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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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

LEST WE FORGET: THE DEADLY DEMOCRATS

US Flag Around the Earth — Image by © Images.com/Corbis

by Ellen Isaacs

September 15, 2020

Many bloodbaths and much pain. Many overseas tragic events have been forgotten, some hardly noticed as they occurred, especially if Americans were not killed. And many have been committed by those we label liberals, progressives, humanitarians – – Democrats. We must not forget that Democrats support military and political hegemony as devotedly as any other leaders of US capitalism, much moreso than Trump’s domestically based supporters like the Koch and Mercer families. His isolationism is even more worrisome to the liberal ruling class than his blatant white supremacy and incompetence with respect to Covid-19. More urgent than quelling the protests over racism and mitigating the mass evictions, unemployment, and lack of health insurance is retaining resources, pipelines, cheap labor and bases overseas.

To many nonwhite, immigrant, unemployed, and humane workers, Trump is so repulsive that his replacement with a Democrat is desperately desired, and that is why it is imperative that we recall the criminal legacy of that party. In this essay, we will review only the Democrats’ imperialist endeavors since the end of World War II, not to imply that mainstream Republicans are any less guilty. 

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Climate Catastrophe, Racism, and the Necessity for Immediate Revolutionary Action

by Peter Scheckner

August, 2020

“It is worse, much worse, than you think. The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all.” This is the first sentence in the 2019 book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells. Although the book is typical of mainstream literature on climate change in that it has only idealistic ideas about what to do next, based on a non-existent or very naive political, class, or race-based analysis, it does provide a wealth of detailed information about the lethality of climate change—now everywhere on the planet.

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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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Essential Work — and Other Poems

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by Raymond Nat Turner

We’ll always need Race car drivers roaring
down streets where children chase balls; like
We’ll always need peaceful protesters pepper
sprayed like cockroaches; And
We’ll always need sleeping seven year-olds shot
while dreaming of dolls, sleepovers, tooth fairies;
We’ll always need children playing with toy guns
in parks executed before becoming “Hulk Hogans”
Continue reading “Essential Work — and Other Poems”

ITS TIME TO NAME NAMES: CAPITALISM, COMMUNISM

greedy-capitalist-eating-money

by Ellen Isaacs

July 12, 2020

The system in “systemic racism” has a name: capitalism. The disaster in “public health disaster” has a name: capitalism. The abolish in “abolish police” needs to name that which must go: capitalism. There is talk of revolution, but revolving from what to what? From capitalism to workers’ power – communism. Not said. Let’s start naming names.

So many militant fists are raised as the nation destructs. So many multiracial movements are marching, stopping evictions, occupying streets, going on strike, but not naming capitalism. So many workers are risking their own lives to do their jobs, so many are volunteering to aid their neighbors, but not naming capitalism. So many articles are written on disparities but not naming the instigator: capitalism.

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VIOLENCE UNDER CAPITALISM

by Bill Sacks July 9, 2020

The ubiquitous nature of capitalist violence

 This essay shows that mass organized working-class counter-violence is a necessity for us to free ourselves from the exploitation and oppression – including racism, sexism, and xenophobia – of capitalism all around the world. Under capitalist rule, violence is a ubiquitous and ever-present fact of life, used to intimidate and dominate the working class domestically and internationally. Moreover, the capitalist class has no choice but to use planned violence by their wholly-owned state power if they are to maintain their control over their national and imperial interests.

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Racist Police Terror: Poisonous Tip of the Class War

Racist Police Terror: Poisonous Tip of the Class War

By Nayvin Gordon, MD, 6-24-2020

Introduction

While police violence and other forms of oppression affect Black workers disproportionately, White workers also suffer from racism, including incarceration and police murders (i.e. greater proportions of black working-class people are killed by cops or incarcerated, while greater numbers of white working-class people are killed by cops and incarcerated).

This article documents some of the ways this occurs.  (See also Racism Makes HALF TRILLION Dollar$ in Super-Profits for Capitalists: an Un(der)told Storyhttps://multiracialunity.org/2020/06/22/racism-makes-half-trillion-dollar-in-super-profits-for-capitalists-an-undertold-story/

The fight against racist killer cops helps all workers:

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