Junteenth, long celebrated by black Americans as the end of enslavement, has come into the consciousness of millions as the multiracial struggle against racism unfolds across the nation. it is a day both to celebrate the end of chattel slavery and rage about the long-delayed emancipation of 200,000 slaves in Texas, to resolve to continue the fight to end racist murders and wage slavery and rage over the 150 year continuation of racism. Along with the celebration of this day by black Americans in honor of freedom and empowerment, we need to resolve to build on this moment of profound multiracial unity and also contemplate the many anti-racist battles that have been and must be fought by workers. Continue reading “CELEBRATE JUNETEENTH WITH A RESOLVE TO FIGHT RACISM”
Not evil like Trump – wholly malevolent, unapologytically sexist, racist and without compassion – but evil as a supporter of a system that impoverishes and degrades most of the people of the world. But there will be no candidate running for office in the USA, be they a left wing Democrat or a right wing Republican, who does not support capitalism and its need to preserve profits over human welfare.
Multitudes of workers are protesting racism in every American city and all over the world. The crowds are multiracial, mostly young, disciplined and militant. Nothing like it has been seen in over 50 years – it is indeed awe-inspiring.
As the movement continues for its second week since the police murder of George Floyd, it is settling on demands ranging from abolishing to defunding the police. So powerful is the movement that many politicians are even promising to take action on these fronts.
The corona crisis, on top of so many others, shows how lethal capitalism is. Poverty and racism are the pre-existing conditions that inflate the rates of death and disability. For billions of people around the world, this disaster continues the misery at the hands of the 1%. It hopefully wakes up other people to the inequalities, negligence, and outright murder of global capitalism.
How has public health responded to such inequities and pandemics? What can we learn from previous infectious disease outbreaks caused by smallpox, TB, and cholera? When public health is good, it is very good, but when it is bad, many people die. When public health gets ugly, it destroys our lives and future security and aspirations.
Public health today operationalizes the prevailing political ideology: personal responsibility, the philosophy that individuals make decisions about what to eat, where to live, how to work, or whether to graduate, and then pay the consequences. Public health has blamed the individual for poor health habits and focused on educating people rather than dealing with systemic issues. Even now, when many talk about social determinants of disease, such as housing, racist police violence, immigration policy, and employment, actual interventions still focus on individual behavior.
This article identifies some of the qualities of successful and failed attempts to control epidemics with examples from selected countries since the late 19th Century.
A hundred years ago, my grandfather was one of more than fifty million people around the world whose lives were cut short by the Spanish flu. The disease mainly killed young adults, men and women who were just stepping onto the stage of life. Now the coronavirus, a new flu, is invading the bodies of hundreds of thousands of people from East Asia to North America, turning our lives upside down. However, unlike the Spanish Flu, its main victims are the elderly, the grandparents, like me.
“There will come a time when our silence will be more powerful than the voices you strangle today.”
Those were the last words of August Spies on November 11, 1887 as the hangman’s noose was tied around his head, murdered along with three of his class brothers by the U.S. ruling class for having helped organize the working class of Chicago and the country in the fight for the 8-hour day.
It was out of that struggle that May Day was born, an event proclaiming the solidarity and common goals of the international working class. It represents the revolutionary communist aspirations to create a world run by workers without the atrocious inequalities so transparent today. Many groups organize May Day strikes and marches to demand fairer conditions, and an end to wars and occupations.
The poorest, most desperate and most dedicated are working and dying during this disastrous epidemic. Many are angry and hungry and most will not even notice that Sanders is dropping out. But many of his young and idealistic followers are dismayed. They shouldn’t be.
If we wish to achieve an egalitarian, healthy, well-educated and housed society, a society without racism or sexism, it will have to be a society that we run. The ruling capitalist class is not going to give it to us. In fact, they will fight with all the means at their disposal to maintain their hegemony. This means that, ultimately, we must be prepared for a violent struggle to defeat them. Of course, this cannot happen until we have built a movement of millions – workers, students, and soldiers – with experience and political understanding. That understanding can only grow as workers are involved in many reform struggles from which they learn about their own power, leadership ability, and how the enemy functions.
For decades of recessions and depressions, millions of workers have been sent to an early grave as a direct result of being laid off, probably rivaling any mass killing anywhere on the planet. A 1976 Congressional study linked a 1.4 percent rise in the unemployment rate to 30,000 deaths from strokes, heart and kidney ailments, suicides homicides and cirrhosis of the liver in the five years following those layoffs.
From the beginning, the credo of the US ruling class has been divide and rule. Not a new idea, but one that has been perfected in this nation. Not only was the enslavement of Africans made possible by driving a wedge of prejudice and circumstance between blacks and poor whites, but another schism was sown between slaves and Native Americans.
It is the era of disavowal of
Trump. Long despised by anti-racists and
humanists of many stripes, his foreign policy has now even offended US empire
builders, leaving us with an overlap of interests between those who wish to
scuttle Trump’s overt policies of hate and those who hate to see US power
decrease in the world. Whether via impeachment or election, the time has come
for a new carrier of the torch. That person will almost certainly be a
Democrat, one who is “liberal” enough to appear to support human rights,
justice and democracy but who is also committed to the maximization of US economic
and political influence, just more nicely done.