Saturday, March 03, 2018

In Honor Of The 99th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Communist International-Take One -In The Time Of His Time

In Honor Of The 99th Anniversary Of The Founding Of The Communist International-Take One -In The Time Of His Time

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

Billy Casey woke up in a sweat that early March 1919 night, woke up in a once again sweat that he had earned from his experiences as a doughboy, an American doughboy in France now furloughed home to New York City, awaiting medical discharge from that mustard gas explosion that harried his breathe ever since. Yes, he had had it rough overseas, had seen some stuff and done some stuff he didn’t want to repeat to anybody, stuff that frankly no man should be forced to do making him remain silent when asked, and which he believed, or he came to believe, no man would do even to an animal. He had put some of that behind him but still a little corner would flare up on nights when he was excited and he was excited this night and had been for the past few nights about big doings in Moscow coming up in a few days (or since he wasn’t sure of the dates of the conference, except early March, maybe had already occurred), about creating a new organization, a new international organization that would “speak” Russian to the bosses, all the bosses, everywhere, to working people together right the wrongs of this wicked old world. 

See, Bill Casey had gotten “religion,”  no not catholicprotestantjewishmuslim religion but the good word-the socialist word , the word that all workingmen, and Bill Casey was nothing if not a working man, were brothers and that the robbers of the world were the only ones who had benefited from the damn war “to end all wars” over in Europe.  And Bill had the destroyed lungs to prove it was not him who had benefited. This new language had been taught to him by a fellow soldier, a fellow doughboy, Tim Ryan, who had belonged to the American Socialist Party before the war, before he passed away from failed lungs in that French convalescent home Bill was assigned before coming back to America. So when Bill got back to New York the first thing, well maybe not the first, the first being to roll the pillows with his long-suffering girlfriend, Rosie, also nothing if not a daughter of the working class, he marched down to the American Socialist Party office in Greenwich Village (that is where his deceased comrade told him to go since that is where he had been a member) and joined right up.   

Now Bill Casey had never been much for the books, and the materials that he received from the local secretary when he paid his dues and received his membership card seemed a lot more convoluted that the way his hospital pal explained it, but he plugged at it for a while, and that along with the weekly lectures helped him along. And he was going to be in full need of that knowledge because he had landed on his socialist arse (his expression) right at a time when the whole socialist movement was in turmoil. And the big event was the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the fall-out from that event. See Bill’s pal had only known the American Socialist Party before that revolution, and since most of the party had been anti-war before his pal joined up to fight he didn’t know the stuff that was going on between the different factions-basically to stick with the Socialist (also known as the the Second) International or go with the new one, the one that said that the old one was done for and a new Communist International had to be formed to fight for revolutions everywhere. Heady stuff. Stuff to make Bill sweat in anticipation.

And that is where the martyred James Connolly, Bill’s hero from the Easter 1916 uprising in Dublin and a man who had been executed by the bloody British for his part in it, came into it. Or kind of came into it. See the fight over who were the real revolutionaries, the Europeans or the Russians, basically was hard to figure. That is when he met a guy, an Irish guy, a comrade, from one of the factions, Jim Cannon, who put him straight, who told him that if he wanted to get back for that dirty deal he received in France by his own government he had to go with the Russian Bolsheviks and the new international they were trying to form. And Bill Casey respected Jim Cannon, respected the big heavy-drinking Irishman from out in the sticks of Kansas and so he cast his fate with Jim and his communist brethren. And you know what else Jim said to him- he, Bill Casey,  should say at meetings and out on the Union Square and Village soapboxes to one and all what he saw and did in France so people would know, know better the next time the government tried to stuff a war down their throats. Bill Casey didn’t know if he could so that, could avoid some tough night sweats thinking about doing it, but he thought if it stopped some young guy from joining up maybe he would at that…   

Big Bill Haywood-Working Class Warrior

Big Bill Haywood-Working Class Warrior

Book Review

Big Bill Haywood, Melvyn Dubofsky, Manchester University Press, Manchester England, 1987

If you are sitting around today wondering, as I occasionally do, what a modern day radical labor leader should look like then one need go no further than to observe the career, warts and all, of the legendary Bill Haywood. To previous generations of radicals that name would draw an automatic response. Today’s radicals, and others interested in social solutions to the pressing problems that have been bestowed on us by the continuation of the capitalist mode of production, may not be familiar with the man and his program for working class power. Professor Dubofsky’s little biographical sketch is thus just the cure for those who need a primer on this hero of the working class.

The good professor goes into some detail, despite limited accessablity, about Haywood’s early life out in the Western United States in the late 19th century. Those hard scrabble experiences made a huge imprint on the young Haywood as he tramped from mining camp to mining camp and tried to make ends mean, any way he could. Haywood, moreover, is the perfect example of the fact that working class political consciousness is not innate but gained through the hard experiences of life under the capitalist system. Thus, Haywood moved from itinerant miner to become a leading member of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and moved leftward along the political spectrum along the way. Not a small part in that was due to his trial on trumped up charges in Idaho for murder as part of a labor crack down against the WFM by the mine owners and their political allies there.

As virtually all working class militants did at the turn of the 20th century, Big Bill became involved with the early American socialist movement and followed the lead of the sainted Eugene V. Debs. As part of the ferment of labor agitation during this period the organization that Haywood is most closely associated with was formed-The Industrial Workers of the World (hereafter IWW, also known as Wobblies). This organization- part union, part political party- was the most radical expression (far more radical than the rather tepid socialist organizations) of the American labor movement in the period before World War I.

The bulk of Professor Dubofsky’s book centers, as it should, on Haywood’s exploits as a leader of the IWW. Big Bill’s ups and downs mirrored the ups and downs of the organization. The professor goes into the various labor fights that Haywood led highlighted by the great 1912 Lawrence strike (of bread and roses fame), the various free speech fights but also the draconian Wilsonian policy toward the IWW after America declared war in 1917. That governmental policy essentially crushed the IWW as a mass working class organization. Moreover, as a leader Haywood personally felt the full wrath of the capitalist government. Facing extended jail time Haywood eventually fled to the young Soviet republic where he died in lonely exile in 1928.

The professor adequately tackles the problem of the political and moral consequences of that escape to Russia for the IWW and to his still imprisoned comrades so I will not address it here. However, there are two points noted by Dubofsky that warrant comment. First, he notes that Big Bill was a first rate organizer in both the WFM and the IWW. Those of us who are Marxists sometimes tend to place more emphasis of the fact that labor leaders need to be “tribunes of the people” that we sometimes neglect the important “trade union secretary” part of the formula. Haywood seems to have had it all. Secondly, Haywood’s and the IWW’s experience with government repression during World War I, repeated in the “Red Scare” experience of the 1950’s against Communists and then later against the Black Panthers in the 1960’s should be etched into the brain of every militant today. When the deal goes down the capitalists and their hangers-on will do anything to keep their system. Anything. That said, read this Haywood primer. It is an important contribution to the study of American labor history.

On The Occasion Of The 170th Anniversary Of Karl Marx And Friedrich Engels’ “The Communist Manifesto”(1848)

On The Occasion Of The 170th Anniversary Of Karl Marx And Friedrich Engels’ “The Communist Manifesto”(1848)

A link to the Karl Marwx Achives for an on-line copy of the Communist Manifesto

By Political Commentator Frank Jackman

If anybody had asked me back when I was a kid, a kid growing up in the desperately poor, working poor but desperate nevertheless, Acre section of North Adamsville a town south of Boston in Massachusetts that I would be commemorating, no, honoring an anniversary of the publication in 1847 of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel’s seminal political document The Communist Manifesto in the year 2018 I would have said they were crazy. (I will not get into the issue of commemorating odd-ball year anniversaries of events, like a 170th anniversary, which in general I abhor since I have beaten that dead horse elsewhere and in any case such a whole historic event as here would draw a worthy exemption). Not because the document was, is, not worthy of talking about but back in the day, back in my teenage days I was adamantly an anti-communist in the tradition of almost all red scare Cold War post-war baby boomers who came of age, political under the threat of the nuclear bomb (some things seem to never change given the recent saber-rattling over the developments in North Korea by the American government).

Some, at least from that baby-boomer generation who have at least heard about the document which I cannot say is true for Generation X or the Millennials since they were not born under the sign of the red scare in a post-Soviet world, may be surprised that a backward working class kid in 1950s America would even had snuck a peek at that besotted document for fear of being tainted by the red scare coppers as pinko-red commie turn him in and be done with it.  Except I was very interested in politics even then and had heard about The Communist Manifesto by some from their photographs nefarious heavily bearded German guys who wanted back in the 1800s to upset the whole applecart and henceforth the root of all evil, the root of the international Communist conspiracy that would kill us in or beds if we were not vigilant against “Uncle Joe,” his successors or their hangers-on throughout the world and especially those “traitors” in America.

I had first heard about The Communist Manifesto in a political way although I was na├»ve as hell about the whole situation and about who I was working with in 1960. In the fall of that year, the fall of the famous Kennedy-Nixon fight for the American presidency where I was a serious partisan for Kennedy, our local, Massachusetts local, Irishman who made good I was also very, very interested in nuclear disarmament (a subject I still am interested in as the world have not gotten qualitively safer from that threat) and had gone to the Boston Common and participated in an anti-nuclear bomb rally (as the youngest participant by far) along with others from SANE (Doctor Spock’s organization) who had called the demonstration, the Quakers, and others. (Those others would include I later found out, many years later, members of the American Communist Party but not under that name but that of some “front” group. Of course by that time several years later I would have gone through three stages about American Communist Party members-from ho-hum so what if they are Commies we need all the forces we can muster to oppose the Vietnam War to being glad they were organizing like crazy against that war to disdain as they attempted to corral the youth movement into building bigger and better demonstrations against the war when that idea had worn out.) What got me going was when a bunch of people, guys, were harassing us, calling us “reds” and why didn’t we get the hell out of America and go to the Soviet Union. Along the way somebody, some guy mentioned The Communist Manifesto by that “Jew” Karl Marx. I had never hear of it although I was familiar with the name Karl Marx.               

Here’s the funny thing, funny in retrospect anyhow, I could not when I was interested in checking the Manifesto out for myself, find a copy in the school library or the public library. I never did find out the reason why and I was too timid once I saw it was not in the card catalogues to ask a librarian. Thus the way I got the document was looking through publications put out by the Government Printing Office, the U.S. government’s official printing operation. The reason they had printed it at the time, and it said right on the front page was that it had been a document used by the House Un-American Activities Committee and thus was part of the record of that nefarious entity (which in 1960 I think I found out later was almost run out of San Francisco by the demonstrations against it-one of the first breaks in the red scare Cold War phalanx).     

I made no pretense at the time nor do I now that I understood all that Marx was trying to get at. Certainly was clueless about the various polemics in Section Four against various other mostly pro-socialist opponents. (That part made greater sense later when I swear I went through almost every one of those oppositional ideas before coming to Marxism except maybe that exotic “feudal socialism” Marx vented against). What drew me in, although only haltingly at the time, was the idea that working people, my people, my family and friends, would get a better shake out of a socialist society, out of a classless society than we were getting at the time. But in those days I was hung up on some kind of career as a political operative, remember that Kennedy point earlier (not a candidate but the guy behind the candidate). So while I was never hostile to the ideas in that document and maybe have even been a “closet” social democrat masquerading as a liberal there was nothing operative for me then, certainly I was not in favor of revolution as the way forward for myself or my people.                

What changed things? I have written elsewhere about my induction into the American Army during the height of the Vietnam War and what that meant to me-and how I reacted to it by becoming a serious anti-war person (before I had been anti-war but in a wishy-washy way). Even then after I gave up the idea of a “normal” political career (that operative behind the scenes business) I was no Marxist but was in a search for some kind of way to change society short of revolution. (That is the period when I was engaging in those activities similar to the ones proposed by the groups Marx was polemicizing against in the Manifesto.)         

By 1971 it was clear that the American government under Nixon (that same Nixon was beaten to a gong by Kennedy) was not going to end the war in Vietnam. Didn’t give a damn about the whole thing. At that time I was hanging around a radical commune in Cambridge where we were trying to work out ideas (in isolation) about ending the fucking thing. That was the year on May Day when under the banner “if the government does not shut down the war, we will shut down the government” we attempted to do just that. Heady stuff and a dramatic move to the left on my part. All we got for that effort was tear gas, the police baton, and some days in Robert Kennedy Stadium (ironic, huh) for many thousands of good radicals and no end to the war.      

After that I, having picked up a copy of Marx’s The Communist Manifesto at the Red Bookstore in Cambridge,  began to sense that our isolated efforts were self-defeating if we didn’t have a larger force to bring down the damn system. Didn’t have in Marxian terms a class with the objective self-interest to lead the overturn. At the time, given the hostile attitude of the real American working class to us and to any ideas of socialism for the most part, I was unsure that such a strategy made sense.  What I knew was that was where the work had to be done. It has not been a fruitful struggle but nevertheless a necessary one even today when such ideas seem even more utopian than in my young adulthood. Some of what Marx talked about needs serious updating but the general premise of class struggle and the revolution as way forward as still solid. Just look around. Are the capitalists (the right now winning capitalists in the one-sided class war) going to give anything of value up? No way- we will have to take it away from them if we want to get that equalitarian society we dreamed about in our youth. As for the Manifesto a lot of it still reads like it was written yesterday.               

From The Marxist Archives-For Black Liberation Through Socialist Revolution! (Quote of the Week)

Workers Vanguard No. 1127
9 February 2018
For Black Liberation Through Socialist Revolution!
(Quote of the Week)
In a lecture given at the onset of the civil rights movement, veteran Trotskyist Richard Fraser explained the singular role of racial oppression in preserving the rule of a tiny handful of capitalists in the U.S. Notwithstanding the end of Jim Crow segregation in the South, black oppression remains the bedrock of American capitalism. The liberation of the multiracial working class from the bondage of wage slavery will never happen without the proletariat taking up the cause of black freedom, which itself requires the shattering of this racist capitalist system through socialist revolution.
There is nothing in the mode of production itself which divides society into races. This division is the result of the disfiguration of the capitalist mode of production in the South by the influences of chattel slavery. It is maintained only by force and violence and is accompanied by prejudice, special exploitation, extreme ignorance and cultural barrenness. Race consciousness reflects in one way or another the distortion of the mode of production and the violence and prejudice of the race system.
In the southern system and the race relations which derive from it, all Negroes are the victims of discrimination. But except for a minority of capitalists and privileged middle class people, the white population as such does not derive benefit from it. On the contrary, the white worker and farmer are as much the objects of class exploitation as are the Negroes. A majority of the workers and farmers in the South are white. But their standard of living and general social condition is directly determined by that of the Negroes.
Therefore, while the dark race is the direct victim of discrimination, the group which gains from it is not the lighter skinned race but a class: the ruling capitalist class of the United States. To be sure, this class is lily white, but it is not their color which distinguishes them from the rest of society, rather their great wealth, and the control which they exert over all finance and industry....
Race prejudice, which is the form of white race consciousness, is one of the means by which the extreme exploitation of white workers themselves is maintained. It is in direct opposition to their material interests.
—Richard S. Fraser, “The Negro Struggle and the Proletarian Revolution” (1953), printed in “In Memoriam—Richard S. Fraser,” Prometheus Research Series No. 3, August 1990

A View From The Left-Genocidal Terror in Myanmar For an Independent Rohingyan State!

Workers Vanguard No. 1127
9 February 2018
Genocidal Terror in Myanmar
For an Independent Rohingyan State!
In late August, the military of Myanmar (Burma) launched a systematic campaign of massacre, rape and arson against the deeply oppressed Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority, killing thousands and fueling a mass exodus to neighboring Bangladesh. Nearly 700,000 people, some two-thirds of the Rohingya population, have fled the northern part of Myanmar’s western state of Rakhine (formerly Arakan), their small villages burned to the ground. The pretext for this latest scorched-earth carnage was an attack by lightly armed Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) fighters on police posts and an army base in Rakhine that reportedly left 12 security personnel and at least 59 Rohingya dead.
Genocidal terror at the hands of the armed forces is nothing new for the beleaguered Rohingya. They have been kept subjugated and impoverished by the generals from the ethnic Burmese (Bamar) Buddhist majority, who remain the real power in Myanmar despite the “democratic transition” that began in 2011. Especially since the 1962 military coup, the Rohingya have increasingly been subjected to organized state violence—arbitrary arrests, forced labor, restriction of travel and marriage, destruction of mosques and seizure of their lands. To limit their population, the government bars them from having more than two children. In 1977 and again in 1991, the military carried out “cleaning operations” that resulted in some half million people being forced out. The latest wave of Rohingyans to enter Bangladesh’s squalid camps join some 300,000 who escaped previous attacks, while nearly a million more are overwhelmingly in other Muslim-majority countries. Many of those still in Rakhine are interned in camps, surrounded by government forces and hostile Buddhist communities and denied work, education and medical care.
Myanmar is a prison house for over 135 ethno-linguistic groups. The country’s rulers, predominantly Bamars from the central lowland of the Irrawaddy River valley, lord over a myriad of nationally oppressed peoples, including the Shan, Mon, Kachin, Karen, Chin and Wa. Since Myanmar gained independence from Britain in 1948, many of these ethnic groups have engaged in insurgencies of varying levels of intensity to assert separatist claims or to attain some form of autonomy or greater rights. Among them are the Rakhine Buddhists, who are the largest group inhabiting the state that bears their name.
While many of Myanmar’s peoples suffer under Bamar rule, the Rohingya, with their distinctive South Asian features, language and religion, are the most vulnerable. Unlike larger ethnic minorities that have greater military capacity and occupy the inaccessible rugged and mountainous terrains of the frontiers, the Rohingya are relatively small in numbers and reside in the coastal plain of Rakhine state. Denigrated as “Bengali” foreign intruders, they are denied Myanmar citizenship—codified in a 1982 law—rendering them stateless, even though they have lived in Rakhine for generations. Bangladesh does not allow the Rohingya citizenship, either. In the mid 1990s, some 200,000 of them were forcibly repatriated to Myanmar, a process overseen by the United Nations; today, Bangladesh again wants to expel the Rohingya.
These stateless people desperately need their own independent state in what is now north Rakhine, both as an elementary measure of protection for those still there and to permit the safe return of the million-plus Rohingya now in the diaspora. Rohingya Muslims have repeatedly expressed their desire for separation from Myanmar since the time of the country’s independence, when they waged an armed struggle seeking to be part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). At other times, they have agitated for autonomy. In armed clashes between the ARSA or other Rohingya insurgents and the Tatmadaw (Myanmar military), revolutionary Marxists militarily side with the Rohingya, who are locked in a struggle for existence. We uphold full equality and democratic rights for all the peoples in Myanmar, including the right to self-determination, and raise the call: Tatmadaw out of Rakhine! For an independent Rohingyan state!
The Buddhist chauvinists want to erase all memory of the Rohingya in accordance with the policy of “Burmanization,” an ultranationalist ideology based on asserting the mythical racial purity of the Bamar ethnicity and upholding the conservative Theravada Buddhist faith. (The same form of Buddhism is dominant in Sri Lanka, where it promotes violence against Tamil Hindus and Christians, and in Thailand, where it targets Muslims.) Burmanization’s loudest advocates include extremist monks of the Buddhist organizations 969 and the Committee to Protect Race and Religion (or Ma Ba Tha). But they are not the only ones inciting holy war. In October, Sitagu Sayadaw, a supposedly “pacifist” monk, gave a sermon to a group of army officers that invoked a parable about an ancient Sri Lankan king who was advised not to grieve for the many non-Buddhists he killed in battle because they were not human beings.
The monks and their organizations are backed by the Tatmadaw and Aung San Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy. A darling of the U.S. and other imperialists, Suu Kyi was showered with accolades, from the Nobel Peace Prize to the Congressional Gold Medal. Liberals embraced her as a “champion of democracy and human rights.” Truth is, she is a Buddhist chauvinist who denounces the Rohingya as “terrorists” and Bengali “foreigners” and dismisses their massacre as “a huge iceberg of misinformation.” As State Counsellor, she is presiding over the terror campaign against the Rohingya. Two decades ago, well before Suu Kyi was released from house arrest and assumed office, our comrades of the Spartacist League of Australia succinctly described her role as “a very thin ‘democratic’ veneer to the continued brutal exploitation of the workers and peasants” (Australasian Spartacist No. 159, Spring 1996).
One of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia, Myanmar has suffered from decades of economic stagnation and isolation. After the return to a nominally civilian government, large chunks of state/military-owned enterprises were sold off at rock-bottom prices, largely to a small circle of military cronies. The end of sanctions by the West and the passage of new laws over the same period have opened the economy to international capital. Major corporations from Coca-Cola to Chevron and General Electric are moving in to get a piece of the action. Textile barons are scrambling to set up poverty-wage sweatshops employing largely young female workers.
It is in the interest of the country’s small but growing working class, itself multiethnic, to take up the cause of the Rohingya and other minorities. The Myanmar regime whips up anti-Muslim fervor to deflect workers from struggle against the ravages of capitalism and the relentless violence unleashed by those at the top of society.
U.S. Imperialism and China in Myanmar
In September, the Trump administration urged the UN Security Council to take “strong and swift action” to end violence against the Rohingya. This rhetoric was pure hypocrisy. The U.S. imperialists have one overriding strategic objective in Myanmar: countering China, the largest and most powerful of the remaining bureaucratically deformed workers states.
When Barack Obama first assumed the presidency in 2009, he initiated a new policy of engagement with the Myanmar military to pull the country away from China’s orbit. As Swedish journalist Bertil Lintner documented in his book Great Game East (2015):
“In early December 2011, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton paid a visit to Burma, the first by a high-level American official in more than half a century. While paying lip service to democracy and human rights, it was clear that China’s growing influence in Burma was a major concern. Hillary raised Burma’s ties with China—and North Korea—in her talks with the new Burmese president, Thein Sein, and strategic interests have now returned to the forefront of Washington’s Burma policy.”
Obama himself subsequently made two separate trips to Myanmar, promoting stronger trade and security relations. In 2016, the Obama White House feted Suu Kyi, U.S. imperialism’s chief political asset in Myanmar, and lifted economic sanctions against the country. The last of these was scrapped that December, with the Democratic president declaring that Myanmar had made “substantial progress in improving human rights.” At the time, the Tatmadaw was sweeping through Rakhine in yet another savage anti-Rohingya offensive.
Beginning in the late 1980s, the imperialists imposed sanctions on impoverished Myanmar in a cynical maneuver to isolate its military regime. As a result, China became the country’s main foreign investor, gaining a foothold in every sector of the economy. In recent years, China has begun extensive infrastructure development there. As part of the “One Belt, One Road” initiative, oil and gas pipelines were built from southwestern China to coastal Rakhine. A nearby Chinese-owned deep-sea port on the Bay of Bengal, now under construction, will provide China with an alternative route for energy imports that bypasses the chokepoint of the Malacca Straits.
As Trotskyists, we stand for the unconditional military defense of the Chinese deformed workers state against imperialism and the forces of capitalist counterrevolution. Despite the rule of a parasitic Stalinist bureaucracy, the overthrow of capitalism in the 1949 Revolution and establishment of an economy centrally based on collectivized property forms were historic gains for the world’s working people. Key to our defense of the Chinese Revolution is the struggle for proletarian political revolution to oust the Stalinist misleaders and replace them with a regime of workers democracy committed to the fight for world socialism.
While we support Beijing’s right to enter into economic relations with whatever capitalist country it so chooses, we recognize that the ruling bureaucracy is guided by narrow nationalist interests, which are rooted in the anti-revolutionary dogma of “building socialism in one country.” Thus, China lends its political and military support to the junta in Myanmar, which viciously represses workers, ethnic minorities and the rural poor.
Since 1988, China has been the Tatmadaw’s top supplier of military hardware, including armored vehicles, artillery, aircraft, missiles and naval vessels. (Playing both sides of the fence, Beijing has also armed, to a lesser extent, the United Wa State Army and other insurgent groups.) Last May, the Chinese navy conducted its first-ever exercises with its Myanmar counterpart. Now the Beijing Stalinists are providing cover for the murderous generals in the name of stabilizing Rakhine, where China has large infrastructure investments. We oppose and condemn China’s military aid to Myanmar’s junta.
Colonial Divide and Rule
While a comparatively modern term, “Rohingya” simply means “inhabitant of Rohang,” the Muslim name for the formerly independent Buddhist kingdom of Arakan. From the early 15th century, the Rohingya served in the Arakan court and settled as traders in its dominion. The Burmese king, having staked claims for submission, tribute and slaves across much of what now constitutes Myanmar, conquered Arakan in the mid 1780s.
Burmese control of the territory was short-lived, as the British seized Arakan in 1824 during the first of three Anglo-Burmese wars. Colonial rule, by design, greatly aggravated tensions between the Arakanese (Rakhine Buddhists) and a rapidly growing Muslim population. With Arakan incorporated into British India, hundreds of thousands of Bengalis readily emigrated there to toil in the fields, which the colonial masters had handed over to largely Indian Muslim landlords.
After completing the conquest of the Burmese in 1886, the British drew Burma’s borders and constituted it as a single province within the Indian empire. Forcibly lumping together extremely diverse and potentially antagonistic peoples in a single state, while simultaneously playing them off against one another in line with their policy of divide to better subjugate, the British stoked the fires of communal violence. Notably, Indians, both Hindu and Muslim, were promoted at the expense of the Burmese and others. The administrative units of “Burma Proper” were policed, taxed and ruled by a new layer of officials, mostly brought over from the subcontinent. British army units composed of Indian troops were deployed to suppress Burmese resistance to colonial rule. The British also relied on ethnic minorities—the so-called “martial races” like the Karen, Kachin and Chin—for military manpower.
The often-violent tensions between all these groups exploded with the Japanese invasion of Burma during World War II. Burmese nationalists, led by Aung San, Suu Kyi’s father, fought on the side of the Japanese (before switching to the British at the war’s end when it became clear Japan would lose). Tens of thousands of Indians attempting to escape the country were butchered, including by Aung San’s forces. In the course of the interimperialist conflict, Arakan descended into a brutal civil war that pitted Muslims against Buddhists. By the end of that fighting, the Muslims were compacted in the north of Arakan and the Buddhists in the south.
The Communist Party of Burma (CPB) was founded on the eve of WWII, in August 1939, largely by student leaders of the militant nationalist Dohbama Asiayone (“Our Burma Association”), including Aung San. Although elected secretary-general, Aung San decamped from the CPB soon after. The CPB never had a commitment to the Marxist principle of proletarian class independence from all bourgeois and petty-bourgeois forces. During the war, the loosely organized Communists lent their services to the British imperialists in accordance with the line issued by the Moscow Stalinist bureaucracy. After Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941 and the wartime alliance between Britain and the USSR was sealed, the Comintern promulgated the “People’s War Against Fascism” and all-out support for the war effort in the Allied imperialist countries and their colonies.
By helping the British reconquer Burma, the CPB betrayed the anti-colonial struggle. In fact, the Communists were the initial go-betweens for Aung San and the British at the war’s end and to that end set up a popular front, that is, a political bloc with the bourgeois nationalists. The CPB’s class collaboration had a predictable outcome. Just over a year after the Aung San-led popular front—at Britain’s invitation—took the reins of the postwar capitalist government, the Communists were expelled from its ranks and targeted for severe state repression.
From May 1945, workers strikes in the cities and peasant revolts in the countryside had come under Communist leadership. With independence negotiations underway, Time magazine (3 February 1947) reported that Aung San “liked the idea of British troops staying awhile to help him control the Reds, some of whom could not even be controlled by Moscow.” Although that idea did not come to pass, the next year the hammer came down on the CPB, which abandoned the cities, adopting a peasant-based guerrilla strategy. In 1989, the CPB collapsed.
The Fight for Permanent Revolution
Resource-rich Myanmar is marked by combined and uneven development, with stark contrasts of wealth and poverty, of new industry and unspeakable squalor. The British imperialists threw fuel on every manner of special oppression inherited from the past, and the generals continue to fan the flames of communalist terror. What is needed is revolutionary proletarian opposition to both the imperialist powers and local capitalist rulers. The way forward is shown by the program of permanent revolution, developed by Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky and verified by the Russian October Revolution. Trotsky recognized that in backward, semicolonial countries, the achievement of modernization and liberation from the imperialist yoke requires smashing capitalist rule, which would clear the path for socialist development.
The socialist liberation of Myanmar, where 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood, requires looking not only to the fledgling working class there but also to the massive proletarian concentrations in its neighboring countries: India, Bangladesh, Thailand and China. Myanmar’s exploited and oppressed, from those of South Asian and Chinese origin to the ethnic groups on the Thai border, have significant links to all these countries. What is posed is the need to forge proletarian internationalist parties committed to the overthrow of capitalist rule in the region as well as to political revolution in the Chinese deformed workers state. Within Myanmar itself, it is vital to plant the seeds of Marxism and cohere the cadres who would struggle to build a genuinely Leninist party that acts as the tribune of the people, including by championing the right of self-determination for all oppressed national minorities.
This perspective must be tied to the fight for socialist revolution in the U.S. and other imperialist centers. We fight to reforge Leon Trotsky’s Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution. When those who labor rule on a global scale, technology and industrial development will be tapped to lift the world’s masses out of want and misery on the road to building a secular, classless communist society free of communal, national and religious conflict.

Songs For Our Times-Build The Resistance-Woody Guthrie's "Mister Charlie Lindbergh" (The Old Time America First Guy)-For D. Trump And S. Bannon

Songs For Our Times-Build The Resistance-Woody Guthrie's "Mister Charlie Lindbergh" (The Old Time America First Guy)-For D. Trump And S. Bannon  

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!

Mister Charlie Lindbergh
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie
Mister Charlie Lindbergh, he flew to old Berlin,
Got him a big Iron Cross, and he flew right back again
To Washington, Washington. 
Mrs. Charlie Lindbergh, she come dressed in red,
Said: "I'd like to sleep in that pretty White House bed
In Washington, Washington."
Lindy said to Annie: "We'll get there by and by,
But we'll have to split the bed up with Wheeler, Clark, and Nye 
In Washington, Washington."
Hitler wrote to Lindy, said "Do your very worst." 
Lindy started an outfit that he called America First 
In Washington, Washington. 
All around the country, Lindbergh he did fly, 
Gasoline was paid for by Hoover, Clark, and Nye 
In Washington, Washington.
Lindy said to Hoover: "We'll do the same as France:
Make a deal with Hitler, and then we'll get our chance."
In Washington, Washington. 
Then they had a meetin', and all the Firsters come,
Come on a walk and they come on a run,
In Washington, Washington. 
Yonder comes Father Coughlin, wearin' the silver chain,
Gas on his stomach and Hitler on the brain.
In Washington, Washington.
Mr. John L. Lewis would sit and straddle a fence,
But his daughter signed with Lindbergh, and we ain't seen her since
In Washington, Washington.
Hitler said to Lindy: "Stall 'em all you can, 
Gonna bomb Pearl Harbor with the help of old Japan."
In Washington, Washington.
Then on a December mornin', the bombs come from Japan,
Wake Island and Pearl Harbor, kill fifteen hundred men.
In Washington, Washington
Now Lindy tried to join the army, but they wouldn't let him in,
Afraid he'd sell to Hitler a few more million men.
In Washington, Washington 
So I'm a-gonna tell you people, if Hitler's gonna be beat,
The common workin' people has got to take the seat
In Washington, Washington.
And I'm gonna tell you workers, 'fore you cash in your checks:
They say "America First," but they mean "America Next!"
In Washington, Washington.

Athletes for Peace: Open Letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee

Athletes for Peace: Open Letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee

PyeongChang 2018The XXIII Olympic Winter Games, PyeongChang 2018, is a major international multi-sport event scheduled to take place in February and March next year in Gangwon Province (Pyeongchang County), South Korea. The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will be held in Korea for the first time in 30 years after the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988. IOC photo/Chung Sung-Jun
The 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, to be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, offer a unique moment to promote peace on the Korean Peninsula. In November 2017, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an Olympic Truce, or a cessation of hostilities during the Winter Games, which gained the support of 157 Member States including both Koreas and future hosts of the Olympic Games: Japan, China, France and the United States.
As former and current atheltes, we value the Olympic spirit and tradition of bringing men and women from diverse nations together for peaceful competition and performance. The Olympic Truce represents an important opportunity to defuse tensions and begin the work of reconciliation on the Korean peninsula. We therefore call upon the US Olympic Committee to fully support both Korean governments’ current efforts to restore a peace process.
We in the United States have a special responsibility to demand diplomacy, not war, with North Korea. Let us firmly take hold of the opportunity provided by these winter Olympics to bring this long standing, dangerous and damaging conflict to a peaceful and positive resolution.
Athletes for Peace is initiated by Massaschusetts Peace Action and we invite all peace-loving organizations to cosponsor it with us and participate in a coordinating committee.  Sign the Open Letter at!
Signers (as of Feb. 5, 2018)
  • Jonathan King, Yale Crew, 1958 – 1960; James Madison H.S. Football, 1956-1958
  • Caitlin Forbes, Captain of Varsity Alpine Ski Team, Saint Anselm College, 2010-13.  First Team All American Combined, SL and GS
  • Andrew King, Mens Soccer, Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, 2004-07
  • Kevin Martin, Men’s Baskeball and Volleyball, Manheim Twp. HS, Neffsville, PA 1977 – 1980
  • Joseph Boyd Poindexter, Harvard University Ski Team Captain, 1957
  • Jessica Quindel, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, Riverside High School, Milwaukee, WI 1994-1998
  • Jeff Brummer, Cushing Academy: Ski team captain, 1961- 62; Tennis team captain, 1961- 62
  • Tarak Kauff, Marathon Runner 1974 – 89, Professional boxer
  • Patrick Hiller, Columbia Gorge Tri Club, Triathlon, 2011-present
  • Ernest Goitein, Swim team, Stevens Institute of Technology, 1950,
  • William H Warricl III MD, HS and College Golf Team 1961-1966
  • Kenneth E. Mayers, Woodmere Academy, Football Co-Captain 1953; Princeton University Lightweight Crew, 1955-58
  • Christopher Spicer-Hankle, Cross Country, Santa Clara University 2004-06; Bishop Blanchet High (Seattle), Co-Captain 2000
  • Ann Wright, 1965 Arkansas State Collegiate Singles Tennis champion, 1980 Winter Olympic Games Announcer for the Luge competition, Lake Placid, New York
  • John Raby, football and basketball at Dwight-Englewood School,, Englewood, NJ, 1959-61; boys varsity cross-country coach at the Pingry School, Bernards Township, NJ, 1995-2009: 128-22 won-loss record, five conference championships, seven all-state prep championships, three all-state group championships; distance runner, 5k to marathon; frequent age group winner in local and statewide races; ran in two Boston Marathons, 2008 and 2012
  • Marcus Christian Hansen, Wrestling, Track, Jefferson HS
  • Brenton Stoddart, Allegheny College Men’s Soccer, 2012-2015, Captain 2015
  • Blase Bonpane, Ph.d., Football USC 1947 Football, Boxing Loyola High, Los Angeles CIF Championship
  • Shirley Hoak, College Basketball & Tennis 1971-73 Shippensburg State, PA
  • Jacqueline Rogers Ceary, Basketball, Cathedral High School, Boston, 1962-65
  • Chuck Weed, US Disabled Ski Team 1984, 1986; 4 way skiing Middlebury; ski/soccer coach 1965-1966 Northwood School
  • Ellora Derenoncourt, Junior Varsity Tennis, Chadwick School, 2003-4
  • Sally Jones, Port Jefferson High School Girls Volleyball, Basketball, Field Hockey 1963-1966
  • John Chadwick, Bellingham, WA, baseball
  • Lynn Shoemaker, Whitewater, WI, football, basketball, track
  • Bernard Herberholt, University of Washington Crew, 2000-2002
  • Dr Ken Lipner, Fla Baseball, football
  • Kenneth Kohler, Salt Lake City, UT, Volleyball
  • Aicha Ben Dhia, Cambridge MA, Soccer, 2014-2017
  • Ed Marakovitz, East Paterson HS, 1957-1961: Varsity Basketball, Co-Captain; Varsity Track, Co-Captain. Siena College, 1962-1965: Varsity Basketball, Club Lacrosse
  • Steve Books, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin, Track and Field, Cross Country. High School (1 year) and College (4 years)
  • Daniel Mirsky, Arlington, Ma, Lacrosse in hs, college, beyond
  • Rose Wetzel, Cross Country/Track & Field at Bishop Blanchet High School (1996-2000) and Georgetown University (2000-2004), Professional Obstacle Course Racer and American Ninja Warrior Finalist, 2015-current 
  • Lois Durso, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania , High school field hockey 
  • John Chadwick, Bellingham, WA, baseball ; pitched a no-hitter
  • Greg Laxer, Connecticut, Technical Official, Weightlifting 
  • Bunny Daubner, Bristol, Vermont, biking, skiing, ice skating 
  • John Schaefer, Arcata, California, cross country, pistol team
  • Frank J. Gage, Buffalo, New York, Softball, Four Stallions 1969 to 1979
  • Alanna Richards, Santa Barbara, California, Westmont College soccer (2014-2017), high school soccer (2010-2014), volleyball (2010-2012), and softball (2010-2012), soccer captain, All-American Honorable Mention (2017), United Soccer Coaches NAIA All-Region (2018), GSAC All-Conference Team (2015, 2017) 
  • Lee Liddle, Fresno, CA, baseball, softball
  • Paul Larudee, El Cerrito, CA, Cross country, track and field, gymnastics
  • Leonard Eiger, Water Polo, Lacrosse
  • Art Felsinger, Tempe, AZ, Motorcycle racing
  • Daniel Gilman, Seattle, WA, Basketball, track
  • Carolyn Barkow, San Diego, California, tennis 
  • Robert Keilbach, Flushing, NY, Football, Softball, Volleyball, Tennis, Golf
  • Norma Mahns, Oak Grove, MO, High School Track
  • John E Wilks, III, Winston, New Mexico, Rifle marskmanship
Activites in support of the Open Letter:
Contact your alumni associaton and invite other former or current student athletes to sign the Open Letter, and forward to their former teammates, friends and acquiantenances.
In addition we call on groups and individuals to organize actions or other events in your communities., during the Winter Olympics (February 9 – 25) and Paralympics (March 9 – 18), as well as the broader period of the Olympic Truce (February 2 to March 23).
These could include:
  • Olympic watch parties — gather friends and family in your home or a community venue to celebrate the Olympics. Add a dollop of Korean culture and cuisine, and call for peace and diplomacy. Invite your local NBC-TV affiliate (the television network of the Olympics) to cover your gathering for the local news. Watch parties can be great social media events as well. Athletes and Korean-Americans should be the main spokespeople.
  • Building Congressional pressure, both in-district and in Washington, DC. Call-in Days, in-district congressional visits, high-level delegations or sign-on letters to Members of Congress calling on them to use the Olympic Truce as an opportunity to stand for diplomacy and continue to suspend U.S.-South Korea war drills, through public statements and support for pro-diplomacy legislation, including asserting Congressional powers over war and peace, and particularly any decision to use nuclear weapons.
  • Media coverage and social media promotion (utilizing FaceBook and Twitter memes and actions, Thunderclap, Instagram and other platforms) calling for diplomacy and peace. Use the Olympic Truce as a “hook” for Letters to Editor and Op-eds.
  • Teach-ins, webinars, and other types of educational events, supported by fact sheets, articles, videos and podcasts. Korean-American voices need to be front and center.
  • Film Screening:  Games of Their Lives is a stunning, exciting, humanizing, sports-fan-enthusiast film by British makers Dan Gordon and Nick Bonner.  In 1966, DPRK won a birth at the World Cup held in England. The story of the players, how they got there, how they were received at the height of the Cold War, the drama of the games, the totally unexpected embrace by the city of Middlesborough, and what became of the team over the years – is absolutely gripping. 
    The film is 1 hr 20 minutes.  You can preview the full film on Youtube here –   It puts a very human face on
    North Korea. Contact Ramsay Liem c/o Massachusetts Peace Action. Related links:
  • Vigils for peace, public protests where appropriate, visibility actions.
  • Petition-gathering and support for the People’s Peace Treaty.
  • Other engaging and fun, movement-building events around the Winter Olympics. Please share your good ideas
Contact: Massachusetts Peace Action,, 617-354-2169