Why do Social Democrats do what they do?

August 21, 2017

Michael Roberts on Marx vs. Keynes and why Marx was closer to the truth June 26 2017

SCIENTIFICALLY ERRONEOUS AND WITHOUT APPLICATION TO THE MODERN WORLD

Michael Roberts on Marx vs. Keynes and why Marx was closer to the truth

MICHAEL ROBERTS

Michael Roberts is a financial economist who has worked in the City of London for over 30 years.  In his book, The Great Recession: a Marxist view, he forecast the global financial crash.  His latest book, The Long Depression (Haymarket 2016), looks at the causes of the continued stagnation in the world economy since 2009.
In 1926, John Maynard Keynes, already the most celebrated economist and political writer of his time, reviewed the competing ideas of conventional economics (which he called ‘laisser-faire’) and its revolutionary alternative (Marxism).  In his book, Laisser-faire and Communism, Keynes, a contemporary of the Bolshevik leaders Lenin and Trotsky, sought to dismiss the Soviet revolution that had shocked the ruling groups of the rest of the world just a few years before.
His attack was that: how could anything worthwhile come out of communism, based as it was on the ideas and theories of Karl Marx?  “How can I accept the [Communist] doctrine,” Keynes wrote, “which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world?”  And more: “Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values (Keynes, Laissez-Faire and Communism, quoted in Hunt 1979: 377).
Keynes was writing some 60 years after Marx’s Capital was first published.  As the 150th anniversary of the first publication of Capital approaches, can we agree with Keynes damning judgement of Marx’s ideas? Marx’s Capital was a critique of the political economy of his time but it is also a searing analysis of the nature of what we now call capitalism.  Based on a labour theory of value, Marx attempted to show how labour is exploited even though exchange in markets appears to be one of equality.  Above all, Marx’s analysis suggests that capitalism has irreconcilable contradictions that can only be overcome by the replacement of private production for profit with production for need through common ownership and control.
Keynes accepted the mainstream marginal utility theory
In contrast, to this ‘illogical and obsolete’ labour theory of value, Keynes accepted the mainstream marginal utility theory.  When this became the dominant explanation for prices of production in an economy, replacing the labour theory in the later 1870s, Engels remarked: “The fashionable theory just now here is that of Stanley Jevons, according to which value is determined by utility and on the other hand by the limit of supply (i.e. the cost of production), which is merely a confused and circuitous way of saying that value is determined by supply and demand. Vulgar Economy everywhere!” (22 MECW, vol.48, p.136).
Marginal utility theory quickly became untenable even in mainstream circles because subjective value cannot be measured and aggregated, so the psychological foundation of marginal utility was soon given up, but without abandoning the theory itself.  Thus Keynes continued to hold to a scientifically erroneous theory of prices, which was untestable while rubbishing Marx’s objective and testable theory of value based on labour time expended.
For Marx, the driver of capital accumulation is profit.  Profit calls the tune.  Marx explained in Capital and other works that there was an inherent tendency for profitability to decline over time and this downward pressure on profitability would eventually cause a fall in the mass of profits and a crisis and slump would ensue. Think of how a capitalist crisis caused by falling profits can be solved if Marx is right. The only way that it could be ended was if enough capitalists went bankrupt, enough old machinery and plant were close down and enough workers were laid off. Then eventually, the costs of production and investment would be sufficiently reduced to raise the profitability of production for those capitalists still surviving to start to invest again. After a while, however (maybe years, even decades), the law of profitability would again exert its power and the whole ‘crap’, as Marx called it, would start again. Thus we have cycles of booms and slumps.
In contrast, Keynes, denying that profits come from the unpaid labour of the production process, reckoned that it is overall ‘effective demand’ that causes crises, in particular slumps in investment and consumption that lead to reductions in employment, wages and profit. Who is right?  Keynesian theory would suggest that we just have to ‘manage’ the economy it starts slipping into recession and all will be well. This economic management would be: easy money at low interest rates and fiscal stimulus through increased government spending and budget deficits. Well, look what happened from the late 1960s, when Keynesian economics was all the rage and government management of the economy was the order of the day. Even President Nixon then declared that we are ‘all Keynesians now’.  By the end of the 1970s, the strategists of capital had ditched Keynes and opted for what we now call ‘neoliberal’ policies of cutting back on the size of government, privatising, weakening the trade unions, liberalising markets (including financial markets) and imposing tight monetary and fiscal austerity (or at least in part – austerity did not apply to defence and wars!). Why was this? It was because Keynesian policies had failed to avoid new crises, indeed, the biggest worldwide economic slump in capitalism since the war in 1974-75 and then a deeper and more damaging slump in 1980-2. How could there be these new crises if Keynesian economic management was in operation everywhere? Keynesian economics had no answer.
Keynesian policies could even delay the capitalist recovery
What could Marxist economics offer to explain the crisis of the 1970s where Keynesianism had failed?  Marx said that the key to understanding the capitalist mode of production lay in the nature of production to sell commodities on a market for profit. Profit was the key. Marx says: let’s start with profits. If profits fall, then capitalists would stop investing, lay off workers and wages would drop and consumption would fall. And it was not just the slumps of the 1970s.  If we analyse the changes in investment and consumption prior to each recession or slump in the post-war US economy, we find that consumption demand has played little or no leading role in provoking a slump. It is investment that is the crucial swing factor. Take the last Great Recession. A downward movement in corporate profits led investment and GDP by up to two years and the recovery in profits did likewise on the period after 2009. Policies designed to reduce interest rates, or even get some government spending going, namely Keynesian policies, would not avoid these slumps or even get recovery going. Indeed, more spending on welfare and unemployment benefits could drive up taxes and extra borrowing could drive up interest rates. And more government investment that replaced or encroached on private sector investment could be actually damaging to the profitability of capital. So Keynesian policies could even delay the capitalist recovery.
Indeed, the austerity policies of most governments are not as insane as Keynesians think. Keynesians say: why can’t the capitalist sector see that it is their interests for governments to spend more, not less, in a slump?  But neo-liberal policies follow from the need to drive down costs, particularly wage costs, but also taxation and interest costs, and the need to weaken the labour movement so that profits can be raised. It is a perfectly rational policy from the point of view of capital, which is why Keynesian policies were never introduced to any degree in the 1930s or in current Long Depression. Only Marx’s economics could explain the 1970s, not Keynes. Indeed, in a way, the strategists of capital recognised that too. Their aim was to raise the profitability of capital at all costs as the only way out – not to revert to Keynesian ‘demand management’.
Actually, Keynes himself was not on the side of the workers in a solution to a slump. “In emphasising our point of departure from the classical system, we must not overlook an important point of agreement. … with a given organisation, equipment and technique, real wages and the volume of output (and hence of employment) are uniquely correlated, so that, in general, an increase in employment can only occur to the accompaniment of a decline in the rate of real wages. Thus I am not disputing this vital fact which the classical economists have (rightly) asserted as indefeasible.” So cutting real wages was part of the solution to a slump for Keynes, just as it was with neo-liberal austerity measures.
Keynes also had a theory of declining profitability.  But he saw the decline of the rate of profit not as pointing toward a revolutionary transformation in the mode of production, but rather as representing a progressive softening in the antagonism between the capitalists and the working class.  As capital becomes “less scarce” relative to labour, the rate of profit will fall and real wages will rise. More of the total product will therefore go to the working class and less will go to the capitalists – inequality would decline. As the “scarcity-value” of capital dissipated, according to Keynes, economic growth would peter out. Interest rates would fall to zero or very close to zero, causing the gradual extinction of the hateful “money capitalists.” This would leave the industrial and commercial capitalists able to earn a little extra profit by taking on “entrepreneurial” risks.  Wages up, profits up - in a ‘stationary’ world of superabundance. In 1931, at the depth of the Great Depression, Keynes told his students at Cambridge University, many of whom were becoming attracted to the ‘obsolete’ theories of Marx, that they should not worry.  The Great Depression would pass: it was a ‘technical problem’ that could be corrected.  “I draw the conclusion that, assuming no important wars and no important increase in population, the economic problem may be solved, or be at least within sight of solution, within a hundred years. This means that the economic problem is not – if we look into the future – the permanent problem of the human race.” The long-term future under capitalism through an expansion of technology, and assuming no more wars (!) and population control, would be a world of leisure with a 15-hour week and superabundance for all, well before Marx’s 200th anniversary.  This is the opposite of what Marx predicted. Who was right?
 The level of poverty within ‘rich’ modern economies is still high
The evidence since Keynes dismissed Marx’s theories is that, far from finance capital being consigned to history, finance capital has never been more powerful globally; and inequality of wealth and incomes within national economies and globally has never been more extreme since capitalism became the dominant mode of production. Also, most people in the Western world are still working 40-hour weeks and the level of poverty within ‘rich’ modern economies is still high. In the rest of the world, unemployment, sweated labour and poverty are the modal experience. No world of leisure there. For Keynes, capitalism was the only possible system of human social organisation that delivered economic and political power to people like him. Marxism and communism was a threat to that belief. “How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement?”
In Laisser-faire and Communism, Keynes concluded: “For the most part, I think that Capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight”; while Socialism “is, in fact, little better than a dusty survival of a plan to meet the problems of fifty years ago, based on a misunderstanding of what someone said a hundred years ago.” As we approach Marx 200, the evidence tells the opposite. Marx was closer to the truth.

THREE FAVOURITE TEXTS ON THE TOPIC:

Paul Mattick Snr, Marx and Keynes: the limits of the mixed economy, Horizon Books Boston 1969
Geoff Pilling, The crisis of Keynesian economics; a Marxist view, Croom Helm, London 1987
John Maynard Keynes,The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, Macmillan, Cambridge, 1936

August 20, 2017

From The Archives: What it means to be a Socialist, SEP 21, 2015 CHRIS HEDGES


What It Means to Be a Socialist

Chris Hedges gave this speech Sunday at a Santa Ana, Calif., event sponsored by the Green Party of Orange County.
We live in a revolutionary moment. The disastrous economic and political experiment that attempted to organize human behavior around the dictates of the global marketplace has failed. The promised prosperity that was to have raised the living standards of workers through trickle-down economics has been exposed as a lie. A tiny global oligarchy has amassed obscene wealth, while the engine of unfettered corporate capitalism plunders resources, exploits cheap, unorganized labor and creates pliable, corrupt governments that abandon the common good to serve corporate profit. The relentless drive by the fossil fuel industry for profits is destroying the ecosystem, threatening the viability of the human species. And no mechanisms to institute genuine reform or halt the corporate assault are left within the structures of power, which have surrendered to corporate control. The citizen has become irrelevant. He or she can participate in heavily choreographed elections, but the demands of corporations and banks are paramount.
History has amply demonstrated that the seizure of power by a tiny cabal, whether a political party or a clique of oligarchs, leads to despotism. Governments that cater exclusively to a narrow interest group and redirect the machinery of state to furthering the interests of that group are no longer capable of responding rationally in times of crisis. Blindly serving their masters, they acquiesce to the looting of state treasuries to bail out corrupt financial houses and banks while ignoring chronic unemployment and underemployment, along with stagnant or declining wages, crippling debt peonage, a collapsing infrastructure, and the millions left destitute and often homeless by deceptive mortgages and foreclosures.
A bankrupt liberal class, holding up values it does nothing to defend, discredits itself as well as the purported liberal values of a civil democracy as it is swept aside, along with those values. In this moment, a political, economic or natural disaster—in short a crisis—will ignite unrest, lead to instability and see the state carry out draconian forms of repression to maintain “order.” This is what lies ahead.
We will, as Friedrich Engels wrote, make a transition to either socialism or barbarism. If we do not dismantle global capitalism we will descend into the Hobbesian chaos of failed states, mass migrations—which we are already witnessing—and endless war. Populations, especially in the global South, will endure misery and high mortality rates caused by collapsing ecosystems and infrastructures on a scale not seen since perhaps the black plague. There can be no accommodation with global capitalism. We will overthrow this system or be crushed by it. And at this moment of crisis we need to remind ourselves what being a socialist means and what it does not mean.
First and foremost, all socialists are unequivocal anti-militarists and anti-imperialists. They understand that there is no genuine social, political, economic or cultural reform as long as the militarists and their corporatist allies in the war industry continue to loot and pillage the state budget, leaving the poor to go hungry, workingmen and -women in distress, the infrastructure to collapse and social services to be slashed in the name of austerity. The psychosis of permanent war, which infected the body politic after World War I with the internal and external war on communism, and which today has mutated into the war on terror, is used by the state to strip us of civil liberties, redirect our resources to the war machine and criminalize democratic dissent. We have squandered trillions of dollars and resources in endless and futile wars, from Vietnam to the Middle East, at a time of ecological and fiscal crisis. The folly of endless war is one of the signs of a dying civilization. One F-22 Raptor fighter plane costs $350 million. We have 187 of them. One Tomahawk cruise missile costs $1.41 million. We fired 161 of them when we attacked Libya. This missile attack on Libya alone cost us a quarter of a billion dollars. We spend an estimated $1.7 trillion a year on war, far more than the official 54 percent of discretionary spending, or roughly $600 billion. If we don’t break the back of the war machine, profound change will be impossible.
We have been at war almost continuously since the first Gulf War in 1991, followed by Somalia in 1992, Haiti in 1994, Bosnia in 1995, Serbia-Kosovo in 1999, Afghanistan in 2001, where we have now been fighting for 14 years, and Iraq in 2003. And we can toss in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Syria, along with Israel’s proxy war against the Palestinian people.
The human cost has been horrendous. Over 1 million dead in Iraq. Millions more are displaced or are refugees. Iraq will never be reconstituted as a unified state. And it was our war industry that created the mess. We attacked a country that did not threaten us, and had no intention of threatening its neighbors, and destroyed one of the most modern infrastructures in the Middle East. We brought not only terror and death—including the Shiite death squads we armed and trained—but power outages, food shortages and the collapse of basic services, from garbage collection to sewer and water treatment. We dismantled Iraq’s institutions, disbanded its security forces, threw its health service into crisis and engineered massive poverty and unemployment. And out of the chaos rose insurgents, gangsters, kidnapping rings, jihadists and rogue paramilitary groups—including our hired mercenaries, like [the current army of] Iraq. Gary Leupp in an article in Counterpunch titled “How George W. Bush Destroyed the Temple of Baal” got it when he wrote:
Bush destroyed the law and order which had permitted girls to walk to school, heads uncovered, in modern western dress. He destroyed the freedom of physicians and other professionals to go about their work and caused masses of them to exit their country. He destroyed neighborhoods whose residents were forced to flee for their lives. He destroyed the Christian community, which dropped from 1.5 million in 2001 to perhaps 200,000 a decade later. He destroyed the prevalent ideology of secularism and ushered in an era of bitterly contested sectarian rule. He destroyed the right to broadcast rock ‘n roll music, or sell liquor and DVDs.
He destroyed the stability of Anbar province by sowing the chaos that allowed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi to establish—for the first time—an al-Qaeda branch in Iraq.
He destroyed the stability of Syria when “Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia” (now ISIL) retreated into that neighboring country during the “surge” of 2007. By creating power vacuums and generating new chapters and spin-offs of al-Qaeda, he destroyed Yazidi communities and their freedom from genocide and slavery. By hatching the forerunner of ISIL, he destroyed the prospects for a peaceful “Arab Spring” in Syria three years after his presidency ended.
Through his actions he destroyed the border between Syria and Iraq. He destroyed the Tomb of Jonah in Mosul. He destroyed 3,300 year old monuments, the glorious art of the Assyrians, in Nimrud. On August 23 while sitting in his home artist’s studio in Crawford, Texas, he destroyed the 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin in Palmyra, Syria.
The most complete structure in that gorgeous pearl of an ancient preserved city, a mix of Roman, Syrian and Egyptian artistic influences, is now a pile of rubble.
Foreign battlefields are laboratories for the architects of industrial slaughter. They perfect the tools of control and annihilation on the demonized and the destitute. But these tools eventually make their way back to the heart of empire. As the corporatists and the militarists disembowel the nation, rendering our manufacturing centers boarded-up wastelands and tossing our citizens into poverty and despair, the methods of subjugation familiar to those on the outer reaches migrate back to us—wholesale surveillance, indiscriminate use of lethal force in the streets of our cities against unarmed citizens, a stripping away of our civil liberties, a dysfunctional court system, drones, arbitrary arrest, detention and mass incarceration. The tyranny empire imposes on others, as Thucydides reminded us, it finally imposes on itself. Those who kill in our name abroad soon kill in our name at home. Democracy is snuffed out. As the German socialist Karl Liebknecht said during the First World War: “The main enemy is at home.” We will destroy the engines of endless war and shut down the war profiteers or we will become the next victims; indeed many in our marginal communities already are its victims.You cannot be a socialist and an imperialist. You cannot, as Bernie Sanders has done, support the Obama administration’s wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen and be a socialist. You cannot, as Sanders has done, vote for military appropriations bills, including every bill and resolution that empowers and sanctions Israel to carry out its slow-motion genocide of the Palestinian people, and be a socialist. And you cannot laud, as Sanders has done, military contractors because they bring jobs to your state. Sanders may have the rhetoric of inequality down, but he is a full-fledged member of the Democratic Caucus, which kneels before the war industry and their lobbyists. And no genuine grass-roots movement will ever be born within the bowels of the Democratic Party establishment, which is currently attempting to shut down Sanders to make sure its anointed candidate is the nominee. No elected official dares to challenge any weapons system, no matter how costly or redundant. And Sanders, who votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time, steers clear of confronting the master of war.
Sanders, of course, like all elected officials, profits from this Faustian pact. The Vermont Democratic Party leadership, in return for his deference, has not supported any candidate to run against Sanders since 1990. Sanders endorses Democratic candidates, no matter how much they push neoliberalism down our throats, including Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. And Sanders, carrying water for the Democrats, is the primary obstacle to the building of a third party in Vermont.
There is a reason no establishment politician, including Sanders, dares say a word against the war industry. If you do, you end up like Ralph Nader, tossed into the political wilderness. Nader was not afraid to speak this truth. And it is in the wilderness, I am afraid, that real socialists must for the moment reside. Socialists understand that if we do not dismantle the war industry, nothing, absolutely nothing, will change; indeed, things will only get worse.
War is a business. Imperial wars seize natural resources on behalf of corporations and ensure the profits of the arms industry. This is as true in Iraq as it was in our campaigns of genocide against Native Americans. And, as A. Philip Randolph said, it is only when it is impossible to profit from war that wars will be dramatically curtailed, if not stopped. No one sitting in the boardroom of General Dynamics is hoping peace breaks out in the Middle East. No one in the Pentagon, especially the generals who build their careers by fighting and managing wars, prays for a cessation of conflict.
War, wrapped in the cant of nationalism and the euphoria that comes with the giddy celebration of power and violence, is used by ruling elites to thwart and destroy the aspirations of workingmen and -women and distract us from our disempowerment.
“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. … And that is war, in a nutshell,” the [five-time] socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs said during World War I. “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles.”
Debs, who in 1912 received almost a million votes, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for saying this. The judge who sentenced him denounced those “who would strike the sword from the hand of this nation while she is engaged in defending herself against a foreign and brutal power.”
“I have been accused of obstructing the war,” Debs said in court. “I admit it. I abhor war. I would oppose war if I stood alone.”
Debs, who would spend 32 months in prison, until 1921, also delivered to many a socialist credo at his sentencing after being found guilty of violating the Espionage Act:
“Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. While there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”
The capitalist class and its doppelgängers in the military establishment have carried out what John Ralston Saul calls a coup d’état in slow motion. The elites use war, as they always have, as a safety valve for class conflict. War, as W.E.B. Du Bois said, creates an artificial community of interest between the oligarchs and the poor, diverting the poor from their natural interests. The redirecting of national frustrations and emotions into the struggle against a common enemy, the cant of patriotism, the endemic racism that is the fuel of all ideologies that sustain war, the false bonding that comes with the sense of comradeship, seduces those on the margins of society. They feel in wartime that they belong. They feel they have a place. They are offered the chance to be heroes. And off they march like sheep to the slaughter. By the time they find out, it is too late. “Modern totalitarianism can integrate the masses so completely into the political structure, through terror and propaganda, that they become the architects of their own enslavement,” wrote Dwight Macdonald. “This does not make slavery less, but on the contrary more—a paradox there is no space to unravel here. Bureaucratic collectivism, not capitalism, is the most dangerous future enemy of socialism.”
“War,” as Randolph Bourne wrote, “is the health of the state.” It allows the state to accrue to itself power and resources that in peacetime a citizenry would never permit. And that is why the war state, like the one we live in, has to make certain that we are always afraid. Constant violence by the war machine, we are assured, will alone make us safe. Any attempt to rein in spending or expanding power will profit the enemy.
It was the militarists and the capitalists that at the end of World War II conspired to roll back the gains made by workingmen and -women under the New Deal. They used the rhetoric of the Cold War to cement into place an economy geared towards total war, even in peacetime. This permitted the arms industry to continue to make weapons, with guaranteed profits from the state, and permitted the generals to continue to preside over their fiefdoms. The incestuous relations between the corporatists and the militarists see retired generals and officers offered lucrative jobs in the war industry.
The manufacturing of weapons systems and the waging of war is today the chief activity of the state. It is no longer one among other means of advancing the national interest, as Simone Weil pointed out, but has become the sole national interest.
These corporatists and militarists are the enemy of socialists. They bankrolled and promoted movements in the early 20th century that called for reforms within these structures of capitalism—that spoke in the language of the “politics of productivism,” that eschewed the language of class conflict and talked only about economic growth and a partnership with the capitalist class. The NAACP, for example, was formed to lure African-Americans away from the Communist Party, the only radical organization in the early 20th century that did not discriminate. The AFL-CIO was [later] fed CIA money to help crush and supplant radical unions abroad and at home. The AFL-CIO, like the NAACP, is today a victim of its own corruption and bureaucratic senility. Its bloated leadership pulls down huge salaries as its dwindling rank and file is stripped of benefits and protections. The capitalists no longer need what they once called “responsible” unionism—which meant pliable unionism. And once the capitalists and the militarists killed off the radical movements and unions they finished off the dupes who had helped them do it. And that is why less than 12 percent of our country’s workforce is unionized and why we have such vast income disparities and chronic unemployment and underemployment. Surplus labor, desperate for work and unwilling to challenge the bosses to retain a job, is the bulwark of capitalism.
The radicals, such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), or Wobblies, founded by Mother Jones and Big Bill Haywood in 1905, were destroyed by the state. Department of Justice agents in 1912 made simultaneous raids on 48 IWW meeting halls across the country and arrested 165 IWW union leaders. One hundred one went to trial, including Big Bill Haywood, who testified for three days. One of the IWW leaders told the court:
You ask me why the I.W.W. is not patriotic to the United States. If you were a bum without a blanket; if you had left your wife and kids when you went west for a job, and had never located them since; if your job had never kept you long enough in a place to qualify you to vote; if you slept in a lousy, sour bunkhouse, and ate food just as rotten as they could give you and get by with it; if deputy sheriffs shot your cooking cans full of holes and spilled your grub on the ground; if your wages were lowered on you when the bosses thought they had you down; if there was one law for Ford, Suhr, and Mooney and another for Harry Thaw: if every person who represented law and order and the nation beat you up, railroaded you to jail, and the good Christian people cheered and told them to go to it, how in hell do you expect a man to be patriotic?
This war is a business man’s war and we don’t see why we should go out and get shot in order to save the lovely state of affairs that we now enjoy.
The Wobblies once led strikes involving hundreds of thousands of workers and preached an uncompromising doctrine of class warfare. It went the way of the passenger pigeon. The Socialist Party by 1912 had 126,000 members, 1,200 officeholders in 340 municipalities, and 29 English and 22 foreign-language weeklies, along with three English and six foreign-language dailies. It included in its ranks tenant farmers, garment workers, railroad workers, coal miners, hotel and restaurant workers, dock workers and lumberjacks. It too was liquidated by the state. Socialist leaders were jailed or deported. Socialist publications such as The Masses and Appeal to Reason were banned. The assault, aided later by McCarthyism, has left us without the vocabulary to make sense of our own reality, to describe the class war being waged against us by our corporate oligarchs. And it has left us without the radical movements that, as Howard Zinn made clear, opened up all the spaces in American democracy.
We will regain this militancy, this uncompromising commitment to socialism, or the system the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism” will establish the most efficient security and surveillance state in human history and a species of neofeudalism. We must stop pouring our energy into mainstream political campaigns. The game is rigged. We will rebuild our radical movements or become hostages to the capitalists and the war industry. Fear is the only language the power elite understands. This is a dark fact of human nature. It is why Richard Nixon was our last liberal president. Nixon was not a liberal [personally]. He was devoid of empathy and lacked a conscience. But he was frightened of movements. You do not make your enemy afraid by selling out. You make your enemy afraid by refusing to submit, by fighting for your vision and by organizing. It is not our job to take power. It is our job to build movements to keep power in check. Without these movements nothing is possible.“You get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it,” Malcolm X said. “When you get that kind of attitude, they’ll label you as a ‘crazy Negro,’ or they’ll call you a “crazy nigger” — they don’t say Negro. Or they’ll call you an extremist or a subversive, or seditious, or a red, or a radical. But when you stay radical long enough, and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom. … So don’t you run around here trying to make friends with somebody who’s depriving you of your rights. They’re not your friends, no, they’re your enemies. Treat them like that and fight them, and you’ll get your freedom; and after you get your freedom, your enemy will respect you. And I say that with no hate. I don’t have hate in me. I have no hate at all. I don’t have any hate. I’ve got some sense. I’m not going to let anybody who hates me tell me to love him.”
The New Deal—which as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a charter member of the oligarchic class, said—saved capitalism, was put in place because socialists were strong and a serious threat. The oligarchs understood that with the breakdown of capitalism—something I expect we will again witness in our lifetimes—there was a real possibility of a socialist revolution. They were terrified they would lose their wealth and power. Roosevelt, writing to a friend in 1930, said there was “no question in my mind that it is time for the country to become fairly radical for at least one generation. History shows that where this occurs occasionally, nations are saved from revolution.”
In other words, Roosevelt went to his fellow oligarchs and said hand over some of your money or you will lose all your money in a revolution. And his fellow capitalists complied. And that is how the government created 15 million jobs, Social Security, unemployment benefits and public works projects. The capitalists did not do this because the suffering of the masses moved them. They did this because they were scared. And they were sacred of radicals and socialists.
George Bernard Shaw got it right in his play “Major Barbara.” The greatest crime is poverty. It is the crime every socialist is dedicated to eradicating. As Shaw wrote:
All the other crimes are virtues beside it; all the other dishonors are chivalry itself by comparison. Poverty blights whole cities, spreads horrible pestilences, strikes dead the very souls of all who come within sight, sound, or smell of it. What you call crime is nothing: a murder here and a theft there, a blow now and a curse then. What do they matter? They are only the accidents and illnesses of life; there are not fifty genuine professional criminals in London. But there are millions of poor people, abject people, dirty people, ill-fed, ill-clothed people. They poison us morally and physically; they kill the happiness of society; they force us to do away with our own liberties and to organize unnatural cruelties for fear they should rise against us and drag us down into their abyss. Only fools fear crime; we all fear poverty.
We must stop looking for our salvation in strong leaders. Strong people, as Ella Baker said, do not need strong leaders. Politicians, even good politicians, play the game of compromise and are too often seduced by the privileges of power. Sanders, from all I can tell, began his political life as a socialist in the 1960s when this was hardly a bold political statement, but quickly figured out he was not going to have a seat at the table if he remained one. He wants his seniority in the Senate. He wants his committee chairmanships. He wants his ability to retain his seat unchallenged. This was no doubt politically astute. But in this process he sold us out.
Jeremy Corbyn, the new head of the [British] Labour Party, offers another example. He spent three decades marginalized even within his own party because he held fast to the central tenets of socialism. And as the lie of neoliberalism, championed by the two ruling parties in Britain, became apparent, people knew whom they could trust. Corbyn never made an astute career move in his life. And that is why the establishment is so frightened of him. They know they cannot buy Corbyn off, any more than you could buy offMother Jones or Big Bill Haywood. Integrity and courage are powerful weapons. We have to learn how to use them. We have to stand up for what we believe in. And we have to accept the risks and even the ridicule that comes with this stance. We will not prevail any other way.
As a socialist I am not concerned with what is expedient or what is popular. I am concerned with what is right. I am concerned with holding fast to the core ideals of socialism, if for no other reason than keeping this option alive for future generations. And these ideals are the only ones that make possible a better world.
If you will not call for an arms embargo along with the boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel, you are not a socialist. If you will not demand we dismantle our military establishment, which is managing the government’s wholesale surveillance of every citizen and storing all our personal information in perpetuity in government computer banks, and if you will not abolish the for-profit arms industry, you are not a socialist. If you will not call for the prosecution of those leaders, including George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who engage in aggressive acts of pre-emptive war, which under post-Nuremberg laws is a criminal act, you are not a socialist. If you will not stand with the oppressed across the globe you are not a socialist. Socialists do not pick and choose whom among the oppressed it is convenient to support. Socialists understand that you stand with all the oppressed or none of the oppressed, that this is a global fight for life against global corporate tyranny. We will win only when we stand together, when we see the struggle of workingmen in Greece, Spain and Egypt as our own struggle. If you will not call for full employment and unionized workplaces you are not a socialist. If you will not call for inexpensive mass transit, especially in impoverished communities, you are not a socialist. If you will not call for universal, single-payer health care and a banning of for-profit health care corporations you are not a socialist. If you will not raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour you are not a socialist. If you are not willing to provide a weekly income of $600 to the unemployed, the disabled, stay-at-home parents, the elderly and those unable to work you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal anti-union laws, like the Taft-Hartley Act, and trade agreements from NAFTA to the TPP and CAFTA, you are not a socialist. If you will not guarantee all Americans a pension in old age you are not a socialist. If you will not support two years of paid maternity leave, as well as shorter workweeks with no loss in pay and benefits, you are not a socialist. If you will not repeal the Patriot Act and Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act as well as halt government spying on citizens, along with mass incarceration, you are not a socialist. If you will not put into place laws that prohibit all forms of male violence against women and criminalize the trafficking and pimping out of prostituted girls and women, while not criminalizing the exploited girls and women, you are not a socialist. If you do not support a woman’s right to control her own body you are not a socialist. If you do not support full equality for our GBLT community you are not a socialist. If you will not declare global warming a national and global emergency and divert our energy and resources to saving the planet through public investment in renewable energy and an end to our reliance on fossil fuels you are not a socialist. If you will not nationalize public utilities, including the railroads, energy companies and banks, you are not a socialist. If you will not support government funding for the arts and public broadcasting to create places where creativity, self-expression and voices of dissent can be heard and seen you are not a socialist. If you will not terminate our nuclear weapons programs and build a nuclear-free world you are not a socialist. If you will not demilitarize our police, meaning that police no longer carry weapons when they patrol our streets but rely on specialized armed units that have to be authorized case-by-case to use lethal force, you are not a socialist. If you will not support government training and rehabilitation programs for the poor and those in our prisons, along with the abolition of the death penalty, you are not a socialist. If you will not grant full citizenship to undocumented workers you are not a socialist. If you do not declare a moratorium on foreclosures and bank repossessions you are not a socialist. If you will not provide free education from day care to university, and forgive all student debt, you are not a socialist. And if you will not provide free, state-run mental health care, especially for those now caged in our prisons, you are not a socialist. If you will not dismantle our empire and bring our soldiers and Marines home you are not a socialist.
Socialists do not sacrifice the weak and the vulnerable, especially children, on the altars of profit. And the measure of a successful society for a socialist is not the GDP or the highs of the stock market but the right of everyone, especially children, never go to bed hungry, to live in safety and security, to be nurtured and educated, and to grow up fulfill his or her potential. Work is not only about a wage, it is about dignity and a sense of self-worth.
I am not naive about the forces arrayed against us. I understand the difficulty of our struggle. But we will never succeed if we attempt to accommodate the current structures of power. Our strength lies in our steadfastness and our integrity. It lies in our ability to hold fast to our ideals, as well as our willingness to sacrifice for those ideals. We must refuse to cooperate. We must march to the beat of a different drum. We must rebel. And we must grasp that rebellion is not carried out finally for what it achieves, but for whom it allows us to become. Rebellion sustains in an age of darkness hope and the capacity for love. Rebellion must become our vocation.
“You do not become a ‘dissident’ just because you decide one day to take up this most unusual career,” Vaclav Havel said when he battled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. “You are thrown into it by your personal sense of responsibility, combined with a complex set of external circumstances. You are cast out of the existing structures and placed in a position of conflict with them. It begins as an attempt to do your work well, and ends with being branded an enemy of society. … The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public. He offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin—and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost.”
These neoliberal forces are rapidly destroying the earth. Polar ice caps and glaciers are melting. Temperatures and sea levels are rising. Species are gong extinct. Floods, monster hurricanes, mega-droughts and wildfires have begun to eat away at the planet. The great mass migrations predicted by climate scientists have begun. And even if we stopped all carbon emissions today we would still endure the effects of catastrophic climate change. Out of the disintegrating order comes the nihilistic violence that always characterizes societies that fall apart—mass shootings at home and religious persecution, beheadings and executions by individuals that neoliberalism and globalism have demonized, attacked and discarded as human refuse.
I cannot promise you we will win. I cannot promise you we will even survive as a species. But I can promise you that an open and sustained defiance of global capitalism and the merchants of death, along with the building of a socialist movement, is our only hope. I am a parent, as are many of you. We have betrayed our children. We have squandered their future. And if we rise up, even if we fail, future generations, and especially those who are most precious to us, will be able to say we tried, that we stood up and fought for life. The call to resistance, which will require civil disobedience and jail time, is finally a call to the moral life. Resistance is not about what we achieve, but about what it allows us to become. In the end, I do not fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.

Most Russians Prefer Return of Soviet Union and Socialism: Poll

Published by Telesur 19 August 2017





























Over 50 percent of Russian citizens believe the collapse of the Soviet Union was bad and could have been avoided.
http://bit.ly/2hcUAhP
The majority of Russians polled in a 2016 study said they would prefer living under the old Soviet Union and would like to see the socialist system and the Soviet state restored.
A little more than half of respondents stated that the demise of the Soviet Union could have been prevented, while 33 percent said it was inevitable.According to the poll conducted by the Levada Center, over 50 percent of Russian citizens believe the collapse of the Soviet Union was bad and could have been avoided. Only 28 percent of the population surveyed felt positive about its collapse, while 16 percent were unable to answer such a complex question.
Fourteen percent of respondents see the restoration of the Soviet Union as quite realistic, while 44 percent consider it unfeasible. Thirty-one percent of people said they would not be happy with such a turn of events, however.
The center also published that nostalgia for the USSR is at an all-time high since 2000.
This could be tied to the fact that for the first time since the recession era of 2008-2009, Russians are spending more than half of their monthly income on food, according to a study by the Institute of Social Analysis and Forecasting Institute. And state subsidies are minimal.
Back in 2005, Vladimir Putin was reported to have said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was “the major geopolitical disaster of the (last) century."

August 14, 2017

For Jews Only: Hiran, to Be Built upon Ruins of a Bedouin Village, Communist Party of Israel - Aug 13 2017


For Jews Only: Hiran, to Be Built upon Ruins of a Bedouin Village


The new town that Israel is planning to build in the Negev desert upon the ruins of a Arab-Bedouin village slated for demolition, will only be open to Jews with Israeli citizenship or permanent residence recognized by the state. The new Jewish town of Hiran is due to be constructed  once the existing Bedouin community of Umm al-Hiran is demolished and its residents are forcibly displaced.




Clause 5.1 of the Hiran cooperative association bylaws indicating that any candidate for residence must be “Jewish Israeli citizen or permanent resident of Israel who observes the Torah and commandments according to Orthodox Jewish values.” (Photo: Adalah)
According to a document uncovered by Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, Hiran’s cooperative association bylaws are that: “an individual may be approved by the admissions committee and become a member of the Hiran cooperative association if they meet the following qualifications: a Jewish Israeli citizen or permanent resident of Israel who observes the Torah and commandments according to Orthodox Jewish values.”
In a letter sent, to the National Planning and Building Council (NPBC), Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara wrote that Hiran’s regulations allowing only Jews to apply for residency stand in opposition to the state’s earlier commitments before the Israeli Supreme Court that any Israeli citizen would be able to purchase a home in Hiran.
The state, in response to an appeal filed against the planned evacuation and demolition of Umm al-Hiran, had said, “Hiran is planned as a general community, into which any Israeli of any background or religion may integrate.”
The NPBC is scheduled to convene today to discuss the state’s request to “organize” Arab-Bedouin residency in the Negev region by moving 500 Umm al-Hiran residents into temporary housing in the nearby town of Hura.
Attorney Bishara emphasized that Hiran’s regulations contradict the NPBC’s own regulations which state that, “this is a community intended for a general population… [Umm al-Hiran residents] and members of any other population sector or public will have the option of obtaining plots and living in the new community.”

August 13, 2017

AUGUST 11, 2017 The Terrorism of Moral Indignation by LUCIANA BOHNE


To be sure, the whole of Western culture is complicit, but what astounds is the complicity of what defines itself as left.  Notably, the complicity of those among the left’s comfortable and intellectual “tendencies,” usually called “liberals.”  But in general, a whole language has vanished from the Western left’s vocabulary: class struggle, international solidarity, peace among peoples, social justice, exploitation, poverty. They are so illiterate in left theory and experience that the call the ruling class’s booth on their faces, “the deep state.”  This today in the West is an amalgam (rather than a conscious political program) of a loose and dangerous left.  It dreams, if it dreams at all, of a revolution without struggle. The answer to that pietism is force.  Whole nations wiped off the face of the earth.
We now, on this loose left, trade in our critical faculties at the theatre of propaganda.  In return, the propaganda pounds, batters, and sequesters our emotions so that we end up identifying with the narrative of power. The narrative insists that the West has the Holy Grail. It insists that it has a messianic mission to improve the world by sharing the Grail’s liberal values. The old conceit of liberal humanism, thus, returns to occupy our psyche, and it’s the same liberal humanism that in the 19th century enslaved the “lesser breeds” of the planet. Once again, we pick up the “white man’s burden” and his “civilizing mission” to lift up darkling  “junior Brothers” from “savagery” and “barbarism” into our magnificent, magnanimous, culturally superior self-image. Massacres, famines, epidemics, and genocides follow.
Who galvanizes the left today against imperialism as Fidel Castro did with his uncompromising demand at the United Nations General Assembly in 1966 that “the exploitation of poor countries by rich countries must stop”? “We hear a lot of talk about human rights,” he said in the 1970s, as Jimmy Carter’s White House launched the rhetoric of human rights, “but we have to talk about the rights of humanity.”
“The rights of humanity,” who remembers them? Chief among them the right to sovereignty, perhaps? The right to foreign non-interference? To living free of threats, sanctions, partition, dismemberment, balkanization, invasion, and occupation? To solving one’s own problems in one’s own country? To choosing one’s economic system? To refusing to become a protectorate of the Big Bully on the Potomac?
What happens when the “rights of humanity” are trampled? Since 1999, with Bill Clinton’s unauthorized war for secession of Kosovo from Yugoslavia (reduced to Serbia and Montenegro by then), unopposed and even cheered by progressive segments of the loose left,
“Like a cyclone, imperialism spins across the globe; militarism crushes people and sucks the blood like a vampire.”
These are not the words of a contemporary leftist. These are the words of German socialist Karl Liebnecht, co-founder with Rosa Luxemburg of the Spartacus League and the Communist Party of Germany, both murdered by the German social democrat state in 1919.  He was referring to WW I, which, alone among the social democrats in the parliament of 1914, he stood up to oppose.
We now, on the loose left, rally to the call of “human rights,” which are invariably being abused outside our national borders. You’d think we lived in the Promised Land, so convinced are we of the responsibility to protect “less fortunate” human beings abroad, who together with the injury of our sanctions and bombs have to endure the insult of our condescension.
We now, on the loose left, cannot see beyond the imbecility of our arrogance that we lack most of the rights said to be “human” by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights right here at home. A report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) summarizes the inability of our society to protect its most vulnerable members, which measure alone judges the vibrancy of a democracy:
“Many US laws and practices, particularly in the areas of criminal and juvenile justice, immigration, and national security, violate internationally recognized human rights. Often, those least able to defend their rights in court or through the political process—members of racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, children, the poor, and prisoners—are the people most likely to suffer abuses.”
Our masters, who incarcerate at home 2.37 million people, the largest prison population in the world, “caused in part by mandatory minimum sentencing and excessively long sentences” (HRW) and detain twelve million people per year in county jails, raise our moral indignation against cherry-picked crusades for human rights abroad. They use this manufactured indignation as a license to attack and terrorize whole nations.
In Afghanistan, in 2001, we bombed to liberate women; we are still there, but we hear no more of the sorrow and the pity of women’s plight.  In Iraq, in 2003, we invaded to liberate Iraqis from the “dictator” Saddam Hussein, and one to two million Iraqis were liberated from their lives, millions more from their home and their country. Fallujah alone accuses—left more chemically poisoned than Hiroshima. In Syria, we claim to fight “to democratize” the country and at the same time the Isis cutthroats, but it took the legitimate Russian intervention to prevent a caliphate of cutthroats from ruling in Damascus.
In Yemen,
“In March [2015], a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states began a military campaign against the Houthis in Yemen. The US provided intelligence, logistical support, and personnel to the Saudi Arabian center planning airstrikes and coordinating activities, making US forces potentially jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces.” (HRW)
Most on the loose left ignored Obama’s crimes, among which the war in Yemen may rank as the most cynical, heartless, and inhuman. It even classifies as biological warfare, because bombing water treatment plants then leaving people to die of cholera epidemics cannot be called anything else. Meningitis cases are breaking out. Two UN aid flights to Sanaa are authorized to leave from Saudi Arabia every day for famine relief. Saudi Arabia is refusing fuel. No reason given, reports The Independent on 5 August. Saudi Arabia blockades the Yemen’s airspace. Yemen’s agony continues. No stirrings on the left.
So, too, they ignored Obama’s drone attacks on Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. So, too, they ignored this:
“The US restored full military assistance to Egypt in April [2015], despite a worsening human rights environment, lifting restrictions in place since the military takeover by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013. Egypt resumed its position as the second-largest recipient of US military assistance, worth $1.3 billion annually, after Israel. In June, the US lifted its hold on military assistance to the Bahraini military despite an absence of meaningful reform, which was the original requirement for resuming the aid.” (HRW)
And this:
“In September [2015], Obama waived provisions of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act to allow four countries—the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan—to continue to receive US military assistance, despite their continued use of child soldiers.” (HRW)
And this:
“Hundreds of thousands of children work on US farms. US law exempts child farmworkers from the minimum age and maximum hour requirements that protect other working children. Child farmworkers often work long hours and risk pesticide exposure, heat illness, and injuries. In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency banned children under 18 from handling pesticides. Children who work on tobacco farms frequently suffer vomiting, headaches, and other symptoms consistent with acute nicotine poisoning.” (HRW)
The loose left now calls that grotesque excrescence in the White House a fascist, as if Trump had replaced an administration of enlightened humanitarians. They are calling for virtual presidenticide so that the rule of that enlightened international “vampire,” the Democratic Party, can be restored. But let me tell you: he’s only the last of the “fascists” in a long line since 1945. The loose left just hasn’t noticed because the loose left has no concept of class struggle. It has, therefore, no critical equipment to include imperialism—the war of the class of international imperialist on the class of colonial or semi-colonial peoples—in the catalogue of the crimes of fascism.
Our planners are not stupid. They know how to maintain their minority’s primacy by waging class war.  They not only exercise it on the “proletariat” at home but also across the map of the world.  In 1948, George Kennan, the architect of the policy of containment, which launched the Cold War, recommended inequality in international relations—that’s war by the imperialist class at the center against whole national peoples at the peripheries. Imperialism, therefore, is just another form of class war.
“We have about 50% of the world’s wealth but only 6.3% of its population. This disparity is particularly great as between ourselves and the peoples of Asia. In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives. We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction.”  (Memo by George Kennan, Head of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff. Written February 28, 1948, Declassified June 17, 1974)
By “we,” Kennan does not mean the 99% of Americans. He means the 1%. The foreign policy he recommends is class-vested and is kept secret, for practical reasons, from the rest of us for two decades. That’s because the resources to support this policy protecting the elite has to be extracted from the rest of us, and counted in losses to social welfare and progress. Class is a relation of power, in which one class determines the direction of the whole of society. This is one example.
Fascism has many faces, but the most constant is that of the supremacist delusion that the West is the carrier of “universal values” and that, as exclusive interpreter and custodian of these values, the West is obligated to act as watchdog of democracy and human rights throughout the globe.  In his inaugural address of January 1997, Bill Clinton assumed for the United States the planetary leadership of this humanitarian imperative:
“America stands alone as the world’s indispensable nation. . . . May God strengthen our hands for the good work ahead, and always, always bless our America.”
This is not universalism; this is ethnocentric hubris. This is the terrifying message of one nation “uber alles.” This is totalitarian dogma. This is a profession of democratic faith without the slightest credibility because it does not aim at democratizing international relations but at subjecting them to the discipline and image of the “indispensible nation.” This, in one word, is imperialism–fascism in action. Karl Liebnecht saw it clearly, one-hundred years ago:
“In capitalist history, invasion and class struggle are not opposites, as the official legend would have us believe, but one is the means and the expression of the other.”
Why can the loose left today not see it that way? Why does it abstract the concept of imperialism from the conduct of the Western political order, thus mutilating the totality of reality, especially the reality reserved to the peoples of colonial origins now being reinvaded, partitioned, looted, left to chaos? Why do they see a defense of “human rights” where others, especially the victims, see subjugation, neocolonialism, and imperialism? What blinds the moral vision of the left to the point of reserving the fascist brand to the crude jester, Trump, but denying it to the slick charmer Obama of the Drone-Kill-List, destroyer of Lybia and Syria, architect of regime change in Ukraine, advocate of war with Russia, harasser of China, enabler of Israel in its assault on Gaza, global spymaster, deporter-in-chief, most successful weapons salesman since 1945, including to that obscene abuser of human rights, autocratic Saudi Arabia?  This uneven distribution of the fascist brand insures that the next president will be another “fascist,” but more polished, “educated,” grinning confidently with sharp teeth from a shark’s mouth. Trump’s mouth pouts; the image does not inspire confidence.
It’s not that the evidence of the devastation by the “cyclone” or the “vampire sucking the blood” is lacking. Since Clinton assigned to the United States an “indispensible” role in the world, it has bloated its defense budget, embarked with allies and vassals on a war against a tactic (“terrorism”), covering up the war of re-colonization (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Mali, Chad), organized and led coups (Haiti, Honduras, Ukraine, Egypt, Venezuela), mounted “color revolutions” in the former republics of Eastern Europe, dispatched NATO to encircle Russia with aggressive missiles, threatened on a systematic basis North Korea, China, Russia, and Iran in violation of the UN Charter, bloodied the planet with countless uncounted corpses and blighted it with hordes of desperate refugees, blockaded and sanctioned whole countries at will, and virtually scrapped the edifice of  international law–which it had itself erected as a monument to liberal democracy after WW II– while claiming to be acting in defense of universal values. The country that imposed the strictest protectionist policies in the world in the 19th century now recognizes no borders, no national sovereignty, no limits to its expansion.
What is to be done?
End imperialism. As long as imperialism and imperialist centers exist, so long there will be wars.  The politics of indignation; the campaigns for human rights do not oppose imperialism; they facilitate it.  One has to be either stupid or complicit if he cannot see that the US supports two states with the most egregious records of violations of human rights—Saudi Arabia and Israel—while demonizing the socially progressive government of Venezuela as a “dictatorship.”  One has to be either stupid or complicit to call for the removal of President Assad from Syria for being undemocratic, while installing a neo-fascist regime in Ukraine. One has to be either stupid or complicit to believe Iran is the sponsor of terror when all indications point to Saudi Arabia. And then there is Russia. There we risk thermonuclear war—the loss not just of human rights but the loss of life on the planet. We shall become death. That’s what we’re playing with when we consent to distributing human rights across the world to the sound of the crescendo of exploding bombs.
To begin the opposition to war and imperialism, we must start, at a minimum, with a demand to return to the cardinal principle in the Charter of the United Nations for the prevention of aggressive war by respecting the sovereignty of nations. No nation should claim “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) if all nations are equal before international law. That responsibility rests with the UN Security Council, in the interest of peace among nations, which alone has the monopoly on authorizing war. We must, therefore, refuse to empower Western state terrorism through the melodrama and emotionalism of moral indignation. We must remember that Hitler invaded countries on the pretext of defense of “human rights” of German minorities. We must remember, too, that the Charter’s defense of sovereignty was written in response to Hitler’s violation of “human rights” in the name of “human rights.” That his policy broke the peace among nations and set the world on fire. That the whole trauma ended with two mushroom clouds in the sky.
To begin a serious opposition to imperialism and war, we must re-create a sound left—a principled left– and denounce those agents of the fake left who contribute to the escalation of Western military aggression under the banner of “human rights” or any other liberal claptrap such as identity politics, which pleads for “respect” from the state instead of claiming class power, or the power to contrast the state’s foreign and domestic policies:
“These pseudo-left figures and organizations function as what amount to specialized NGOs, acting, much like the National Endowment for Democracy and its constituent elements, as political fronts and facilitators for the CIA and US imperialism.”
A sound left must re-discover, behind the lies and distortions written by its enemies, the theories, the practices, the language, the history, the science, and the errors (most important) of the left’s once living cultures and societies—a left that changed the world.  This left must extend the hand of friendship to systems of states that continue to survive in a hostile capitalist world with a socialist perspective. We live in an age of counter-revolutionary reaction in the West. Soon, we’ll forget that we are human and that we can make our own history. Shouldn’t we re-educate ourselves to a conscious, informed, organized, purposeful left or shall we let Hitler have the last word and a posthumous victory? “The problem of how the future . . . can be secured,” he wrote in Mein Kampf about Germany,  “is the problem of how Marxism can be exterminated.”

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A timely reminder:: Seymour M. Hersh on the chemical attacks trail back to the Syrian rebels, 17 April 2014

Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels Vol. 36 No. 8 · 17 April 2014  London Review of Books pages 21-24 | 5870 words ...