Thursday, November 10, 2011

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

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

Markin comment:

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

The Latest From The Boston Veterans For Peace Smedley D. Butler Brigade- Veterans' Day-November 11th Anti-War March In Boston

Click on the headline to link to the Smedley D. Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace website.


Friday, November llth

To participate in pre-parade actions at the State House and military recruiters, meet at 10:00AM at the corner of Beacon and Charles across from the Starbucks. Bring signs.

The American Legion parade starts 1PM. We will assemble at noon on the corner of Beacon and Charles and march immediately after them.

Participate in a pre-parade picket of the military recruiting offices on 141 Tremont Street as well as the State House

March with us behind the "official" parade

Join us for a post-parade rally at Faneuil Hall with speakers and live music

Meet us at 10:OOAM on Boston Commons at the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street across from the Starbucks.

Smedley D. Butler Brigade, Veterans For Peace

Contact us at: Facebook: Smedley D. Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace

Phone: 617-942-0328

Twitter: Smedley Butler VFP

Markin comment 2011:
I am re-posting this entry from last year's Veterans' Day anti-war march as it hits all the main points I want to make on this year's march. Be there!
Thursday, November 11, 2010

*A Stroll In The Park On Veterans Day- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S. Troops From Iraq and Afghanistan!

Markin comment:

Listen, I have been to many marches and demonstrations for democratic, progressive, socialist and communist causes in my long political life. However, of all those events none, by far, has been more satisfying that to march alongside my fellow ex-soldiers who have “switched” over to the other side and are now part of the struggle against war, the hard, hard struggle against the permanent war machine that this imperial system has embarked upon. From as far back as in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) days I have always felt that ex-soldiers (hell, active soldiers too, if you can get them) have had just a little bit more “street cred” on the war issue than the professors, pacifists, and little old ladies in tennis sneakers who have traditionally led the anti-war movements. Maybe those brothers (and in my generation it was mainly only brothers) and now sisters may not quite pose the questions of war and peace the way I do, or the way that I would like them to do, but they are kindred spirits.

Now normally in Boston, and in most places, a Veterans Day parade means a bunch of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or American Legion-types taking time off from drinking at their post bars (“the battle of the barstools”) and donning the old overstuffed uniform and heading out on to Main Street to be waved at, and cheered on, by like-minded, thankful citizens. And of course that happened this time as well. What also happened in Boston this year (and other years but I have not been involved in previous marches) was that the Smedley Butler Brigagde of the Veterans For Peace (VFP) organized an anti-war march as part of their “Veterans Day” program. Said march to be held at the same place and time as the official one.

Previously there had been a certain amount of trouble, although I am not sure that it came to blows, between the two groups. (I have only heard third-hand reports on previous events.) You know the "super-patriots" vs. “commie symps” thing that has been going on as long as there have been ex-soldiers (and others) who have differed from the bourgeois party pro-war line. In any case the way this impasse had been resolved previously, and the way the parameters were set this year as well, was that the VFP took up the rear of the official parade, and took up the rear in an obvious way. Separated from the main body of the official parade by a medical emergency truck. Nice, right? Something of the old I’ll take my ball and bat and go home by the "officials" was in the air on that one.

But here is where there is a certain amount of rough plebeian justice, a small dose for those on the side of the angels, in the world. In order to form up, and this was done knowingly by VFP organizers, the official marchers, the bands and battalions that make up such a march, had to “run the gauntlet” of dove emblem-emblazoned VFP banners waving frantically directly in front of their faces as they passed by. Moreover, although we formed the caboose of this thing the crowds along the parade route actually waited as the official paraders marched by and waved and clapped at our procession. Be still my heart. But that response just provides another example of the "street cred” that ex-soldiers have on the anti-war question. Now, if there is to be any really serious justice in the world, if only these vets would go beyond the “bring the troops home” and embrace- immediate, unconditional withdrawal of all U.S./Allied Troops from Iraq and Afghanistan then we could maybe start to get somewhere out on those streets. But today I was very glad to be fighting for our communist future among those who know first-hand about the dark side of the American experience. No question.

From The “Occupy Oakland” Website-The November 2, 2011 Oakland General Strike-We Take The Offensive- Defend The Oakland Commune-Happy One Month Birthday!

Click on the headline to link to Occupy Oakland website for the latest from the vanguard battleground in the struggle for social justice.

Markin comment November 3, 2011:

We have won a tremendous victory in Oakland. No, no the big dent in the capitalist system that we are all looking for but the first step. And that first step is to put the words “general strike” in the political vocabulary in our fight for social justice. This is Liberation Day One. From now on we move from isolated tent encampments to the struggle in the streets against the monster, the streets where some of the battles will be decisively decided. Yes, our first day was messy, we took some casualties, we took some arrest, we made some mistakes but we now have a road forward, so forward. No Mas- The Class-War Lines Are Being Drawn- There Is A Need To Unite And Fight-We Take The Offensive-Liberation Day One-Defend The Oakland Commune-Drop All Charges Against The Oakland Protesters!

P.S. (November 4, 2011) I noted above some of the actions were messy in Oakland. This was so partly because it was seen as a celebration as much as demand-ladened, hard-nosed general strike started as a prelude to anything immediately bigger (like the question of taking state power and running things ourselves) but also because people are after all new at this way of expressing their latent power. 1946 in Oakland, and anywhere else, is a long political time to go without having a general strike in this country. Even the anti-war mass actions of the 1960s, which included school-centered general strikes, never got close to the notion of shutting down the capitalists where they live-places like the Port Of Oakland. There are some other more systematic problems that I, and others, are starting to note and I will address them as we go along. Things like bourgeois electoral politics rearing its ugly head, keeping the thing together, and becoming more organizationally cohesive without becoming bureaucratic. Later.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Class Struggle Heats Up, A Victory For Our Side For Once-Public unions win in Ohio referendum on Gov. John Kasich restrictions on bargaining

Markin comment:

After last week’s Oakland General Strike and the closing down of the Port of Oakland I thought we were on the offensive, finally. And I was not wrong. The molecular process that has been going on down at the base of society after years of being beaten down in the one-sided class struggle has finally gotten some push back, if ever so slightly just now.

The Ohio referendum vote was a sweet victory to put the breaks on this “in your face” right-wing slide that we having been dealing with for a long time. While, in the final analysis, hard struggles, hard street struggles, still lie ahead we will take our victories, small or large, wherever we can. I don’t think that the bourgeoisie is ready to make reservations to some island and let us take over yet but I would think that some of the more far-sighted elements might be checking their frequent-flyer mileage status. Nor am I so intoxicated by Ohio that I would raise the propaganda slogan to build workers councils now. But I will raise right here, well in advance of the 2012 bourgeois electoral fist-fight, the need to fight for a workers party that fights for a workers government. And I am not wrong on that.

P.S. Anytime anybody anywhere says labor and its supporters need to spent union dues to elect bourgeois "friends" like Obama just point to Ohio. That is the way to spend our dough-and not have it wasted. That, and putting a ton of money into organizing the unorganized.
Post by Peter Callaghan / The News Tribune on Nov. 8, 2011 at 6:47 pm | November 8, 2011 6:47 pm

This from the Associated Press:

COLUMBUS, Ohio The state’s new collective bargaining law was defeated Tuesday after an expensive union-backed campaign that pitted firefighters, police officers and teachers against the Republican establishment.

In a political blow to GOP Gov. John Kasich, voters handily rejected the law, which would have limited the bargaining abilities of 350,000 unionized public workers.

Labor and business interests poured more than $30 million into the nationally watched campaign, and turnout was high for an off-year election.
The law hadn’t taken effect yet. Tuesday’s result means the state’s current union rules will stand, at least until the GOP-controlled Legislature determines its next move. Republican House Speaker William Batchelder predicted last week that the more palatable elements of the collective bargaining bill Ñ such as higher minimum contributions on worker health insurance and pensions Ñ are likely to be revisited after the dust settles.

Kasich and fellow supporters promoted the law as a means for local governments to save money and keep workers. Their effort was supported by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business-Ohio, farmers and others.

We Are Ohio, the largely union-funded opponent coalition, painted the issue as a threat to public safety and middle-class workers, spending millions of dollars on TV ads filled with images of firefighters, police officers, teachers and nurses.

Celebrities came out on both sides of the campaign, with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and singer Pat Boone urging voters to retain the law and former astronaut and U.S. Sen. John Glenn and the Rev. Jesse Jackson urging them to scrap it.

Labor and business interests poured more than $30 million into the nationally watched campaign, with the law’s opponents far outspending and outnumbering its defenders.

Opponents reported raising $24 million as of mid-October, compared to about $8 million raised by the committee supporting the law, Building a Better Ohio.

Tuesday’s result in the closely divided swing state was expected to resonate from statehouses to the White House ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Ohio’s bill went further than a similar one in Wisconsin by including police officers and firefighters, and it was considered by many observers to be a barometer of the national mood on the political conundrum of the day: What’s the appropriate size and role of government, and who should pay for it?

Kasich has vowed not to give up his fight for streamlining government despite the loss.

For opponents of the law, its defeat is anticipated to energize the labor movement, which largely supports Democrats, ahead of President Barack Obama’s re-election effort.

From #Occupied Boston (#TomemonosBoston)-Day Forty-One- An Injury To One Is An Injury To All!-Defend All The Occupation Sites And All The Occupiers!–No Mas- The Class-War Lines Are Being Drawn- There Is A Need To Unite And Fight-Drawing Some Lessons In Light Of The Oakland General Strike Struggle!

Click on the headline to link to updates from the Occupy Boston website.Occupy Boston started at 6:00 PM, September 30, 2011. I will post important updates as they appear on that site.
Fight-Don’t Starve-We Created The Wealth, Let's Take It Back! Labor And The Oppressed Must Rule!

Somos la Sociedad conformando el 99% -Dewey Square, Cercerde South Station

#Tomemonos Boston se reuniarin en el Dewey Square en Downtown Boston a discutir cambios que la ciudadania puede hacer en el gobierno que afecte un cambio social positivo.
Markin comment November 3, 2011:

We have won a tremendous victory in Oakland. No, no the big dent in the capitalist system that we are all looking for but the first step. And that first step is to put the words “general strike” in the political vocabulary in our fight for social justice. That is the sense that I used the dating Liberation Day One in recent posts. From now on we move from isolated tent encampments to the struggle in the streets against the monster, the streets where some of the battles will be decisively decided. Yes, our first day was messy, we took some casualties, we took some arrest, we made some mistakes but we now have road forward, so forward. No Mas- The Class-War Lines Are Being Drawn- There Is A Need To Unite And Fight-We Take The Offensive-Liberation Day One-Defend The Oakland Commune-Drop All Charges Against The Oakland Protesters!

P.S. (November 4, 2011) I noted above some of the actions were messy in Oakland. This was so partly because it was seen as a celebration as much as a demand-heavy, hard-nosed general strike started as a prelude to anything immediately bigger (like the question of taking state power and running things ourselves) but also because people are after all new at this way of expressing their latent power. 1946 in Oakland, and anywhere else, is a long political time to go without having a general strike in this country. Even the anti-war mass actions of the 1960s, which included school-centered general strikes, never got close to the notion of shutting down the capitalists where they live-places like the Port Of Oakland. There are some other more systematic problems that I, and others, are starting to note and I will address them as we go along. Things like bourgeois electoral politics rearing its ugly head, keeping the thing together, and becoming more organizationally cohesive without becoming bureaucratic. Later.
Markin comment November 5, 2011 :

I am posting this entry here because it expresses some of the same things that I find disconcerting about the direction of the Occupy movement. Although I have some differences with the author's direction as well and am not familiar with the program of this particular group, Workers Action, I find his points well worth pondering. I will add my own in the future as we settle in to learn the lessons of the Oakland General Strike for our struggles.

A Sober Voice From The Occupy Movement :

The Way Forward for Occupy Portland by Shamus Cooke, Workers ActionVia Boston IndyMedia

Email: portland (nospam) (unverified!) 01 Nov 2011

In Portland, Oregon, all the promise and pitfalls of the Occupy Movement are on public display. Portland is second only to New York when it comes to sustained Occupy power, but in a newly born social movement strength is not something to take for granted. The vast amounts of public support in Portland, earned through large demonstrations and strategic outreach, can be frittered away by the internal contradictions of the movement.

Portland began its occupation with a 10,000-person rally that shook the city's foundation and disorientated the Mayor, who had no choice but to "allow" the occupation to stay at the park they had taken without asking. There have since been several large Portland rallies and marches that have proven the wider population's support: On October 26 a labor union-led Occupy march turned out thousands of union members with ecstatic morale; the same week showcased a "This Land is Our Land" Occupy rally by Portland band Pink Martini, which attracted nearly 10,000 people.

But the speeches of the Pink Martini rally were hardly Occupy worthy, since they showcased two members of Oregon's Congressional House of Representatives, politicians of the political establishment that the Occupy movement rose up against. As Representative Earl Blumenauer spoke, a group of activists chanted "This is what hypocrisy looks like,” in response to his voting in favor for the recently passed pro-corporate free trade agreements.

If Portland's Occupy movement had a strong list of demands — or even a firm statement of principles — the Democrats in Oregon would be unable to associate with Occupy, since the Democrats’ objectives would so obviously clash with those of the anti-corporate movement. But for now "99%" is vague enough for political impostors to enter the fray and inject ideas from the wealthiest 1%.

Portland's 1% has been chipping away at the Occupy movement through their control of the local media; a steady stream of negative editorials and slanted reporting has focused on the minority of internal problems of the Occupation spot, blasting headlines of drug abuse and assaults while ignoring the larger aspirations of the protesters.

Thus far, Portland's 1% has been unable to establish the "rule of law" and evict the protesters because of the wider backlash that would ensue; the media have been pushing the Mayor to create a "timeline" for the protesters to leave. Thus far the Mayor remains too jarred to act, leaving the initiative to the protesters.

But initiative is something easily lost. There are sections of Occupiers who are impatient and want more "direct action,” including an expansion of the occupation to other parks. This would not be such a bad thing if masses of people were aggressively behind the action. Instead, on October 30th in the wee hours of the morning, the "new" occupation spot had only a couple dozen protesters who were promptly arrested, giving the police and Mayor an easy victory and the Occupy movement a small but bitter defeat. The illusion of the Mayor having "control" was upheld while the message of the protesters was muzzled.

Some protesters will argue that the arrests were a victory, but civil disobedience must be looked at from a strategic lens that is most effective with masses of people involved and specific goals in mind. The era of tiny protests and limited results belongs to the past. This movement has large scale potential, and the larger 99% will feel impelled to join if they see a strong, mass movement capable of winning demands.

Another way that Occupy Portland could lose mass support is through political disunity. There are different committees and working groups within Occupy Portland trying to build some political cohesiveness to broadcast to the wider community. The movement's long-term objectives and immediate demands remain unclear; indeed the two are being confused. There is an urge for many people to demand the end to "corporate personhood,” an increasingly popular demand on the political left that remains mostly unknown to the larger 99%.

This is precisely the problem. The Occupy movement claims to speak for the 99%, but the main leaders/organizers are students, recent graduates, or long-time members of the activist left. These groups have come into the movement with ready-made ideas in mind, many of them good. But the left has been plagued by issue-based divisiveness for years, where the many different groups are pushing their individual issues into a movement that began by appealing to the 99% at large. It is healthy for left groups to advocate the end of animal cruelty, corporate personhood, and police brutality, but these are not the immediate demands that will spur the 99% to actively join the movement.

What will get people in the streets? The 99% supports the Occupy Movement because of the economic crisis that has directly affected them, not because they have ideological problems with capitalism at the moment, or want to take legal rights from corporations. The most progressive 5% cannot impose their demands on the larger 99%, since the majority of the 99% already have demands of their own.

What are these demands? The Washington Post explains: "How many times does this message have to be delivered? In poll after poll, Americans have said their top concern is the jobs crisis." (August 11, 2011).

Poll after poll has also declared mass opposition to cutting Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security and other social programs, while declaring support for taxing the rich to solve these national problems.

And these issues have even greater potential to galvanize the 99% because of their centrality to organized labor. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka recently declared the cuts to Social Security, Medicare or to Medicaid, which have been proposed by the bipartisan “Super Committee,” are unacceptable. The proposed cuts, Trumka says, prove why people around the country “are raising their voices in protest because they’re fed up with a system that is stacked in favor of the richest one percent of Americans – at the expense of the other 99 percent of us.”

The Occupy Movement will grow or die based on its ability to relate to these demands of the larger 99%. It is these issues that reflect the most urgent needs, where the demands are held in common by the vast majority and that affect working people on a city, state, and national level. No long-term demands — like ending corporate personhood — can be won outside of a mass movement, and no mass movement can grow without the focus on immediate, basic demands; these demands must come before the former.
There is plenty of time for the Occupy Movement to work out the details of its long-term mission, but there is no time to waste to fight for the most popular demands of working people. The Occupy Movement is still struggling for existence, and its life cannot be maintained in a political environment unattractive to the broader 99%. If the Occupy Movement demanded that the wealthy and corporations be taxed to create jobs and prevent cuts to social programs, the 99% would see a movement built in its own image, and working people would fight for themselves while learning to fight alongside each other for the good of all working people.

This work is in the public domain
Markin comment November 7 2011:

I noted in yesterday’s comment (see above) that I would have my own points to make about my observations of the progress (or lack of progress in the Occupy movement). Today I just want to outline the concerns that I will go into greater detail as things get clear (or murkier). Remember these comments are made in the light of the lessons to be learned from the great Oakland General Strike of November 2, 2011 which is now the vanguard axis of the struggle.

One, the seemingly endless and somewhat haphazard marches, rallies, and guerilla theater antics of the past few weeks, while important as a catalyst for actions and publicity, have reached something like a saturation point. Actions like the glorious march to close down the Port of Oakland-a direct challenge to capitalist rule and as a way to hit them where they live is where we should be heading.

Two, while the "Occupy everywhere" theme is right in the long haul establishing eight million small, poorly planned, poorly attended, and merely episodic sites in small towns which have increasing been picked off by the local authorities, and rather easily suppressed, is self-defeating especially as winter closes in and we need to have a serious mainline cities presence.

Three, the Oakland General Strike, if it stands for anything, stands for the proposition that the working class is central to any concrete actions that will bring this monster down. The labor, minority and other oppressed segments of the movement who will be key to creating our new, more just society have until now not played a central but rather an auxiliary role and reflects a bad trend in the movement.

Four, while the question of electoral politics, bourgeois electoral politics, is not pressing right this minute there are distinct tom-toms being heard from bourgeois candidates (example, the Elizabeth Warren campaign for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts) trying to corral this movement into the straitjacket of electoral politics. The Occupy slogan should be Candidate X, Y, Z is part of the problem, not part of the solution. The slogan noted in the Workers Action article when bourgeois politicians tried to drum up support at Occupy Portland hits the point correctly- "This is what hypocrisy looks like.”

Five, the question of no demands, or even a firm statement of principles, is beginning to sap away the strength of the movement as people do their own thing with at least one case of repetitive action on the student loan showing a lack of national co-ordination as well. You can try to run from politics at your peril, and hide behind an anti-politics stance, as witness the general daily atmosphere at Occupy Boston and which you can read about read about through the General Assembly minutes at many other sites, but it is still politics-bad politics.

Six, I will repeat the Workers Action statement here and just universalize it. The 1% has been chipping away at the Occupy movement through their control of the local media; a steady stream of negative editorials and slanted reporting has focused on the minority of internal problems of the Occupation spot, blasting headlines of drug abuse and assaults while ignoring the larger aspirations of the protesters. There is moreover a very big gap between the political operatives who defend the Occupy movement (including this writer) and a large number of those who actually camp out.

Seven, the movement's long-term objectives and immediate demands remain unclear; indeed the two are being confused. There is an urge for many people to demand the end to "corporate personhood,” an increasingly popular demand on the political left that remains mostly unknown to the larger 99%. This brings up the division that is becoming more apparent between those who want to tweak at the capitalist system and those who want to throw the bums out and create another type of society, including this writer.

Eight, The Occupy movement claims to speak for the 99%, but the main leaders/organizers are students, recent graduates, or long-time members of the activist left. There is precious little outreach to the broader working class milieu. I see precious few “soccer moms and dads,” except an occasional thoughtful donor dropping off food or other supplies. This is a political generational problem, a problem of the missing generation between the oldsters (me and my generation) and the youth, the generation who bought into anti-activist notions of the world, except to not be bothered as much as possible.

Nine, and here is where my major different with the brother from Workers Action comes in. Program is necessary for any political movement and as I have noted above this movement will, in the end, not be able to evade that norm. However, that norm does not include some mythical search for a grab bag of demands that will make the soccer moms and dads jump up and salute our movement. Smart politics will raise the right set of demands and then those who now stand on the sidelines will come over, assuming some victories for us in the meantime.

Ten, right now the most progressive 5% has to speak for their demands and can direct them to the larger audience since the majority of those we are trying to reach do not have demands of their own, or have been unable to articulate them. In fact the 99 percent figure while attractive as a street slogan should no blind us to the reality that we have more natural enemies than the one percent and that most people are not part of the political “nation”. That is why we speak up now to push the “silent majority” forward but make no mistake what we are doing is the pushing so caution is warranted about going too fast, for now.

Ah, ten points seems enough for now. I will write more on each point as I think about things a little more.

From The “Occupy Oakland” Website-The November 2, 2011 Oakland General Strike-We Take The Offensive- Defend The Oakland Commune-Hands Off The Oakland Commune

Click on the headline to link to Occupy Oakland website for the latest from the vanguard battleground in the struggle for social justice.

Markin comment November 3, 2011:

We have won a tremendous victory in Oakland. No, no the big dent in the capitalist system that we are all looking for but the first step. And that first step is to put the words “general strike” in the political vocabulary in our fight for social justice. This is Liberation Day One. From now on we move from isolated tent encampments to the struggle in the streets against the monster, the streets where some of the battles will be decisively decided. Yes, our first day was messy, we took some casualties, we took some arrest, we made some mistakes but we now have a road forward, so forward. No Mas- The Class-War Lines Are Being Drawn- There Is A Need To Unite And Fight-We Take The Offensive-Liberation Day One-Defend The Oakland Commune-Drop All Charges Against The Oakland Protesters!

P.S. (November 4, 2011) I noted above some of the actions were messy in Oakland. This was so partly because it was seen as a celebration as much as demand-ladened, hard-nosed general strike started as a prelude to anything immediately bigger (like the question of taking state power and running things ourselves) but also because people are after all new at this way of expressing their latent power. 1946 in Oakland, and anywhere else, is a long political time to go without having a general strike in this country. Even the anti-war mass actions of the 1960s, which included school-centered general strikes, never got close to the notion of shutting down the capitalists where they live-places like the Port Of Oakland. There are some other more systematic problems that I, and others, are starting to note and I will address them as we go along. Things like bourgeois electoral politics rearing its ugly head, keeping the thing together, and becoming more organizationally cohesive without becoming bureaucratic. Later.

The Latest From The United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) Website- Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops, Mercenaries, Contractors, Etc, From Afghanistan and Iraq!

Click on the headline to link to the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC) Website for more information about various anti-war, anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist actions around the country.

Markin comment:

Every once in a while it is necessary, if for not other reason than to proclaim from the public square that we are alive, and fighting, to show “the colors,” our anti-war colors. While, as I have mentioned many times in this space, endless marches are not going to end any war the street opposition to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as protests against other imperialist adventures has been under the radar of late. It is time for anti-warriors to get back where we belong in the struggle against Obama’s wars. The UNAC appears to be the umbrella clearing house these days for many anti-war, anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist actions. Not all the demands of this coalition are ones that I would raise but the key one is enough to take to the streets. Immediate, Unconditional Withdrawal Of All U.S./Allied Troops, Mercenaries, Contractors, Etc, From Afghanistan and Iraq! | 781-285-8622 | BostonUNAC(S)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Latest From The Private Bradley Manning Support Network-Free Bradley Manning Now!-Bradley Manning supporters face judge for attempting to lay flowers outside Quantico Marine base

Click on the headline to link to the Private Bradley Manning Support Network for the lates information in his case.

Markin comment:

Free Bradley Manning! Free all class-war prisoners!

Bradley Manning supporters face judge for attempting to lay flowers outside Quantico Marine base

November 7, 2011. Bradley Manning Support Network.

Four supporters of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower PFC Bradley Manning appeared today before a judge in Manassas, Virginia, to face charges stemming from their arrests in March outside of a Marine military brig in Quantico, Virginia. These supporters were arrested along with many others who are outraged at the abusive confinement conditions to which PFC Manning was subjected during the eight months he was held at the Quantico Pre-Trial Confinement Facility. They were detained after military officials reneged on their offer to allow flowers to be placed at an Iwo Jima Memorial located at the entrance to the base.

Among those arrested attempting to lay flowers were veterans and family members of veterans, including Daniel Ellsberg, the “Pentagon Papers” whistle-blower. Instead of accepting their charges and paying fines, these four supporters pleaded not-guilty and chose to assert their First Amendment rights inside the courtroom.

Speaking before her scheduled appearance today, retired U.S. Army Colonel Ann Wright explained why she felt obliged to speak out:

“I felt the pre-trial conditions of solitary confinement and nudity that PFC Bradley Manning was subjected to in the Quantico brig for many months were outrageous and that public action by veterans and citizens to show their concern for the rights of this soldier was necessary.”

Following sustained public pressure, Bradley Manning was moved to a military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He is no longer being held in solitary confinement. Military officials have denied speculation that the recent announcement of the impending closure of the confinement facility at Quantico was a result of widespread condemnation of the mistreatment.

Circuit Court Judge Mary Grace O’Brien dismissed the charge against Col. Wright of “remaining at place of riot or unlawful assembly after warning to disperse,” finding insufficient evidence. Various minor traffic-related charges were upheld against the other three defendants. The defendants testified that they were compelled to directly petition the Quantico military detention center, because PFC Manning was being subjected to severe mistreatment in violation of his constitutional rights and international standards of human rights.

The Commonwealth Attorney, arguing on behalf of the state, claimed that the defendants should be found guilty because they were engaging in civil disobedience. Drawing parallels to the civil rights movement, the Commonwealth Attorney argued that the defendants should accept their punishments instead of challenging them. Speaking in his own defense, Mr Obuszewski, a long-time peace and justice activist from Baltimore, Maryland, clarified that the demonstrators at Quantico were engaging in “civil resistance” and not “civil disobedience.” He noted that civil disobedience typically refers to deliberately breaking a law that one considers to be unjust, and that they found nothing inherently unjust about the normal application of traffic laws. Civil resistance, on the other hand, entails the use of direct action to challenge unjust abuses of power. Demonstrators had engaged in civil resistance by shutting down the entrance to the Marine base for several hours.

In announcing her findings, Justice O’Brien concurred that the case “does bring in larger questions” about the motivations of the demonstrators. Although she agreed that these larger issues are relevant, she felt that they “would not be appropriate for me to consider.”

The guilty parties were each ordered to pay fifteen dollars in fines and court costs.

Out In The 1950s Crime Noir Night, Kind Of- Beauty Is Only Skin Deep, Right, “Stolen Face” –A Film Review

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the film Stolen Face.

DVD Review

Stolen Face, starring Paul Henreid, Lizabeth Scott, Hammer Film Productions, 1952

Love, as almost everybody knows from personal experience, will make you do crazy thing sometimes. It will drive a seemingly rational calm and thoughtful man or woman over edge every once in while. Make “evil” in the world without missing a beat. That, my friends, is the premise behind the film under review, Stolen Face, one of a long line of films that portray the bad results of fooling around with Mother Nature too much, and with getting fogged up in that love embrace.

A British doctor, a plastic surgeon, (played Paul Henreid last seen leading the anti-fascist resistance as Victor Lazlo in early World War II in the film Casablanca) in post-World War II London working apparently for the National Health Service, and working very hard and diligently, thank you, takes a little vacation to the wilds of coastal England. He winds up in an inn along the way, an inn which also is hosting a beautiful American pianist ready to go on a European tour (played by smoky-voiced Lizabeth Scott) with a cold. Well, naturally, Doc comes to the rescue, and as part of the "cure" they fall head over heels in love. However, Lizabeth is already “spoken for,” leaving Doc very unhappy. So back to work he goes with a vengeance.

And that vengeance, as previously, entailed working on the faces of criminal types to give them a chance to change their ways (okay, Doc, if you say so). As part of that work he runs up against a disfigured dregs of the working-class young woman (okay, lumpenproletarian), Lily, whom he thinks that he can help by use of the surgeon’s scalpel. After much ado he gives her a new beautiful face, a face that is strangely very, very, very similar to his lost love’s. On top of that he goes off and marries her. But here is where things get dicey and the scriptwriter proves to be no Marxist or other believer in the ever upward rise of human progress. Lily, skin beautiful or not, goes back to her old ways “proving” that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Worst Lizabeth comes back; ready to get back into Doc’s arms. Fortunately Lily, drunk as a skunk riding on the train with hubby Doc, falls out of the train door (or was she pushed) just as Lizabeth shows up. Very convenient, very convenient indeed although no one is looking to make a court case out of it. Yes I guess beauty is really only skin deep, but no question love can drive you screwy. No question.

The Latest From The "Jobs Not Cuts" Website-National Week Of Actions-November 16-23 -In Boston November 17th At The Boston Common




Thursday Nov. 17th @ 4pm-6pm Bandstand, Boston Common Near Park St. T station and Then We'll March on Kerry's Office


Hands off Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid! No cuts to education and social services!

We need jobs, not cuts! Fund a federal public works program to create millions of jobs for the millions unemployed.

Make Big Business Pay! For major tax hikes on the super-rich and corporations!

End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan! Slash Pentagon spending!

For the impressive growing list of endorsers check out
End the Dictatorship of Wall Street!

A Socialist Strategy to Build the Movement

All around the world attention has been drawn to the occupation of Wall Street. The protests have captured the imagina¬tion of thousands and inspired new occupations which are spreading across the U.S.

The police crackdown in New York, in¬tended to intimidate this movement, completely failed to break our spirit. Now we are more determined than ever to fight. Inspired by the revolutionary upheavals in Egypt and across North Africa, as well as the mass youth occupations in Spain and Greece, protesters have taken to the streets of New York and cities across the U.S. to stand up to the domination of Wall Street and Big Business over our lives.

Below the surface there is deep anger in U.S. society which only seemed to be getting a twisted expression in the right-wing lunacies of the Tea Party. But the mass movement in Wisconsin this spring, and now the occupation of Wall Street provide a glimpse of the enormous potential to turn that anger into a progressive social movement.

How can we take the struggle forward?

Many are occupying to "liberate space" in order to build a new, more equal and just community, hoping it will inspire others to follow. While the Wall Street occupation is an example of a community based on democracy, cooperation and solidarity, unfortunately the occupation alone will not be enough to build a mass movement capable of changing society.

Many have alluded to Egypt saying that a growing occupation with one basic de¬mand is how the dictator was overthrown. But in fact, the situation was more complicated than that. In the week before Egypt's dictator Mubarak was ousted, the working class entered the scene with decisive strike action paralyzing key parts of the economy.

The occupations in Spain and Greece have been much bigger than Wall Street, but they too need the more powerful forces of the working class to move into action in order to win. In Wisconsin, a huge occupation of the Capitol lasted for over 3 weeks and was at the center of mass demonstrations of the workers and youth. They could have won if that movement had moved toward a general strike of public sector workers to shut the state economy down.

Instead the Wisconsin battle was consciously derailed by the Democratic Party and the top union leadership by diverting the mass movement into a campaign to recall the Republicans from power in order to elect Democrats in their place. However, the Democrats, like the Republicans, are a party of Wall Street and Big Business, and they offer no solutions. We need an independent struggle which seeks to draw in the widest layers of workers and youth. United we have the power to withdraw our labor, stop "business as usual," and hit the banks, corporations and ruling elite where it counts.

We need to build up the confidence to take such bold measures. That's why Occupy Wall Street needs to call for mass demonstrations around key demands that address the burning issues that working people and youth face like jobs, education, healthcare and so on.

System Change

Not only the economy but society as a whole is in a deep crisis. Global capitalism is a failed system that cannot overcome the problems of growing inequality, poverty, mass unemployment, environmental destruction, and war which it creates. The movement has to challenge Wall Street and both parties of big business. We must stand up to their policies where they try to solve their economic crisis on our backs in order to maintain a system which only benefits the elite in the first place.

But we must also provide a clear alternative. We need to fundamentally trans¬form society to one not based on profit but instead on meeting everyone's basic human needs. The only real alternative to corporate greed and capitalism is democratic socialism where the economy, workplaces, and society as a whole are democratically run by and for the vast majority of people.

Join Socialist Alternative! We say:

Spread the occupations across the U.S. and into schools and communities. For systematic, mass campaigning to mobilize the widest layer of workers, young people and labor unions into struggle.

•Organize weekend mass demonstrations that call for: No cuts
to social services, A massive jobs creation program, Major tax
hikes on the super-rich and big business, End the wars, Slash
the military budget, and Defend union and democratic rights.

•Build up to the November 16-23 National Week of Action to combat the
Congressional Super Committee plan for $1.5 trillion in cuts to social
services. We demand jobs not cuts!

•Prepare to run independent anti-corporate, working-class candidates in
2012 to challenge the policies of the two parties of Wall Street as a first
step towards forming a new party of the 99%, a mass workers' party.

End the dictatorship of Wall Street! Bring the big banks that dominate the U.S. economy into public ownership and run them under the democratic management of elected representatives of their workers and the public. Compensation to be paid on the basis of proven need to small investors, not millionaires.

Build the movement to replace the rotten system of capitalism with democratic socialism and create a new society based on human need.

Markin comment:

Some of the demands stated are supportable although the method of achieving them seems unclear since the march is on Congressional Committee of 12 member Senator John "War" (Iraq and Afghanistan support) Kerry's office. Do the sponsors really still expect that parliamentary action (nudging the Congress to do the right thing, or else) is the way forward after last summer's debacle? Christ, let's learn something right now. You only get what you fight for-and are ready to take. We created the wealth-let's take it back! Labor and the oppressed must rule!

From The Pages Of Workers Vanguard-"Economics of a Workers State in Transition to Socialism"

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League (ICL) website.

Markin comment:
If any of the grandiose talk about "pure" democracy, participatory democracy, and the like that has exploded on the scene recently with the rise of the Occupy movement has any meaning then a careful read of this article is in order. Workers democracy is what democracy looks like if we are not to take a step back in the struggle for a more just society.
Workers Vanguard No. 989
28 October 2011

Economics of a Workers State in Transition to Socialism

(Young Spartacus pages)

We are pleased to publish a class by Spartacist League Central Committee member Joseph Seymour given for our SYC members in Oakland, California, on 6 August 2005. It has been edited for publication and slightly expanded by Young Spartacus in collaboration with comrade Seymour.

The fundamental goal of the early, pre-Marx socialist movement was economic equality, considered to be both immediately achievable and ultimately desirable. That is, there was no conception of a higher level of economic development made possible by the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism. The Conspiracy of Equals was the first revolutionary communist organization, emerging in the latter phase of the French Revolution at the end of the 18th century. Its program was a communism of consumption and distribution. The revolutionary government would provide larger houses and proportionally more food, clothing and other necessities to families with more children.

One of Marx’s great theoretical contributions was to shift the axis of the socialist movement from equality in the sphere of consumption to entirely overcoming economic scarcity through progressively raising the level of productive forces. To be sure, in a classless, communist society, everyone will have equal access to consumable resources. But there will undoubtedly be a huge diversity of individual lifestyles corresponding to very different levels of individual utilization of those resources.

I’m beginning this educational with that point because, in some important ways, we have been thrown back into the intellectual universe of the early Marx. If you take a survey of 100 students and you ask them what socialism means, the overwhelming majority will say it’s about economic equality. They will tell you it means that everyone has more or less the same living standard. Very few of them would reply that the goal of socialism is to raise the level of production and labor productivity to such an advanced level that the division of consumable resources among individuals will no longer be a source of social conflict or even social concern. But that is our ultimate goal.

Unfortunately, getting there will require a relatively lengthy historical period after the proletarian socialist revolution has expropriated the capitalist class. In that society in transition to socialism, economic scarcity—and therefore certain kinds of economic inequality—will continue to exist. When you think about it, this is obviously true at the international level. It will take generations of an internationally planned socialist economy to raise the living standards of the populations of China, India, other Asian countries, Latin America and Africa to those of the so-called First World.

But even in a workers state in an advanced area like North America or Europe there would still be certain kinds of economic inequality. Marx spoke about this in his Critique of the Gotha Programme (1875). People would still have to expend a lot of time and a lot of energy doing what Marx called alienated labor, that is, working at jobs that they would not do unless they got paid for them. Some jobs are physically harder, dirtier, more boring, more unpleasant or, in some cases, more dangerous than others. So coal miners and construction workers would command higher wages than data processors who work in comfortable offices. Workers who have economically valuable skills acquired through lengthy training, such as airline pilots, would get higher wages than flight attendants and baggage handlers. That’s just the overhead cost of what Marx called the initial phase of communism in society.

There is another important source of economic inequality in the initial phase after the proletarian revolution. A fundamental goal and feature of a fully communist society is the replacement of the nuclear family by collective institutions for nurturing and socializing children. But this most fundamental of all social transformations is, again, going to be the work of generations. For a historically significant period the family will still be the basic social unit and therefore the basic economic spending unit.

So take two families, both of whom have the equivalent income of $70,000 a year. The first has one child, and the second has three children. The first family will have a somewhat higher standard of living. The difference will be nowhere near as great as under capitalism. There will be free medical care. There will be affordable housing. There will be free, quality education from day-care centers through university and beyond. But income will not be simply proportional to family size. Again, Marx mentioned this in his Critique of the Gotha Programme.

Economic Planning by Workers Democracy

Eliminating economic inequality in all its forms requires overcoming economic scarcity through progressively raising the level of production. This will be achieved by using a portion of society’s total output and investing it in the expansion of productive equipment that embodies the most developed technology.

But herein lies a contradiction. The more a workers government spends on building new factories, retooling existing factories, expanding and modernizing infrastructure (e.g., electric power grids, water supply systems, highways and railroads), the less it has available for direct personal and familial consumption. So, it will face the choice between a somewhat higher level of consumption in the short term versus a much higher level of consumption in the long term.

In the absence of international socialist revolution in the advanced capitalist countries, this choice obviously would be especially painful and conflict-ridden in a nationally isolated and economically backward workers state. But even in a future workers state in the U.S. or West Europe with much greater resources at its disposal, the division between consumption and investment would still be a politically divisive issue, in which there are likely to be strongly held differences within the working class. “I want as much as I can have now, man, not in ten or twenty years from now. For all I know, I may be dead by then.” You are going to get that argument.

In order for the democratic organs of a workers government to make rational decisions concerning the division of total output between consumption and investment, the trade-off between the two has to be quantified. If we increase investment in productive capacity from 13 to 15 percent of total output, how much greater will the output of consumable resources be in five years, in ten years, in fifteen years?

Fortunately for us, these types of questions were discussed and investigated in depth in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. A rich economic literature, written from a Marxist perspective, was generated in the course of the debate and factional struggle over the establishment of a centrally planned, collectivized economy. One Soviet economist, G.A. Feldman, developed a theoretical model for a long-term economic plan, that is, covering 20 to 40 years. In my opinion, Feldman’s work “On the Theory of Growth Rates of National Income” is an extremely important contribution to a Marxist understanding of the economics of the transition period. You can find the English translation in Nicolas Spulber, ed., Foundations of Soviet Strategy for Economic Growth (1964). Feldman adapted a model developed much earlier by Marx to a centrally planned, collectivized economy, while making certain important extensions and modifications of it.

In the second volume of Capital, Marx developed a theoretical model of expanded production under capitalism. Marx divided the economy into two basic sectors: consumer goods and producer (or capital) goods. Consumer goods and services are things that directly satisfy personal needs and desires. Producer goods are things that directly or indirectly generate consumer goods. A shirt is a consumer good. A sewing machine that makes the shirt is a producer good, as is a power loom that weaves the cotton cloth from which the shirt is made. A loaf of bread is a consumer good. The oven in which it is baked and the agricultural combine which harvests the wheat or oats from which it is made are producer goods.

Feldman extended Marx’s model to a workers state by dividing the producer goods sector into two basic subsectors. There are producer goods that make consumer goods and there are producer goods that make additional producer goods. A sewing machine is an example of the former. Machine tools such as lathes, which make machinery, including sewing machines, fall into the latter category. Many producer goods are not technologically specific, but can be used to expand either the capacity of the consumer goods sector or the capacity of the producer goods sector. A steel mill can make steel for automobiles or for construction equipment. Cement mixers and earthmovers can be used to construct apartment houses or factories. A hydroelectric plant can generate electricity to run household appliances as well as factory assembly lines.

Thus there are two basic factors that determine the growth rates of total output of productive capacity and consumable resources. One is the division of the total output between the consumer goods sector and producer goods sector. The second is the division of the producer goods sector between producer goods geared to the consumer goods sector and producer goods geared to expanding more producer goods.

Take two socialist economies, both of which expend 25 percent of total output in the producer goods sector. In the first economy, 75 percent of this investment in producer goods is geared to expanding the output of the consumer goods sector; in the second, 50 percent. In the first economy, consumption will increase faster in the initial period of the economic plan but more slowly later on. In the second it’s just the opposite. By adjusting the proportions it is possible to develop a range of alternative economic plans, ranging from those which maximize short-term consumption to those that maximize productive resources (and therefore consumption) in the long term.

So the planning authority would present to the highest body of a workers government, i.e., the central assembly of workers councils, a range of maybe six alternative long-term plans to be debated and decided upon. This is likely to be a contentious issue. Some delegates are going to argue: “Our workers and poor people have just made a revolution. They expect and demand a big, dramatic improvement in their living standards, not just promises of a big improvement 15 or 20 years from now. We want Plan A.” Other delegates will say: “Let’s not be shortsighted about this. Our goal is to expand productive capacity and labor productivity. Plan C does that the best. Granted, consumption will increase more slowly in the immediate period than it otherwise could, but we think that is the price we want to pay.”

Once the long-term growth rates of total output, the means of production and the consumable resources are all determined, it is then possible to work out a comprehensive economic plan for the various intervening periods—one year, two years, five years. Say a plan is adopted by the central assembly of workers councils. According to this plan, in five years the annual per capita income will be the equivalent of $60,000. On the basis of existing consumption patterns, consumer surveys and consultation with consumer cooperatives, one can more or less accurately project the basic pattern corresponding to that level of income. For example, $15,000 is estimated for housing, $10,000 for food, $10,000 for automotive and other modes of transportation, etc.

Another key element in the economic planning of a workers state, especially in the more advanced countries like the U.S., Germany and Japan, is to invest some of its total output in providing crucial resources, money and technological expertise to the underdeveloped countries to help them to qualitatively raise the level of production on the road to building socialism.

For Market Calculation, Not Market Competition

Once the basic pattern of final goods is projected, it then becomes possible to figure out the inputs of basic raw materials and intermediate products. How much steel, aluminum and other metals do you need? How much plastic, cotton and synthetic cloth, cement, rubber and the like?

The technology and information for this, incidentally, already exists. There are theoretical models and empirical studies which relate the output of raw materials and intermediate goods necessary to produce a given array of final goods. This is called input-output analysis. Significantly, the pioneer theorist and initial investigator of input-output analysis, Wassily Leontief, was a student at the University of Leningrad in the mid 1920s. So clearly his development of input-output analysis was conditioned by the rich discussion and debate among Soviet economists and other intellectuals about how a centrally planned, collectivized economy would work in practice.

In the early 1930s, Trotsky was extremely critical of the Stalin regime’s destructive economic adventurism and bureaucratic commandism. In the course of an article attacking this, Trotsky made a sort of statement of general principles: “Only through the inter-reaction of these three elements, state planning, the market, and Soviet democracy, can the correct direction of the economy of the transitional epoch be attained” (“The Soviet Economy in Danger,” October 1932). This is true for a future American workers state as well as for the Soviet Union at the time. The Soviet Union in 1932 was a degenerated workers state ruled by a conservative, parasitic Stalinist bureaucracy, which a workers state after a proletarian revolution in the U.S. would presumably not be.

Thus far, I have mainly discussed aspects of state planning. I’ve introduced the question of workers democracy mainly in terms of deciding the basic parameters of economic growth at the highest level. But I have not yet talked about the role of the market. It’s a complicated question. One area where the market is important, and in certain respects dominant, is in determining the specific output mix of consumer goods.

There are literally tens of thousands of types, styles and sizes of apparel. I became painfully aware of this a few weeks ago when I helped my daughter move into a new place with her boyfriend. I swear she has at least 80 pairs of shoes, all of them different styles. There are thousands of different kinds of household appliances, utensils and furniture. Even in a collectivized economy there will be dozens of types and models of automobiles. Not everyone is going to want to drive the same kind of car. So it makes no sense to subject the detailed output of consumer goods to even a short-term plan. Output should be constantly adjusted to the changing structure of demand.

However, rapidly and efficiently coordinating the supply and demand in a collectivized economy does not require atomized competition between state-owned enterprises. In Stalinist-ruled workers states, such as the former Soviet Union or China today, the terms “market socialism” and “market reforms” mean subjecting enterprises to competition with one another. Managers are given the authority to decide what to produce in what quantities, and they are instructed to sell their products at the highest available price in the market, either to consumers or to other enterprises. The stated goal is to maximize enterprise profitability, and usually the income of the managers and also the workers is tied to profitability (or negatively to losses). We are opposed to this system because it replicates many of the inequities and irrationalities of the capitalist market system.

In honor of my daughter, I will give the example of the shoe industry operated under the conditions of “market socialism” in a bureaucratically deformed workers state such as China. There are two shoe factories—we’ll call them A and B—and they both produce standard men’s dress shoes (which probably none of you in this room has ever worn nor intends to wear). Let’s say that Factory A is relatively new, so that its equipment is much more technologically advanced than Factory B. Therefore, Factory A can produce the same pair of shoes using 25 percent less labor time than Factory B can.

The market price for a pair of shoes is equal to the average cost of production for the industry as a whole. Factory A is producing below the average cost, so it is making a handsome profit. Its managers are getting a nice salary and bonuses, and its workers are also getting substantial wage increases because it’s making money. On the other hand, Factory B, which makes the same thing, is chronically losing money because its costs are above the average of the industry and the going market price. Unless the government then subsidizes this factory, some workers are going to be laid off or all workers will have to take cuts in wages and benefits just like under capitalism, through no fault of their own.

We are opposed to atomized competition between state enterprises. We are for using market calculation but not market competition. We advocate what can be called a centrally managed market system in the consumer goods sector. How would this operate? Again I will go back to my shoe industry example. There would be a central distribution agency that commands the output of several shoe factories. It supplies shoes to retail outlets and consumer cooperatives. You could even buy them on the Internet.

Let’s say that as a result of miscalculation or changing demand there is an oversupply of dress shoes and an undersupply of sporting goods shoes (running shoes, hiking boots, basketball shoes, especially those that are endorsed by Michael Jordan). So what happens with this system? The directors of the distributive agency call up some factories and say, “OK, cut back production of dress shoes, increase production of sporting goods shoes. If you need special equipment that you don’t have, if your workers need retraining, fine. We’ll provide it.” End of story. The basic point is that management remains centralized but utilizes market calculation in order to mesh supply and demand in this particular sector.

Syndicalism vs. Workers Government

I want to discuss the differences between our Marxist program and the syndicalist program for the post-revolutionary organization of the economy. Before the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, revolutionary syndicalism was the main left-wing alternative to Marxism. A number of leading figures in the early communist movement, who later became supporters of the Trotskyist Left Opposition, started out not as Marxists but as revolutionary syndicalists: James P. Cannon in the U.S., Alfred Rosmer in France, Andrés Nin in Spain.

The crux of the syndicalist program for the post-capitalist reorganization of the economy is that the workers should exercise total managerial authority in autonomous enterprises or at least in some branches of the economy. There would be no higher governmental authority above the industrial syndicates. In a sense syndicalism is a proletarian or industrial version of anarchism. It was described as such by a British anarchist intellectual, George Woodcock, writing in the 1940s:

“The syndicate, on the other hand, is based on the organization of the workers by industry at the place of work. The workers of each factory or depot or farm are an autonomous unit, who govern their own affairs and who make all the decisions as to the work they will do. These units are joined federally in a syndicate which serves to coordinate the actions of the workers in each industry. The federal organization has no authority over the workers in any branch, and cannot impose a veto on action like a trade union executive.”

— George Woodcock, Railways and Society (1943), excerpted in Woodcock, ed., The Anarchist Reader (1977)

In other words, the classic Bakuninite anarchist program of a federation of autonomous communes is here replaced by a federation of autonomous industrial or other economic units.

At the present time, neither in the United States nor anywhere else that I know of do we encounter and compete with significant syndicalist tendencies. So why do I want to talk about syndicalism? I have two reasons. One is that, if there is a significant upsurge of labor struggle in this country, many of the left-radical youth who are currently in and around the anarchist milieu will become workerist. Trust me on this, I’ve been through it. They will therefore subscribe to some kind of syndicalist program, which is an amalgam of anarchism and workerism.

The other reason is China. When the political situation in China opens up, and it will, I think that syndicalist ideas and even tendencies may gain a sympathetic hearing among Chinese workers. Chinese workers have already experienced a large dose of capitalism, and by all available evidence they don’t like it. At the same time, many Chinese workers may well identify Marxism-Leninism and central planning with bureaucratic commandism, not to speak of corruption. So when things open up, some leftist-minded Chinese workers as well as intellectuals may say, “Let’s kick out the capitalists and the CCP bureaucrats and the workers will take over and run by themselves the factories, construction sites, coal mines and railroads.”

There has never been and will never be an economy organized on syndicalist principles, just as there has never been and will never be a society organized on anarchist principles. But if we encounter a serious-minded leftist who subscribes to a syndicalist program, it is insufficient to say that such a program can never be realized. We also want to convince him that even if it were possible, in practice it would operate in a way contrary to the interests of the workers and of society in general.

The problem with syndicalism is very similar to that of “market socialism.” A syndicalist program would necessarily replicate many of the inequities and irrationalities of capitalism. If economic units are genuinely autonomous of one another, they can only interact through market relations governed by changing conditions of supply and demand. Inevitably, this means that some workers will have to be unemployed or have to take cuts in income when the market turns against them.

At the risk of sounding like a shoe fetishist, let’s consider the shoe industry again. (You can see that carrying shoe boxes up and down the stairs for a couple of weeks addled my brain!) This time we will examine it under the model of a syndicalist economy. The shoe-producing industry is organized as a single autonomous syndicate. This syndicate gets revenue by selling shoes to individuals and stores. In turn, it purchases leather, rubber, plastic and other inputs from other autonomous syndicates.

Let’s say leather happens to be in oversupply. More leather is produced than is demanded by the shoe-producing syndicate for its current output and the consumer demand. The directors of the shoe-producing syndicate tell their counterparts in the leather processing syndicate, “We only need 80 percent of your leather, we’re not going to buy any more because we don’t need any more than that.” So what is going to happen? These are autonomous enterprises. Some of the workers in the leather-producing industry are going to have to be laid off or, alternatively, all or some of them are going to have to take cuts in income and benefits because it is suffering reduced revenue.

For Workers Democracy in the Control of Production

Even though people who advocate syndicalism think they are militantly anti-capitalist, their program would actually reproduce many of the inequities and irrationalities of capitalism, despite their good intentions. We are opposed to the syndicalist program of workers’ management of autonomous enterprises. But we are for the maximal democratic participation of the workers in economic decision-making at the level of the factory, the construction site, the warehouse, the supermarket and the airport. The section on the Soviet Union in the 1938 Transitional Program states: “Factory committees should be returned the right to control production.” This is our program, not only in the past but also in the future.

What does this mean concretely? How does it differ from the syndicalist program of workers management? What we mean by workers control of production in a socialized economy is that the democratically elected representatives of the workers would have an authoritative, consultative voice in all economic decisions at the enterprise as well as higher levels. Let’s say that the industrial ministry in charge of aircraft production proposes to spend a couple of hundred million dollars retooling an older aircraft factory, replacing its antiquated machines with more up-to-date equipment. The managers, engineers, technicians would get together with the elected factory committee and jointly work out a concrete plan for retooling the enterprise. This would then be presented to the industrial ministry. The plan will not just come down from on high, with the workers having no say.

Another important area where elected factory committees would play an important role, even replacing direct managerial intervention, is in maintaining labor discipline. How to deal with a worker who is a perpetual goof-off or who is so incompetent that he disrupts production and maybe even endangers other workers? How do you deal with a worker who abuses sick leaves, who calls in sick just because he wants a day off to go fishing? It is much better that this kind of problem is handled by direct representatives of fellow workers who are more politically advanced and more socially responsible.

The basic point is that a centrally planned, collectivized economy is in no way incompatible with the very active and full participation of the workers at the most basic levels of the economy, as well as in the election of delegates to the soviets.

But unlike “workers management” schemes, workers control in a socialist economy does not allow individual factory committees to have the final say on the scope and composition of investment, since particular groups of workers cannot have unlimited claims on the state budget, i.e., on the collective social surplus. Resources for the replacement and expansion of the means of production, provision for the elderly and disabled, expenditure on schools and hospitals, etc., must be deducted from the total social product before distribution to individual workers. As Marx pointed out, “What the producer is deprived of in his capacity as a private individual benefits him directly or indirectly in his capacity as a member of society.”

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.” 

From The Pages Of Workers Vanguard-Students in Capitalist America: Huge Debt, No Jobs, No Future-Free, Quality Higher Education for All!

Click on the headline to link to the International Communist League (ICL) website.

The semi-light-hearted comment below stands in solidarity with the notion expressed in this article from WV that everybody in this society is entitled to free, quality higher education (and better earlier education to insure success too)

Markin comment November 7, 2011

Of course radicals and revolutionaries are as prone (I hope) to do a little old-time fun guerilla theater as anybody else. Ours is a long grim struggle so a little humor is practically mandatory in order to make it over the long haul. Last week, on Halloween, a group of perhaps two hundred Greater Boston college students (and a few old radicals intrigued by the idea) marched from the Boston Common on to the Federal Reserve Building that, conveniently (and not coincidentally), is just across from the Occupy Boston encampment.

Many of the students, showing that spark students are known for before they have to face the grind of work life, and such, in order to begin their probable life-time efforts to get out from under their student loans, wore zombie-like costumes featuring businessmen and women as their main motif. College fun, no more, no less, except of course these were politicized students and therefore as a symbol of that status naturally needed to have a zombie die-in (if that is not an oxymoron) in front of the Federal Reserve Building mentioned above.

The great lesson to be learned from this experience, especially in light of the Oakland General Strike where they were able to close the Port of Oakland for several hours, is that they, this they being the imperialists, capitalists, their apologists and hangers-on, are scared stiff anytime even the whiff of some threat to their power is in the air. As mentioned in the linked article this zombie die-in caused the powers at the Fed to lock down the building. That, my friends, means nobody can get in, and nobody can get out either. That is how close to the trip-wire the tensions of this society are. Hey, I have an idea……

Workers Vanguard No. 989
28 October 2011

Students in Capitalist America: Huge Debt, No Jobs, No Future

Free, Quality Higher Education for All!

(Young Spartacus pages)

As Karl Marx said, “Ignorance never helped nor did anybody any good.” Even given the class bias inherent in what is taught in the schools under capitalism, knowledge is an invaluable tool for those who seek to struggle for a better world. But this is the opposite of what the ruling class seeks to get out of the education system. That anyone should pay for the “privilege” of learning about the world makes sense only in the twisted logic of capitalist profit. To the capitalist financiers, mounting tuition and soaring student debt mean easy prey and big money. Every year, millions mortgage their futures, taking on debilitating student loans in order to attain the educational credentials necessary for a shot at the shrinking number of decent jobs left in the “world’s only superpower.” Students who graduate college have an average of $24,000 in loans. For higher degrees, debt ranged between $50,000 and $150,000. By the end of this year there will likely be over a trillion dollars in outstanding student loans, twice what they were five years ago.

In capitalist America, the lie has long been that anyone who studies hard and gets a good education will find the door wide open to a better life. While poor and working-class youth with only a high school diploma are simply consigned to a future of minimum-wage service jobs, if they’re lucky, many who claw and borrow their way to a degree don’t have it that much better. As bankers vie for bonuses and bailouts and capitalists enjoy record profits after layoffs and “restructuring,” students and recent graduates are fenced into a bleak future of mounting debt and dwindling job prospects. Recent graduates join unemployed millions scrambling for low-wage, dead-end jobs, often facing the monthly choice between rent and groceries—eviction and starvation. Over 40 percent of 2010 college graduates couldn’t find employment by spring the following year, according to a Rutgers University study.

Tuition has been rising drastically across the country, especially at public universities and colleges decimated by budget cuts. Once almost free, annual tuition and fees for California residents at the University of California have more than tripled over the past ten years—to over $13,000. Each wave of tuition hikes at public universities and colleges drives out another layer of working-class and particularly black students. At the same time, overall college enrollment has been soaring nationwide, especially as those unable to find work return to school. Able to choose from a glut of job seekers, employers prefer those with college degrees—an estimated 59 percent of available jobs in the U.S. now require at least some college, according to a Georgetown University study.

Meanwhile, funding for public primary and secondary schools has been slashed, with disastrous consequences for the quality of education. The Obama administration’s education “reforms” have meant the further gutting of public schools serving poor and minority youth while showcasing select well-funded private charter schools as an “alternative” (see “Obama’s War on Public Education,” WV No. 967, 22 October 2010). Desperate to attain employable skills, students increasingly attend for-profit colleges, such as the University of Phoenix and DeVry. Such schools have far more than doubled their enrollment over the past ten years, even as their graduation rates and their post-graduation employment rates remain a fraction of those of traditional institutions. The government’s answer has been to limit loans to students attending poorer-quality campuses.

Those saddled with an underwater home mortgage (where the balance is more than the value of the property) or drowning in credit-card debt have the last-ditch option of declaring bankruptcy—a “right” enshrined in law since 1841. But for those whose debt stems from an attempt to learn something, even fewer options are available. While federal loans have long been considered “non-dischargeable,” under a 2005 law private student loans are now also not generally allowed to be written off under bankruptcy, joining a select list including child support, back taxes and debts stemming from drunk driving.

By one estimate, 20 percent of all federal student loans that went into repayment in 1995 (during relatively better economic times) had gone into default by 2010. Delinquent payments mean mounting fines and fees as voracious creditors seek to pry every last morsel from the bones of their victims. Student loan debt can be garnished from wages indefinitely, and compounding late fees can amount to many times the value of the original amount loaned. This translates into obscene profits for the capitalists—from 1995 to 2005, the stock of Sallie Mae, the largest U.S. student loan corporation, returned over 1,900 percent.

The Obama administration touts loan “forgiveness” programs, which simply amount to trading debt slavery for indentured servitude. At best, participants work as teachers in low-income schools (if these haven’t been slated to be shut down). At worst, they join the racist, capitalist state apparatus, enlisting in the U.S. Army to kill the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. Even those programs often only “forgive” a fraction of outstanding debt. Then there are income-based repayment plans, begun in 2009, which lower payments only at the cost of drastically increasing the term of debt and interest, potentially more than doubling total interest owed. As if things weren’t bad enough, in the midst of the recent phony “debt ceiling crisis,” Democrats and Republicans rammed through a further reduction in federal loans, eliminating subsidized loans for graduate and professional students—meaning that they owe interest the moment they set foot on campus.

As is always the case in the U.S., minorities and black people in particular get hit first and worst. Private lenders charge discriminatory rates based on which school a student attends. Those schools with the highest minority populations have typically been profiled, “redlined” and hit with the highest rates. An estimated two-thirds of all black college students who drop out do so because they cannot afford to continue.

In 1865, the then-progressive capitalist North defeated the Southern system of slavery in the American Civil War. Following the Northern victory, some of the first public schools were established in the South, with the understanding that an educated workforce was more productive than illiterate slaves. Today in America, however, as manufacturing jobs continue to evaporate and the imperialists ravage the globe in search of quick fixes to jack up their declining rate of profit, a decent education for most youth is no longer on the agenda for the capitalists, or for either of their two parties—the Democrats or the Republicans.

Under capitalism, the rulers maintain elite schools as preserves for their offspring and to train a new generation of managers and technicians. For the education of those they exploit and oppress, they spend only what they can realize back in profit and what they have conceded as a result of hard class battle. The capitalist rulers need skilled workers, but they benefit from a working class chained by debt and beaten down, until it takes whatever scraps are offered and thanks the bosses for the opportunity.

It is a measure of the decay in society that the only way for the majority of working class and poor to get a college education is to take on tens of thousands of dollars in loans, only to find themselves reduced to indentured servitude to pay back their financial usurers. The Spartacus Youth Clubs fight for open admissions, no tuition and a state-paid living stipend for all students. This is linked to our fight for a socialist future where the resources and wealth of society are dedicated to the advancement of everyone and not to the exclusive benefit of a tiny capitalist class. Liberals constantly demand “money for education, not for war” as an answer to the vast inequality in society. But to get the money for jobs, education and health care, to make life livable for blacks, immigrants, all working people and the poor, we must break the power of the bourgeoisie.

Working people and youth in the U.S. and around the world must throw off illusions in the reformability of this dead-end system and join the revolutionary struggle for socialism across the globe. Under the rule of the working class, there would not only be education for all, but also jobs for all. Universal education, to the highest levels, will be a key component in developing a new socialist society where humankind will transcend the daily struggle for existence and rise to undreamed-of heights. Then, as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto: “In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” 

On The Anniversary Of Greensboro 1979-Never Forget-From The Marxist Archives-Fascism:How to Fight It And How Not To Fight It

Click on the headline to link to a Wikipedia entry for the Greensboro 1979 events.

Markin comment:

The events of Greenboro, North Carolina 1979, today more than ever as we gear up our struggles in the aftermath of the spark of the Occupy movement, should be permanently etched in our minds. We had best know how to deal with the fascists and other para-military types that rear their heads when people begin to struggle against the bosses. The article below points the way historically.
Markin comment on this article :

Every year, and rightfully so, we leftist militants, especially those of us who count ourselves among the communist militants, remember the 1979 Greensboro, North Carolina massacre of fellow communists by murderous and police-protected Nazis, fascists and Klansmen. That remembrance, as the article below details, also includes trying to draw the lessons of the experience and an explanation of political differences. For what purpose? Greensboro 1979-never again, never forget-or forgive.

Although right this minute, this 2011 minute, the Nazis/fascists are not publicly raising their hellish ideas, apparently “hiding” just now on the fringes of the tea party movement, this is an eternal question for leftists. The question, in short, of when and how to deal with this crowd of locust. Trotsky, and others, had it right back in the late 1920s and early 1930s-smash this menace in the shell. 1933, when they come to power, as Hitler did in Germany (or earlier, if you like, with Mussolini in Italy) is way too late, as immediately the German working class, including its Social-Democratic and Communist sympathizers found out, and later many parts of the rest of the world. That is the when.

For the how, the substance of this article points the way forward, and the way not forward, as represented by the American Communist Party’s (and at later times other so-called “progressives” as well, including here the Communist Workers Party) attempts to de-rail the street protests and rely, as always, on the good offices of the bourgeois state, and usually, on this issue the Democrats. Sure, grab all the allies you can, from whatever source, to confront the fascists when they raise their heads. But rely on the mobilization of the labor movement on the streets to say what’s what, not rely on the hoary halls of bourgeois government and its hangers-on, ideologues, and lackeys.

"In this period it is very important to distinguish between the fascists and the state. The state is not yet ready to subordinate itself to the fascists: it wants to ‘arbitrate.’ ... .Our strategic task is to increase these hesitations and apprehensions on the part of the 'arbiter,' its army and its police. How? By showing that we are stronger than the fascists, that is, by giving them a good beating in full view of this arbiter without, as long as we are not absolutely forced to directly taking on the state itself. That is the whole point." —reprinted in Intercontinental Press, 2 December 1974
On 15 June 1974 London's Red Lion Square witnessed one of the bloodiest confrontations between police and left-wing forces in recent British history. Countless demonstrators were beaten with police truncheons, a number were trampled under mounted patrols, and one young man, Kevin Gately, was killed by the cops, his head so brutally battered that he died of a cerebral hemorrhage. The occasion was a protest against a rally scheduled by the fascist-inspired National Front.

The NF is one of many extreme-rightist organizations that have been surfacing and spreading in Europe during recent months. Their breeding ground is the fear of economic ruin, in particular an intensified competition for jobs in the wake of a worldwide capitalist economic slump.

As in the past, one of the common fascist themes is race hatred against Jews, blacks and now immigrant workers. Former National Front fuehrer John Tyndall was quoted in 1969 as saying: "the Jew is a poisonous maggot feeding on a body in an advanced state of decay" (Sunday Times, 30 March 1969). Along with NF national organizer Martin Webster and others in the group's leadership, Tyndall was during the early 1960's a member of the now-defunct British National Socialist* Movement, which called for "deportation of all non-Aryans" from Britain.

While many of these groups seek to put on respectable airs, their aim is to recruit petty-bourgeois and lumpen elements for the purpose of brutally smashing "the reds" and organized labor. As the history of the rise of Nazism tragically demonstrated, it is literally a life-and-death matter for the workers movement to crush such reactionary paramilitary organizations while they are still weak.

With the growth of the NF in recent years (it polled 113,000 votes in last October's parliamentary elections), many leftists and labor militants have understood the need to stop this racialist anti-communist outfit. The occasion for their protest last June was a National Front meeting against the Labour Party government's decision to grant amnesty to persons deemed “illegal immigrants" under the discriminatory 1971 Immigration Act.

Police Riot at Red Lion Square

On the day of the rally, the 1,500 NF marchers drew up in military formation, drums beating and Union Jacks Flying. Many of the flags were mounted on steel-pointed poles, some of the marchers were dressed in black shirts while others wore army surplus uniforms. A counterdemonstration of about 1,000 was organized by the Communist Party (CP) and Liberation, with contingents of the International Socialists (13) and International Marxist Group (IMG).

Trouble began as the anti-fascist demonstrators approached Red Lion Square, occupied (according to the IS account) by about 500 police including mounted patrols. The bourgeois press and police claim the marchers were told in advance to make a right turn as they entered the square, moving away from the meeting hall where the NF rally was to take place. The left organizations say they were told no such thing. In any case it is clear that a section of the march, with the IMG toward the front, sought to break through the police lines to get to Conway Hall.

The police thereupon launched a baton charge, kicking and punching their way into the crowd. As the momentum of the march carried more people into the square, units of the elite Special Patrol Group, notorious for smashing workers' picket lines, were brought in. They formed a wedge and drove through the crowd, splitting it in two.

The fighting intensified as they cornered one section of the ^marchers in a side street. Then the arrests began. Blood-soaked demonstrators were dragged by their hair to waiting "'police vans and several bodies were left lying in the square, among them Kevin Gately. Some of the remaining protesters regrouped on the side street and jeered the NF marchers, who were now approaching from a different direction. After a pause of about ten minutes, the police suddenly launched a mounted charge against the leftists, a savage and totally unprovoked attack. The National Front column looked on jubilantly, then paraded triumphantly into Red Lion Square cheering the police and chanting, "We got to get the reds'."

The cops' vicious attack, including an unprovoked horse charge and the death of Kevin Gately, are the responsibility of the Wilson government. Gately's funeral drew thousands of angry marchers and the wanton police assault has been vigorously condemned by numerous socialist and union organizations. Yet, incredibly, the government has sought to blame the left, particularly the IMG, for the violence! The recently published Scarman Tribunal report rejected most charges police brutality and denied any responsibility of the cops in: Gately's death. This is in spite of the fact that the demonstrators used no weapons, only the police had instruments which could have caused the head wounds (truncheons and horses' hooves), and there were witnesses to the beating. This "report" is a shameless whitewash of what was in fact a police riot.

However, our proletarian solidarity with the victims of bourgeois "law and order" must not be an excuse to cover up serious errors committed by some leaders of the antifascist demonstration at Red Lion Square. It is not enough to want to fight fascists—one must know how to do it. A New Left policy of confrontation with police who obviously intended to defend the National Front is not the way.

There is no doubt that the IMG sought to break through police lines in order to arrive in front of the meeting hall. Jackie Stevens, a member of the IMG, gave this report: "We came across a line of police, and behind them were mounted police. When we tried to get through to Conway Hall, the police drew their batons and charged..." (Intercontinental Press, 24 June 1974).

It is less clear why the IMG took this dangerously mistaken step. But whatever the prior arrangements with the police; whether demonstrators had made plans beforehand or simply fell into a police trap; if it was bravado or confusion—in any case, the decision to try to push through the police lines was a disastrous move. The fact that the demonstrators lacked any means to defend themselves from the cops' murderous onslaught, while it refutes police theories of a conspiracy to attack the police, only makes this move all the more grievously wrong.

Marxists do not uphold a spurious "right" of fascists to freedom of speech; we call on the labor movement to mobilize to prevent the reactionary terror gangs from spewing out their race-hate poison in mass rallies and by provocations such as their marches in military uniform. But to prevent them from speaking through militant mass action requires a favorable balance of forces—something that was obviously not present in Red Lion Square.

Yes, 20,000 workers could, and should, have prevented the NF from holding its racist meeting. The failure of the unions to mobilize against these anti-labor scum is criminal. But this betrayal cannot be corrected by false heroics, sending several score demonstrators against well-equipped riot police. Not only was one militant killed and many injured, but the National Front scored a significant publicity victory as a result.

"Far Left" Battles Cops in Paris

Unfortunately, such confrontationism is not an isolated phenomenon. In France, while the Stalinists and social democrats systematically abstain from mobilizing the working class ^against the fascists, the fake "Trotskyists" of the United Secretariat (of which the IMG is the British affiliate) have taken a different approach: adventurist clashes with police protecting the fascists. The classic case of this substitutionism occurred on June 21, 1973.

On that date the Ligue Communiste (now Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire), French section of the USec, organized a counterdemonstration against a rally by the fascist Ordre Nouveau ("New Order"). The ON had for some time been campaigning against "wildcat immigration" with virulently racist rhetoric, and had succeeded in provoking assaults on immigrant workers. They planned to highlight this campaign nationally with a mass rally at the Mutuality meeting hall in Paris.

While traditionally the Paris police had not mobilized heavily in conflicts between the right and left, this time they clearly were preparing to defend Ordre Nouveau. First they looked on as the ON turned the meeting hall into an armed camp, moving in van loads of iron pipes, clubs and other assorted weaponry. Then, by the Ligue Communiste's own report, the Mutuality was surrounded by 2,000 police, a veritable army to protect the fascists, waiting for the "far left" demonstrators to make the slightest move.
The LC, which early in the day realized that the police were ready to break up the anti-fascist demonstration, encouraged people to come to the march prepared for a confrontation. The leftists were heavily armed with clubs and molotov cocktails. Thus it was clear from the beginning that the Ligue fully expected a bash with the cops—a battle which, however, they could not possibly win without massive contingents of workers and left militants from all quarters.

When the police cordoned off the area around the hall they were bombarded by incendiaries. The anti-fascist demonstrators then broke up into small groups and long into the night isolated clashes continued throughout the area. While there was no clear military defeat of the leftists, they were unable to do more than harass the -cops and did not stop the fascists. The next day Ligue headquarters were occupied by the police, 25 of its supporters were arrested and the organization was outlawed.

The Spartacist League immediately and vigorously protested this viciously anti-democratic government attack and called for united defense of the Ligue. But we also criticized its adventurist tactics:

"The Trotskyist movement has a long history o£ resistance to fascist groups, including attacking and dispersing fascist meetings.... In this case, however, the presence of massive police force made the relation of forces unfavorable to the left. It would appear that the Ligue Communiste recklessly entered into an adventurist confrontation by attempting to take on the armed power of the state under circumstances which could lead only to the defeat of the left. The correct tactic, given the government's authorization of the meeting, was to mount a campaign calling on the mass workers organizations ... to mobilize tens of thousands of their members to prevent the fascist meeting. In their absence, the Ligue could certainly have organized a mass protest demonstration. This is not the same thing, however, as a futile attempt to overwhelm the police with 1,000 youths."

—"Repeal the Ban on the French Ligue Communiste," WV No. 25, 20 July 1973
Portugal: A Hair's Breadth from Disaster

Another instance of stupid guerrillaist confrontation tactics occurred earlier this year in Portugal, where it could easily have had disastrous consequences in an explosive pre-revolutionary situation. On the night of January 25-26 several thousand youth and workers in the northern city of Porto surrounded a meeting hall where the rightist Social Democratic Center (CDS) was holding its national congress. This party's leaders include numerous former officials of the Salazar-Caetano dictatorship.

Four leftist organizations-LUAR, MES, PRP, and LCI-called a demonstration in front of the meeting hall. Their joint communique' merely announced a protest action. After an hour, however, a second demonstration arrived on the scene, this one led by the OCMLP (Portuguese Communist Organization Marxist-Leninist, a left-Maoist group), which in an attempt to stop the congress proceedings attacked the paramilitary police who were protecting the building (Esquerda Socialista, 28 January).

This infantile "heroic" gesture led to baton charges by the special police and a tear gas barrage followed by shots, leaving a dozen demonstrators injured, some seriously. The leftists' only means of defense was to hurl bricks. Then beginning around 8 p.m. the regional military commander sent in several army units. The officer in charge asked the CDS to end the meeting (which it did), while the ranks outside fraternized with the demonstrators.

Due to the hostile attitude of the troops, rightist politicians in the Crystal Palace were afraid to leave the building, however, and during the early morning hours a second paramilitary police unit attacked on horse and in personnel carriers. Soldiers reportedly resisted the police assault. Finally, at 7 a.m. parachutists from a base commanded by conservative officers managed to extract the besieged reactionaries (Luta Popular, 2 February; Revolucao, 7 February).