AS THE WORLD MARCHES, BIGGER STEPS ARE NEEDED

170121143229-womens-march-london-0121-exlarge-169by The Editors

Last weekend one out of every hundred Americans demonstrated against the new administration and for women’s rights. We were at the Washington DC march, which was truly overwhelming in its size, dwarfing the inauguration crowd. One could only wonder how powerful these marchers would have been had they been united around a program of fundamental change.

In reality, the strongest force behind the demonstrations was the Democratic Party, and the baseline ideology was that we would be better off if Clinton had won. The goal for many was to work for the election of Democratic politicians at every level. However, we must remember that the Democrats are not reliable friends of women, or anti-racists, or peacemakers. Hillary Clinton supported the massive cuts in welfare under her husband’s administration, which primarily affected women and children. She supported sanctions on Iraq in the 90s, estimated to have killed 500,000. She called young black men caught up in the criminal justice system “super-predators” and favored aggressive war in Libya and Syria as Secretary of State. Obama deported 2.4 million immigrants, oversaw increases in the prison population and police murders, killed over 1,100 with drone strikes, and massively supported Israel as the oppression of Palestinians continued. These are not goals for us to try and replicate.

Such policies are inevitable under our capitalist system, however. Our economy depends on racism and sexism, to save money on wages and services, and to keep people divided, as many articles on this blog discuss. Our economy depends on fighting foreign wars to control resources, especially fossil fuels and rare elements. If our protests are to be meaningful and lead to a better life for all, they must demand an egalitarian, anti-capitalist society where racism, sexism and exploitation are illegal. This cannot be achieved by voting as both parties have the preservation of capitalism as their underlying philosophy.

We do not mean to deny that there are tactical differences between the Democrats and Republicans, between Obama and Trump. Under the new president racism and sexism will be much more overt and repression more severe. When 230 demonstrators were arrested during the march, there were few, if any, who had perpetrated any violence. A whole block of people was simply rounded up. This has happened before, but this time the innocent were not simply released or given minor charges, but all were charged with felony riot, worth 10 years in prison. Moreover, the police kept all their phones, cameras and gloves. Not only will they be able to collect a large reservoir of activists’ names, but they may be trying to make cases for conspiracy charges. We will have to see how profound and prolonged the intimidation is.

So let us not just be euphoric about our numbers, but be building struggles which are multiracial and multi-gender, that rely on rank and file action, and which question the basic assumptions of our society. We must be militant, but this does not mean partaking in individual acts of violence such as carried out by a few anarchists at the march. Individual terrorism does not threaten the power structure, but only serves to provide an excuse for mass repression. We need to build movements that are large enough to achieve bigger goals, and this takes patient work within unions, the military, schools and communities. We must learn to think about ourselves differently, not measuring ourselves by our wages and wealth nor our country by its power and conquests. We must become a society based on love, respect and action among workers and students, here and around the world, of all colors and nationalities.

Stop the Oppression of Women: Build a Multiracial, Anti-Racist Movement

By the editors

 

Thousands of women are organizing for reproductive rights and justice with the Women’s March on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC while many others march in cities across the US.

Trump not only belittles and abuses women, but his platform attacks women’s access to health care, living wages, affordable child care, and control over our bodies.  While this may worsen it is not new.  Clinton destroyed welfare for poor families as Hillary stood by in support. Obama has not been able to overturn the destruction of abortion services and the attacks on Planned Parenthood.  US companies continue to establish businesses overseas where women and children labor for pennies.  With unemployment so high around the world and warfare flourishing in so many countries, families are fleeing to other countries where they meet xenophobic assaults and camps.  Muslim and non-white women also suffer racist assaults in the US.

 

Why Are Women Oppressed?

The ruling class (top 1%) treats women as sources of profit and free labor.  On average in 2015, women earned around 83 cents for every dollar white men made.  Racism and super-exploitation lower the wages of Black, Latin, Native, and Asian women workers, even more than white women.  Latinas earned 58 cents, Asian women 87 cents, and black women 65 cents (Pew Research Center).

Women also provide most of the unpaid labor, such as birthing and raising new workers, cleaning, cooking, driving, and caring for the sick and elderly.  Employers depends on this unpaid labor of (mostly) women, which means that the employers can actually pay their employees less.  If a man had to pay someone to take care of him when he was sick, cook his meals, clean his home, etc, he’d would need to demand higher wages or use public assistance.  But if he has a wife or female relative doing all that for him, he’ll get by on less.  This creates enormous profit for employers while increasing the stress on women and putting men in a more dominant household position.

What Is the Role of Racism?

The US was founded on racist attacks on black and Native women.  The colonialists enslaved black women using them as free labor and “breeders,” and stole Native lives and lands.  White people who refused to end inter-racial relationships were sometime killed and eventually bribed into accepting a higher social and economic status, a problem of white supremacy that persists to this day.  (Lerone Bennett, The Road Not Taken).

Racism also diminishes the value of women.  Aside from the economic benefits for the rulers, stereotypes seed self-doubt, lies, and passivism.  The media, including movies and books, portray black women as too aggressive, sluts or “Mammies,” Latinas as promiscuous and “illegal,” Native American women as drunks, and Asian women as the “model minority” or prostitutes.  These slurs may reduce women’s activism.  For example, many black women suppress their anger in order not to appear as the “angry black woman.”  This suppression of anger against racist aggressions raises blood pressure and neutralizes people’s activism.  In fact racism produces worse birth outcomes for black women with advanced degrees compared to white women without high school degrees.

Stereotyping gender roles also damages men and people who do not conform to strict rules of sex-specific behaviors.  Yong gay black men have high HIV rates often due to stigma that makes them less likely to seek medical care.  Society expects heterosexual men to act tough and provide for their families.  While these roles are loosening with greater acceptance of gay and transgendered people, they persist.

Portraying white middle class women as the leaders of the women’s movement ignores the leadership of black, Latin, Asian and Native women.  These women, Billye Avery, Loretta Ross, and Lucy Parsons to name just three, have broadened the movement’s issues, incorporating child care, incarceration, housing, racism, labor, the environment, education, and violence.  The emphasis on “choice” for abortion totally ignores the severely limited options poor women have.

What Demands and Strategies Can We Use?

Many women, especially middle class professionals, want more women politicians, CEOs, and presidents, such as Hillary.  They see all women equally oppressed ignoring the huge differences between working class women and women bosses.  Women with higher economic status are disrespected, abused, and earn less, but electing women or promoting them through the glass ceiling does not eliminate exploitation.  British president Margaret Thatcher destroyed unions, Indira Ghandi sterilized 1000s of Indian women, Golda Meir established Zionism, and anti-immigrant racist Marie LePen is running for president of France.  Hillary supported the end of welfare, labeled young black men “super predators,” and backed increased policing and incarceration.  Building support for Hillary, the Democratic or Green Parties will not solve the problems women face.

If capitalism depends on profiteering off of women workers, especially women of color, with low wages and free labor, then we need to abolish capitalism.  This requires the unity of all women workers along with male workers.  Is this possible?  How can we change our attitudes about gender roles, link our issues, follow the leadership of young people of color who reject legislative, religious, and celebrity led campaigns, such as the youth in Ferguson and Baltimore?

What Are Our Hidden Histories?

Our history reveals strong leadership of women of color who expanded the scope of reproductive justice, promoted grass roots leadership, and engaged in more militant activist campaigns.  They adopted issues of war, environmental justice, and criminal injustice as part of their movement for reproductive rights.

The Women’s March will draw one of the biggest crowds with women marching for different issues.   Wealthier white women have been the voice of feminism pushing an agenda around abortion through legislative and judicial strategies.  While access to abortion and contraception is critical, women’s health and well- being depends on much more – the elimination of racism and exploitation.  The revival of this anti-sexist movement gives us the chance to unite working class women and men (the vast majority of people) to eliminate capitalism, the source of our problems.

This blog will report on the different groups in the feminist movement in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, check out these reads and suggest your favorites in the Comment section.

 

Recommended Reading

WHAT ELSE??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION –A WAR TO PROTECT SLAVERY

by Ellen Isaacs

Was the American Revolution really a noble fight for liberty and justice as we are taught in school? Or was the major reason behind the revolt that England, the mother country, was trying to limit slavery in the colonies by increasing taxes on those in bondage and limit westward expansion onto native lands? In Gerald Horne’s book, The Counterrevolution of 1776:Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America, he makes a powerful case for this explanation. “Ironically, the founders of the republic have been hailed and lionized… for-–in effect–creating the first apartheid state(p3).”

Horne does not portray the British as any more noble than the Americans, but only as perceiving their interests differently as 1776 approached. Indeed England had participated heavily in the slave trade from the mid 1600s and imported Africans to its colonies in the Caribbean and on the American mainland. Britain was especially invested in the sugar plantations in Barbados and Jamaica, where slavery was particularly brutal.

In addition, England was involved in ongoing competition with Spain and France, who also had territory in the New World and were rivals for trade, the cause of periodic wars such as the Seven Years War from 1756-63. A shortage of white soldiers from England or the American colonies who were willing to enlist and stay the course to fight these conflicts, caused a growing British reliance on black soldiers. They, in turn, needed to be promised something more than a return to brutal captivity in order to fight reliably. England was also busy expanding its empire, most notably to India. Therefore, as the 1700s progressed, the British were anxious to mitigate the cruelty of slavery, as well as limit the growing expense of protecting slave owners or traders from rebellions and westward moving settlers from Native Americans.

Slavery in the future U.S. had several important aspects. One, of course, was that it underlay the purposeful development of anti-black racism in order to justify its existence and separate slaves from poor white indentured servants and farmers (see article by Lerone Bennett on our blog). Second, it was massively profitable to the slave traders and the plantation owners, rising to 60% of the national income (see Edward E. Baptist’s The Half Has Never Been Told:The Making of American Capitalism). Lastly, the huge slave population, often in alliance with Native Americans and sometimes poor whites, was a source of constant rebellion and threat to the white owners. Caribbean revolts were the most frequent and successful since the proportion of blacks to whites was the greatest. In Jamaica many escaped slaves lived as a free and hostile force in mountains, foreshadowing the eventual successful slave rebellion in Haiti, begun in 1791 and won in 1804.

Even on the mainland, especially in the South, as the numbers of slaves grew, so did the problem of controlling their efforts to be free. However, the profitability of slavery was so great that the colonists were willing to discount the risks. New England, especially Rhode Island, where slave importation was greatest, felt slavery was essential to its prosperity, with profits up to 1600%. The cotton and tobacco industries of the South, of course, could not exist without slavery. In fact, “The enormous influx of Africans laid the foundation for the concomitant growth of capitalism”(p7). As production and wealth grew in the colonies, so did their trade with England’s Spanish and French enemies, all in the name of more wealth.

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and John Hancock, slave holders or traders all, and slavery supporters Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry, and James Madison were among those promoters of independence who resented taxes waged by London to pay for its wars and to limit slave importation. These taxes were increasing in the 1760-70s to pay for the Seven Year War and as a policy to slow down the slave trade. To justify the war for independence and the right to continue slavery, the founding fathers composed a Declaration asserting the inalienable rights of man. As one Britisher put it, “one would imagine that the Parliament of Great Britain…had treated the rebels with as great cruelty and as much injustice as they [rebels] treat their Negro slaves(p238).”

Of course, despite the participation of many black troops in the North and the South, who fought against the colonists, the British were vanquished and slavery flourished for another eighty years. Black labor was again enslaved by criminalization and terrorization after the Civil War and through Jim Crow. Now we are in the era of mass incarceration and discrimination in wages and services, all for the enrichment of capitalism. Despite this history of the torture and exploitation of blacks in America, this blog has continually argued that white workers are only fooled if they feel benefited. Indeed, in both England and America, abolitionists played an important role in opposing slavery from a moral point of view. From the 1600s through the Civil War, they helped end this barbarous practice and thousands fought to the death in our 1850s conflict. But today, we must still fight racism together. Not only are wages and services decreased for all by the degradation of blacks, as well as Latinos and immigrants, but we are separated and weakened from fighting back together – the only way to win a decent life for all.

IT MAY TAKE VIOLENCE TO REPEL RACIST ATTACKS

anaheim1-cropped
Anti-racists stop a KKK demonstration in Anaheim and chase the racists out of town

By the Editors

The election of Trump gives racists like the KKK and Nazis the green light to attack Muslims, African Americans, Latinos, Jews, immigrants and others who join in solidarity with them.  This year, the KKK and Nazis rallied against immigrants and African Americans in several cities in California (pictured above).  In Pelham, North Carolina, the Klan organized a rally, and the Nazis announced an armed march against Jews in Montana.   And of course, we have the Klan in blue ready to shoot and kill the unarmed, almost always young people of color.

How do we respond to such terror?  Some call for practicing non-violence and turning “the other cheek,” praying, ignoring it, or passing stricter gun control and hate crime legislation.  They believe that violent self-defense is immoral and could alienate supporters or funders. Many 1960s civil rights organizations, such as the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), maintained pacifism while guarded by black men armed to the teeth to repel the Klan.  Martin Luther King, Jr. preached non-violence also but traveled and lived with a small arsenal and armed protectors-he was no dummy. His public non-violent stance was designed primarily to attract middle-class white support in the north.

Last year, black, white and Latin workers attacked the Klan in Anaheim, after the KKK had stabbed several people, and stopped them from injuring more.  Soon after, four hundred militants sent the Nazis running in Sacramento, scared for their lives.  The International Committee Against Racism (InCAR) physically stopped so many Klan rallies during the 1980s that the Grand Wizard admitted Klan membership dropped, and they stopped marching in the Northeast.

There is a long history of armed resistance to lynching, slavery, and civil rights violations.  Some resistance is self-defense and pre-emptive while some is pro-active.  Most people don’t know much about this, believing that southern blacks were passive victims. The U.S. government, which fostered anti-black racism to justify slavery (Linebaugh and Rediker, Bennett), does nothing to protect anti-racists and uses charges of violence as a way to smear protestors.  Most famously, in 1979, the cops in Greensboro, NC stood by while white supremacists murdered 5 and wounded 10 anti-racist demonstrators.

These are some of the significant examples of armed resistance against racism:

  • Rebellions by captured African men and women began before the slave ships sailed and continued in the early days of enslavement through the end in northern and southern states. In many case, Native Americans fought back along with them. White servants also joined some of the revolts, causing the landowners to bribe, arrest or kill them if they continued their solidarity.

“It was common, for example, for servants and slaves to run away together, steal hogs together, get drunk together. It was not uncommon for them to make love together. In Bacon’s Rebellion [Virginia,1676], one of the last groups to surrender was a mixed band of eighty negroes and twenty English servants.” (Zinn).

  • Haitian slaves revolted, threw out the French and British, and took over the entire country in 1804, sparking fear in southern slave owners and inspiring revolt among U.S. slaves. The French rulers spent so much money trying to quell the Haitian revolution that they sold the land known as the Louisiana Purchase to the U.S.
  • In 1850, the government passed the Fugitive Slave Act that allowed anyone to capture escaped or free black people. This spawned widespread resistance that was often armed and violent.  Many escapees would have been killed if they had no means to protect themselves.  Some abolitionists and white liberals condemned the use of violence to save lives, but many encouraged armed self-defense and called on their members to support and join in. Frederick Douglass proclaimed:

You are prisoners of war, in an enemy’s country, of a war, too, that is unrivaled for its injustice, cruelty, and meanness, and therefore by all the rules of war, you have the fullest liberty to plunder, burn, kill, and burn as you may have to do to promote your escape.” (Johnson)

  • After the Civil War during the Reconstruction period (1865 to 1877), white politicians and Confederate veterans created Klan groups that rode around black neighborhoods with guns and whips, terrorizing black families and white supporters. Every house was stocked with guns with people willing to use them.
  • White racists lynched black people and white antiracists to maintain a state of terror and control. Armed black men and women confronted many of them yet many were murdered brutally.  In 1919 after World War I when black GIs returned to the U.S., white racists attacked and burned black neighborhoods, such as Tulsa, Oklahoma and St. Louis, Missouri.
  • During the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, police departments and terror groups beat black and white activists conducting voter registration drives, teaching freedom schools, and desegregating facilities. Middle aged black men created the Deacons for Defense and Justice in Bogalusa, Louisiana to guard the pacifist CORE volunteers.  They loaded their guns and rode out to stop Klan groups from killing the activists and guarded civil rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King, Jr. (Hill)
  • Today we see the incredibly brave Native tribes at Standing Rock protecting their land and water along with total strangers, the protestors in California and North Carolina, and the young militants in Ferguson, Baltimore, and Chicago.

We are now faced with a decision about how to confront racist violence, which will flourish under the new administration.  Can we trust the government to protect us when we fight white supremacists?  Do we simply support gun control laws applied disproportionately against black gun holders or call for more militarization of the murderous police?  Is it enough to march against racism but leave the fascist organizers intact?

While most resistance will not involve guns, we need to decide how to stand up to the deportations of immigrant families, police murders, bullying and threats against Muslims and Jews, Klan and Nazi rallies, and racist graffiti. Do we do this in our racial/ethnic/religious silos or together? We will not have the numbers we need nor the courage to destroy perpetrators of overt racism unless we are together and ready for direct confrontation when needed.

History shows that fighting back liberates people from oppression.  It is encouraging to see so many people engaged in mass efforts to confront state protected violence.  Let’s expand our efforts and numbers. Whenever we have sufficient strength, we must use it to physically stop violent racists in their tracks. The point is not to martyr or injure ourselves but to build each fight back numerically and strategically so that we can win. Some may be arrested, even wounded, but as we are victorious we will inspire millions with our example.

 

Recommended Books and Web Resources

  • Bennett, L. The road not taken. From The Shaping of Black America, 1975, https://msuweb.montclair.edu/~furrg/essays/bennettroad.html.
  • Cobb, C. This Nonviolent Stuff Will Get You Killed, 2014.
  • Hill, L. The Deacons for Defense and Justice, 2004.
  • Johnson, N. Negroes and the Gun: the black tradition of arms, 2014.
  • Linebaugh, P. and Rediker, M. Many-Headed Hydra : Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, 2013.
  • Pomerantz, K. and Isaacs, E. The Multiracial Unity Blog, multiracialunity.org
  • Umoja, A.O. We Will Shoot Back: armed resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement,
  • Zinn, H. 1619-1741 Slavery and Slave Rebellions in the US.

https://libcom.org/history/1619-1741-slavery-slave-rebellion-us

IMMIGRATION POLICY IN THE US: IT’S ALL ABOUT RACE

Tanya Golash-Boza

The current debate over immigration policy in the United States revolves around how many immigrants we should let in and what we should do about those immigrants that are here without authorization.

 

In the contemporary United States, it seems completely natural that we would enforce our borders and regulate the entry of people into this country. Many people believe that the failure to do this would result in complete chaos.

 

It is thus remarkable that, for the first one hundred years after the founding of the United States, there were no laws governing who could or could not enter into or remain in this country. For the first one hundred and fifty years after the establishment of the United States in 1776, economic development in this country depended on immigration. The free movement of labor between Europe and the United States was essential to the economic growth and prosperity of the United States, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest.

 

Discussions over immigration restriction first became popular when large numbers of Chinese immigrants began to arrive in the United States during the 1848 Gold Rush.

 

The arrival of thousands of Chinese immigrants into California provoked nativist sentiments among whites and these sentiments eventually translated into public policy.

 

In 1875, the Page Act was passed, which prohibited the entry of “undesirable” immigrants. This law primarily was designed to prevent the entry of prostitutes and forced laborers from Asia, and effectively barred the entry of any Asian women into the United States for the next few decades.

 

Debates over immigration policy in the United States have always had racialized undertones – except perhaps when the laws were outright racist. The first major piece of immigration legislation was the Chinese Exclusion Act, signed into law in 1882. In an essay titled “The Chinese Exclusion Example: Race, Immigration, and American Gatekeeping, 1882-1994,” Erika Lee argues that

 

“Chinese exclusion introduced a ‘gatekeeping’ ideology, politics, law, and culture that transformed the ways in which Americans viewed and thought about race, immigration, and the United States’ identity as a nation of immigration. It legalized and reinforced the need to restrict, exclude, and deport ‘undesirable’ and excludable immigrants.”

 

The Chinese Exclusion Act was overtly racist in that it targeted one specific group: Chinese laborers. In specifically excluding a group because of race and class, the Chinese Exclusion Act set the stage for U.S. immigration policy, which has both overt and covert racial and class biases.

 

The Chinese Exclusion Act initially only governed entry policies, but worries over fraud and illegal entry gave rise to the 1892 Geary Act and the 1893 McCreary Amendment, which required Chinese people who resided in the United States to possess proof of their lawful right to be in the United States. These “certificates of residence” were the first precursors to today’s legal permanent resident cards. Such documents were required only of the Chinese until 1928, when “immigrant identification cards” began to be issued to all arriving immigrants.

 

Nineteenth century immigration laws tended to focus on Asian immigrants. By the 1920s, however, the United States no longer depended on the large-scale influx of European labor. Technological advances, which reduced the need for labor, along with rising nativist sentiment in the context of wars with Europe led to increased support for immigration restrictions.

 

These sentiments translated into legislative action. The 1924 Johnson-Reed Act was the nation’s first comprehensive immigration law. As Mae Ngai explains in Impossible Subjects, “It established for the first time numerical limits on immigration and a global racial and national hierarchy that favored some immigrants over others” (Ngai 2014: 3).

 

The quotas set forth in the 1924 Act were based on ideas of white superiority – particularly the superiority of Germans and people from the United Kingdom. Whereas 65,721 visas were allocated to people from Great Britain, Italians were only allocated 5,802 and the Turkish only 226. The quotas were ostensibly based on the national origins of US citizens in the 1890 Census, but they excluded people of African and Asian descent.

 

While Congress used quotas to exclude undesirable races from entering the country, the Courts ensured that those who were in the United States would not attain citizenship. In the early 1920s, the Supreme Court decided that Japanese and Indians in the United States were ineligible for citizenship

 

The restrictive quotas and laws prohibiting Asians from attaining citizenship were eventually lifted. Today, our immigration policies are ostensibly colorblind.

 

However, over 90 percent of immigrants in the United States today are non-white, meaning that laws that restrict or provide opportunities for immigrants will have racially disparate consequences.

 

A Congressional decision to provide avenues for legalization and citizenship for undocumented immigrants would go a long way towards reducing inequality between Latinos and whites insofar as about 75 percent of undocumented immigrants are from Latin America. In contrast, decisions to enhance immigration law enforcement would further restrict opportunities for Latinos insofar as 98 percent of people deported last year were from Latin America.

 

No matter what your opinion is on immigration law enforcement or immigrant legalization, there is no denying the fact that discussions about immigration in the United States are and have always been discussions about racial difference and racial equity.

Tanya Golash-Boza is a Professor of Sociology at Merced College and a widely published author