Soldiers Must Refuse to Fight to End theWar

Anti-war actions

Karyn Pomerantz, 6-26-2022

Imperialist countries cannot wage war for global power without the tens of thousands of workers they recruit and arm to fight for their empires. To the ruling class and military brass, these workers are cannon fodder for their interests. WWI wasted millions of young men sent to carry out insane combat orders. The US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq relied on voluntary soldiers, some motivated by patriotism and more by the economy and difficulty finding jobs. Army recruiters prowled the halls of high schools and promised training and benefits. During the 1960s when the Vietnam War began, the Army instituted the draft, giving deferments and better positions to college students. This deferment ended as the Army required more soldiers.

Class divisions mirrored those in civilian life causing resentments and conflict. During the Vietnam War, most combat soldiers had working class backgrounds and a high school degree or less while the officers had high school and college degrees. Officers working in safety far from the fighting made the combat decisions and ordered the troops to implement them. As we will see, the draft of men who did not want to fight created a tinderbox of rebellion.

As earlier articles on this blog have explained, we, the working class of all nations, should not take sides in the war in Ukraine. Russia, the United States, and the EU are fighting for control of natural resources, minerals, oil, gas, grains, and pipelines. Russia has aggressively and inhumanely devastated cities in order to grab territory to assert power. The US is intent on weakening the power of Russia and boosting the number of NATO military bases around Russia. The US has intervened in Ukrainian politics since 2014 when it installed their new president. Russia has retaliated against these threats with horrendous attacks on civilians.

Capitalism kills, and war is the most extreme example. Capitalists send working class men and women into horrific situations and count success as the number of enemy troops killed and territory seized. These capitalists are willing to sacrifice our lives whether in Ukraine, Yemen, Syria, or Libya. As we see on the news, Biden is more than willing to shelter 100,000 Ukrainian refugees while deporting hundreds of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers who also face desperate situations in their home countries. He sends billions of dollars for military equipment to Ukraine, slashes funding for Covid relief, and maintains trade barriers on distributing vaccines to poorer countries with primarily black and brown people. This war is draining billions for arms (currently over $56 billion) from domestic social needs, such as healthcare, housing, and climate improvements.

On the “positive” side, soldiers have significant power by deserting, sabotaging equipment, and refusing orders. There are some reports of Russian soldiers deserting; over 30,000 have died! International Business News (June 22, 2022) reported that 200 Russian soldiers hid out in a village in Ukraine rather than fight. An officer shot himself in the leg to avoid combat, and another GI ran over an officer with his tank. The Russian Army released 100 national guardsmen who refused orders. Another soldier told a reporter that “none of us wanted this war.”

If soldiers on both sides refused to fight, they could end the war.  WWI and WWII led to revolutions in Russia and China. The role of the armed forces was instrumental for their victories; soldiers mutinied against their ruling classes and refused to attack the revolutionaries. However, this is not inevitable. Successful revolutions require people’s commitment to egalitarianism and anti-racism, and the organization of workers, students, and soldiers into a party.

This article recounts the GI rebellions against the War in Vietnam. Later articles will cover other wars during the 20th Century. Soldiers from Ukraine and Russia must follow these heroic examples to end the war.

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Review: Plague at the Golden Gate

by Karyn Pomerantz, 6-4-2022

PBS film on the bubonic plague of 1901 in SF

Imagine this scenario:

  • Disease outbreak blamed on Chinese
  • Physicians coverup cases in white areas
  • Business needs outweighed health protection
  • Denial of healthcare to Chinese workers creates distrust of physicians and public health officers
  • No cure existed
  • It took years to find the zoonotic cause and control transmission

Sound familiar??

No, it’s not Covid. It is the bubonic plague that appeared in San Francisco in 1901. The Plague at the Golden Gate, a documentary produced by PBS, portrays the desperate search for the cause of the rapid deaths among Chinese residents crammed into a crowded neighborhood known as Chinatown. Out of 120 plague stricken people, 119 died. The handling of the outbreak holds lessons for public health workers, government officials, and the public today.

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Shopping While Black: Fight Racist Violence with Multiracial Unity

Mourners in Buffalo, May 2022

by Karyn Pomerantz

The constant drum beat of white supremacy has enabled the murderers of many people: black Bible Study members in Charlotte, Asian women workers in Georgia, Jewish worshipers in Pittsburgh, and Latinx shoppers in Texas. Now a white supremacist has killed 10 black residents in Buffalo. Shopping, working, and worshipping while black, Latin, Jewish, and Asian can get you killed. This shooting is a horrific outcome of the racism in Buffalo and elsewhere.

These attacks appear to be the random work of deranged people. While mental illness may be a factor, these men are deeply influenced by racism. It is hard to predict the exact time and place of these murders, but the intentional and perpetual inculcation of racist ideas by US capitalism ensures that it will sow division and distrust and erupt in violence.

After the shooting, The Washington Post polled a national sample of black residents on its effects, revealing a high level of mistrust of white workers and the police:

  • 70% believed half of whites held racist ideas
  • 55% wanted more economic investment to alleviate poverty and neglected communities instead of increased policing favored by 24%
  • 1 in 4 considered buying a gun (Washington Post, Poll: Black Americans fear more attacks after Buffalo. 5-22-2022, A3).

Some white faces appeared at the funerals and vigils, but more white residents must overcome the segregation and reach out to their black neighbors with support and activism.  While living conditions and racist violence differ in degree between black and white residents, both groups have high rates of poverty, 31% and 18% respectively, both over the 13% in New York State (Census data, 2000-2020, https://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty-Buffalo-New-York.html).

This article describes how Buffalo businessmen promote segregation and racism to produce wealth for themselves and poor health, educational, and economic outcomes for black residents. It calls for building multiracial solidarity while rejecting the identity politics that divide us into separate silos.

Continue readingShopping While Black: Fight Racist Violence with Multiracial Unity

The Fight for Abortion is a Fight Against Racism, Sexism and Capitalism

by Karyn Pomerantz, 5-20-2022

Overturning a woman’s right to abortion is the latest effort to keep women powerless, providing free domestic labor in the home and under the control of the male-dominated state.

Demonstration to keep abortion legal

It is not the first attack. Seventeenth century witch hunts stigmatized and murdered outspoken women. Slavery turned black women into child and wealth generators for plantation owners. Throughout capitalist history, women have been demeaned and impoverished, especially black, indigenous, and Latinx women, in order to make extra profits. This article documents how capitalism oppresses women and argues that abortion supporters must broaden their demands to address the broader role of sexism under capitalism.

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What Is Imperialism? Is Russia Imperialist?

By Greg Godels, March 26, 2022

V. I. Lenin’s pamphlet, Imperialism, remains the leading elaboration of the concept of imperialism for Marxists. It is the starting point for any discussion of the global dynamics of capitalism from the late- nineteenth century until today.

While capitalism has taken twists, turns, and even detours since Lenin’s time, the destination remains the same– the exploitation of labor for profit, wherever workers and resources can be found. Capitalism’s evolution, concentration, growth, and uneven development are the necessary conditions for imperialism. Imperialism respects no social or political borders.

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War in Ukraine: The Only Good Imperialist Is a Dead Imperialist

Working class “cannon fodder” soldiers sacrifice themselves for imperialists on all sides

by The Editors

March 1, 2022

As this is written, Russia’s rulers are invading Ukraine with increasing brutality and even threatening to use nuclear weapons. Neither workers in Russia, Ukraine, the US or anywhere in the world have anything to gain from this conflict. We will only suffer bodily harm, economic turmoil and confusion from imperialist propaganda. Like all inter-imperialist conflicts, this one represents a struggle for territory, resources, and economic and military superiority. Sometimes such conflicts, like this one, threaten to pit great powers against one another, but more often there are proxy wars as in Syria or Yemen. In this article we will provide some history and analysis of this conflict and argue for international anti-war solidarity, opposition to all inter-imperialist fights, and building a worldwide workers’ struggle for a society we run in our own interests.

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Fight Racism! Demand Universal Vaccine and Immigration Justice at the 2022 American Public Health Association Meeting

Karyn Pomerantz, 2-19-2022

Introduction

Public health activists in the American Public Health Association (APHA) have submitted a policy proposing universal vaccination, changes in global trade policy that protects manufacturers, and protection for asylee seekers and migrants. APHA must take a strong position for measures to prevent and treat Covid 19 and demand global working-class solidarity.

Adopting this policy will not guarantee action, but it gives credibility and science-based information to help advocates in the community, universities, and medical, health, trade, and labor sectors to organize more effectively. Writing it has given opportunities for more young public health students to learn about capitalism and to build relationships. What we learned:

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Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Speaking Out For Antiracist Marxism

by Karyn Pomerantz, 9-12-2021

This article reviews the revolutionary politics of Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, a Marxist, anti-racist scholar, author, and activist. It presents her positions on class, racism, and capitalism, and the critical need for working class unity.

Over the last ten years, tens of thousands of people have rebelled against racist police murders, immigrant deportations, climate disasters, Covid-19 catastrophes, and incarceration rates that disproportionately endanger black and brown workers. People are asking about the causes of oppression and strategies and solutions to end them. Explanations range from the exploitative practices of capitalism, bad legislation to misbehaviors of poor people. Strategies include voting, building organizations to fight specific injustices, decentralized and uncoordinated organizing, unionizing, cooperatives, community control of the police, and communist parties. People call for abolition to defund and eliminate the police and prisons and end all forms of injustice. Many believe in white privilege and blame all whites for racism.

In a time of these identity politics, leaderless protests, and decentralized organizing, Taylor’s call for organized, multiracial, revolutionary struggle provides a more realistic course of action that can achieve working class power. Her works are worth understanding and applying.

The editors strongly recommend reading her publications and listening to her presentations on YouTube. She has written 3 major books, Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership, From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation, and How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective.

This blog has promoted multiracial organizing that fights the system of capitalism. Take some time to read the posts on “white privilege,” exploitation, and “It’s Time to Name Names: Capitalism and Imperialism” at  https://multiracialunity.org/category/capitalism-and-imperialism/page/3/ . (If you’d like to get together and discuss these topics, come to our biweekly discussion group and email us for the details).

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CLASS is the FOUNDATION of Inequality in Capitalism –

Inequality is Reinforced and Masked by RACISM and SEXISM

by Bill Sacks, 8-13-2021

A frontpage article in the Washington Post (https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/07/22/noose-construction-industry-racism/) tells of recent incidents at many US worksites in which nooses have been left in plain sight by unidentified persons (read cowardly racists). The intent of fomenting fear is derived from the ugly history of US lynchings, particularly in the South after the Civil War during Reconstruction and well into the 20th century.

            The article calls lynching an “implement of terror and murder used primarily against Black people.” This description is important both for what it says and what it only implies – though the implication emerges only if one is prepared to read between the lines and thinks about the word “primarily.” The fact is that out of more than 4,000 lynchings, roughly a quarter of the victims were white working-class persons. In many (or most) cases their “crime” was associating with fellow workers who happened to be black. Thus, whether the persons lynched were black or white or any other ethnicity, the motivation was always inspired by the ideology of racism, and the purpose was always to maintain and employ the practice of racism as a means of keeping black and white working-class persons apart and convinced that each was the enemy of the other.

This article argues that ruling class exploitation is the foundation of capitalism, affecting black and white workers, although to lesser degrees, and gives examples from literary sources.

Continue reading “CLASS is the FOUNDATION of Inequality in Capitalism –”

Critical Race Theory Threatens Ruling Class Power

by Karyn Pomerantz, July 1, 2021

As I write this, Critical Race Theory debates dominate the media, school board meetings, state legislatures, and university campuses. The Oklahoma City Community College canceled a course that discussed white privilege. Politicians in eight states have outlawed its teaching, and nine more are considering legislation to do so (https://www.heritage.org/data-visualizations/education/critical-race-theory-legislation-tracker/). Antagonisms at several school boards led to the cancellation of face-to-face meetings to avoid physical fights. Florida already passed legislation to ban its teaching and requires civics courses to include “portraits in patriotism” … to tell stories and “first-person accounts” of victims of ostensibly communist governments which are then compared with the more supposedly democratic US.” Florida’s Duvall County School Board fired a teacher for hanging a Black Lives Matter flag in her classroom. Texas passed a bill that prohibits teachers from discussing any theories of racism. For example, one section of the bill prohibits lessons that make:

“… any individual (should) feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress on account of his or her race or sex”

Another section prohibits teaching that:

“meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are racist or sexist, or were created by a members of a particular race to oppress members of another race (https://capitol.texas.gov/tlodocs/87R/billtext/pdf/HB03979I.pdf).

Proposed bills in other states call for putting cameras on teachers to reveal whether they teach the “wrong” ideas and outlaw any student demonstrations for social justice issues. University faculty in Florida will be required to register their political positions, and students and faculty will have to take surveys about their beliefs, and students must pass a “civic literacy” exam to graduate. If these beliefs deviate from the conservative, racist ideas of the state, the state legislature can remove their research projects and funding, seriously imperiling their jobs and increasing self-censorship.

Emboldened by Trump, opponents claim discussing racism offends and blames white people, that it rejects color blindness. They cite weepy accounts by white children allegedly exposed to these ideas. They never acknowledge the trauma people of color experience from physical, economic, and verbal abuse caused by racism.

Opposition to CRT at Loudoun County, VA School Board Meeting

What is this theory? Why has it generated so much opposition and disinformation? Why is racism so vital to capitali

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