CAPITALIST EXPLOITATION AT THE HEART OF MYANMAR’S ETHNIC CLEANSING OF THE ROHINGYA

130321205032-myanmar-riots-horizontal-large-galleryby Linda D. Green

The inter-imperialist rivalry between China and the US is being played out in the destruction of Rohingya villages and the forced migration of at least 400,000 refugees into Bangladesh. This is largely being portrayed as an attack on Muslims who have been denied citizenship in Myanmar and portrayed in the media as a religious issue. But is the issue really religious persecution? Or is this an extreme example of displacement for future economic development?

 

For the last 20 years groups such as Human Rights Watch have documented land grabs by the military government of Myanmar that have affected poor Buddhists and others of the 135 ethnic groups. For example, in the province of Keren, which borders Thailand and is viewed as prime development area for tourism and industrial and agricultural development, poor farmers have been displaced without compensation and arrested for trespassing when they continue to farm the land. In 2012, Myanmar’s laws were changed to formally open the country to foreign investors, and protections for small landowners were abolished. “Myanmar has become a last Asian frontier for our current modes of development – plantation agriculture, mining, and water extraction. Its location makes it even more strategic. Besides being the largest country of south-east Asia, Myanmar is between the two most populous countries in the world, China and India, both hungry for natural resources.”(Guardian, 1/4/17)

 

 

Despite the election in 2015 of the National League for Democracy (NLD) under Aung San Suu Kyi, the country remains largely under control of the military. Western sanctions against the military government had been in place during the prior direct military government rule. After the election these sanctions were lifted, but the current aggressive military actions against the Rohingya could, although they probably will not, lead to renewal of sanctions. The current ethnic cleansing is said to be a response to the attack on a police station by a small Rohingya group, the Arakan Rohinguy Salvation Army (ARSA). However, rather than being a “security” issue, the real goal is to clear territory of Rohingya villages and people in the area that China wishes to exploit. There is interest in building a deep sea port at Kyaukpyu on the Rakhine coast ($7.3 billion) and developing an industrial park nearby ($3.2 billion) according to Saskia Sassan’s commentary in the Huffington Post (9/15/17). This is part of China’s $900 billion Belt and Road Initiative in Asia and would give China a foothold in the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean.

 

With so much at stake it is clear that Nobel Peace Prizes, such as the one awarded to Aung, are as meaningless as the one given to Obama. Human rights are easily swept aside as we have seen in other countries and even domestically when pipelines and development can bring profits. The Buddhists, who are impoverished themselves and have been displaced in even greater numbers than the Rohingya, nevertheless have succumbed to virulent racism and religious prejudice and are helping the military. Racism has reached such a pitch that on September 20, a 300-person Buddhist mob prevented a Red Cross boat from carrying aid to refugees. Fanning ethnic tensions seems to be working for the Myanmar military and being ignored in the interest of development by the NLD.

 

The only solution to these recurring problems around the world lies in class struggle and multiracial, multiethnic unity. Clearly, many of the poor Buddhists of Myanmar have been won to opposing their own interests because of racism and religious prejudice. Such divisions are fostered by ruling classes throughout the world in order to enrich themselves and divide their enemies. The fight against anti-Muslim sentiment in the US and Europe is also part of the anti-racist struggle necessary to build the unity needed to destroy exploitation worldwide and oppose the rise of fascism and war.

 

We must build an international movement to support the struggles of workers and farmers in Myanmar against the government’s efforts to drive people off the land and impoverish them in slave labor industrial development. We condemn the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and call upon the many oppressed Buddhists and others to join in demanding that the military cease and desist attacks on the Muslim population.

Linda Green is a retired physician and long time anti-racist activist in Prince Georges County, Md.

Black Communists Fight Racism with Multiracial Solidarity

Written by Karyn Pomerantz, September 17, 2017

 Introduction

This series of blog posts reviews the immense contributions of black revolutionaries fighting racism and capitalism, primarily in the United States during the early to the mid-20th Century.

This is not close to a comprehensive review so see a brief bibliography below for further reading.  Let’s enjoy these inspiring stories and start educating our friends about this important history so we can move the antiracist movement forward.

Many people view Marxism and communism as a white thing, and the most famous revolutionaries, such as Marx, Lenin, and Mao, were white or Asian.  The history books largely ignore the revolutionary contributions of American black communists, such as William Patterson, Paul Robeson and Lucy Parsons. They and many of their comrades advocated for working class unity to topple capitalism around the world in spite of Jim Crow atrocities, the patriotism pushed during World War II, and McCarthy era imprisonments and black lists.

Many white communists and socialists believed eliminating capitalism would automatically abolish racism.  They minimized the destructive nature of racism and did not strongly engage in anti-racist struggles.  While eliminating capitalism removes the reasons for racism (creating more profit and dividing workers), black Marxists like Paul Robeson and William Patterson recognized the need to prioritize the fight against racist ideas and practices. Many all black revolutionary groups, such as the Marcus Garvey (Return to Africa) Movement and the Black Panther Party, promoted a nationalist perspective instead of building united working class organizations and movements.

Communist Party USA Leader:  William Patterson

William Patterson

William Patterson was a prominent leader of the Communist Party USA (CP) during the 20th Century.  As a lawyer, he led the International Labor Defense (ILD) that defended the Scottsboro Boys and the Civil Rights Congress, both affiliated with the Communist Party USA and opposed by the more conservative NAACP.

Born in 1891, Patterson grew up during the era of Jim Crow and lynching, working to achieve the civil rights of black Americans and the liberation of workers of all racial categories and nationalities.  He joined the Communist Party in the late 1920s, strongly awakened by the execution of the anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti.   He abandoned his law career to devote himself to political work.  Patterson was resolute in his support of a communist society, unity among workers of all racial categories and nationalities, internationalism, the early Soviet Union, and grassroots organizing.

 

Campaigns Against Racism

In 1931, the state of Alabama arrested and charged nine black boys (Charlie Weems, Ozie Powell, Clarence Norris, Olen Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Haywood Patterson, Eugene Williams, and Andrew and Leroy Wright), called the Scottsboro Boys, with the rape of two white women, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price.  Although Bates admitted that she lied, the state continued their prosecution, convicting them to death or lifetime in prison. The CP led campaign secured their release – 20 years after this decision!

scottsboro boysThe Scottsboro case exemplified the role of Jim Crow in terrorizing black workers.  False accusations of rapes of white women by black men was a common ploy used to justify the arrests of black men.  Beginning during slavery and continuing today, it was a way to demonize black men and instill fear in white men and women.

Patterson led the ILD and the CRC, mobilizing legal and grass roots support, organizing demonstrations in the dangerous South, and rejecting coalitions with politicians and the Democratic Party.  The more conservative NAACP opposed this strategy, preferring solely a legal approach.  NAACP leaders felt threatened by the popularity and support of the CP.

Patterson maintained his commitment to multiracial and international solidarity, including whites and workers throughout the world, a strategy opposed by many black nationalists.  He understood the importance of attacking racism separately from organizing only about class:

“His commitment was an acknowledgement that a multiracial alliance grounded within an empowered working class was the preferred strategic option, the road to revolution (Black Revolutionary, p. 27).

Patterson took antiracism to an international audience.  Globalizing this struggle, a dominant strategy of Patterson and the CP, galvanized support from grass roots peoples and organizations.  He linked the Scottsboro Boys case to the anti-colonialism movements around the world, winning support for communism among people who were fighting for their liberation from European imperialists in many African countries.  The USSR and allied parties embraced the issue as well.  The US rulers found it hard to justify WWII as a war to liberate Europe from the Nazis while it discriminated against its black citizens. This strategy was instrumental in winning the release of the Scottsboro defendants.

baseball desegPatterson also championed the desegregation of baseball, mobilizing the CP and white and black workers that resulted in victory.  Again, it was hard for the US ruling class to justify discrimination as they opposed Nazi race hatred.

Strategies

Radical Press

Patterson appreciated the crucial role of a radical press.  He created pamphlets and edited newspapers to promote the Party’s positions and attract workers.  His publications had tremendous influence similar to WEB DuBois’ The Crisis, the newspaper of the NAACP.

we charge genocide

During the 1950s, the US government launched the Red Scare against communists and other radicals.  Patterson and Paul Robeson wrote the famous book and petition, We Charge Genocide, an indictment of domestic and international American racism, lynching, suppression of voting rights, discrimination, and imperialism.  Patterson traveled throughout Europe, winning support from African Americans and activists around the world while Robeson introduced it to the UN’s Genocide Convention, reviving a stagnant movement in the US.   Prominent American liberals, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Thurgood Marshall, vigorously opposed the petition.  In response, the US indicted Patterson on charges of withholding information and eventually jailed him.  While many former CP members finked on members, Patterson and Robeson never surrendered any names.

Globalization

As described above, Patterson and Robeson internationalized the struggles in the US.  They both spent time in the Soviet Union, whose leadership endorsed and promoted the liberation of African Americans.  The USSR took the “Negro Question” seriously, supporting a Black Belt to give African Americans their own territory to govern.  It invited American workers to live in the Soviet Union for training, and many accepted and reported how welcomed they were there.  When two white workers discriminated against a black worker, they were sentenced to jail and made to apologize.  Robeson reported that a Soviet worker acted in a racist manner aboard a bus, and the passengers kicked him off.  The friendships and alliances between the USSR and he American Communist Party and African American leftists made it difficult for the US government to oppose a World War II alliance with USSR.  The USSR’s support of American blacks reduced anti-communism in the US.  It was inconsistent to oppose Nazism while practicing Jim Crow and endorsing the racial superiority of whites.

However, World War II presented a contradiction to American socialists and communists.  The USSR encouraged a United Front policy, an alliance of workers and the ruling classes against Germany and Japan.  Most left parties, including the CP USA, adopted the United Front, but Patterson and Robeson opposed it.

Once the Allies defeated fascism (primarily due to the Soviet Union), the US began the cold war against the USSR and anti-communist attacks against the Communist Party and unions through jail, black lists, and smear campaigns. The House Un-American Committee (HUAC) interrogated Patterson and others, including screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. Patterson refused to name other activists although many famous people like lawyer Thurgood Marshall, author William Faulkner, and labor leader A. Philip Randolph became informants.

During the 1960s anti-colonial and liberation movements around the world impaired US efforts to obtain access to resources, and competition with the USSR intensified.  Domestically, it was a time of rebellion with the rise of the Black Power movement, the Black Panther Party, urban and prison uprisings, civil rights organizations (SNCC, CORE, SCLC) and the anti-white Nation of Islam. The ruling class decided to grant some concessions and court US blacks, such as Rockefeller’s funding of the National Negro College fund.

Patterson continued his involvement and dedication to multi-racial revolution.  He wrote about the causes of racism, the role of the media to separate whites and blacks, and applauded the Watts Rebellion and the Attica Prison revolt.  He differed with Black Panther politics, specifically their glorification of violence rather than seeing it as a means to an end, their nationalism and their concentration on the lumpen proletariat.

Patterson, along with many of his comrades we will present, serves as an inspiring role model.  They all selflessly devoted their lives to making working class lives, especially black and oppressed peoples, matter.

 “… (Patterson) abandoned a promising life as an attorney and committed himself to a life of struggle (for) a multiracial alliance grounded within an empowered working class… on the road to revolution”

 Further Reading

 Gerald Horne.  Black Revolutionary. William Patterson and the Globalization of the African American Freedom Struggle. Chicago” U of I Press, 2013.

 

Robin D.G. Kelley.  Freedom Dreams.  Boston: Beacon Press, 2002.

 

 

INTER-IMPERIALIST RESOURCE RIVALRY BRINGS DEVASTATION TO THE HORN OF AFRICA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

82b1yemen image5462c27b44e48dc46b6844c0f2fc_18

AN INTERNATIONAL MULTIRACIAL RESISTANCE IS NEEDED

by Ellen Isaacs

One of the worst current disasters is occurring in Yemen, and we hear almost nothing about it. For two and a half years, US proxy Saudi Arabia has been bombing and blockading Yemen into collapse and misery. Over half a million people are infected with cholera, the largest outbreak in the world for the past 50 years, and 2,000 have died. Rampant malnutrition, with 60% of the population having inadequate food, has increased susceptibility to the disease, while massive bombings have crippled or destroyed bridges, factories, hospitals, and water and sanitation facilities. Over 30,000 health workers and many civil servants haven’t been paid for over a year (NYT 8/24/17). According to the United Nations, Yemen is the world’s largest humanitarian crisis, with more than 10 million people who require immediate assistance.

The disaster in Yemen, however, is by no means an isolated tragedy. Similar destruction and suffering is going on in other countries in the Middle East and Horn of Africa:

*Syria – 400,000 dead in the 6 year civil war, 11.3 million displaced

*Sudan/South Sudan – 490,000 displaced; murder, sexual violence and                                repression rampant

*Somalia – 500,000 killed, 1.1 million displaced

*Iraq – one half to one million civilians dead

*Afghanistan – 27,000 civilians dead, 1.3 million displaced

*Gaza – 3500 dead in the last two sieges out of a population of 1.5 million,                           conditions unlivable, population imprisoned by Israel’s Wall

The combined effect of these disasters has created the worst refugee crisis since World War II – 65.6 million people – many from these countries. Of course, other nations in Asia, Africa and South America are similarly affected, but here we will deal only with a limited region. All of these conflicts, and most others, are related to the competition for oil between the US, Russia, China and Iran, as well as Saudi Arabia, and Israel. All the suffering countries listed above either have oil, lie adjacent to transit points for oil, are potential pipeline routes, and/or or harbor military bases necessary to the imperialist actors.

crisis overview

Each of these conflicts and displacements are tolerated or applauded by many ordinary Americans and Europeans because of anti-Muslim and anti-black racism, which is increasingly openly promoted by governments bent on war and control of energy resources. After 9/11, Muslims were looked upon with universal suspicion in the US, targeted by government surveillance and victimized by hate crimes. Anti-Muslim racism was important in winning the population and soldiers to make war on Afghanistan and Iraq and to contemplate future wars in Libya and Syria. Trump has vilified all Muslims in his attempt to ban immigrants from six predominantly Muslim countries, and hate crimes are increasing in this country. Throughout Europe right wing anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant groups are winning office and adherents. There will be no end to these crises unless we build an international multiracial anti-imperialist movement.

OIL AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF WWI

Each of the current wars and humanitarian disasters can be traced to the discovery of oil over 100 years ago and the competition between imperialist nations to control its availability and distribution. It is also safe to say that the summaries below are oversimplified, but are meant to help provide a basic framework with which to view today’s conflicts.

Middle Eastern oil was first discovered in Persia, now Iran, by a British company in 1901, and the first pipeline was built in 1910 and the first refinery the next year. In that same year, three years before the start of World War 1, the British navy switched from coal to oil to power its ships. This new fuel then made possible the development of tanks and fighter planes, as well as the increased use of trucks, making it imperative that all modern armies have access to the new fuel. The British and French also understood the importance of the control of oil resources and when oil was discovered in Iraq, the opening of the eastern front of the WWI became even more important. In the west, the allies were fighting Germany, but in the east they hoped to destroy the Turkish Ottoman Empire, which controlled what is now Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon as well as Iran and Iraq. The US did not enter the war until 1917, but the Standard Oil Company had been actively searching for oil in the Middle East for years before.

After the long four years of WWI, the victorious British and French divided up these countries between them, leaving the Arab residents out in the cold. The Arabs had been enlisted to fight beside the British with the promise of a sovereign state as their reward, but the British had no intention of keeping this agreement. Instead, they were party to the secret Sykes-Picot Treaty with France, which divided the whole region between their two countries. In addition, the British had made a deal with the Zionists, the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which promised them a Jewish state in Palestine. The Jews, of primarily European heritage and with western values, were seen to be reliable allies for the western imperialists.

With the defeat of Germany and the Turks, this division of the Middle East led to the conflicts that still embroil the region today. France was given control over Syria and Lebanon, while Britain controlled Palestine, what is now Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Britain continued to take Iran’s oil under the auspices of the Anglo-Persian Oil Company. The US was completely excluded from this deal at the time, having joined the war late and only on the European front, but the US government and Standard Oil were furious at being left out of the French-British negotiations and threatened sanctions. The British were short of funds after the war, which the Americans could supply, so the US was given a 20% share of oil in Iraq.

Iraq was the prize awarded to Faisal, one son of the Arab leader King Hussein, and the main military commander of Arab forces friendly to Britain. Iraq was a country arbitrarily created without regard to the existence of varying and disparate groups within its borders such as the Kurds and Assyrians, Shias and Sunnis. Although Iraq became formally independent in 1930, until 1958 it remained under British domination. Huge oil fields were discovered in 1927, with the British Petroleum Company controlling 50% of the oil and the US and France splitting the rest. Jordan, also under British control, was to be governed by another son of Hussein, Abdullah.

Saudi Arabia, which had been a collection of tribes and a part of the Ottoman Empire was, by 1923, united under the control of Abdul Aziz ibn-Saud. He was not only a staunch British ally, but a follower of the extreme Wahhabi branch of Islam. Saudi Arabia became an independent state in 1923, and vast oil reserves were discovered there by Standard Oil in 1938. Production began a few years later under the US controlled Aramco, the Arabian-American Oil Company, and by the end of WWII the US made it clear that it would be pre-eminent in that country.

France was the power that controlled Syria after WWI, and they were harsh colonial masters. There were large nationalist revolts, and in 1936 independence was granted, although the French maintained military and economic control until WWII. Lebanon, carved out of Christian, Shia and Sunni Muslim areas was also put together under French domain, which lasted until 1943.

AFTER WWII

Although the Middle East was not a prime area of conflict in the next world war, WW2’s consequences were far reaching for the region. The slaughter of the Jews by the Nazis and the hesitancy of Britain and the US to accept the bulk of survivors led to a massive increase in the Jewish population of Palestine. The Western powers favored a powerful Jewish state in the region as an ally in area now known to be a vast reservoir of oil. Thus although the Jews still only constituted 30% of the population, in 1948 the UN created an Israeli state that encompassed 55% of the land and the best access to water. Moreover, the Zionist government embarked on a program to expel the Arab population, which had over 80% success. Many of these refugees ended up in Gaza, then controlled by Egypt, and the West Bank, then part of Jordan, as well as neighboring Lebanon and Syria. In 1967, Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza and has militarily occupied them ever since.

Meanwhile, growing nationalism in Iran in 1951 brought about the election of Mosaddegh, who attempted to nationalize British Petroleum. This resulted in a coup engineered by Britain and US and the installation of the Shah of Iran. When an Islamic nationalist coup overthrew the Shah in 1979, the US lost a major ally and source of oil. The successor to King Faisal in Iraq was toppled in 1958, but Britain and the US did not invade the country, having been warned not to by the USSR and China. Anxious to avoid the emergence of more powerful nationalist regimes in the area, the US supported Kurdish rebellion against Baghdad and then hoped the long Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88 would weaken both governments.

It is now common knowledge that the prime reason for the US invasion of Iraq was to retain control of the world’s third largest and easily accessible pool of oil. Afghanistan, while not rich in oil, is a prime pipeline route between the oil and gas rich Central Asian republics and Turkey, Europe, and Asia. After the US invasion, Afghanistan was also found to have deposits of rare minerals necessary for cyber technology.

MORE IMPERIALIST RIVALS

Another major development of the last 60-70 years was the emergence of the USSR and China as major imperialist players. The Soviets, having been invaded by ten capitalist nations after the revolution, became more concerned about their rivalry with western imperialists than committed to exporting communism. They also wanted oil for themselves and to stop its flow to their rivals. However, their policies were often contradictory and subject to frequent change. At first they supported the creation of Israel because they saw it as decreasing the power of Britain. Soon after, however, they became supporters of Arab nationalism and an enemy of Zionism.

Basically, Soviet policy wished to counter any US advantage in Eurasia by expanding its military and naval bases and supporting anti-Israeli Arab nationalist movements. Thus the USSR, beginning in the 1950s, became the major arms supplier to Nasser’s Egypt and Syria. However, the bond with Egypt was broken in 1973 when the Soviets failed to provide sufficient military support for the war with Israel, and Egypt chose to switch its alliance to the West. The ties with Syria continued, with some decrease from 1989-2012, and the naval base at Tartus remains the sole warm water port of the USSR.

China, the world’s fastest growing economy, has an increasing need for imported oil. China’s main current foreign policy initiative is its One Belt One Road policy, which involves building a network of trade, transportation and cyber connections between Asia and Europe, but it worries about disruption due to Mid East conflicts, which could cause oil prices to rise. Before 1993, China was an exporter of energy, but since then it has become increasingly dependent on oil imports. By 2006, 58% of these imports came from the Middle East, and it is also the number one gas and oil importer from Iran. China is also selling arms to Saudi Arabia in order to maintain oil imports and is building pipelines from Russia(http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/01/26/chinas-new-middle-east-grand-strategy-iran-saudi-arabia-oil-xi-jinping/). In the Sudanese civil war, China has played a large role by supplying arms to the government in order to secure joint exploration and pipeline projects. Since the US decreased the number of its troops in Afghanistan, China is now pouring in troops and financing there.

All these forces are colliding in Syria. Primarily what is at stake is control of pipeline routes for oil and gas, with the US hoping to transport oil from Qatar to Europe. and Russia and Assad wishing to build a pipeline from Iran instead. Now this proxy war between the large powers has attracted other players, and there is no end in sight. First Al Qaeda stepped in on the side of the anti-Assad rebels, then Iran and their Hezbollah allies in Lebanon began to support Assad. The US half-heartedly began to support the rebels in 2013. The extremists split to form ISIS, which then began to attack non-Islamic rebels. The US allied with the Kurds to attack primarily ISIS, and in 2015 Russia stepped in to support Assad. China is also increasing its involvement on the side of Assad, providing training to the Syrian military, opposing UN sanctions, and increasing investments in the country.

Yemen has the misfortune to lie next to Saudi Arabia and abut the Bab-el-Mandeb – the two-mile strait between Yemen and Africa, through which millions of gallons of oil pass each day. Saudi Arabia and its US client are dependent on this strait for oil, which otherwise would have to go around South Africa, and would also like to build pipelines across Yemen to Aden. In addition, Yemen is thought to have the greatest undeveloped regional reserves of oil, perhaps even more than Saudi Arabia. A group supported by Iran, the Yemeni Houthis and supporters of the former President Saleh (deposed in 2011), is attempting to seize power. Saudi Arabia is attempting to reinstate President Hadi, whose corruption, like Saleh’s, caused him to be overthrown in 2014, and who is now in exile in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, ISIS, as part of its continual drive to expand, has taken up positions in the south of the country.

Somalia also lies in proximity to the sea lanes that transport oil and since the 1990s has been thought to contain huge oil and natural gas deposits. Nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia’s pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into a civil war between rival warlords in January, 1991. Subsequent US military operations were said to be humanitarian relief missions, which is scarcely to be believed, Subsequently Somalia was invaded by Ehiopia and then entered by Al Queda in 2002, which united with local insurgents, Al Shabab. Famine, a cholera epidemic and a tsunami have killed or displaced at least 3.5 million Somalis. A new government was elected this year, but remains under attack as oil companies consider the risks vs benefits of further exploration.

In Libya, in chaos since Qaddafi was toppled by a NATO led invasion in 2011, three rival governments and numerous militia groups are fighting for control of the country. Libya was once the 9th biggest oil producer in the world, exporting mainly to Europe, and was attacked probably because the dictator was moving to nationalize more of the oil industry and, like Saddam Hussein, was threatening to refuse to use the US dollar as currency. Russia is now building ties with one of the major strongmen, Haftar, with the possible aim of re-opening oilfields, building a base on the Mediterranean, or simply becoming an international mediator (Foreign Policy 9/14/17).

Meanwhile the main US ally in the region is Israel, armed with nuclear weapons and the world’s largest recipient of American military aid. As a reward for its loyalty, Israel is allowed to continue its 50-year-old illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and to periodically rain down massive terror on Gaza. Currently this ”outdoor prison” for 1.5 million people has become unlivable, with only 2-4 hours of electricity a day and 90% of its water undrinkable. Health services are broken down due to infrastructure damage and lack of supplies, and over 700 schools are inoperable, and water borne diseases are increasing due to lack of sewage treatment plants.

WHAT MUST BE DONE

What this recitation of horrors is attempting to show is that the humanitarian disasters in all of these countries result from the rivalry between the US, Russia, China and their allies, Israel, Iran, and Saudi Arabia, to control the sources of oil and its transit routes. No humanitarian appeals to any of these governments will change their loyalty to profits and control of the world’s resources. No humanitarian relief efforts can have a major effect while weapons of mass destruction are being hurled at civilians. Only a mass and united movement of the workers and students of the imperialist nations and the nations they are victimizing can curtail the violence. This must include organizing in the militaries to turn the guns around and in places of production, to hinder the flow of profits. It is important to avoid nationalist organizing in the resource rich states, for their ruling elites are only too willing to court favor with powerful imperialists. Internationally and within our own borders, we must fight for equality and unity between Muslim and non-Muslim, and white, black, Asian and Latin workers. If we do not do this, these proxy wars between the superpowers will inevitably escalate into a new world war, which will annihilate untold millions and possibly end life as we know it.

War and the Rationing of Health Care: With Tax Cuts for the Rich

By Al Simpson, September 7, 2017

Blog Rationing Healthcare Sept 2017

In this article, I will show how the rationing of health care is an integral part of the United States’ drive for war.  The same is true for entitlement programs.  In general, the rulers will jettison or severely curtail anything that might limit the size of the war budget.

Opposition to imperialist war has developed in the United States and internationally over the last 15 years in response to the immense cost in life and resources of the US-led wars of brigandage.  Significant majorities of the US and Europe oppose the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan because they are waged based on lies for the purpose of securing world domination on behalf of American corporations. Over a million citizens died[i] in Iraq alone, and thousands of coalition soldiers have been either killed or maimed.  The Iraq war alone has a financial cost of well over 2[ii] trillion dollars, while trillions of dollars have been drained from social programs to expand the military-intelligence agencies.  The war mongering is not going to stop at this point, and any period of peace in the future may be episodic, as future imperialist wars are currently being planned – unless they are halted by the Working Class!

After World War II, the United States was the only combatant left intact, but now, decades later, it has competition and is in decline.  If it cannot stay on top because of its productive capacity, then it will attempt to do so by use of its military might and dwindling financial influence.

The American bosses haven’t been subtle about their opposition to the rise of China as an economic competitor.  A number of publicly available papers[iii] discuss the blockading of China and other war plans.  In January 2017, Forbes magazine actually had an article entitled: “A U.S. Blockade In The South China Sea Is An Act Of Peace”.  The U.S. regularly sends ships and planes close to Chinese territory in the South China Sea as acts of intimidation and spying. The U.S. and Vietnam staged war games off the coast of China, which infuriated the Chinese.  And as a show of strength, the US flew B52 bombers over small Islands in the South China Sea belonging to China.  The U.S. is also mindful of China’s plan for the increase of trade in Eurasia as a whole – without the involvement of the United States.  There was no intention to curtail trade with the United States, per se, but to greatly improve trade in Eurasia.

The U.S. was not going to stand idly by while this was happening, so it erected a toll booth in eastern Europe.  The American bosses overthrew the elected government in Ukraine and replaced it with a fascist backed government.  The fascists were deliberately integrated into Ukraine’s armed forces, so there would not be a clean outcome!  Russia had to defend itself, and needed to guarantee the existence of a warm water port on the Black Sea, so it annexed Crimea.  By the way, the population of Crimea voted over 96 percent in favor of the Annexation by Russia[iv].  As if on cue, numerous sanctions were then placed upon Russia to disrupt its economy.  Most recently, further sanctions were placed on Russia, not for anything it did, but to facilitate the sale of American liquefied natural gas, while at the same time prohibiting the sale of Russian natural gas[v].  These aggressive and reckless actions against Russia and China could lead to war.  Almost needless to say, war planning by the maniacs in Washington has been ongoing for some time.  Nevertheless, there are obstacles to America’s drive to war.  Let’s discuss some of them.

Expenditures on Health Care Reduce War Budget

Blog War in Syria Sept 2017

Military planners see the expenditures on health care and entitlements as impediments to their war planning because they are expensive and might limit the amount of money spent on war.  They complain that people are living too long and that health care and entitlement spending is too high.  Their arguments have a fascistic odor to them.  Daniel Callahan wrote in the New York Times:[vi] “We are not, however, obliged to help the old become indefinitely older. Indeed, our duty may be just the reverse: to let death have its day.”  Callahan also wrote: “And exactly what are the potential social benefits? Is there any evidence that more old people will make special contributions now lacking with an average life expectancy close to 80?”   According to a report from CNBC[vii] life expectancy in the U.S. will not increase very much in the coming years anyway.  Here is what they wrote: “The poor levels of life expectancy in the U.S. against other rich nations has been laid bare in a new report [by the World Health Organization and Imperial College London], which predicts that minimal gains over the coming years will see the country have similar rates to Mexico by the year 2030.”  Life expectancy for black people have improved, but they are more likely to die sooner of all causes (Washington Post May 2, 2017).

But, this dismal outcome isn’t enough for the ghouls in the Defense Department.  They want even lower life expectancy to pay for their grandiose plans for world domination.

Another problem they face is opposition to war from their own citizens, as noted earlier.  Their answer to this is that the United States needs military victories regardless of what the public thinks, so they can show the world that they can wield a big stick; especially given the dismal failures in Vietnam, Iraq and elsewhere.   Their second argument is the expectation that the public will fall into line once it has seen that the enemy has been destroyed.  This is an argument that many people won’t buy.

Are We in A B-Movie?

Just as if it were part of a B-movie, President Trump announced that the so-called “Defense” budget of $580.3 billion be increased to $639 billion, a 10.1 percent increase ($58.7 billion increase).  By comparison, the total of the budgets for the Department of Health and Human Services PLUS the Department of Housing and Urban Development amounts to $61.2 billion.  Notice how little discussion there has been regarding this sizable increase to an already bloated “Defense” budget.  In addition, deep cuts in in health care insurance had been proposed by the House and Senate Republicans in two different bills along with the phasing out of Medicaid.  And, of course, the wealthy never suffer: tax cuts for the rich are currently being considered by the Congress.

Here are details of some of the health insurance cuts.  For brevity, only the Senate bill will be considered.

Pre-existing conditions: The Senate bill requires insurers to cover those with pre-existing conditions and bans insurers from basing premiums on consumers’ health history.  However, it would allow states to waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover, known as the essential health benefits. This would permit insurers to offer less comprehensive policies, so those with pre-existing conditions may not have all of their treatments covered by insurance.

Medicaid: The bill would continue the enhanced Medicaid expansion funding from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) until 2021 and then phase it out over three years.

Premiums subsidies: The Senate bill also maintains Obamacare’s premium subsidies structure, but would tighten the eligibility starting in 2020.  It would cut the number of people who would get help because only those earning up to 350% of the poverty level would qualify, instead of the 400% threshold contained in Obamacare.  But it would also allow subsidies to enrollees below the poverty level so those living in states that didn’t expand Medicaid could get some assistance.  The subsidies could not be used for abortions.

Premiums for Older Persons:  Older persons will be charged 5 times as much as younger persons.  The limit under the Affordable Care Act is 3 times.  This will make health insurance unaffordable for many people.

Planned Parenthood:  Planned Parenthood would be defunded for one year.

The two healthcare cutting schemes have been defeated, but if either scheme would have been enacted, over 22 million people would have lost their health insurance.  Many people believe the unproven meddling by Russia into the last presidential election will be used as a distraction to enable the Democrats and Republicans to pass healthcare and entitlement cuts.

Finally, tax cuts for the rich!  The huge cutbacks in health insurance, mentioned above, were intended, at least in part, to fund tax breaks for the wealthy.  In view of the defeat of the healthcare legislation, the tax breaks for the wealthy may have to be more modest.  They are currently being debated but few specifics have emerged so far.  Let’s go over a few.  Chopping tax rates on corporations to 15 percent, from 35 percent, and on wealthy Americans to 35 percent, from about 40 percent have been proposed.  Also, ending the estate tax, which only hits multimillionaires (The levy applies to estates worth more than $5.49 million.  This will only touch an estimated 5,200 people in the country this year)[viii].  There has been some discussion on eliminating the tax deduction on real estate taxes, a deduction that many working class families depend upon.  Interestingly, repealing the deduction on real estate mortgage interest has not been popular.  The proposals for changes in the tax code are still in an incomplete form at this writing, so the changes may or may not occur.

Summary:

Many of the things mentioned in this article may sound like the work of a madman, but the falling rate of profit forces the capitalists to try more and more aggressive and reckless actions.  This explains why the United States would contemplate engaging in a nuclear war to halt China’s rise as a world power.  That is why they are more than willing to deprive millions of people of health insurance, why they are willing to phase out Medicaid, and all the other depredations.  But there is an alternative to the madness.  It is the historic task of the Working Class to overthrow capitalism and build a better more humane world for us all – free of war, racism, sexism, and all the other ills of capitalism and class society.

Author:

The author, Al Simpson, is a mathematician who lives in the United States.

[i] ORB survey of Iraq War casualties.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ORB_survey_of_Iraq_War_casualties  Sept 14, 2007.

[ii] Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study.  Reuters March 13, 2014.

[iii] The Dynamics of a Pacific Blockade Strategy by Warren Van Allen LCDR, U.S. Navy Advanced Studies in Naval

Strategy Program.  Conflict with China Rand Corporation.

[iv]The official result from the Autonomous Republic of Crimea was a 96.77 percent vote for integration of the region into the Russian Federation with an 83.1 percent voter turnout.  Crimean status referendum, 2014 Wikipedia.

[v] US bets Europe willing to pay more for less dependence on Russian energy.  RT.com August 22, 2017.

[vi] On Dying After Your Time Daniel Callahan New York Times Sunday Review November 30, 2013.

[vii] US life expectancy is low and is now projected to be on par with Mexico by 2030 CNBC February 22, 2017.

[viii] The Finance 202: Trump speech will bash rigged system. But tax outline would benefit 1 percent.  PowerPost The Finance 202 by Tory Newmyer, August 30, 2017.

CHARLOTTESVILLE SHOWS WE NEED A MASS MULTIRACIAL MOVEMENT TO STOP THE FASCISTS IN THEIR TRACKS  

 

edited by Ellen Isaacs and Karyn Pomerantz, Sept 1, 2017 

charlottesville aug 2017

Thousands of anti-racists rallied in Charlottesville on August 12 against the largest rally by a combined force of white supremacists seen in decades.  Although protestors succeeded in disrupting the planned agenda of the alt-right, one anti-racist was murdered. This right-wing gathering was allowed to occur, as others will be in the future, because racism and terrorism are necessary to capitalism when it can no longer provide jobs and services that people need.  Trying to divide workers by race and nationality is the bosses’ way of protecting their interests and weakening us.  But we won’t have it!

Make no mistake. The fascists in Charlottesville were organized and disciplined. Though armed, they did not shoot (with one exception). The police allowed the fascists to attack the anti-racists, and the police only intervened when they saw that the racists could not clear the streets by themselves.

After their rally was disrupted, racists roamed the streets of Charlottesville in small groups carrying their weapons and symbols of racist hatred looking to instigate violence.  They wanted to fight.  The horrific terrorist act of driving into a crowd of anti-racist protesters was a chilling example of their willingness to kill.  And the police? They guarded the Wells Fargo bank and the racists. Their pepper spray and organized intimidation tactics were directed at anti-racists.

This approach by the police and National Guard was no accident.  In 1978, the police let the KKK kill anti-Klan protesters in Greensboro. The police did nothing to protect the protesters. Similarly, last month in Charlottesville, police went to anti-racists’ homes to intimidate them, and then arrested protesters who successfully shut down a smaller KKK rally. This shows that WE must have a disciplined, organized force ourselves. We must provide our own security and not expect help from this racist-capitalist system.

Liberalism won’t win the day for the working class. At one point in Charlottesville, a group of racists jumped behind the police guarding the Wells Fargo bank after an altercation with an anti-racist. When the police pepper sprayed the anti-racist protesters, someone bewilderedly questioned, ‘Why did they use pepper spray on us? Nobody was being threatened.” One answer was, “Because they can—they need to terrorize.”

The ACLU and many liberals defend racist free speech and rallies. The ACLU declared “[t]he First Amendment is a critical part of our democracy, and it protects vile, hateful, and ignorant speech. For this reason, the ACLU of Virginia defended the white supremacists’ right to march.” But we will not accept any such “rights” for vicious racists. The working class cannot achieve an egalitarian world by nonviolent opposition to racism and fascism while supporting liberal politicians and their “kinder gentler” capitalism. Smashing racism is step towards an egalitarian world!

History tells us this.  Street fighting by Nazis helped to develop shock troops for Hitler. After they defeated the militant communists in Germany, they were able to rule. The combined understanding of history and practical experiences most recently remind us that liberal resistance isn’t enough.

 Capitalism needs racism for their system to survive, and capitalism strives to divide workers. The capitalists and their government don’t want us to be able to fight back in a powerful and united way against our real enemy, this system. Multiracial unity was evident among the brave protesters in Charlottesville, from many groups. Now this has to become a well-organized force with a common goal. Mobilize for struggle on the streets, in factories, in the service industry, in each city’s transit system, in schools, in health care settings, within the military, and everywhere.  Don’t rely on spontaneity or planning on the fly  Unity is power.

Report from the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March  

 

millions march 2Speech by Tomiko Shine, Cultural Anthropologist and Lead Organizer of the

Aging People in Prison Human Rights Campaign

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My name is Tomiko Shine and I’m a cultural anthropologist who helps lead the organization, Aging People in Prison Human Rights Campaign.  The Campaign advocates for the release of aging people in prison and recognition of their human rights.

We are gathered here on the National Mall in Washington about the Thirteenth Amendment that states “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. While it abolished slavery, it allowed the enslavement and incarceration of freed slaves if convicted of bogus “crimes” of disrespecting whites or loitering.  We need to abolish or amend this so incarcerated people can be released.

Do we begin at the 13th amendment or earlier with the Emancipation Proclamation when America had an opportunity to do what we are trying to do today: end and dismantle the system of white supremacy by freeing the enslaved? Instead, the politicians added an amendment to serve the slave owners.  Like a contract it is for the authors of the contract who wanted the continued labor and servitude of the enslaved.

So we begin with the first prison when the enslaved Africans were brought over from a continent far from here to America.  And they lay in the bowels of the ship chained together dying and some even throwing themselves over board because they knew the life they were going to was a living death, and a living death was worse than death itself. And those that survived the voyage across the ocean went on to the next prison, the plantations. The enslaved lived and died on the plantations, and later their children endured the same fate. And now today we have ones in prisons across the nation, mostly African Americans growing up, living, and dying in prison. And now we have generational incarceration. And now you can find 3 generations of men and women missing from one family affecting generations of children, grandchildren, and great grand children.  A few years ago I asked a little 7 year old boy in Baltimore who lives on Carey Street what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he said,” I’ll probably end up going to jail like my father. I felt sick and knew we had to change what we had become for a child to say this, to see this as his future.

            Aging People in Prison Human Rights Campaign works to interrupt this cycle to avoid aging people in prison and works to get those elderly released. So APP-HRC doesn’t see the original crime as the “crime.” Instead, after so many decades in prison, the length of time they are inside prison becomes the crime and a denial of human rights.  And so the beast, the machine has to keep feeding, not just peoples of African Descent, but different ethnicities who are aging and dying in prison.

Thus, APP-HRC wants reparatory justice. We want reparations in the form of “living bodies.”  We want them released and returned to their families and communities to live, to live out their days with family.

We ask you to join APP-HRC and to raise your voices, stomp your feet, and make the Walls of Jericho fall, to release them, to release us. Thus, we need to fight for their liberation.  Freedom of a people is a spiritual act because we are all creations of the creator. So we call out to the ancestors, the Divine, and you to help us get them back. We want them back. Let them Live, Return Them. So we must begin to build a society that the human spirit demands where everyone can live together.  GIVE THEM BACK to us, RETURN WHAT WAS TAKEN to us, WE WANT THEM BACK, GIVE THEM BACK.

Here are some of our elderly living and dying in prisons or soon after release:

  • Eraina Pretty– 39 years in prison in the state of Maryland, left behind 1 daughter.
  • Shahid Ali– 50 years in prison, released in November back to his home in Washington DC, died in January of last year, left behind 1 daughter.
  • Patty Prewitt, 30+ years in prison in the state of Missouri, left behind 5 children.
  • Joseph Ligon, 50+ years in prison in the state of Pennsylvania, oldest juvenile lifer in Pennsylvania.
  • Sheldry Topp, 50+ years in prison in the state of Michigan, oldest juvenile lifer in state of Michigan.
  • Dr. Lois Farquarhson, served 41 years in prison in state of Pennsylvania, died last year at the age of 91 not knowing where she was and why she was there.
  • Sundiati Acoli, 40+ years in prison from the state of NJ, now in Cumberland MD prison, went up for parole at age of 80 last year, denied parole and told by the parole board to come back in 15 years.
  • MOVE9, 30+years in prison in state of Pennsylvania, when I attended the MOVE9 conference in May I was stunned at the many generations they have left behind.
  • Phillip Chance, 30+ years in prison in state of Alabama, even though he was exonerated of the crime by two Michigan governors, died in an Alabama prison earlier this year, left behind 2 daughters.
  • Yusef, 41 years in prison in state of Maryland, released year before last, died that night at home.
  • Jalil Muntaquin, 40+ years in state of New York.
  • John McKenzie, 40 years in prison in state of New York, committed suicide this year after 10th parole denial, left behind 2 daughters.
  • Herman Bell of the Angola 3, 40+ years in Angola Prison in state of Louisiana, died 2 days after release.
  • Glenn Ford, 30+ years in prison in state of Louisiana, exonerated of crime, died 1 year after release.