of a revolution in Switzerland did not generate a class movement of solidarity in neighbouring countries, and, second, if these Great Powers were not tied up in a “war of attrition” which has practically exhausted the patience of the most patient peoples. Military intervention by the mutually hostile Great Powers would, in present circumstances, only be the prelude to revolution flaring up throughout the whole of Europe.

Perhaps you think I am so naïve as to believe that such issues as socialist revolution can be resolved by “persuasion”?

No. I only wish to illustrate, and, what is more, merely one partial issue, the change that must take place in all party propaganda if we want to approach the question of rejection of fatherland defence with all the seriousness it deserves. That is only an illustration, and it concerns only one partial issue. I lay claim to no more.

It would be absolutely wrong to believe that immediate struggle for socialist revolution implies that we can, or should, abandon the fight for reforms. Not at all. We cannot know beforehand how soon we shall achieve success, how soon the objective conditions will make the rise of this revolution possible. We should support every improvement, every real economic and political improvement in the position of the masses. The difference between us and the reformists (i.e., the Grütlians in Switzerland) is not that we oppose reforms while they favour them. Nothing of the kind. They confine themselves to reforms and as a result stoop—in the apt expression of one (rare!) revolutionary writer in the Schweizerische Metallarbeiter-Zeitung (No. 40)—to the role of “hospital orderly for capitalism”. We tell the workers: vote for proportional representation, etc., but don’t stop at that. Make it your prime duty systematically to spread the idea of immediate socialist revolution, prepare for this revolution and radically reconstruct every aspect of party activity. The conditions of bourgeois democracy very often compel us to take a certain stand on a multitude of small and petty reforms, but we must be able, or learn, to take such a position on these reforms (in such a manner) that—to oversimplify the matter for the sake of clarity—five minutes of every half-hour speech are devoted to reforms and twenty-five minutes to the coming revolution.

Socialist revolution is impossible without a hard revolutionary mass struggle in which many sacrifices have to be made. But we would be inconsistent if we accepted the revolutionary mass struggle and the desire for an immediate end to the war while, at the same time, rejecting immediate socialist revolution! The former without the latter is nil, a hollow sound.

Nor can we avoid hard struggle within the party. It would be sheer make-believe, hypocrisy, philistine “head-in-the sand” policy to imagine that “internal peace” can rule within the Swiss Social-Democratic Party. The choice is not between “internal peace” and “inner-party struggle”. Suffice it to read Hermann Greulich’s letter mentioned above and examine developments in the party over the past several years to appreciate the utter fallacy of any such supposition.

The real choice is this: either the present concealed forms of inner-party struggle, with their demoralising effect on the masses, or open principled struggle between the internationalist revolutionary trend and the Grütli trend inside and outside the party.

An “inner struggle” in which Hermann Greulich attacks the “ultra-radicals” or the “hotheads”, without naming these monsters and without precisely defining their policy, and Grimm publishes articles in the Berner Tagwacht larded with hints and only comprehensible to one out of a hundred readers, articles in which he castigates those who see things through “foreign spectacles”, or those “actually responsible” for the draft resolutions he finds so annoying—that kind of inner struggle demoralises the masses, who see, or guess, that it is a “quarrel among leaders” and do not understand what it is really all about.

But a struggle in which the Grütli trend within the party—and it is much more important and dangerous than outside the party—will be forced openly to combat the Left, while both trends will everywhere come out with their own independent views and policies, will fight each other on matters of principle, allowing the mass of party comrades, and not merely the “leaders”, to settle fundamental issues—such a struggle is both necessary and useful, for it trains in the masses independence and ability to carry out their epoch-making revolutionary mission.

[1] See Marx and Engels, Selected Works, Vol. I, Moscow, 1962, pp. 549–50.

[2] Schweizerische Metallarbeiter-Zeitung (Swiss Metalworkers’ Gazette)—a weekly paper founded in Berne in 1902; adopted a social-chauvinist position during the First World War.