Attacking the Capitol: Building Fascism, It’s Not Just Trump

by Karyn Pomerantz, 1-7-2021, revised 1-9-2021

Thousands of Trump supporters stormed the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 to stop Congress from validating Biden’s and Harris’ win, and to warn people fighting to reform or overthrow capitalism that they would face violent retaliation. This was an action to terrorize activists demanding antiracist equity and related changes. The response highlighted the extreme differences between the violent attack by Trump supporters and the uprisings against police murders, the ongoing hunger strike by 140 immigrants held in New Jersey detention centers, the union campaign by Google workers, demands for Covid-19 protections and universal healthcare, and demonstrations for jobs, housing, and debt relief. The likely collusion between the police and the Trump mob, the ease with which the mob entered the Capitol, and the ability to recruit thousands will embolden right wing groups, leading to their growth and confidence. 

On the other side, the medical and economic repercussions of the pandemic, the wider visibility of police violence, and the acknowledgement of centuries of racist oppression have inspired large uprisings across the US and other countries of multi-generational, and multiracial and multiethnic groups of workers and students. The movement against police murders of black men and women sparked by the killing of Trayvon Martin expanded with the execution of George Floyd with thousands taking to the streets. The diversity of the rebels alarms the people who control the economy and government (the ruling class).  At this point, antiracist leaders call for abolition of the police, prisons, and other oppressive conditions, trusting that abolition is possible when we have no power. Their hesitancy to call for and build revolutionary change weakens our fight and obstructs the possibility of a better future. 

The potential of a growing, more militant movement threatens US capitalism, which leads to the ruling class building and supporting fascist organizations to terrorize and repress us. We have a tremendous opportunity to unite millions of black, white, Asian, indigenous, and immigrant workers over these common problems around the world. We can build a movement to demand radical changes and to seize power. We have a long way to go but must prepare now

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“Back to the Future:” Biden’s Domestic Policy

Introduction

Millions of voters in the US look to Biden for righting the wrongs of the Trump Administration by ushering in a more democratic civil society and addressing racism and the Covid19 pandemic, participating in global organizations, restraining state violence, mitigating climate disasters, and restoring jobs and housing.  Regardless of his gentler rhetoric, Biden, like Obama, will impose policies to maintain US hegemony (control) and serve the super rich.

This article reviews some of Biden’s appointments for domestic policy offices as a reflection of his Administration’s political positions. As one writer said, it’s “back to the future” as he renews the participation of many Obama officials whose presidency increased deportations, warfare, and inaction against racist murders while maintaining a liberal anti racist veneer. Many activists who voted and organized for Biden, Bernie, and the Green Party want to humanize capitalism, counting on elections, regulations, and defunding carceral institutions to transform society. They believe that the abolition of racism and inequities can occur without workers taking power. We can’t allow this illusion to continue.  

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Book Review: The Tragedy of American Science by Clifford Conner

A Review by Nayvin Gordon, M.D., November 24, 2020

I highly recommend this short book, The Tragedy of American Science: From Truman to Trump, by Clifford D. Conner, 2020. This is an easy to read, concise and well documented analysis of how U.S. science has been affected by the capitalist economy since World War Two. The author does not hold back from placing the origin of the tragedy at the feet of U.S. imperialism. This is a must read for everyone starting with students. The book is broken into three major sections.

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Abolition Politics Gain Support Nationally and Locally

  by Karyn Pomerantz, 11-17-2020

Public attention to issues of incarceration and policing have grown in recent years. Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow revealed stark inequities in US prisons and jails, building on the long-time work of abolitionists, such as Angela Davis and Ruth Gilmore Wilson of Critical Resistance, Mariame Kaba of Project Nia, and many others. The horrifying murders of black people, the impact of Covid-19 in jails and prisons, and the persistent organizing by public health activists pushed the American Public Health Association (APHA) in October 2020 to approve a policy to abolish prisons, release imprisoned people for health and humane reasons, and reallocate funds for community mental health, jobs, and housing. To surprised supporters, the governing body passed Advancing Public Health Interventions to Address the Harms of the Carceral System with a 92% vote after a hearing where more than 50 people lined up virtually to speak on it. This vote followed the 2018 policy affirming law enforcement violence as a public health crisis that took three years to overcome opposition.  The persistent and dedicated authors of the End Police Violence Collective wrote and steered both resolutions to passage (see https://endingpoliceviolence.org). Many national and local organizations have applied its action steps in campaigns across the US.

On the local level, public health and education activists in Prince George’s County, MD organized a campaign to abolish police presence in the schools by removing School Resource Officers (SROs), armed police funded by the Police Department, from the schools to prevent physical and psychological abuse, arrests, and contact with police.

These policies are labeled as abolitionist, a strategy to eliminate repressive and typically racist practices, like policing, to create a more just and equitable world. Citing abolitionist Ruth Wilson Gilmore, the APHA resolution defines abolition as “a process of changing the social and economic conditions that lead to harm and of ensuring that people have what they need to thrive and be well, thereby eliminating the need for jails, prisons, detention centers, and policing.”

This article discusses the APHA policy and SRO removal campaign to fight racist carceral policies at the national and local levels, the potential for abolition under capitalism, and the replacement of punishment with restorative justice.

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Wally Linder: Review of A Life of Labor and Love, A Memoir of Communist Organizing and Family

by Carol Caref, 11-4-2020

In A Life of Labor and Love, Wally Linder reminds us of the power of a united working class to fight the capitalist bosses and of the special people that make up our class. He interweaves the political and the personal as he chronicles his 89 years of life. He shares the joys and the tragedies, and we get a glimpse of the heart and soul of this ordinary but extraordinary man.

Continue reading “Wally Linder: Review of A Life of Labor and Love, A Memoir of Communist Organizing and Family”

Voting: Social Change or Hoax?

By Karyn Pomerantz, Nov. 2, 2020

Introduction

By the time you read this, voting will be winding down, and people will be anxiously waiting for the results.  The election has revealed the paucity of choices workers, students, and soldiers have to improve our lives.  There is widespread (justified) terror of another 4 years of Trump propelling liberals to support the Biden/Harris ticket.  Groups around the US are preparing to defend a Biden victory in light of Trump’s promise to challenge any loss.

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Winter in America…

By Greg Godels, 10-16-2020

Lyrics by Gil Scott-Heron

From the Indians who welcomed the pilgrims

And to the buffalo who once ruled the plains

Like the vultures circling beneath the dark clouds

Looking for the rain

Looking for the rain

Just like the cities staggered on the coastline

Living in a nation that just can’t stand much more

Like the forest buried beneath the highway

Never had a chance to grow

Never had a chance to grow

And now it’s winter

Winter in America

Yes and all of the healers have been killed

Or sent away, yeah

But the people know, the people know

It’s winter

Winter in America

And ain’t nobody fighting

‘Cause nobody knows what to save

Gil Scott-Heron (1974) Winter in America

When Gil Scott-Heron wrote these words, the US seemed to be in swift decline. Watergate had cast a shadow over government legitimacy; the US had lost/was losing the imperialist war in Vietnam; economic inflation, unemployment, and stagnation were crushing US living standards. For many in the post-war generation, the early 1970s were a low point in the prestige and influence of the US. 

Scott-Heron was masterful at blending politics with his art, without compromising either. It enabled him to force issues like apartheid, drugs, police violence, racism, and poverty into the listeners’ consciousness, while still entertaining. Many of his songs became anthems for progressive movements.

For many of us, Winter in America affirmed the terminal decline of the US: “It’s Winter in America, and ain’t nobody fighting, ‘cause nobody knows what to save.” Hope was frozen, promise was frozen, and ideas were frozen with the onset of a metaphorical winter: a political, environmental, racial, and foreign policy crisis. 

Scott-Heron’s lyrics touched all the ills of 1974, noting that “all the heroes have been killed or sent away.” The “Constitution was a noble piece of paper…” that “…died in vain.” And “Democracy is ragtime on the corner.” He warns of “last ditch racists” and laments the “peace sign that vanished in our dreams.”

But we were wrong if we thought that the US had hit rock bottom.

Nineteen seventy-four was only the beginning of the long, painful decline. Average hourly wages today are barely higher than in 1974. The minimum wage continues to shrink in constant dollars. The obscene growth of inequality in income and wealth seems unstoppable. 

Constant and persistent aggressions– proxy wars, invasions, occupations, and remote, video game-like massacres– have become almost routine to the point that they tragically muster little domestic resistance. 

Racism remains a scourge on the US, though more and more along a class dimension. African American workers have taken an even bigger hit than their white counterparts; the growing poverty that afflicts the population, afflicts the Black population even more; and, consequently, the neglect, contempt, and official violence that always accompany impoverishment batter African Americans severely.

The competition for jobs in the US has shaped both a narrow, xenophobic response and a wage race to the bottom. The decline of unions, the legacy of anti-Communist purges in the labor movement, has further sharpened the competition for low-wage jobs.

The raging religion of market-fundamentalism has privatized or debased public wealth, commodified social services, and devastated public education. 

Where we thought Nixon shamefully broke the public trust, corruption, political dirty tricks, and lying are political commonplaces in the twenty-first century. 

What was winter in America in 1974 is now a veritable ice age.

And what is most tragic about the continuous decline in the US empire in influence, domestic peace, and mass well-being is the hollowness and ineffectiveness of the available political options.

US politics has devolved since the purges of the left in the 1950s and the failed liberalism in its wake, becoming a paper tiger incapable of confronting the multi-faced crises spawned by capitalism.

Twenty years into the twenty-first century, political partisans, devoid of new ideas, can only reflect back on earlier times, searching for a lost “golden era.” Today’s politics is largely politics in the rear-view mirror– a politics of nostalgia. 

For the petty-bourgeoisie and the want-to-be petty bourgeoisie– engorging on the table scraps of the ultra-rich– the Obama presidency brought life at its fullest and greatest. Hipsters call a sector of this strata the PMC (the professional managerial class). The Obama trickle-up rescue of the economy in the 2007-2009 crisis cemented their loyalty to globalism and elite rule. They are socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Witness their Black Lives Matter signs in their nearly all-white, segregated neighborhoods. They are for symbols and gestures, but not at the cost of redistribution of their incomes or sacrifices in their lifestyles. For them, Trump is the scourge blocking the return to Obama-like civil management of national affairs. They are the dominant force in Democratic Party politics.

The forthcoming destruction of thousands of small businesses will prove a hard lesson for many in the petty-bourgeoisie, sending them scurrying for solutions. Far too many will find succor in the bitter victimhood that has traditionally fed an ugly, twisted populism with roots going back as far as the Know Nothing Party of the nineteenth century.

A similar economic devastation drives many workers toward the bogus radicalism of right-wing populism, especially in the Midwestern states racked by capital’s abandonment of industry for investments in other sectors or other countries. Without a viable, substantial movement to direct their justified anger at capital, they find scapegoats elsewhere. 

Other sectors of the working class long for the celebrated era of “middle class” prosperity after the Second World War, what the French call “Les Trente Glorieuses.” This highly romanticized era saw wages and benefits marching in lockstep with strong productivity gains for US workers, allowing many working class families to buy homes and automobiles, to take vacations, and to envision college education and upward mobility for their children. Forgotten in this idyllic memory is the ugly oppression of Blacks and other minorities and women in this period. Forgotten is the suppression of the left, the vulgarity of culture, and the uniformity of thought. Forgotten is the bloody footprint of US foreign policy around the world.

The social contract of the postwar period came at an often-overlooked cost. Working class leaders agreed to purge left resistance to capitalism and uncritically support US imperialist foreign policy, becoming complicit in the crimes of global anti-Communism. When the moment proved opportune, the US ruling class betrayed its part of the bargain and slammed the door on working class gains.

Though memories of this lost era grow dimmer and dimmer, nostalgia for this interlude holds much of the trade union leadership wedded to the Democratic Party along with a core of organized labor’s increasingly skeptical members.

For most voters, constrained by the two-party system, a desire for an earlier, often fictionalized period inspires their politics. The Biden and Trump messaging underscores this insipid nostalgia: “Build Back Better” (Biden) and “Make America Great Again” (Trump). We can only build back or restore that which is lost. And people are confused over what and why they have lost.

This should be a moment for the left. 

But sadly, most of the left is adrift in a sea of old and failed ideas. Some imagine the noble selflessness of the local food or art coop as a cooperative model for competing with multinational corporations and bringing capitalism to its knees. Do we recall the other “anti-capitalist” fads foisted on us by academic leftists? ESOPs (Employee Stock Ownership Plans)? Micro-financing? 

All of these strategies share a profound pessimism that capital cannot be directly confronted and defeated. Instead, they propose to outfox capital by nipping away at its margins. Despite the fact that similar utopian measures have failed over centuries, influential leftists continually resurrect them.  

The notion that the perfection of capitalist-style democracy can effectively challenge the inequalities and injustices of capital pervades the US left. Since the suppression of the Communist left in the Cold War, the self-described “New Left” has invested heavily in “democratizing” the structures and institutions currently serving capitalism. Whether or not this project makes any sense, it certainly hasn’t succeeded, despite the fact that the New New Left has embraced it. Every ineffective response to the growing crises of capitalism seems to confirm that the socio-economic-political system accompanying capital is its handmaiden and is not and cannot serve as an effective tool against its inequities.

There was a reason that US capital suppressed and continues to suppress Communist and socialist-oriented workers’ movements. It is not nostalgia to recognize that the ideology and strategies devised by Marx, Engels, and Lenin have in the past rocked the very foundations of the capitalist system, sending capitalists and their lackeys into a frenzy of violent resistance. Surely there is a lesson in that fact.

The cold wave of uncertainty, fear, and despair that is now sweeping the US will not abate unless we fight for a new future. The tools are there.

Greg Godels

zzsblogml@gmail.com

The Fight for Women’s Suffrage: the Role of Racism and Multiracial Unity

Updated introduction by Karyn Pomerantz, August 2020. Original article by Al Simpson, April 2019

This month, August 2020, marks the 100th anniversary of the vote for women’s suffrage in 1920. However, the government delayed voting for white women until 1924 and for black women until 1965! The struggle for women’s suffrage is suffused with sexism and racism. Some white leaders, like Elizabeth Stanton, appeased the South’s opposition to the black people’s vote. They sacrificed the voting rights of black women, and forced black suffragists to march in the back lines in their massive 1913 demonstration.

The article, How Racism Weakens the Fight for Women’s Suffrage: Multiracial Unity Is Crucial to Stopping Sexism was published in April 2019 at:

https://multiracialunity.org/2019/04/12/how-racism-weakens-the-fight-for-womens-suffrage-multiracial-unity-is-crucial-to-stopping-sexism/

It covers:

the intersection of racism and anti-sexist politics

the alleged importance of voting

the social and economic status of black and white women

the role of abolitionists in suffrage struggles

Excerpts:

The only genuine path to liberation is through a multi-racial, multi-cultural, anti-capitalist movement of both men and women. This movement has to be class-based in nature, not at all like the amorphous marches of recent years. The movement must take as its central and guiding focus the needs and aspirations of the entire working class. To achieve this, there cannot be any divisions based on sex, race, religion, sexual orientation, immigration status, and whatever else the bosses will come up with to divide us. This is our way forward.

On voting, by Rosa Luxembourg:

“It is sheer insanity to believe that capitalists would good humoredly obey the socialist verdict of a parliament or of a national assembly, that they would calmly renounce property, profit, the right to exploit. All ruling classes fought to the end, with tenacious energy, to preserve their privileges. The Roman patricians and the medieval feudal barons alike, the English cavaliers and the American slaveowners, the Walachian boyars and the Lyonnais silk manufacturers – all shed rivers of blood, they all marched over corpses, committed murder, and arson, instigated civil war and treason, in order to defend their privileges and their power.”

The Rebellion IS Being Funded: The Dangers of Philanthrocapitalism

By Karyn Pomerantz and Ellen Isaacs, 8-8-2020

“I’m very much afraid of this ‘Foundation Complex.’ We’re getting praise from places that worry me.” Ella Baker, 1963 quoted by INCITE!.

In our time of fervent uprisings against racism and the increased unity of workers, many foundations and ruling class opinion influencers like the New York Times (NYT) call for re-imagining or re-creating capitalism in order to save it. Non-profits, corporations, and universities have issued statements deploring inequality and racism as if they just discovered them.

This article discusses the role of foundations and corporations that fund non-profit advocacy, educational, and health organizations. Their motives are actually self-serving, providing tax benefits for themselves (depriving the government of tax revenue) and earning valuable public relations for corporate America.

We will specifically examine the liberal Soros Foundations and the Ford Foundation, their motivations, and the consequences that organizations and movements experience by accepting their support.

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Hating on Hamilton

By Karyn Pomerantz, 7-14-2020

Hamilton, the smash Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda, has seduced thousands of theatregoers with its hip hop lyrics, dancing, black cast, costumes, and lighting.  It is a triumph of form over content.

The musical tells the story of Alexander Hamilton who grows up in the West Indies, arrives in the colonies, and becomes the aide to and US Treasurer under George Washington. He exercises his ambition through alliances with powerful men and his marriage into the slave owning Schuyler family, a travesty which is barely noted in the play. 

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