Thursday, February 25, 2010

Raise the warning flags.

Just a quick note tonight. I hope everyone has been paying attention to the healthcare debate for the last six months. Because it proves that, on the one hand, the elected government has absolutely no ability to amend our laws practices for the good of the people.

And yet the Senate unanimously votes to extend the Patriot Act. What gives? Seriously, people, what gives?

Ugh. And don't just complain, either, get active in some kind of movement independent of the Democrats and Republicans. Preferably somewhere in the class-conscious left. I'd probably say more if I weren't too busy abusing my civil rights elsewhere.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I Support These Troops

Yeah, yeah, yeah. According to the current big- frog- in- a small- pond leftist tribalism common in the U.S.A. today, I should have nothing to do with these guys, since they are " Stalinists" and I'm a " Trotskyite".
Fuck that noise. These veterans actually fought fascism. They put their asses on the line to fight fascism. Literally. How many of us can make that claim?
George Orwell, who fought as a militiaman for the Marxist- Leninist party P.O.U.M., wrote in Homage To Catalonia ( his justly famous memoir of the Spanish Civil War), " The P.S.U.C. ( the Moscow approved Communist Party of Spain) militiamen I whom I knew in the line, the Communists from the International Brigade whom I met from time to time, never called me a Trotskyist or a traitor; they left that kind of thing to the journalists in the rear."
Please contribute to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives and help these veterans continue the good fight.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Glenn Beck's A Feeble History Of The United States

The spectacle of the elites of a civilization desperately trying to maintain their status by dwelling on the glorious, morally upright, and largely mythical past is well known to historians. Whether it was the Roman Senator Cato The Younger's fashion to ape his ancient ancestors by going " commando" under his toga, or a Russian nationalist depiction of the Romanov dynasty as a period of enlightenment and prosperity , the attempts of various rulers to restore their lost prestige and power usually end up at the very least being ludicrous and at worst horribly destructive.
This is what we are witnessing among America's ruling class right now. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the conservative movement still believes without question that unregulated capitalism will save their empire. They look back upon the Gilded Age as the model of economic efficiency and freedom.
And that was all too apparent in Glenn Beck's latest train- wreck of a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference in which in a crazy stream of ( un )conciousness way he weaves a alternate history of the Progressive Movement in the U.S.A. According to Beck, Theodore Roosevelt was practically a communist, Herbert Hoover was a progressive ( !), and the Progressive Movement was responsible for the Great Depression.
Typically of today's reactionary propagandists, Beck cherry picks a few facts and phrases from a shallow reading of a history book, and pulls a historical fantasy out of his ass. Forget details like how the word " progressive" meant a very different thing to the anti- union, pro- imperialist Theodore Roosevelt than it did to socialists like Eugene Debs. Or that the segregationist Woodrow Wilson was reviled by the American Left.Or that Herbert Hoover sat on his thumbs and waited for the all- knowing capitalists to pull the economy together for the rest of his term. No, in the Beckian world of mutable oversimplification, progressives have to be one monolithic movement, with Republicans identifying themselves as the least bit reformist being cast out of GOP history to join evildoers like Karl Marx and John Lennon.
Its all part of the struggle to re- make the GOP into the ubercapitalist party. Rather than make reformist gestures to keep the workers from waking up and demanding revolution, like Theodore Roosevelt did, the radical Christian, laissez- faire Republicans of today placate their proletarian base by re- writing history. They portray the Robber Baron phase of capitalism as a paradise, where every American had a house with a white picket fence, was amply rewarded for an honest day's work, and would be a millionaire if he had drive and talent. No mention of 16- hour days for a wage that could not cover the basic needs of life, the destruction of the family as husband, wife, and child all slaved away in the mines, factories, and mills of the bosses, or the rampant racism that terrorized and humiliated people of color throughout the country.
Beck and his followers also seem to be unwilling or unable to notice that the very politicians they support are the very ones who lobby incescently on the behalf of transnational corporations to send American jobs overseas, drive down the wages of the the jobs that remain, pollute their local environments, etc., etc. Through do- it- yourself history, the Robber Barons of old become the heroes and the workers who fought for the rights that many of their descendants enjoy are the villans.
Which suits the Global Robber Barons of today just fine.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Twilight Of The Moderates

Poor Evan Bayh. All he tried to do was to keep leftist extremists and the hard line right of the two parties from derailing the Congress. But they refused to work with him, so now he has to save America the only way he can- by going into business in the private sector and creating jobs. Well, a couple of them anyway.
That's his spin on his abrupt decision to quit his Senate seat. Reality is that he is full of shit.
Although there are a number of clueless pundits out there who mourn the loss of the moderates in Congress, truth is there is no such thing as a " middle" in the American political system. To have a middle, you have to have a right- wing and a left- wing. What we have in this nation is a right and then the extreme batshit right. As much as the crew at FOX News wants you to believe that Obama and the Democrats are socialists and the Republicans are the true blue defenders of flag, country, and apple pie, truth is both parties, in the end, are corporate parties. They aren't so much parties as two factions of the ruling class fighting over the rotting carcass of capitalism.
Sure, they have different ways of getting into power and they represent different markets of big business, but essentially they serve the same master- global capitalism.
The real role of " moderates" in a capitalist republic is to mediate between the two main factions ( either the two parties of the American system or the coalitions of parliaments) and get legislation passed that benefits both. Presently in America, this is not happening. One of the two factions- the Republicans- are no longer willing to share the loot and power with their competitors, the Democrats. Hence, the absolute gridlock in the Congress. The Republicans know the great weakness of their opponents is that while they are the party of outright capitalism, the Democrats have to make at least a token gesture to their ideology of community service. While doing this, they have to make sure that it does not inconvenience their corporate backers in the slightest. All the GOP has to do is block whatever bill the Obama administration tries to pass to make the Democrats seem ineffectual and weak to the voting public.
The irony is that if Obama and the Democrats did back a progressive measure like single- payer health care, which the majority of Americans are in favor of they would be unstoppable, even with the loss of the super- majority. But they are reigned in by the people they are beholden to first- their corporate backers. The people of the United States come in a very poor second.
So I am not really sure why anyone should feel bad that Evan Bayh, or any other moderate checks out of the Senate. They don't do anything for us, the citizens, and they aren't really all that bad off themselves.
Maybe his wife Susan can get Ev a cushy job at one of the insurance companies she worked for. Of course that didn't have anything to do with Bayh's support the Senate's version of the Health care Bill- the " reform" of mandated insurance without a public option. Moderates are the good guys, right? They wouldn't chuck their Senate seat for a higher paying position in a company they lobbied for- would they?
To quote the Geico man: "Does 10 pounds of flour make a really big biscuit? "

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tempest in a Teapot

My international network of Marxist socialists informs me of two protests at the Washington State Capitol yesterday, superficially for or against "raising taxes." In a nutshell: the first group were Teabaggers, those beloved right-populists who draw on the stock imagery of the Revolutionary War to make their stand against unfair taxation. The character of this group, which is getting national media coverage disproportionate to their numbers (as can be seen in the above article), appears to be mostly nationalists, conservatives from the working class, and supporters of small business. It's a movement backed, essentially, by politicians and the wealthy.

The second group in Olympia was a coalition of education workers, rank-and-file AFSCME (representing state, county, and municipal workers), and dozens of other unions and progressive organizations. While this group didn't have a strong slogan - something like "no more cuts" doesn't really challenge the "no more tax" slogan that strikes a reactionary chord in the red-white-and-blue heart - there were numerous signs showing a more piercing solution: "Tax the rich," "Money for jobs, not war."

Straining to move its money-oiled muscles, the Republican populists drummed up 3,000 people. Then AFSCME and other unions just peek up their head and the grass-roots progressive come out with minimum summons: over 5,000 strong. Chances are good that if a broader coalition of labor came out with a more progressive stance - pressuring the Democrats to raise taxes on the rich, for example - even more supports would fall in and join their voice to the movement. The Teabaggers are so bankrupt in ideology that they must round out their strength with cold hard cash. They rely on their novelty, their patriotism, their big names and their batshit crazy eccentricity to bag them media coverage. If CNN ignored them for two months, they and their numbskull mouthpieces would have gone the way of "the Macarena" after last April's Tea Party hissy-fits.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, her address to the "National Tea Party" this month seems like a good direction to take this analysis. What she said there in Nashville deserves to live on in history, because history will make sure she lives to regret her big fat mouth.

"America is ready for another revolution and you are a part of it."

When I saw that she said that, that those actual words came out of her actual face, I couldn't believe it. Revolution. That is a rather large word for Palin - and a dangerous one at that. The ruling class of politicians - Republican or Democrat, right or center right - doesn't want the working class waving signs in the streets unless it can be very carefully controlled. Olympia's progressives were given just enough media coverage that they could feel warm and fuzzy about their part in the political protest but they were by no means lauded in the newspaper. It isn't policy to encourage that sort of pro-active behavior. (Imagine if Democrat politicians had called for national strikes and walk-outs in favor of the President's public option - 'nuff said ... for now.) If you must have a march, you are given a permit and a police escort, a blurb and a pat on the back, and then sent right back into work, missy, and don't you worry, Washington has you covered.

The establishment doesn't want the masses out on the streets. It wants to keep public discourse wrapped up in bureaucratic channels so that policy in pursuit of profit can be very delicately managed. To them, a protest is a barometer. It's maybe a step above getting letters in the mail. Note where Washington state governor Gregoire says, "Let's have a good discussion, let's be respectful of each other." Using this parliamentary language with either side is an exercise in futility. Calling the people into the street is asking the djinn out of the bottle: something is going to be done. The cards are down. It is a measure of power, not the high school debate team. (During a labor strike it is yet more so a measure of power, but that is a discussion for another time.)

And that is, perhaps, the ironic thing about Palin's speech ... that is, perhaps, the ironic thing about the Teabagger movement in general. It isn't significant when a politician or a corprocrat comes to a rally. They have ulterior motives; they are playing the fame game, a popularity contest. And what a dangerous line it is to walk, because calling the people into the streets gives them a taste of agency. The working class by nature is revolutionary - nothing in this nation or any other runs, flies, ships, drives, or rolls off an assembly line without the hands and heads of the working class. I do not mean by this that every working class movement is a progressive movement, merely that if workers are called to the street and get a taste of power, they make or break a political movement.

Palin and her peers would be well served to remember this. Actual revolutions are not a sentimental thing. No true movement would think twice about throwing her to the wayside to realize its own character. And she, and her movement, are practical bereft of any but the most sentimental demands. In the coming months and years we will see how this plays out - and how, presumably, the Republicans will sell out what few confused grass-roots supporters they have.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Irony Of Teabaggery

The corporate- sponsored right- wing populist movement known as the Tea Party is a sham wrapped in a con wrapped in a fraud. Painting it as a "spontaneous, grass roots" movement are the same few capitalist lackeys who planned it all out even before Barack Obama's election and organized it via the plutocrat's propaganda machine FOX News.
The Right in the U.S.A. is so bereft of revolutionary imagery that once again they had to take what they needed from the Left and incorporate it in their repertoire. Hence the clenched fist in the teabagger poster and the reference to a march- an attempt to paint an anti- worker, racist corporate event as an equivalent to Dr. King's March On Washington in 1963. The reason for this deception is clear to anyone who has studied American history. The sponsors of the Tea Parties, reactionary corporatist lobbies like Americans For Prosperity and Dick Armey's Freedom Works represent the elite class, who have never done anything to advance the rights of working people- in this country or elsewhere in the world. And now, like the wolf in sheep's clothing, they disguise falsehood as truth and oligarchy as freedom.

Pyramid Of The Capitalist System

This old I.W.W. print tells you everything you need to know about how capitalism works

Friday, February 12, 2010

Another word on Private Property

There is, naturally, a difference between the terms "private property" and "individual property," although the former is a term we are never invited to examine.

Individual property belongs, in essence, to a person. For example, in my tiny Minneapolis apartment there is a dresser I am using as an entertainment center, a folding TV tray made of black wood - from Target - a filing cabinet from Officemax, a wobbly shelf system I picked up from a thrift store called Savers. These possessions belong to me, as an individual. Day where I invite people into my home to watch TV, they don't take the dresser when they leave. The property is recognized as mine. The man who comes to fix the internets doesn't take the router when he leaves. "Possession is 9/10s of the law," the old adage goes; truly, the courts and cops and lawyers and jury duty summons serve their purpose in keeping an ordered society that will defend your individual property from hoodlums and ne'er-do-wells. Justice, on occasion, is served.

Private property is the twisted perversion of individual property. It is the Mr. Hyde to individual property's Doctor Jekyll - making the word "property" a gentleman by day and a rampaging monster by night (or even in mere shadows). Under the twisted logic of capitalism, a corporation has as much right to a factory as I have to my dresser or television. My furniture - my personal belongings - even my car (technically belonging to the bank) - regardless of their incapacity to feed and clothe and house people, is lumped into the same ideological category as the Ford plant in nearby Saint Paul. Gigantic plants for metalworking that employ hundreds of people and that are the foundation for an entire economy of steel are considered alongside your two-bedroom-one-bath house.

And yet what is the rhetoric in society? That Marxists socialists, who call for the "re-appropriation of the wealth," want to rob you of your home and the contents of your bank account, want to melt down your SUV for a statue of Lenin, want to give your iPod to orphans in Harlem.

Let's get something straight out the gate, yall. We have bigger fish to fry than playing musical chairs with the housing market. (The capitalist-bred Recessasaurus, however, is coming for you, and we defend your right to your home.) When we talk about "abolishing private property," we mean the springs of social wealth ought to be taken into the hands of society so that all may drink from it. Everyone ought to have access to the basic needs of the human condition without worrying about the next paycheck, the overdraft fees, the bills. In a global society of plenty, we can provide more than enough to go around.

But it means the wrenching of the means of production from the hands of profit-seeking capitalists and corporations. As long as absolute wealth is the goal of our economic system, supply will never meet demand in a way that is humanitarian and fair.

Yes, not only can you keep your iPod - you can have a stake in the social direction of Apple, too.

In one word, you reproach us with intending to do away with your property. Precisely so; that is just what we intend. From the moment when labor can no longer be converted into capital, money, or rent, into a social power capable of being monopolized, i.e. from the moment when individual property can no longer be transformed into Bourgeois property, into capital, from that moment, you say, individuality vanishes. You must, therefore, confess that by " individual" you mean no other person than the bourgeois, than the middle- class owner of property. This person must, indeed, be swept out of the way, and made impossible. - Karl Marx, The Communist Manifesto.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


This is an informal forum for comrades to debate, argue, and discuss politics, history, current events, and solutions to the myriad problems that the capitalist economic system has created.
As the title suggests, you don't have to be polite. But personal attacks will not be tolerated. In fact, I enjoy banning assholes. You can insult someone's idea, rank them to the dogs and back over their faulty logic, but as soon as you post something about them personally, you are gone.
Allright, now that the groundrules have been set, let's have some good old historical materialistic fun.
P.S. Non- commies are welcome, too. Just keep the above rules in mind.