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Dig in: This Must Be the Winter of Our Discontent!

17 Dec

 

Pretend I’m reading this right now in my very best Boris Karloff voice, because I have to play the Grinch for a bit. Yes, I know, everyone is still justifiably thrilled after all the hard work that brought about the Doug Jones victory in Alabama, and I am no exception; my first act on Tuesday was to wager any takers I could find that Roy Moore would win by eight points, but tellingly, no one wanted the bet.

I think I’ve never been so happy to be wrong in my life, and not just because I would have gotten cleaned out like the lint screen on the dryer. But why? Why was I and so many others so thoroughly convinced that a decent man like Doug Jones was doomed to defeat at the hands of an Old Testament carny huckster pedophile like Roy Moore? Lack of knowledge regarding Alabama politics doesn’t explain it, not even by half.

With only a precious few notable exceptions, this past year has been seamless in its belligerent horror.

Why? Because scars are instructive. With only a precious few notable exceptions, this past year has been seamless in its belligerent horror, so of course Moore was going to win. Par for the course, right? This is what we’ve come to expect since that undercrowded DC day last January, so being wrong about losing in defiance of all well-earned expectations is the psychological version of having Handel’s Messiahsuddenly come blaring out of your fillings. Hallelujah.

The only way Roy Moore could have been a worse candidate was if he had actually been on fire during the entire campaign. Doing his stump speeches, having a quick burger, riding that silly horse, all of it while swaddled in flames with little charred bits of himself falling off every time he shook someone’s hand.

Even so, even with his barge of inexcusable baggage in tow, Moore only lost by two points. Had the sexual misconduct charges not been aired before the election, and had Black organizers not exerted a massive effort to turn out the vote, like as not he would have won in a walk, and Mitch McConnell would be presently seeking the largest Ten Commandments monument on Earth so he can throw himself off it.

It was a huge win that went a long way toward saving Social Security and Medicare from the Paul Ryans of the world. However, it does not signal any significant sea change in US politics or government. Everything is not going to be OK now because Doug Jones won Jeff Sessions’ old seat. Everything, in fact, is incredibly terrible and getting worse. In the short span of days since Jones was declared the winner, the blustering orange fascism currently tinting the national windshield got a whole hell of a lot darker.

 

 

Benito Mussolini invented fascism in a barn about 100 years ago, defining it as the union of state and corporate power. On Thursday, three people on the Federal Communications Commission went a long way toward cementing that union when they voted to strip the internet — a public utility created with taxpayer money and available to all — of all regulations designed to protect the very taxpayers who paid for it.

In short, they corporatized the sum of human knowledge, making it a great deal easier for corporations to block the flow of information, disrupt political discourse and make more money. The most extraordinary expression of free speech ever seen on the planet is now a wholly owned subsidiary of massive multinationals like Comcast and Verizon.

The last time an attack of this size against free speech and the flow of information took place was when the Fairness Doctrine — which limited the number of media outlets a single entity could own in order to guarantee a diversity of perspectives — was disposed of by the FCC in 1987. Soon after, the content available on virtually every TV channel, specifically the news content, was controlled by a small handful of corporate owners. How’s that been working out for democracy so far? Oh, P.S., the FCC also just made it easier for those corporations to own even more TV stations and print publications.

Speaking of state and corporate power, the US Congress is about to deliver a trillion dollars of your money to a cadre of corporations and wealthy benefactors, a move that is guaranteed to shatter the federal government’s ability to help tens of millions of people because … well, because screw you, that’s why. The delivery of this vast fortune to its paymasters has been the core mission of the Republican Party since long before Reagan and his minions coughed up those first rhetorical hairballs about “trickle-down economics.” With this tax bill, their mission is all but accomplished.

 

 

Public hesitation from Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Corker made the math on the bill’s passage theoretically interesting until just before sundown Friday evening, when both of them fell in line. No surprise there; Mitch McConnell didn’t drag this stinking boar’s carcass of a tax bill so far to see it fall to offal at the finish line. Rubio and Corker will wake up Christmas morning with a new Xbox under the tree and all the secret donor dark money they can count. With their votes secured and no other defections on the horizon, the bill will sail to final passage very soon. Thank you, Supply-Side Jesus. God bless us every one.

I am afraid of spiders, sharks, cancer and clowns, not necessarily in that order. Nothing terrifies me more, however, than the sneaking suspicion I have that all this is getting normalized. It is an unavoidable fact of human nature: the urge to cope. Wretched leaders for millennia have taken great advantage of the fact that many people will put up with an incredible amount of terrible crap for way longer than they should. They do this because they have to. Gotta work, gotta eat, gotta feed the family if you can, and if the roof caves in, at least the view will be different.

That’s when the dangerous music starts. We are well beyond “It can’t happen here.” It has happened here, is happening, and will happen even more tomorrow. The militarization of police forces, the resurgence of white nationalism and the racist right, the hoarding of control over information, the labeling and culling of “undesirables,” a state-inflicted climate of fear and, of course, the looting of the Treasury … take a high school world history textbook and throw it against the wall. When it lands, odds are it will open on a page describing a regime that did these very things on its journey down a highway littered with corpses.

This is what fascism looks, smells and sounds like before it breaks out of its egg and spreads its wings. This, right down to the clownish strongman screaming from the podium. They laughed at Mussolini, too, until it became a crime to do so. After that, the joke was on the world.

 

 

I know you are dispirited, spent, offended, exasperated and mortally tired. This is the point when normalization of the intolerable takes root, the moment when the coping skills come out just to get through the day, and you find yourself doing the trigonometry of the damned just to make sense of it: A is worse than B but not as bad as C. Trump just ordered the deportation of millions of innocent people? Oh well, at least we didn’t die in a pillar of nuclear fire today.

This, right here, is where we have to dig in. It is so bad and promises to get worse and we have to dig in. We cannot allow any of this to become even the tiniest bit normal, no matter how much it may cost us in body, mind and spirit. This must be the winter of our discontent. So much good work is being done to resist, so much more can be done and must be done, but it will all come to nothing if any of this mayhem is allowed to seem routine.

Stout hearts. Dig in. Embrace the winter. The alternative can be found in that history book you threw. It does not have a happy ending.

 

Activists stage an anti-Trump protest in front of the U.S. Supreme Court January 23, 2017 in Washington, DC. The group, Refuse Fascism, called for a 'must stop business as usual this week' to 'stop the Trump/Pence regime.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

 

Activists stage an anti-Trump protest in front of the US Supreme Court January 23, 2017, in Washington, DC. The group, Refuse Fascism, called for a “must stop business as usual this week” to “stop the Trump/Pence regime.” (Photo: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring — What good amid these, O me, O life?

Answer.
That you are here — that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

— Walt Whitman

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

 

Source: Dig in: This Must Be the Winter of Our Discontent

 

The “Rigged 2 Party System” holds no future for the 99% a Political Revolution does – Book Sale in Progress – Revolutionary Ideas included – Left Wing & Progressive Books & Blogs – fah451bks.wordpress.com

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Socialism can never surrender its commitment to democracy.

10 Nov

Socialism can never surrender its commitment to democracy

 

The Centennial of the Russian Revolution

November 7, 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution and the establishment of the world’s first socialist state. To commemorate the occasion, People’s World presents a series of articles providing wide-angled assessments of the revolution’s legacy, the Soviet Union and world communist movement which were born out of it, and the revolution’s relevance to radical politics today. Other articles in the series can be read here

November 8, 2017 2:02 PM CST  BY JOHN BACHTELL

 

The October Revolution took place 100 years ago, on November 7, 1917. Even though the Soviet Union no longer exists, the revolution which gave birth to it reverberates still as one of the greatest history-changing events of the 20th century.

Millions of Russian workers and peasants engaged in an act of self-emancipation. Everything that followed provides those seeking a modern 21st century socialism a wealth of lessons, from both its achievements and mistakes.

The October Revolution occurred in a stormy and desperate time of barbaric world war, poverty, hunger, and insurrection. The demands propelling it were simple: peace, land, and bread.

It marked the beginning of the world’s first great socialist experiment, the first break with the system of global capitalism. Millions of ordinary working men and women were charting the unknown. They carried no blueprints and tried building socialism in conditions not of their choosing. From its inception, the Soviet Union’s path was shaped by the harshest of circumstances: the legacy of feudalism, theocracy, and a violent and repressive autocratic state.

It inherited a Russia that was the “prison house of nations,” a brutal oppressor and exploiter of other nationalities and peoples. It was a land characterized by oppression of women, anti-Semitic pogroms, and repression of Islam. The industrial working class was tiny and the level of industrial development low. Illiteracy was the norm for millions, and there was little civil society, and only hollow supposedly democratic institutions.

Without pause, the Soviet Union was forced to rebuild from the devastation of World War I while defending itself against hostile encirclement and invasion by capitalist powers, including the United States. Many U.S. working people showed their solidarity for the Soviet Union and protested the U.S. intervention, even though they lacked the political power to prevent the attacks.

 

 

The inspirations and the setbacks of the early decades

Against incredible odds, the revolution inspired hope and unleashed creative energy. Millions of workers and peasants threw themselves into building a new society. Under the leadership of Lenin and the Bolsheviks, the Soviet Union adopted the most advanced democratic constitution the world had yet seen. It represented a government led by workers and peasants, established new democratic forms, equality for women and formerly oppressed nationalities, and basic rights to healthcare, education, and housing were enshrined. It declared the people the stewards of the nation’s vast natural resources.

Once the revolution was defended and after initial policy mistakes, the Soviet Union embarked on construction of a mixed economy guided by the New Economic Policy (NEP). The NEP was a policy that fit the actual state of development facing Russia, not an imagined or abstract one. It legalized multiple forms of property ownership, including private property, particularly of small landholdings, and foreign investment. The policy acknowledged that building socialism would be a protracted process; even after a socialist revolution, class society with all its restraints and inequities would be a feature of socialist construction for years to come.

Had Lenin lived, perhaps history would have turned out differently. But he died prematurely in 1924 and once Stalin assumed leadership, the NEP was scrapped in favor of forced expropriation of agricultural lands, collectivization, the centralization of power, and near total state ownership of industry.

With the threat of fascism rising in Germany, and its military machine aimed squarely at obliterating the world’s first socialist oriented state, the Soviet Union was forced into accelerated development. Under Stalin, this forced march was combined with fear of enemies, foreign and internal, real and increasingly invented. Political differences were viewed as political threats, and a culture of uniformity prevailed. Authoritarianism led to the enshrinement in the constitution of the Communist Party as the sole governing body and the development of a cult of personality around Stalin.

The campaign of fear reached its peak with the years of terror in 1937-38, when untold numbers of socialist patriots were executed and imprisoned, including substantial parts of the military general staff and Communist Party leadership.

Despite the terror of the ’30s, the now industrialized Soviet Union played the decisive role in the defeat of fascism in World War II. But the Soviet people bore an incalculable burden: Twenty-two million died and most of the country’s industrial and agricultural infrastructure, cities, villages, and farms lay in ruins.

Before it could rebuild itself from the rubble of World War II, the Soviet Union was forced to divert vast resources to the Cold War nuclear arms race with the United States and heightened competition with global capitalism.

The barrage of assaults of the first few decades of the new nation’s existence comprised an almost impossible set of circumstances for the world’s first socialist experiment. Every aspect of its development and its political and cultural life were impacted. The desperate and underdeveloped conditions and resulting chaos were fertile ground for the rise of Stalin and all subsequent crimes, imprisonments, and executions.

 

 

Moving on from Stalin

The Soviet Union may have survived Stalin, but it paid a price. The image of socialism and communism and the claim to democratic and moral authority suffered immeasurably. Marxism, as a creative body of thought, became stultified and dogmatic. This legacy, which seemed to contradict socialism’s democratic and humanitarian ideals, and the inability to fully overcome it, were also important factors in why socialism ultimately collapsed in the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc.

Despite all these negatives, the Soviet people could boast of vast achievements: modern industrial production that rivaled the U.S.; the ability to feed, clothe, and house its people; high-level scientific and technological development; universal literacy and access to health care and education; developed arts, sports, and culture; and formal social and economic equality for women and formerly oppressed minorities.

It provided immense aid to national liberation and anti-colonial movements, including Vietnam, Cuba, and the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. It assisted developing nations, funded modern infrastructure projects, and educated countless scientists, engineers, and other personnel around the world.

The Soviet Union and socialist-oriented states acted as a global counterweight to U.S. imperialism. It was the Soviet Union that took the first steps to end the Cold War arms race by unilaterally announcing a moratorium on nuclear testing and deep reductions in military personnel and weapons in the 1980s.

Competing with an economic system where exploitation was outlawed, and people came before corporate profits, capitalist countries around the world, including the U.S. capitalist class, were forced to make concessions to workers’ demands. Similarly, to avoid the appearance of hypocrisy, concessions were made on issues of racial equality.

Even with all the gains, there were, not surprisingly, many mistakes made in this period, too. They included wrong assessments of the level of socialist development that had been attained, premature egalitarianism, wage leveling, the declaration that national equality had been achieved, the persistence of Great Russian chauvinism, the inability to transition to economic and political decentralization, and the despoiling of the environment.

The Soviet Union never sufficiently developed genuine grassroots forms of democracy and instead relied on administrative methods. Pluralism of political parties and movements was never permitted. Religious faith was stigmatized and church properties confiscated. Suppression of dissent substituted for the messy battle of ideas and the give-and-take of democratic civil society. The importance of the latter is particularly obvious in our day, given rise of the internet and social media. The information revolution demands engagement rather than directives, something the Soviet system would have trouble dealing with.

The Soviet Union was unable to decisively break with this economic and political model, which, when combined with negative external factors facing the country, brought on a period of crisis in the 1970s and ’80s. In response, the Communist Party leadership eventually launched a program of reforms on the prompting of Mikhail Gorbachev. These reforms were, at least at first, aimed at deepening socialist democracy, including at the workplace, permitting an independent media, demilitarization, and restructuring the economy.

Against the background of these needed reforms, however, Soviet leaders were deeply divided, weakened, and paralyzed—including within the Communist Party. By this point, the bureaucracy had become too entrenched, careerism too rampant, the centralized model too embedded, resistance to change too deep, and resentment toward the CPSU too widespread.

Demilitarization of the economy stalled, and other reforms, including a looser federation of Soviet republics, spun out of control. Gorbachev’s downgrading class struggle and the haphazard way that reforms—including workers’ self-management, state enterprise autonomy, and the institution of market mechanisms—were introduced was disarming and confusing. Out of the chaos, pro-capitalist and nationalist forces and corrupt elements like Boris Yeltsin eventually gained the upper hand.

In 1991, after 74 years, the Soviet Union collapsed. Its death represented an immense tragedy and loss to humanity, gave a boost to global reaction, war, anti-socialism, and U.S. imperialist aggression.

Above all, it represented a colossal loss to the Soviet people. Out of its collapse rose a class of oligarchs who enriched themselves by stealing the vast wealth created by the Soviet people and by restoring exploitation. Today, the Russian people live in impoverishment and under repressive authoritarian rule.

 

 

Learning from the Soviet experience

What lessons can be learned?

People, including revolutionaries, make mistakes. But they can be corrected, including by carrying out needed reforms, if revolutionary movements, including their leaderships, promote the capacity for sober self-reflection and flexibility and avoid dogma.

People build socialism under conditions not of their choosing. Socialist revolutions take place under very different conditions shaped by a nation’s history, level of class and socialist consciousness and unity, material development, and store of resources. There are no eternal models for either the path to achieving working class political power or for the development of socialism.

U.S. socialism will be based on our political and historical realities, the high level of cultural and material development achieved in our country, and our long history of struggle for expanding democratic rights. It will be able to take into account the hard-won lessons of the world’s working class and people.

It will be shaped by the conscious activity of the multi-racial American people to expand economic and political democracy; overcome social, racial, and gender inequity; achieve a better, more secure, humane life and creative work; pursue a sustainable path of development; and demilitarize the economy and society.

Socialism in the United States can be achieved peacefully and democratically through the electoral arena. Its achievement will be a protracted process encompassing many stages. It will not occur through the barrel of a gun. In fact, Frederick Engels suggested as much in the late 1880s with the winning of the universal franchise. “The day of the storming of the barricades is over,” he said.

A mass movement of the overwhelming majority of the American people who are conscious of the need for socialism and working class political power can and must compel the capitalist class to accept a path chosen by the majority and restrict its ability to resist or use violence.

Central to all of this, of course, is the struggle for democracy, the extension of political and economic rights, and the growing engagement and conscious participation of a majority of working people in political activity and civil society.

One hundreds years later, the flame lit by the October Revolution burns bright. It is our task to honestly analyze it and learn the lessons of both its achievements and its shortcomings for the socialism of the future.

 

 

November 8, 2017 2:02 PM CST  BY JOHN BACHTELL ….John Bachtell is national chair of the Communist Party USA. Previously he was Illinois organizer for the party, and is active in labor, peace and justice struggles. He grew up in Ohio and currently lives in Chicago.

 

The “Rigged Capitalist System” holds no future for the 99% a Revolution does – Left Wing & Progressive Books & Blogs – fah451bks.wordpress.com

 

The real History; Juana Azurduy de Padilla; Bolivian guerrilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. International day of women’s rights

5 Mar

 

Juana Azurduy de Padilla was a Bolivian guerilla fighter who fought against the Spanish rule in South America. It was this day in 1816 that she along with 200 Indian women on horseback, defeated the Spanish troops in Bolivia.

Juana Azurduy Llanos (July 12, 1780 or 1781 – May 25, 1862) was a South American guerrilla military leader.

She was born on July 12, 1780 or 1781 in the town of Chuquisaca, Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (now Sucre, Bolivia). She was Mestizo by ethnicity, meaning she was half Spanish and half indigenous. “Her mother married into a family of property” meaning she married into a more wealthy family. Her father, however, was killed by Spaniards, and the killer apparently got away without any repercussions. She grew up in Chuquisaca and at the age of 12 joined a convent to become a nun. She was then expelled at the age of 17 because she rebelled too often. She married Manuel Ascencio Padilla in 1805, a man who shared her love of the indigenous populations in Bolivia. She spoke Spanish and two South American languages: Quechua and Aymara. Juana Azurduy was born in Toroca, a town located in the Municipality of Potosí in the Viceroyalty of the Río de la Plata (present-day town of Ravelo, Potosí Department, Bolivia) on July 12, 1780. Her parents were Don Matías Azurduy, a rich white owner of many properties and Doña Eulalia Bermudes, a chola from Chuquisaca.

Upon their return they raised an army and joined in the fighting in the area. She fought a guerrilla style war against the Spanish from 1809 to 1825. On March 8, 1816, her forces temporarily captured the Cerro Rico of Potosí, the main source of Spanish silver, also leading a cavalry charge that resulted in the capture of the enemy standard. For these actions she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on August 16, 1816, by Juan Martín de Pueyrredón, the Supreme Director of the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata at Buenos Aires. However, Shortly after Juana, who was expecting her fifth child, during a battle in November 1816, she was injured and her husband was killed while trying to save her, The body of her husband was hanged by the realists in the village of Laguna, and Juana found herself in a desperate situation: single, pregnant and with realistic armies effectively controlling the territory. After giving birth to a girl, she joined the guerrillas Martin Miguel de Guemes , which operated in northern Alto Peru. On the death of this leader guerrillas north dissolved, and Juana she was forced to malvivir in the region of Salta. at which she led a counterattack to recover the body of her husband. When the Spanish eventually counter-attacked in 1818, she fled with some of her soldiers to Northern Argentina where she continued to fight under the command of the Argentinean governor/guerrilla leader, General Martín Miguel de Güemes. She was appointed to the position of commander of patriotic Northern Army of the Revolutionary Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. With this army she was able to establish an insurrection zone, until the Spanish forces withdrew from the area. She was so determined to the cause that she actually fought while she was pregnant, at one point, giving birth to her daughter, then returned to the fight soon after. At the highest point of her control, she commanded an army with an estimated strength of 6,000 men. After her military career was over she returned to Sucre (Chuquisaca), where she died on May 25, 1862. Throughout all the conflicts she lost her four sons and her husband, yet she continued to perform her duties until she retired and later died.

 

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At the time of her death, she was forgotten and in poverty, but was remembered as a hero only a century later. She was awarded the rank of general of the Argentine Army in 2009. She also has “The National Programme for Women’s Rights and Participation” of Argentina is also named after her.

A 25-ton, 52-foot-high statue of Azurduy was created in Buenos Aires and unveiled July 15, 2015. It was commissioned by Bolivian president Evo Morales, and placed in the space where a statue of Columbus has stood. As of December 2015, months after its inauguration, it shows weathering damage.

A bas relief sculpture of Juana Azurduy was on display as part of an outdoor exhibition of famous Latin Americans on the grounds of the Pan American Union Building in Washington, DC in Spring 2014. Juana Azurduy is also the subject of a children’s cartoon designed to promote knowledge of Argentine history.

 

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It’s not just racial tension; It’s White Supremacist Capitalist Imperialist Patriarchy! #BecomeUngovernable.

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