Saturday, July 23, 2016

The lesser evil approach cannot bring change. Vote Jill Stein


From Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444

Politics is not a personally contest about the individual. It's about the party.

To my friends who are going to do what I have heard for 40 years, "hold my nose and vote for a Democrat because we have to stop the Republican", you are ensuring we never have an alternative. Firstly, fascism is not 6 months away and we have to recognize that the serious bourgeois in this country are opposed to Trump; he is not good for business. As much as I dislike this racist, misogynistic individualist who has nothing but contempt for and abuses working people, I would not like to see them resort to extra legal methods to remove a political person they don’t want, but you can’t rule it out here in US. It is a violent country.

For a period of years, myself and a few others managed to get my local union not to support any Democrats or endorse them, the liberals were terrified as they look to one or another section of the 1% to save their world and middle class values. The liberals do not see the working class as the force for social change. To not support the Democrats is not the norm for unions as the Democratic Party is the party of the labor bureaucracy, the agents of capitalism inside organized labor. This is why millions of workers have simply abandoned politics altogether.

Eugene Debs said it is better to vote for what you want and not get it rather than what you don't want and get it. My local didn't simply reject the Democratic Party for that period, it was a major campaigner within the labor movement nationally for a labor party based on the trade unions. Not supporting Democrats never hurt us, it politicized a section of our members and it will always cause concern among the bosses’ and the union hierarchy that wants to obscure class antagonisms and have us all on the same team. In fact, you can win more reforms if that is what you seek, from Republicans or the right if you are an independent force, independent of capital, organized and conscious of your goals and strategy and tactics to achieve them.  It is the organized working class that the power in this country fears. Aside from program, strategy and tactics, democratic structure and a conscious membership is where the power lies.

Imagine if hundreds of thousands rather than vote for Hillary Clinton and her Wall Street party, joined the Greens and voted for Jill Stein. Stein has a better program than Hillary or Bernie Sanders who is a staunch supporter of the murderous US foreign policy. Sanders called for the prosecution of Snowden, Stein says she will offer him a cabinet post. There's a bit of  difference there I would say and to be honest, Jill Stein needs to be more clear about not needing Sanders.

 If the Greens, even if Stein lost but received a huge surge in popularity this election, it would have a far greater and more positive affect than a vote for Hillary if she wins which is most likely. It will change the balance of class forces. It will have an affect on many people who have given up and have correctly determined that the lesser of two evils is a dead end. It will accomplish part of Sanders' “revolution” which is not a revolution at all but an effort to get more people to vote. It will be different in that as opposed to Sanders whose intention it was to build the Democratic Party it will be a non-capitalist party receiving them, it will open up fissures in the duopoly. This is important as so many people have decided that the dictatorship the two capitalist parties have over US political life cannot be dislodged. See our Alternative to Sanders that we published over a year ago.

Yes the Green Party has some serious problems of its own. I am aware that others from the left argue that it is a capitalist party but I do not accept that. It is neither a capitalist nor a workers’ party in my opinion. Where it ends up is a matter for history to decide. Its immediate problems are that it has no party structure. It is not a member organization. It is not taken seriously by many people and there is justification in that. It is seen as a purely environmental party but that is not the case. It recently adopted an anti-capitalist amendment and there is a growing pro-worker, socialist and anti-capitalist faction in it.

This doesn’t guarantee it will be successful in becoming a real force in US politics. But supporting for the millionth time the lesser evil, the warmonger in one capitalist party against the racist, misogynistic clown in the other, does guarantee we will continue down the road to disaster. On the environment alone, capitalism will destroy life as we know it.

I was having a discussion with someone yesterday about the situation in the US and world and he said he was not merely angry but “white hot” about the direction the capitalist class and their political representatives are taking us. It is good to feel this way. We are right to be angry, we are right to have a healthy class hatred as long as that anger is organized, is not directed at individuals and takes a political constructive, collective road as opposed to an individualistic destructive one.

Here are some of the immediate issues those of us that started this blog believe activists in the Green Party should address.  We published them in a previous blog post and hope to discuss them with activists at the Green Party convention next month:

1. Build the Green Party as an Eco-Socialist party. That is a party committed to ending capitalism and to instead build a world based on the collective ownership of the dominant sectors of the world economy and a democratic sustainable international plan of production, distribution and exchange.

2. Build the Green party as an independent workers party, that is, one with its roots in the workplaces, the working class communities, the rank and file of the unions and the schools and colleges, and with the stated objective of organizing the working class to run the world.

3. Change the internal life of the GP from the undemocratic so called consensus method to the democratic method where decisions are made after full and open and democratic discussion, where majority decisions determine the policies and program of the Party, and where minority opinions have the right to be heard.

These three points could provide the basis for building a serious movement to take on US capitalism. Points 1 and 2 state the basis of the party's policies in relationship to capitalism and what can replace it. Point 3 is also crucial if the Party is to be a viable political force. Unless the internal life is made democratic we can choose any political and or economic policy we wish but members would be able to do anything they wish. This would be a recipe for shambles and paralysis.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Green Party: Interview With Jill Stein




Richard Mellor

Jill Stein, the presumptive presidential candidate for the Green Party and the best choice for working people in November, does a pretty good job in this interview.   As regular readers of this blog are aware, some of the authors, myself included, are in the Green Party and two of us, Sean O’Torain and myself, will be attending the convention in Houston next month. Sean is also a delegate.

I should add that over a year ago, those around this blog pointed to the Greens as an alternative to Sanders. We were emphatic that Sanders’ supporters should leave him and the Democratic Party and join the Greens, not simply to vote for it as many liberals and left people do periodically, but to build it and work within it to make it a socialist party, and eco-socialist party which a more accurate term as the environment is a core issue for the GPUSA, and a workers party. We explained this in more detail in our “Alternative to Sanders”

Jill Stein is clearly the best candidate for working class people, but there are a couple of issues that hopefully Ms. Stein will think more about. One of them is the question of an FDR type New Deal.  It was the Second World War that that saved capitalism back then, not Roosevelt’s reforms, and in the present period, with globalization and the rise of countries like Russia and China, it is impossible for US capitalism to cough up FDR type reforms, even those Bernie Sanders, the Democratic Party populist calls for.  US capitalism’s global struggle for market dominance will not allow it and US workers and the middle class will be driven further in to poverty in order to pay for it.

Related to this is Ms Stein’s refusal to draw a line between herself and the Greens and the Democratic Party populist, Bernie Sanders. She mentions Sanders uncritically. But Sanders is a staunch supporter of US foreign policy, Stein’s foreign policy platform is far better.

I agree with Ms Stein that the Greens can make a change in this election and even win the presidency But a major effort must be made to change the internal structure and life of the Green Party. 

Here are some important issues we think should be discussed and taken up in order for the Greens to become a serious force in US political life. Jill Stein is right to be optimistic; there has never been a greater opportunity than now for an alternative to the two parties of Wall Street.

1. Build the Green Party as an Eco-Socialist party. That is a party committed to ending capitalism and to instead build a world based on the collective ownership of the dominant sectors of the world economy and a democratic sustainable international plan of production, distribution and exchange.

2. Build the Green party as an independent workers party, that is, one with its roots in the workplaces, the working class communities, the rank and file of the unions and the schools and colleges, and with the stated objective of organizing the working class to run the world.

3. Change the internal life of the GP from the undemocratic so called consensus method to the democratic method where decisions are made after full and open and democratic discussion, where majority decisions determine the policies and program of the Party, and where minority opinions have the right to be heard.

I believe these three points could provide the basis for building a serious movement to take on US capitalism. Points 1 and 2 state the basis of the party's policies in relationship to capitalism and what can replace it. Point 3 is also crucial if the Party is to be a viable political force. Unless the internal life is made democratic we can choose any political and or economic policy we wish but members would be able to do anything they wish. This would be a recipe for shambles and paralysis.  Sean O’Torain

Turkey: Now We See a Real Coup in Action

We reprint this report from Turkey. It was originally published at The Socialist Network.

Turkey: After Last Week’s Dress Rehearsal Now We See a Real Coup in Action…

Collage 

Published: 22 July 2016. Author: Tayfun Hatipoğlu.
Each day that goes by after the farcical “coup” supposedly organised by rebel army units, we see a real coup being put into operation by President Erdogan’s regime. One sector after another faces a massive purge. Already over 60,000 state employees have been arrested or fired. And many more are promised as those interrogated supposedly give up the names of their colleagues.

We have seen this technique before from would-be dictators in history. Hitler burnt down the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament building, then blamed it on the communists in order to justify the introduction of an emergency and the assumption of executive powers. He then proceeded to round up all his opponents and launch his murderous regime. In the Soviet Union, Stalin used the assassination of his rival and Leningrad Party Boss Kirov to justify a four year purge of Soviet society that led to the murder of millions.

In Turkey, despite all the government’s crocodile tears over the 265 dead and 2100 injured by last week’s pantomime “coup”, the regime’s real priorities quickly emerged as they immediately seized upon events as a pretext with which to remove long lists of opponents to President Erdogan. A three month State of Emergency allowing the President to rule by decree has been rushed through Parliament and the European Convention on Human Rights suspended. Now, Erdogan will be able to implement laws without parliamentary approval and no court will be able to challenge them. He will have the power to extend his already heavy control of the media, restrict freedom of assembly and detain and arrest on a massive scale.

Erdogan has just told Reuters that “there was no obstacle to extending the state of emergency beyond the initial three months”. No wonder that Can Dündar, the editor of the opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, has described Turkey under the new state of emergency as “an oppressive regime where the law and liberties will be suspended, press will be censored, and the parliament eliminated.”

Para-military Judges?
Within hours of the coup attempt 2700 judges, including many of the country’s top justices, have been suspended and/or taken into custody. All clearly based on lists prepared before the coup. What could all these judges have to do with a coup attempt? After all, we didn’t see gown-wearing court officials in the streets of the capital brandishing sub machine guns or manning tanks.

Or is it just a coincidence that Erdogan has expressed his anger and frustration in recent months with the decisions by some top judges to free journalists and academics that he had targeted for prison? And could it be that he feared that these existing judges might not have done his bidding and imprisoned the scores of members of parliament that are soon to face trial after the new law removing parliamentary immunity? Clearly, Erdogan is using the failed coup to finish off his takeover of the judiciary that he began in 2014. He effectively admitted to this in his post-coup interview with Al Jazeera.

Commando Academics?
Then again, why would Erdogan be removing the country’s 1500 university faculty heads? Were academic stormtroopers blocking off the bridges over the Bosphorus, or university lecturers piloting the helicopter gunships? Or could it just be a coincidence that over 2000 university academics angered Erdogan by issuing a petition against the unnecessary war launched against the Kurds in the south-east of Turkey, a war organised  in order to stampede voters into regaining an AK Parti majority in last November’s parliamentary elections?

The truth is that by taking over the directorship of all of Turkey’s faculty departments the President’s party will now have the power to appoint and dismiss all of Turkey’s academic staff, and thereby begin to install a self-serving religious fanaticism throughout Turkey’s higher education system.

Teachers as Coup Plotters?

And what about the 21,000 private teachers now dismissed just for working in schools linked to the Gulen religious movement? How could they have possibly have been implicated in the coup? Perhaps they were using their lesson plans to arrange the distribution of army units for the military rebels.

Civil Servants in Armour?

Tens of thousands of civil servants have now been dismissed after a culture of informing on each other was earlier introduced in government departments. Working from previously prepared lists thousands of officials have been dismissed from education, social security, environment and even the government’s Sports Department. Are we seriously expected to believe that officers responsible for sports facilities were part of a military plot?

The Army

In addition to the arrest of thousands of individual soldiers, around a third of Turkey’s 360 serving generals have been detained since the coup. These included commanders of military intelligence, generals in charge of the special forces, admirals and air force leaders. Even before their interrogation began we have seen their battered and bruised faces on television and their semi-naked bodies gathered together in the stables. So much for Erdogan’s assurances that torture and abuse will not be unleashed in his crackdown.

While no one would have sympathy for any commanders who issued orders to shoot unarmed civilians, are we really supposed to believe that the pathetic mini coup of last week could have been organised by so many high level and highly experienced officers drawn from all wings of Turkey’s military service? The botched “coup” bore all the amateurish hallmarks of something organised at junior level without much co-ordination and of very limited scope. If such a huge array of military leaders had truly been involved in the coup then surely it would have been on a much bigger scale, far better organised, and rolled out across the whole country rather than in just a few locations. After all, the Turkish armed forces are the fourth largest in the world and second biggest in NATO after the United States. How can we understand a coup organised by over 100 generals and admirals that collapses within a few hours at the first sign of opposition from police and demonstrators.

Indeed, the whole timing of the “coup” is very suspect. Who organises a coup at ten o’clock on a Friday evening when millions of us were outside eating and walking around? Now we have heard that the Department of Intelligence was already aware of the coup in the afternoon. Even Erdogan admitted on television that he heard about it at 8pm. In other words a full two hours before it even began!

Last but not least, how could such a coup plan involving a big percentage of generals and commanders, and if the government is to be believed, even to include sections of the police and the judiciary, be developed without it coming to the attention of Turkey’s huge and fearsome intelligence service? It beggars belief that not one of the thousands of officials supposedly involved in the coup reported it to his superiors, or that it was not picked up by the large scale wire-tapping system in Turkey. Erdogan had to admit in his Reuters interview that: “It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it”. This has to be the understatement of the decade! Or is it just an excuse used to cover up a deeper plot while providing yet another reason to purge the intelligence services and install more reliable staff.

Who Is Accused of Organising the Coup?
We are told that the coup was organised by the Gulen Islamic religious movement whose leader lives over in the United States. The fact that this was announced as the coup was actually taking place and before any of the participants had been interrogated or evidence assembled makes one immediately suspicious. The government’s response was just too well-prepared.

As to the accusation that the Gulen movement organised the coup, everyone in Turkey who knows anything about the Gulen community knows that they have little or no support in the armed forces. That is why the Gulen were the prime movers behind the anti-armed forces prosecutions in recent years in the Ergenekon and Sledgehammer trials. To think that the arrested generals and admirals were supporters of Gulen is laughable and could only be put forward in the wierd ‘Erdogan in Wonderland’ atmosphere fostered by the President’s pro-government media which even influences the ignorant and confused international media. As they say in modern marketing speak: if you want to tell a lie make it a big one and deliver it with great confidence.

Gulen’s Method of Operation
It is well-known that despite the Gulen movement being a strange Islamic religious cult it has always operated by running educational institutions and businesses and placing its graduates into the professions and institutions. Thus, in the first ten years of Erdogan’s rule when Gulen and AK Parti were in alliance, the Gulen community provided a large number of the new government officials appointed to run the various government civil ministries. They provided Erdogan with his “cadres”.

It was only after the fallout between the Gulen movement and Erdogan three years ago, as Erdogan’s increasing totalitarianism pushed him to cast off any power sharing with former allies, that he decided to drive the Gulenists out. More recently, he has “discovered” a Gulen “terrorist” organisation which they have named FETÖ, an acronym or name that doesn’t even appear to stand for anything. Indeed, never having bombed, assassinated or killed anyone that we are aware of, FETÖ has to be the strangest terrorist organisation the world has ever seen. In reality, it is an imaginary organisation dreamed up by the Turkish government, especially over the last year, so that they can pin the “terrorist” label onto the Gulen movement, link them in the public mind to the Kurdish PKK and Islamic State, and thereby justify the taking over of the Gulenist businesses, schools and media channels.

Who Actually Organised The Coup?
If it wasn’t the Gulen movement behind this “coup”, then who was responsible for it? Coming from the army it could only have been the responsibility of a pro-Ataturk, pro secularist group of officers. The large number of senior generals and admirals that have been arrested each would have taken decades to reach their high positions, decades during which everyone in Turkey knows that the army was completely dominated by a pro-Ataturk, pro secular ideology. The Turkish armed forces were always the bulwark against Islamic political movements whether these were the older REFA Party or the more modern versions in the AK Parti or the Gulen movement. This army even put tanks on the street as part of a “soft” coup in 1997 to remove REFA from the government. Indeed, as recent as 2007, leading figures in the army were contemplating organising a coup against the possibility of AK Parti putting their candidate, Abdullah Gül, into the position of President.
To prove the point, the army rebel statement that was read out on state television as the “coup” began was clearly a pro-Ataturk, pro-secularist statement which could not have been written by the Gulen people. Yet strangely, all mention of this statement has conveniently ceased.

What Kind of Coup Was it?

It is possible that the “coup” was in fact a false flag operation actually prepared and put into operation by the government. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time that the government had sacrificed unarmed Turkish citizens to aid their struggle to defend and extend their power. The bombings in Suruç and Ankara last year organised against the pro-Kurdish HDP which killed 150 and badly injured hundreds more, bore all the hallmarks of a government operation using ISIS proxies. These bombings were part of a sustained campaign by the AK Party including the burning of 250 HDP offices all over the country, all were designed to provoke HDP into street fighting and thus to be discredited in the second parliamentary election.

However, there are certain indications that this “coup” may have had some genuine elements to it. That said, the bumbling, limited and amateurishness of the operation leads one to think that it may have been part of a government-inspired  ‘agent provocateur’ plan involving only a few senior officers with support from junior ranks. A plan known about in advance and encouraged by the government’s intelligence services. And then crushed before it could be rolled out.
At some time in the future hopefully the truth will come out. Perhaps even sooner if the massive publication of internal AKP documents by Wikileaks this week yields up anything related to these events.

Extending the President’s Power
What then is going on? It is clear to anyone with open eyes that this whole operation has been designed to provide the means for removing the President’s rivals and enemies in a clean sweep. To “cleanse the institutions of state” as Erdogan put it the day after the “coup”. In this way, the President is swiftly extending his power into those areas of the state and society he doesn’t yet dominate.
The army in particular was an institution not yet under Erdogan’s control, being run by officers brought up on the fundamental secularist principle laid down by Ataturk that religion and politics should not be mixed. In an interview with the Reuters news agency a day ago President Erdogan let the cat out of the bag as he announced that “within a very short amount of time a new structure will be emerging. With this new structure, I believe the armed forces will get fresh blood.”

A Dark Future is Coming for Turkey
In order to ramp up the mood of paranoia the Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag has just warned that a possible second military coup is being prepared. What bullshit! The authorities want to maintain the fever pitch atmosphere so that they there is no let up in arrests and dismissals. Accordingly, they are encouraging their supporters to continue demonstrating every day, and reports are coming in of gangs of AKP youth wondering the streets of even small towns shouting and issuing threats.

Already some journalists are being rounded up and human rights lawyers too. For example, the Washington Post interviewed human rights lawyer Orhan Kemal Cengiz on Turkey’s crackdown. The next day he was detained at Istanbul airport.

Forty two TV and Radio station licenses have been revoked. How long will it be before the last few opposition voices are snuffed out?

Now the two opposition parties, CHP and MHP, which came behind the government after the “coup” and helped pass the State of Emergency law are now expressing concern that the state of emergency could concentrate too much power in the hands of Erdogan. How stupid could such opposition leaders be? Erdogan first attacks his closest rivals such as the Gulenists, or his most serious enemies such as the HDP and the remaining secularists in the state. Next he will come for the other opposition parties.
What these pathetic opposition parties don’t seem to recognise is that the AK Parti is not a normal bourgeois political party which is willing to play the parliamentary game: in power for a time, then in opposition for another. Rather, it is a mass social, political and religious movement determined to take over power on a permanent basis and penetrate and dominate all institutions of society. Its membership of ten million is an insatiable beast that needs constant feeding with welfare services, jobs and benefits. If one day these cease the whole project will start to crumble, and awareness of this ceaselessly drives the AK Parti leaders to extend their octopus tentacles into every nook and cranny of society in the search for more resources to feed its supporters.

The AK Parti movement uses religion and mixes it with politics in order to cement its base together and present itself as a holy crusade. It was no accident that mosques all over Turkey broadcast the call to prayer throughout the Friday night of the “coup” to rouse the faithful to come out and defend “their” regime. Or that scores of imams appeared in the streets in Istanbul marching against the coup along with their followers.

Death Penalty
Erdogan has floated the idea of reintroducing the death penalty so that he can execute some of those in detention so as to terrify the rest of his critics. When the European Union warned him that such a move would lead to the cancellation of Turkey’s EU membership bid and any hope of visa-free travel for its citizens, he just shrugged his shoulders and indicated a total lack of concern. In response to criticism of his post- coup crackdown by the French Foreign Minister he told him to mind his own business.

Those who still maintain that Erdogan is just a puppet of American Imperialism seriously underestimate him. He has his own agenda for total power and is willing to do virtually anything to achieve it. Indeed, he seeks to build his own imperialism. Anyone watching the sickening videos now being played on state television can see his pretensions to become a modern-day version of the Ottoman Caliph to be ‘adored’ by his followers.

Don’t Believe the Coming Avalanche of Lies
Get ready for a never-ending stream of accusations and mountains of fabricated evidence laid out in the government dominated media. Already ridiculous stories are emerging of large caches of arms being found at the offices of legal prosecutors but in reality planted in order to justify the purge. Don’t believe the lies!

Get ready for armfuls of confessions from those arrested – Stalin taught the world how to intimidate prisoners in order to get them to admit to the opposite of the truth. Whatever is confessed don’t believe it. It will all have been extracted under duress and in flagrant disregard of basic human rights.
Those already being interrogated will no doubt give the names of anyone they know in order to escape the intimidation and pressure – just as they did in Argentina in the 1970s. Thus arrests will spread in wider and wider circles until the regime feels confident that all opposition has been silenced or neutered.

Bir Gun… (One Day…)
Where there is life there is hope – and even in these darkening times, hope must be maintained. All regimes fall. And the stronger they become the harder they fall. One day Erdogan’s rule will come to an end. To that day we must look forward and prepare. Venceremos!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Another black man shot. AFL-CIO's pathetic statement on the present state of affairs




By Richard Mellor
AFSCME Local 444, retired

Many of us have probably seen this recent video of a behavioral therapist helping an autistic man who was shot by the Miami police as he was laid on his back with his hands in the air. I have to say, the guy that was arguing with me the other day who wouldn’t back down no matter how sensible my argument was, that the proper slogan is not “Black Lives Matter” but “All Lives Matter”, please drop that and just tell it as you really feel it. Admit to the world what is behind this argument for you. That you have a real problem giving black people any credit for anything other than perhaps being good basketball players.

I might be an optimist but I believe people are generally polite and patient, especially black folks in the US, as they have a history here that gives them an outlook on the world that most of us don’t have. But stop insulting them, and the rest of us by arguing that the former slogan is wrong and the latter would be more politically correct, after all don’t all lives really matter? Of course they do, but I do not believe that it is a concern for “all” lives that is behind support for this statement.

Mind you, in most cases this argument is made by people who haven’t taken a political step their entire lives beyond sticking a piece of paper in a ballot box every four years to elect people in political parties that don’t represent their interests.  What lies behind it is their inability to give black folks credit for anything except athletic skills. They are threatened by their success, encouraged by their failures as it proves that the conditions that exist in the black communities are due to their failures and not centuries of racial oppression under brutal regimes.  Earlier this week, we likened the regime that ruled the South until the US Civil War to ISIS and that is not an exaggeration. After a decade of instability, the regime was reinstated inn the form of Jim Crow.

Maybe I’m being too hard on some people. But I ask those who argue for “All Lives Matter”, please think long and hard about it, talk about it with friends, talk about it with African American friends. . Don’t be afraid of history, real history, no one is asking for atonement, just recognition of history as it actually happened.

But what compelled me to write this (I hope not too long) commentary is to point to the pathetic public statement about the recent killings of black people culminating in the shooting of the cops in Dallas and Baton Rouge from Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO.  For the young people and the millions of workers who are members of unions affiliated to the AFL-CIO and have never heard of it, it is the national body of organized labor in the US with 12 million workers in it. It has tremendous potential power, it could, if its members were mobilized and active, bring the US economy to a halt.

Here is what Trumka writes. I had to search for it on the AFL-CIO webpage which has a nice picture of a pilot on it to give the impression that it represents professionals rather than workers.

Statement by AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the Shootings in Baton Rouge

July 18, 2016
Our hearts are again heavy with grief. 

On Sunday, three of our brothers at the International Union of Police Associations were killed in another senseless act of violence: Mathew Gerald, 41, a Marine veteran and father of two daughters; Brad Garafola, 45, who had served three tours in Iraq and was the father of two sons and two daughters; and Montrell Jackson, 32, a new father of a baby boy whose last post on Facebook said: “Please don’t let hate infect your heart.”

This happened one day after the last slain Dallas police officer, Patrick Zamarripa, a 32 year old Navy veteran and father of a two-year old daughter was buried.

The other Dallas officers laid to rest last week included Lorne Ahrens, 48, a 14-year veteran and father of two; Michael Smith, 55, an Army veteran 27 years on the force and father of two daughters; Michael Krol, 40, nine years on the police force; and Brent Thompson, 43, a transit police officer, father, grandfather, and newlywed.  We honor the commitment of all these men to public service.

We mourn their loss to their families and our community. We pray for the swift recovery of our wounded brothers in Baton Rouge and Dallas. And we condemn the appalling and indefensible acts of violence that are devastating families and communities across our
country.

Contact:
Charity Jackson (202) 637-5018

This is childish yes, but it is worse than that, it is criminal.  There is a higher percentage of black people in unions than whites. He calls the police “brothers” despite the fact that for decades it is the police that break strikes, escort scabs through our picket lines and historically committed gross violence against working people as those before us struggled to build unions.

A child could have written this, a preacher most likely would have and they have preachers at all the international union conventions as a cover for their own inaction. There is no analysis. Nothing about institutionalized racism, systematic violence against black people and workers in general by the police throughout our history. Not a hint that while opposing such tactics as the indiscriminate shooting of police, we have to understand why it might happen, what is behind it all.

Along with this we have the KKK at the RNC in Cleveland. Where is the labor movement?  Why is the BLM movement not joined by mass participation by the trade union movement in a united action that could drive the Klan and the cops that protect them out of town? The KKK is an anti-union terrorist group. Trumka and every top leader in the AFL-CIO is to blame.

But if you are active in a union, if you are a leader in a local where the pressure of this moribund class collaborationist bureaucracy can be weaker, if you are not openly working to build fighting oppositions within our movement that condemns the role of the Trumka’s and others and working to replace them, then you too share the blame.  Every local should be passing resolutions supporting Black Lives Matter and linking the struggle against racism with the struggle for jobs, housing, healthcare and other social needs, racism undermines working class unity and that makes it harder for us to win these things..

 It is in the interests of white workers to do so. It’s not simply a moral issue; it’s a class issue, it’s about all of us, about the survival of all our families, children and grandchildren, and when we take foreign policy in to account, the survival of humanity.

Here is part of the problem, another pathetic statement from the AFL-CIO about the economy and jobs:

AFL-CIO Jobs and the Economy:

The AFL-CIO is ready to work with anyone—business, government, investors—who wants to create good jobs and help restore America's middle class and challenge policies that stand in the way of giving America the chance to go back to work. The union movement is partnering with such organizations as the Clinton Global Initiative to find innovative ways to create good jobs that support workers and their families.
country.

Clinton’s Global Initiative Fund, business, government, investors, that’s the problem right there.  Working “with” these forces is why your leaders are betraying you, not the mafia, the legal gangsters. Working with and uniting the organized workers with all workers and our communities, the unorganized, the racial minorities, women, immigrants, those fighting the destruction of our environment and the struggle for gender equality, this is how we create “good jobs” for everyone and leave a society that can nurture our children not kill them.

My former union Afscme is having its International Convention in Las Vegas this week. I was at the last one there I think it was 1988. At the end of the week they walk down to a striking hotel, the president puts on a baseball cap to make people think he’s just a working slob like the rest of us and they chant about “we’re the union the mighty, mighty, union” and stuff like that.  But the bosses don’t fear that, they know it is fluff.  The union will be out of there in a day and things will be back to normal, strikers might be on the lines for another year until they lose all they have for that extra $2 an hour.

And Hillary Clinton will be there as her husband was when I last attended an International Convention, there to make sure the relationship her and her class has built with the heads of the union is safe, the members contained, labor peace intact.

I’ve said enough; I’m getting madder as I write. But my last bit of advice to the rank and file member is to stop whining. Stop trying to seek an individual way out through climbing the management ladder at work or through a cushy job in the union apparatus.

Things are not going to get better until you act.*

 *You can begin by calling the contact person inn the AFL-CIO statement and making your views known. Simply complaining that it is nowhere near adequate would be a start

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Obama reassures the cops all will be well. But will it?


Source: Washington Post
The caption to this picture reads in part: "President Obama......seeks to unify a country divided by race and politics"

But these killings are not simply about race in the way they mean it.  If they were, other targets that would have caused more harm to white people could have been chosen. It's about police brutality, the role of the police in society and capitalism. 




By Richard Mellor
AFSCME Local 444, retired

The US media continues its coverage in the aftermath of the recent police killings and is trying very hard to control the damage. The situation in US society is so volatile that even diversions like imaginary terrorists and foreign threats can’t keep people corralled now that the NBA finals are over.

Most news outlets reported on President Obama’s “open letter” to US law enforcement yesterday praising them for their service, loyalty, patriotism and bravery among other things. 
"Every day, you confront danger so it does not find our families, carry burdens so they do not fall to us, and courageously meet test after test to keep us safe," he wrote, adding, "Thank you for your courageous service.  We have your backs."

It is clear, as I commented previously, that these events present a serious crisis for the US ruling class or the 1% as this section of society tends to be called over here.  While at some time or another ordinary folks need help from the police, the role of the police in society is to protect the rich and the powerful, protect their system and the laws that their legislators write.  They are the armed defenders of capitalism on the streets, even if  individual policemen don’t see themselves in this light. The 1% cannot tolerate or allow people to go around shooting their first line of defense in society. * Gavin Long, the Baton Rouge shooter may have been a hero for killing Iraqis if he did, but when under their direction as a marine he must only kill who his superiors tell him to.

The police are so important to us, to workers in our communities, in the urban ghettos, in the suburbs and rural areas according to Obama, that, Any attack on police is an unjustified attack on all of us.”.

And he writes further, “Some are trying to use this moment to divide police and the communities you serve.” I assume here he is talking about the individuals that are responsible for the Baton Rouge and Dallas killings.  But he may well be talking about the Black Lives Mater movement and its supporters as well, as this movement is not exactly a cheerleading outfit for law enforcement. Then there are all the other movements arising as a consequence of the 1%’s austerity agenda that also find themselves in conflict with the police if their activities are not contained within the laws the 1% deem acceptable.

But it’s the role of the police in these communities that is the cause of division, of animosity toward them, not simply “some” people. Law enforcement “…cannot be held responsible for the social issues such as poverty, lack of mental health services, unemployment, and abject poverty," Obama writes in his letter.  This is true, it’s not what the police are in these communities for. They are there to ensure the community is contained and doesn’t erupt in to complete chaos, or rioting as they are overwhelmed by poverty and preyed upon by absentee slumlords, vulture capitalists and the police themselves in so many cases.  The conditions that exist in these communities is a product of institutional racism over generations and the economic disparity and class war that is inherent in capitalist society. The police will be used more frequently in the suburbs as the workers and the middle class are forced to pay for corporate wars.

If the population rises up in a political manner, occupy vacant buildings, take action to disrupt business and commerce in response to these conditions imposed on them and in order to force society to act. If they do this to demand jobs, hospitals, schools, housing an end to racism and economic disparity etc., then the police are there to ensure “order” is returned. If they resist, they have courts and prisons for this activity. The “normal” state of poverty and lack of opportunity must be protected and the established channels that lead us nowhere must be taken.  If established channels had been taken in 1776, there would be no modern nation called the United States.

The Wall Street Journal throws in its own take on it all. “Racial tensions have been thrust back in to the national conversation in recent weeks after the police killings….”

What racial tensions is the Journal talking about?  Racial tension is always present here but people don’t go around shooting each other for it in the main or shooting cops, especially cops as the entire weight of the state apparatus will hunt you down for that. What they are trying to do here is make this an issue between white and black, nothing else. This divide and rule tactic, appealing to white workers on the basis of skin color and throwing us a few extras has worked very well for them but it is not so easy anymore.

The intent is obvious; they want white workers to side with the cops. We are not told to unite when cops shoot unarmed blacks.  The cops are being attacked because they have white skin like you, because they are European Americans like you, you’ll be next and you are not safe. But that is not the case. This isn’t simply an issue of racial tension. The cop that shot Philandro Castille wasn’t white.

The people that shot these police officers could have killed scores of white people if they had been driven simply by animosity toward white people, anger at losing a job, a house, a promotion to a white American or too much reflection on this history that never seems to change.  Obama and the Wall Street Journal as mouthpieces for the 1% want to ensure that white workers are separated from black on this issue as far as understanding the situation is concerned.

The reality is that a section of the working class is being targeted and brutalized, black people, mostly poor black people but not always.  And all workers are threatened by an attack on any section of our class. Over the past few years I have seen police and sheriffs forcibly evict people from their homes on behalf of the Wall Street bankers. Five million people lost their homes in the Great Recession.

I was talking with a young cop the other day and in the the course of the conversation he said, , “we’re neutral.”. “But I was down the Waste management strike where you guys were preventing us from blocking the scabs form going in, the cops stopped us and threated us with arrest if we didn’t comply” I told him.”

“But we have to maintain order” he replied.

“Yes but at which side’s expense” I say and that’s the end of that conversation. He simply didn’t consider it.

What is so worrisome for the state and its security apparatus is that the recent police killings have been conscious and planned. They are retaliatory actions, political killings in a way, they are a reflection of the crisis existing in the black community with regard to the police and that black people are being pushed to the limit. Security forces cannot continue to kill black men with impunity (and some women), most of them unarmed, at the rate of one every 28 hours or so, and not expect bad things to happen; we’ve all seen the videos. People have limits, any people. And as I pointed out earlier, retaliating in this way, in Dallas and Baton Rouge is harmful to the workers’ movement, to the black people’s struggle against racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. It is not a way forward and I am not arguing in favor of it.

There is also extreme discontent with the state of US society among all sectors of the working and middle classes. This is another aspect of these developments that worries authorities. As a nation we are all united is the theme but we all know that is not true. As George Orwell said, “All men are created equal, but some are more equal than others” When the gap becomes a chasm, society erupts.

The same WSJ has a very short column under “US Watch” about a police officer shot dead in Kansas after responding to a call about an armed disturbance and the authorities were quick to say “There was no indication that (the officer ) was the victim of a targeted attack”. He doesn’t mean the guy didn’t point a gun at him, but it wasn’t a political statement. Killing a state security officer in the investigation of a crime like robbery is one thing, having a political motive for it, rightly or wrongly, sets a dangerous precedent.

Brexit: After The Big Vote


My poem about how many liberal 'intellectuals' have gone a bit bonkers since the Brexit‬ vote
'After The Big Vote Intellectual Begins To Decompose' Reprinted from Culture.org



After The Big Vote
Intellectual Begins To Decompose


by Kevin Higgins

You sit minding that cup
as if it contained, post-Brexit,
the last frothy coffee in all of Brighton.
You’ve the look of
a pretend Elvis Costello,
or the rejected fourth member
of Bananarama.

Your claim to notoriety
that one of the Sex Pistols
once failed to cross the road
to avoid you. Your opinions
what it said in all
yesterday’s editorials.

Your new secret hate
the ghastly Adidas tracksuits of Gateshead,
the sweatpants of Merthyr Tydfil,
for daring to go against your wishes.

Your sneer is a threatened Doberman
with the charming personality removed.
Scientists are currently trying
to bottle your lime-green bile
and make it available on the NHS
as a homeopathic remedy for psychotic
former Guardian columnists.

Your words are the gusts that come out
immediately before
a terrible bowel movement.

Even in the face of bitten
finger nails, the broken hinge
on the upstairs window, and my own
sack load of mistakes,

to be you would be
a fate worse than life.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thinking about life, work and Marx


































Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Karl Marx the philosopher argued that “It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.”

When I first became aware of this philosophical explanation of the world and our place in it, it really hit home. It made sense to me and still does.

Marx put it in even simpler terms when he wrote that “The way people get their living determines their social outlook.”  

And “their living” means how they produce the necessities of life, what part they play in this process.  All human existence has been about the production of life’s necessities, food, shelter, security etc. Without production there is no life at all and there have been different ways of accomplishing this task. One thing is that human beings figured out that as individuals we were relatively weak and at the mercy of our surroundings and that production of our needs, especially food, was more efficient when organized collectively. That’s how society came about.

In tribal society people had different roles and our needs were the product of the group as a whole. The “social product” was not privately owned, nor was the means of producing it and it was shared. We produced for our immediate needs.

In our society, a class based society we call capitalism, different groups of people play different roles but not in the same way. The means of producing our needs, the machines, the factories, the mines, and the land and other aspects of the natural world, are privately owned.  One group of people, a minority in society, has accumulated great wealth through their ownership of these productive forces.

The majority of us do not own these things. What we do is sell our labor power, our life activity if you like, to these owners, we call them capitalists.  By owning our life activity for a period of time, they have the right to direct its use, determine what sort of activity we engage in.  During the time period that we call work, that the capitalist owns our labor power, if we choose to use some of that time to read a book, do some homework for night school or chat to a friend on the phone about the weekend’s activities, we are stealing from the capitalist, stealing his time. We are violating his/her rights.

If it’s an auto repair shop or a private hospital, different workers, nurses, porters or mechanics and office staff do the work. But the other group that is hidden from this process we call work is the people that own the buildings, plant, equipment and every other object that workers need to fulfill their particular tasks. In small places where production takes place the owner may work alongside us or be present.

But in the major production centers, most of these people are faceless, will be investors who put up the money and they don’t call this process they are involved in with us, work; we are not equal partners. For one thing, they, not us, own the end result, own the product that our labor power creates and it is their right in a capitalist society to do with it what they will.

They do not only “legally” own the thing produced, cars say, they own the person’s functions during that time, they own the machines, the land, the buildings involved with the production of things. In other words, they own what we call the labor process. And they own the labor process as capitalists because it is through the labor process that wealth is created. And more specifically, through the use of a human being’s labor power.  We produce more value than they pay us for. Profits have their source in the unpaid labor of the worker. This is how wealth is accumulated so capital in the first place is not theirs to own, or allocate socially, it’s a collective product. That’s why we have the saying that labor creates all wealth because it does.

It is not the end product, its useful qualities or a social need that motivates the capitalist, it is the wealth, the value created above their outlay that they are interested in that is contained within the product. That’s why the obsession with selling-----the object has to be sold for the capitalist to free the value contained within it.

Understanding this is important because not only does “being” determine consciousness as an individual, how we earn a living determine our personal outlook, but our role in the production of life’s necessities which is a collective process as we all work together, produces mass consciousness.  Mass consciousness is class-consciousness.

Identity politics, particularly in the US where it’s so prevalent, is also used to obscure this reality because it ignores or diverts our attention from the commonality of our existence, our desires and social condition as workers, it is an attempt to obscure the most important division in society, the real “us and them”, and that is the class division. That’s why they scream about class warfare whenever it’s brought up. How can one be free if there are classes in society?

There is a reason that those who sell their labor power to live, in other words, are wage laborers, call what we do “work” and that’s because we do it. The capitalist has a different language, a different way of expressing what they do because what they do is different, it’s not work as we see it.

They buy labor power, we sell it. 

Britain: Corbyn and the war against the Blairites

Here is an excellent analysis of the present situation with regard to developments in the British Labor Party. from Roger Silverman.  I am not sure that I agree that two classes cannot, for a period, share the same party although Roger does write, "sooner or later, the working class must either reclaim the Labour Party or replace it" which seems to say as much.  In another forum Roger also clarified that Britain is perhaps the most unstable country in Western Europe not Europe as a whole. I  Overall, Silverman makes as he so often does, some excellent points about the situation in Britain at the moment. RM

by Roger Silverman

After decades of political stagnation, Britain is suddenly plunged into turmoil. It has become, for the moment, the most unstable country in Europe. Within a few weeks, it has witnessed the murder of a Labour MP by a Nazi assassin, the shock outcome of the EU referendum, an upsurge of xenophobia and bigotry, the unexpected resignation of a prime minister and the successive downfall of his two most prominent presumed successors… And, most crucial of all, the long-overdue split in the Labour Party.

At first sight Corbyn may appear a little less radical than Bernie Sanders in the USA, with his talk of "revolution" against the "billionaires' dictatorship". But Corbyn, an honest and principled traditional left reformist, stands implacably for resistance to austerity, nuclear disarmament, and renationalisation of the railways, and these are solid commitments. The difference is in the historical context. The election of Corbyn means a reclamation by the working class of the party it created over a hundred years ago from the clutches of conscious agents of the class enemy. It was the result of an unforerseen tidal wave: an anticipation of revolution. The violent class tensions that had been tightly compressed for two decades within the Labour Party, the traditional party of the working class created by the trade unions, could no longer be reconciled. Under the shock of the financial crash and the subsequent years of savage cuts, nothing could prevent it bursting asunder.

These Labour MPs are not just a new generation of the old-style reformists of yesteryear – tainted individuals perhaps, cowardly, treacherous, bribed or intimidated, but with roots firmly implanted in the labour movement. During the 1990s, an openly pro-capitalist grouping assumed the leadership of the Labour Party. One of them, Mandelson, openly boasted: “I am supremely relaxed about people getting filthy rich, so long as they pay their taxes”. They tried to eradicate Labour’s socialist and trade-union traditions and proclaimed a new identity, calling themselves “New Labour”.

New Labour served a very specific historical purpose. It was the product of a conscious conspiracy by the ruling class: to carry onward the Thatcherite counter-revolution wrapped in new packaging, once the Tories had become too discredited to do it themselves under their own banner. It was only after the financial crisis in 2008 that New Labour was deemed to have outlived its usefulness; once having served its purpose in government, it was unceremoniously ditched, and the reins of power firmly grasped by Britain’s traditional masters.

The Blairite MPs have no links or allegiance to the labour movement, let alone any aspirations to a new society. They are plain careerists who at a certain time found it opportune to jump on the New Labour bandwagon. Most of them are relics of that Blairite influx: an alien force of lawyers, lobbyists and "special advisers" hostile to the workers’ interests. One trade union leader rightly called them a "virus".

Two classes can’t share one party. It was always inevitable that, sooner or later, the working class must either reclaim the Labour Party or replace it. With the mobilisation of the Labour ranks and affiliated trade unions, and a huge influx of new and overwhelmingly younger members, we see a combination of both variants: a replenished and reinvigorated mass workers' party, already numbering half a million members.

The exact mechanism by which the crisis has erupted is a consequence of the arrogance of the Blairites, who still delude themselves that they enjoy mass support. They had blamed the election of their previous leader, the pathetically ineffectual Ed Miliband, on the trade union block vote, and imagined that by throwing open the franchise to all and sundry, allowing anyone to register as a supporter, they could secure victory for their own preferred candidate. They then compounded this mistake by lending Jeremy Corbyn enough MPs' nominations to cross the threshold to stand as a candidate, hoping thereby to demonstratively humiliate the left.

Actually it was a questionable exercise of "democracy" to allow the party leadership to be determined by selling cheap votes to all and sundry, irrespective of their commitment to the party. However, such was popular outrage at New Labour's despicable record of treachery, and anger at the election by default last year of yet another even more right-wing Tory government, that hundreds of thousands of people registered as supporters, exercised their voting rights as affiliated trade unionists, or joined the Party outright. Jeremy Corbyn won a decisive majority in all three sectors, with 60% of the vote and a popular mandate of 250,000 people.

If Corbyn's victory was not to mean a reclamation by the working class of its traditional party, then it would have been meaningless. What had to follow was a clean break between the mass of trade-union rank-and-file Labour activists and the parasitic rump of New Labour MPs clinging on to their parliamentary seats.

Under the impact of current historical shocks, what was already a simmering crisis has now come to an immediate showdown. Predictably, it was the MPs who precipitated it. By a four-to-one majority, they passed a vote of no confidence in Corbyn's leadership and are now scrambling around trying to find a candidate to challenge him. Having failed in a brazen plot to keep Corbyn off the ballot paper (a provocation that could only have precipitated an immediate split), in an act of pure spite they disenfranchised over 100,000 Labour members at a stroke by imposing an arbitrary cut-off membership date, and raised the affiliation fee for new supporters from £3 to £25, while giving them a deadline of just two days to register.

It's not, as they pretend, the risk of defeat in a coming general election that the Blairite MPs are afraid of; what terrifies them is the prospect of victory under a socialist leadership. Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party with the biggest mandate of any political leader in British history.

Hundreds of thousands of people were inspired to join the Labour Party to support him. Since his election, Labour has begun to recover from years of decline under Blair, Brown and Milliband.
Who are the Labour right to complain of declining support? It is eleven years since they last won an election. Since the 1997 election, under Blair and Brown, Labour lost four million votes; not to mention losing every single seat but one in Scotland to the Scottish Nationalists. In contrast, under Corbyn's leadership, Labour gained the biggest share of the vote in local council elections around the country; won all four successive by-elections with increased shares of the vote; and won all four mayoral elections, including London, where the Labour candidate won the highest ever vote for any individual candidate: 1.1 million votes.

The imminent split in the Labour Party is long overdue. The mass of trade-union rank-and-file Labour activists and the parasitic cabal of crypto-Tory MPs who have made their nests in the parliamentary party could not preserve for long their uneasy cohabitation. For them, this is not a political debate. They are fighting for their careers, their livelihoods, their privileged place in society. This is a fight to the finish.

Hundreds of thousands of Labour activists are ready and waiting to defeat this coup by a clique of embittered careerists, and restore to Labour its socialist traditions. Everywhere throughout Britain, every day, local branches of Momentum, the grassroots mass movement that has sprung up in support of Corbyn, are meeting, planning, recruiting, discussing, campaigning, enraged at the MPs' dirty tricks and determined at all costs to win: working-class women, ethnic minorities, youth, disabled people, older men… a real parliament of the people!

Battle is joined!

Monday, July 18, 2016

Baton Rouge killings. Are we really surprised?


Baton Rouge: Police arrest protesters July 9th
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I want to raise some points about yesterday’s shootings in Baton Rouge where another group of cops were shot and as I write three of them are dead.

It goes without saying that we have to oppose these killings. We have to oppose them first of all because individual actions like these are a harmful to the workers’ movement; they are harmful to the black people’s struggle against centuries of racist oppression. They are acts that may temporarily satisfy the desire for revenge by the perpetrator. They may be seen by some as a just response to far greater acts of violence carried out by the state against the individual, his or her family, community, religious group or race. But these type of responses do not take the struggle forward, they arise when individuals can see no other way to oppose racist oppression and the general economic and social oppression they face. They are acts of despair.

I can assume with some confidence that a contributing factor that drove the shooter, an ex marine named Gavin Long, to kill these cops at this moment in time with the understanding that he will sacrifice his own life, is the almost daily murder of (often unarmed) black men by state security forces around the country. We have to recognize also that Long served in the military as did the shooter of five policemen only a week before. Imagine putting one’s life on the line for one’s country yet fearing losing it at home at the hands of the very state you defended, or thought you were defending. Under these conditions, it is not hard to understand why someone might resort to this.

But we must be clear. These events, the killings in Baton Rouge and Dallas, will undermine the movement and popularity of Black Lives Matter and the growing movement against racism and police brutality that has been taking place up to now.  It will strengthen the racists and not help those white workers who are so far unable to overcome that “stop in the mind” to quote the great English historian Christopher Hill, and instead embrace without fear and trepidation the reasons why the slogan and movement around Black Lives Matter is appropriate, as it appears in our society today that they don’t.

Many workers of all races are appalled at the murder of black people, as they are daily “hunted down” by the police as Philandro Castile’s mother so aptly put it. But these acts of individual retribution will not help build the unity of all workers that is necessary if racism and police brutality is to be ended. Only the unity of the working class can end racism as only the unity of the working Class can end capitalism. And as Malcolm X stressed, “You can’t have capitalism without racism”. Malcolm X chose his words carefully and this can only mean we cannot end racism without ending capitalism.

The struggle for a better world and to end racism has to be a conscious struggle and the strategy and tactics necessary to accomplish this determined collectively, by black folks and by workers from all backgrounds committed to this end. Long’s decision to do what he did was not a collective decision. If Gavin Long’s tactic had been discussed among any group of black American workers, and this is a group I have worked with and lived with my entire 43 years in the US, they would have not supported it I can guarantee it. They would have done what they could to prevent it. It is not the method advocated by Black Lives Matter and practically every other African American organization fighting racial oppression.

This is despite having to listen to police chiefs, politicians and other public figures talk about the need for us to “come together in this hour of need” or words to this affect when cops are killed. We do not hear this when unarmed black men are “hunted down” in the streets of our cities. Workers are not called out on the streets to “come together” for anything other than sports events and other diversionary activities.

And here’s another point that I want to make. It is workers that serve in the military of all nations. It is workers that are sent to fight workers in other countries in these wars to defend corporate profits. What we have in the US is an economic draft as the sons and daughters of the 1%, and their political representatives like the Bush’s and Obama’s, will never face the horrors of war that children of the working class and poor do. A permanent pool of unemployed is a good thing for the military; it provides the war machine with youth who have few other options.  In this process, young working class men and women are brutalized and trained to kill. They become physically and psychologically damaged through the experience.

We can and should oppose what Gavin Long has done. He didn’t discriminate; he killed black cops as well as whites. But it’s quite likely as a Marine he killed a lot more people in his visit to Iraq than he did yesterday in Baton Rouge. He was a trained killer. That’s what being a Marine is about, taking orders and not questioning them. He is not condemned for killing foreigners. In fact, he is seen as a hero for that. He is called a warrior and the more foreigners he would have killed, the more medals and praise would have come his way from the very people now condemning him. If we were to criticize his killing of these people we would be labeled un-American and traitors. Chelsea Manning informed of us of activities like these and got 35 years for it.

The training a worker like Long receives at the hands of the state is used to defend US capitalism in its global war against workers and its rivals. It is also used internally and has been so historically to break strikes and suppress social unrest. But soldiers are workers in uniform. They are not cops and in different times, their military training and discipline is useful to the working class. Changing society will not only require a political party of our own but also a workers militia or workers military force. In this sense, the military expertise workers receive that is used to defend the capitalist state can turn in to its opposite; like technology, it depends in whose interests this skill serves.

It is the history of racial oppression that was also on Long’s mind we can guarantee it. Centuries of violence committed against black people by a state based on white supremacy is present in the consciousness of every black person no matter their class background. They are intimately aware of 300 years of slavery when black workers were forced to work for no wages. When they were forced to do so through the most vicious methods, mass murder, lynchings, being burned alive, similar to the methods of ISIS today.  

Even after the Civil War when blacks fought on the Union side by the hundreds of thousands the violence continued. Officials of the Freedmen’s Bureau were astounded at the violence against blacks. Blacks in Texas  “…are frequently beaten unmercifully and shot down like wild beasts, without any provocation.”, an official testifies. One freed slave testified that ‘”over two thousand colored people” were murdered in 1865 around Shreveport. In 1866, after the South was supposedly defeated, whites set fire to a black settlement and rounded up its inhabitants in Pine Bluff Arkansas:  “A man who visited the scene the following morning found  ‘a sight that apald me 24 Negro women and children were hanging from trees all round the cabins’” writes Eric Foner.*

These events are in the mass consciousness of black folks as much as the great famine and English invasions are in the mass consciousness of Irish Americans, even those who can’t point to Ireland on a map and there is a lot of them.

From what I understand, Long was a thoughtful person. Surely one hundred and fifty years later when black men are still dying at the hands of the state, when the racist flag of the confederacy still flew over public buildings built with the taxes paid by black people and the economic conditions of African Americans are at depression era levels him, and other black folk must ask themselves, “Will it never end?”

Louisiana governor John Edwards said of the killings: "There is nothing more fundamentally important than maintaining law and order. … That is not what justice looks like.  We should recognize that this situation is an extreme crisis for the US ruling class. The police are the armed bodies of men whose purpose it is to defend the state and the interests of the class that rules, the laws that they write. They will not tolerate this situation and it will be poor and black communities that will bear the brunt of the increased offensive, certainly in the immediate term. In the aftermath of Seattle back in 1999 and the Occupy Movement of the past period, state security forces have been increasingly militarized.    This will continue and will be used against all workers as resistance to the capitalist offensive grows."

But as a previous blog pointed out, the movement has to have a an approach to the police that can at very least neutralize them and at best split the more conscious layers from the dehumanized and brutal elements. It must offer an alternative.

It goes without saying that as this crisis continues, the role of the heads of organized labor borders on the criminal. It is their failure to offer a way forward that increases apathy politically, that makes it more likely for workers to resort to acts of sabotage on the job and individuals like Long to take matters in to their own hands. They sit atop an organization with 12 million workers in it with tremendous resources and potential power. They are a disgrace.

I have read that Long wrote the following:

“You’ve got to stand on your rights, just like George Washington did, just like the other white rebels they celebrate and salute did,” he added. “That’s what Nat Turner did. That’s what Malcolm did. You got to stand, man. You got to sacrifice.”

I notice he never mentioned Martin Luther King and assume it was due to his commitment to non-violence. While I am not a pacifist, Martin Luther King led a mass movement committed to direct action and toward the end of his life began to talk of the need for socialism and social re-organization. Malcolm X, while critical of King in his early years, came to understand the importance of the mass movement and uniting all oppressed people in the struggle for justice and freedom.

It is these methods, and a mass movement of a united working class against racism and capitalism that the 1% fears most of all and that will end police brutality, not individual acts of retribution,