On August 16, 1819, 60,000 men, women, and children gathered in St. Peter’s Field in the heavily industrial city of Manchester, England to demand political representation and better living conditions. It was the most massive assembly to have taken place at the time, amounting to roughly half the population of Manchester. Wearing their Sunday best and accompanied by musicians, they carried banners and signs calling for liberty, a parliament of the people and repeal of the Corn Laws. It was a peaceful, celebratory, yet emphatic crowd: little did they expect the brutal response of their “own” government. However, the ruling class was terrified of insurrection that would topple them from power, as had the French Revolution 30 years earlier. No sooner had the speeches begun than the rulers sent in the British cavalry, backed up by local volunteer militias, to strike them down, disperse the crowd, and arrest the leaders. The sabre-wielding forces wantonly murdered 18 men, women, and children, and injured 650. This pivotal incident became known as the Peterloo Massacre, and this year marks its bicentenary.
As Mike Leigh, director of the film, Peterloo, writes about its continuing significance:“Despite the spread of universal suffrage across large parts of the globe, poverty, inequality, suppression of press freedom, indiscriminate surveillance, and attacks on legitimate protest by brutal regimes are all on the rise… Peterloo is of seminal importance.” This article looks back on the events of 1819 and the lessons they hold for us today. It draws on the book, Peterloo by Jacqueline Riding and the film by Mike Leigh, as well as the contemporaneous commentary of several leaders and participants.
On July 11, 2019, President Trump scrapped his plan to place a citizenship question on the 2020 Decennial Census and instead ordered federal agencies to provide citizenship data to the Census Bureau. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile pursuing what such a question would have done, its purpose, and other related subjects.
A Vicious Betrayal
I used to work at the Census Bureau (1974-1979), and I processed the entire 1970 Decennial Census many times for many different projects. I was familiar with how the Decennial Census is collected and processed. While I was not directly involved in the collection of Census data, I worked with people who were involved with it. Despite all efforts at trying to convince vulnerable minorities that the Census Bureau, unlike Immigration and Naturalization, is not out to harm them, it is nevertheless treated with distrust. This distrust is well founded, as I found out. During my last years at the Bureau, there was a test of the Census questionnaires in a certain Texas city. This was essentially a dry run for the actual 1980 Census. The Census Bureau put out the word that they will treat your information with care and keep it confidential and so on and so forth. The day after the test, immigration ran massive raids on that same city.
As I write this, actual and potential wars threaten the lives and stability of millions, instigating massive migrations to seek peace. The United Nations reports that over 70 million people fled from wars and conflicts in 2018 (www.unhcr.org/576408cd7) while 258 million people migrated for political and economic reasons in 2017 (UN. International Migration Report, 2017). Armed conflicts continue in Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria as Pakistan and India clash over control of Kashmir, and long term conflicts simmer in Gaza, Venezuela, the South China Sea and other places. Any one of these limited wars may trigger a world war, even a nuclear one. Continue reading “TURN the Guns Around! GI Resistance to War”
It is indeed gratifying to those of us
fighting the illegal Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza to hear the
issue being brought into the open by new members of Congress, stimulating a greater
national debate on the issue. It is heartening that more Americans, including
more Jews, are beginning to question Israel’s extreme racism toward and
oppression of Palestinians and not assume that any criticism of Israel is
anti-Semitic. However, the view of the U.S. relationship to Israel espoused by
Ilhan Omar and her supporters is limited by its over-assessment of Israel’s
power over the U.S. and is associated with a view of American foreign policy in
other realms that is much too sanguine.
By a Pakistani Professor — who cannot identify himself because
of the repression in that country
Recently a report published in the Washington Post about Pakistan stated
that Pakistan is among the most ‘racially tolerant countries’ in the world.
This may be correct if you see the Pakistani society from thousands of miles
away or analyze racism as it is defined in the dictionary or as it exists in US
or Europe. But if we go deep into the society to analyze the racism we can
easily find many facets of racist attitudes prevailing in Pakistan.
As we reflect on the latest brutality against protestors in Gaza and the struggle to end the outrageous Israeli occupation of Palestine and oppression of Israeli Palestinians, it is important to formulate a goal for what we would hope to attain. This goal does not have to be achievable in the near future or even near distant future, but it provides a framework that defines what immediate struggles we engage in and whom is declared to be an ally or an enemy. In fact, it is unlikely that this conflict will be settled between Israelis and Palestinians in isolation, as the whole region will probably be enveloped in larger conflicts between Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel, the US and Russia long before that happens. However, it is to be hoped that there would be, at some time, a unified Palestine/Israel, or perhaps some larger regional entity, that would provide for equality, opportunity and freedom for all who live there. With that vision, I know that organizing in the present must strive to be multiracial, multinational, and to be led by rank and file people, as opposed to economic moguls, politicians or religious leaders. Continue reading “ONE STATE IN PALESTINE/ISRAEL CANNOT BRING EQUALITY AS A CAPITALIST STATE”
Nationalism, also known as patriotism, is a widespread concept promoted by capitalists to attain the loyalty of workers of a given country to their own ruling class. Those in power rely on this ideology to win workers to die in their wars or sacrifice wages and benefits so that the rulers can afford to maximize profits and live well and, in the case of imperialist nations, continue to plunder the wealth and cheap labor from smaller nations. Flag waving, parades, national holidays, sporting events like the Olympics and an endless barrage of media and educational input re-enforce this view. Racism plays an important role in depicting “enemies” as subhuman, such as labeling Vietnamese fighters as “gooks” or Muslims as “ragheads” or terrorists. Continue reading “NATIONALISM – A TOOL TO EMPOWER THE ELITE”