Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Young Man from Illinois


Fred Hampton: "You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail a revolution the revolution. You can run a freedom fighter around the country but you can't run freedom fighting around the country. You can murder a liberator but you can't murder liberation."

Fred Hampton was born on this day in 1948, in Summit, Illinois. He would die 21 years young - assassinated by Chicago police with two point-blank shots to the back of his head - some 15 miles from where he first opened his eyes. Hampton's childbearing fiancée Deborah Johnson, who was lying next to her partner when police first fired through the bedroom door, recalled how the officers smiled and declared Hampton “good and dead" after the execution. At the time of his assassination Hampton was chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party and reportedly working to strengthen ties between the BPP and white and Latino youth and workers - a move towards class solidarity in the  face of race divisions that terrified (as all such unity movements do) the ruling class state (at the time led by J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon).  

The year of his death, Chairman Fred gave a speech – Power Anywhere Where There’s People - at Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, in which he spoke of working class solidarity across the ruling class' racial divisions in the fight against capitalism. Declared Hampton, his powerful voice surely echoing throughout the room: 

We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I'm talking about the white masses, I'm talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We've got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don't fight racism with racism. We're gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don't fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.

Little has changed since the state killed Chairman Fred. Chicago police still free to murder with impunity, as demonstrated most egregiously by the 16 shots fired into the body of Laquan McDonald and the response of the Democrats in covering up the killing.

The struggle continues. Long live the spirit of Fred Hampton. And in his words, "Peace to you, if you're willing to fight for it."

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Battle for the Future in North Dakota


by Luke Pickrell

The growing movement against the North Dakota Access Pipeline is about nothing less than the future of human existence on this planet. On one side stands the Fortune 500 corporation Energy Transfer Partners, whose $3.8 billion pipeline is halfway complete. The finished product is 1,400 miles long (only 7 miles shorter than the Keystone XL) and would move some 400,000 gallons of crude oil through 50 counties in 4 states. On the other side stand a growing number of people concerned about their community and the future of the planet. The movement against the pipeline was started and is led by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Native Americans - whose genocide paved the way for the development of private property in North America - experience poverty, suicide, drug abuse, and police terrorism at levels far higher than any other section of the U.S. population.

The wishes of Energy Transfer Partners, in partnership with two of the world's largest gasoline distributors in Sunoco and Phillips 66, are backed by the capitalist state: in July the Army Corps of Engineers quickly approved the project; North Dakota police have arrested over 25 people; the FBI is survailing protestors; and the Department of Homeland Security has removed all state-provided water, air conditioning, and shelter from the protestors' campsite. The message is clear: under capitalism the profits of corporations trump the demands of the people and the health of the planet.

On Saturday a pipeline construction worker in Western North Dakota was killed on the job.

Everyone has a stake in the battle against the Access Pipeline, as the destruction of the earth threatens marginalized communities first and all of us in the long term. The protest camps already in place will no doubt come under increased police attacks the longer people stay - the state will open its toolbox of terrorist tactics in an attempt to crush dissent against capitalist profits. The corporate media is attempting to shroud the protests in silence and non-coverage.

Frustratingly, none of the more publicized socialist groups in the U.S. have had anything to say about the events in North Dakota. In addition, there has been no response from the Green Party, Black Lives Matter, or any of the major unions. A big step in the movement against the pipeline - and one that could turn it into a larger movement against corporate profit over public need - would be the presence of these groups at the protest encampments. The ravaging of Native American land by corporations should be connected to the immense inequality in this country and across the globe, as no life, no track of land, no community or way of life, is valued under an economic system build on competition and the maximization of profit. Make no mistake; the ruling class in society will stop at nothing - not world war, not fascism, not the poising of drinking water - to see its profits protected and expanded.

Three Cheers for Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick. Tut Tut.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

So Colin Kaepernick is the traitor now. Sports figures are not supposed to make statements about real life. They might upset people and those people don’t pay them money to have a point of view about the world around them. All of a sudden, billionaire media and sports capitalists care about the rank and file soldier, you know, the one they wouldn't want their daughter to marry.

The Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan says the: "Star-Spangled Banner was a way of paying tribute to America’s armed forces."  No it's not, it's a rousing song as all anthems are to pretend there are no class antagonism's in a nation state, were all American with the same interests, me and Warren Buffet. Why do you think those great marches were played as people walked toward each other in battle? Because a funeral dirge would not go down too well, got to keep their minds off the fact that they might be dead in a minute.

Their kids don't fight wars, ours do. In the US civil war, the most costly American war in terms of numbers, the rich paid a substitute fee and sent a working class guy in to battle as a replacement, more often than not an Irishman. Thousands of slaves fought for the North and then got Jim Crow in return.

Ryan also says: "the opportunity that we have to play a great game is through the men and women that serve our country,” What nonsense. How callously these mouthpieces of the status quo use the fate of the working class youth in the military as a means to strengthen their nationalism and draw us on to their team.  Watch The Tillman Story to get an idea of what the military brass thinks of the folks that do the fighting.

The working class and the struggle to build unions which could cost us our lives, the civil rights struggle for basic human rights against a brutal racist state, the centuries long war the Native Americans fought against genocide. This is history, this is what won us any freedoms we have from the most brutal of all the ruling classes. The Native American people at the Standing Rock Camp in N. Dakota are standing up against the state as I write, confronting the energy industry and the investors and bankers behind them, defending mother earth, their culture and ours. What do those that criticize Kaepernick have to say about that?  Do they know about it?  Probably not as the media focuses on this sports figure who dares make a statement about the society in which he lives, a system presided over by a racist anti-worker regime that cares nothing about human life or the natural world that feeds us.

What do they care about the young people they send out to fight their wars? Were Bush's kids in Afghanistan? Obama's? Paul Allen's Bill Gates if they have any? Was Chelsea Clinton on the front line? There's all the flag waving when they send them out and nothing but road blocks when they come back physically and mentally damaged. Most working class youth don't have as many options, unemployment, lack of opportunity, these are pluses for the military brass.

The reality is that the working class youth that fought in Afghanistan or anywhere else were not defending us and are not defending us, they are sent to defend the interests of US capitalism; they are fighting to defend profits of Halliburton, Chevron, WalMart and the parasitic clique that run them; they are being lied to and to tell the truth about that is not to disrespect them. If we support our troops then we demand an end to all the predatory wars and the return of our youth. We demand a massive public infrastructure program and training programs to offer youth a productive alternative to the military. We demand the abolition of all student debt. We demand decent housing, health care and an end to the killing of black males in particular by state security forces. We demand an end to mass incarceration of workers and our children. We demand jobs and housing as a human right.

Kaepernick’s statement is speaking to an issue that weighs like a great plague on a huge section of US society, on black Americans.  So many white people I know who have never uttered a word of concern about the epidemic of police murders of black people or even the attacks on white workers for that matter, find voice in condemning Kaepernick’s motives.  Who cares what his motives are. He is a national figure recognized by millions upon millions of youth and he is raising an important issue that should not be an issue in a civilized society; it should be talked about by more than just the victims and their kin. It should be talked about instead of what Kim Kardashian is wearing this week. Could he raise all the other issues affecting the rest of us, sexism, housing issues etc? Sure he could, and he should, but as a person of color this issue is closer to his heart as the oppression of women will be to a woman’s heart. It's a starting point.

The real issue is and what bothers the owners of the mass media is he is not doing his job which is to sell sneakers, cars, clothes and other commodities in order to make money for the rich folks that live off the rest of us. He is not supposed to be making any political statements at all giving young people bad ideas. Just talk about how great US society is. And mention Jesus a lot. Stephen Curry is a good fella, he even thanks god after every basket.  Kaepernick is breaking the rules.  Well, good on him; lets break some more.

The bosses in the sports industry are billionaires. Here’s a couple of them:

Paul Allen Seattle Seahawks: $15 billion
Malcolm Glazer  Tampa Bay $5 billion
Stephen Ross  Miami  $4.4 billion

The top ten football franchise owners could end poverty in Africa (and here in the US). 17 of 31 owners carry a ten-figure net worth according to Forbes. Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke, who is a multi-sports team owner is married in to another family of parasites, the WalMart clan. And Forbes actually calls them "self made men". As if they have ever done a decent days work.

The media drags out a few quotes from some of Kaepernicks backward white colleagues looking to keep in well with the bosses.  Tyler Polumbus a former Denver Broncos offensive tackle says the anthem was associated with “military that die for our right to protest”.

Well he’s wrong. The military has nothing to do with our right to protest. Our military has been used to expand US capitalism’s plunder abroad. Read War is a Racket by Smedley Butler a highly decorated US general. * The same as the British military.  Ask the Irish or Kenyans about the British military. Ask the Mexicans or Iraqi’s or Central Americans about ours. They hate to use the military to suppress strikes and domestic protest because they are the sons and daughters of workers, workers in uniform to be exact. They are not the same as cops and too vulnerable to turning the guns in the other direction.  It's easier to demonize foreigners as they have demonized blacks in the US over three centuries. But it was the degeneration of the US military that played a significant role in the defeat in Vietnam. Unless your a psychopath it's not easy to kill people who appear to be no threat at all to your nation. Any normal human being though will fire at someone firing at them.  See Sir No Sir for more on this
If he’d ever read labor history Polumbus would know that the military has been used to suppress protest not defend it the silly man.

*War is a Racket: Smedley Butler US marine Corp.

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents. 

Another attack on Wikileaks and Assange from Capitalist Press

Above are parts 1 and 2  of a recent interview of Julian Assange by Megan Kelly of Fox News. In part 2, Assange responds briefly to the accusation recent Wikileaks releases have harmed innocent people in Saudi Arabia.

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

The supporters of this blog have consistently taken a strong position in support of Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. Six years ago we were engaged in a series of internal discussions to determine how to deal with the accusations of sexual abuse and rape that were being directed at Assange in light of our commitment to taking any and all accusations of rape and abuse of women very seriously.

We decided that under no conditions could we support handing Assange over to any institution of  global capitalism in particular the US bourgeois, many of whom have called and are still calling for his murder or assassination or death through a drone attack. Even among women and feminist groups there was contentious debate about this issue.  Our position six years ago we believe was correct. Read more on Assange and our position on the rape accusation here.

Now new accusations have arisen in an article written by two writers, Raphael Satter and Maggie Michael who work for the capitalist mass media outlet, the Associated Press. The AP as it is called is a "non profit" organization owned and run by major US newspapers, television and media outlets. In other words, it is capitalist media organization. See the table of its directors below.  We first saw the article in the Times of  Israel which we assume got it from AP though it has also been published in Slate Magazine and perhaps other sources. This time Wikileaks has been accused of releasing information that has harmed people, in particular, women and gay people in Saudi Arabia.  Apparently thousands of pieces of information have been published and the two journalists in their article give two or three examples with quotes from some of the people who could be harmed by this information if the quotes are accurate.

The UK gay publication Pink News also picked up the story and wrote: "Among the thousands of documents, the data includes personal information identifying at least one man with a gay sex conviction – as well as a number of rape victims and people living with HIV."  If true, these details could be very harmful to people living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most barbaric and ruthless US allies in the region.

As we were 6 years ago, we are extremely suspicious when the US mass media, and the global capitalist press attacks Wikileaks and Assange. The organization faced a similar assault when it published the video Collateral Murder that the whistleblower Chelsea Manning released, and for which she is serving 35 years being subjected to torture and inhumane treatment. As Assange points out in the interview above,  even the US government admits that no US personnel have been harmed due to that publication.  It is the US government that places the sons and daughters of the US working class in unnecessary danger. We have reason to believe that Wikileaks does its very best to ensure what it releases does not contain information that would harm innocent people and we reject accusations in the media that this all about Assange's personality.

We do not know for certain if these accusations are true or not. We contacted Wikileaks and were told they are not. Assange says little about the accusations in the Fox News interview above other than it is a "nonsense Story." that has arisen in the aftermath of the release of thousands of cables detailing the dirty goings on and e mails of Hillary Clinton.

So Facts For Working People is not going to join a witch hunt against Wikileaks and Julian Assange based on this recent information. It is also suspicious that a significant follow up is absent form the Wall Street Journal this week; this journal of the 1% detests Wikileaks. And again, we are suspicious of the source.

It is not ruled out that Wikileaks could make a mistake and release material that would harm innocent people. The global bourgeois are at war with Wikileaks and would like to destroy it and murder its  co-founder. The group is under tremendous pressure and needs money as well. But we cannot see why they would do such a thing intentionally if they did it at all. And there is nothing to indicate the group or Assange is hostile to gays. After all, they have stood by Manning. They never "outed" her as the source of the collateral Murder video.

So Facts For Working People starts from the following understanding of the objective situation in which these events arise. Lets look at what Wikileaks does. This organization has basically uncovered and published the dirty, dishonest communications that take place between the ruthless and violent characters, the war criminals, that rule the world. In particular, they have embarrassed the world's most powerful ruling class, the US bourgeois. We all know that these people are murderers and thieves and that their diplomacy is phony, but when we read their notes to each other that confirm that as far back as 2006 the US ambassador to Syria urged the US government join with the Saudis and the notorious Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to destabilize Syria that led to the current crisis for example. Or that they cover up the most violent crimes committed in our name, that they spy on each other and are architects of wars and death all for profit and personal gain. This makes it social fact, it pulls the mask from their phony diplomacy, this is one major reason they want Assange's death and an end to Wikileaks. Capitalism cannot exist without its secrets and lies; its capitalist diplomacy.

We cannot underestimate the crisis that Wikileaks has caused within the US ruling class in its panic to keep its secrets from the American people and the world.  In the introduction to the The Wikileaks Files, Julian Assange points out that the US State Department is like a state within a state. Its role is to put a "friendly face" on one of the most ruthless and efficient killing machines in history. Each working day 71,000 people "representing twenty seven different US government agencies" go to work at the 169 embassies and other US missions abroad while as of 2014 there are more than 5.1 million Americans with active security clearances.  This is "big government"  that does us no service. Given today's technology and the vast numbers involved, the potential for leaks is immense.  It is inconceivable that there aren't thousands of potential Edward Snowdens and Chelsea Mannings out there.

For potential whislteblowers, the heroic people who cannot with good conscience keep quiet any longer, it is the fear of the all powerful state, the possibility of death or life in prison at the hands of torturers honed in their art through years of practice on the mentally ill, the incarcerated in the US that capitalism has abandoned and the victims of imperialist aggression in Guantanamo or various CIA prisons in throughout the world.   Chelsea Manning's treatment and her 35 year sentence was a warning to them all to keep their mouths shut especially those in the military.

The existence and in particular success, of Wikileaks in protecting its sources as it did Manning and providing a hub, a publishing house through which the truth can be disseminated to the rest of us is correctly seen as a serious threat to the stability of US capitalism and the capitalist world order. It will encourage more people, Americans and others, to bring to light information that the public should see knowing  there is a secure outlet with a long record of protecting sources. It is capitalism's worse nightmare. Without doubt, there is panic among the US bourgeois as they cannot safely talk to each other behind closed doors.

This is the context, these are the conditions under which these these attacks are taking place on this information agency. And recognizing this must be the starting point when workers, socialists and all of those fighting to build a better world decide where we stand.

Board of Directors of the Associated Press: (source: Wikepedia)

Mary Junck (Chairman) Lee Enterprises, Inc.
Donna J. Barrett Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.
Richard A Boehne The E.W. Scripps Company
Elizabeth Brenner The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Journal Communications, Inc.
Robert Brown Swift Communications
William Stacey Cowles The Spokesman-Review
Cowles Publishing Co.
Kirk Davis GatehouseMedia, LLC
New Media Investment Group
Michael Golden The New York Times Co.
Bill Hoffman Cox Media Group
Rob King ESPN
Terry J. Kroeger BH Media Group
The Omaha World-Herald
Isaac Lee Univision Communications, Inc.
Robin McKinney Martin The Santa Fe New Mexican and The Taos News
Gracia C. Martore Gannett Co., Inc.
Jim M. Moroney III A. H. Belo Corporation
William O. Nutting The Ogden Newspapers Inc.
David M. Paxton Paxton Media Group
Steven R. Swartz Hearst Corporation
Patrick J. Talamantes The McClatchy Company
Paul C. Tash Times Publishing Company     

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Barack Obama, in the driving seat of the capitalist offensive

  1. The Green candidates stood their ground against the enemy.
Note: I am responding here to an article in Counterpunch that was posted in a Facebook group I'm in. It is too long which is why I put it here.

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I am opposed to racism and all forms of discrimination. But what is lacking here in is any mention of capitalism or a class analysis at all. He refers to the mouthpiece of US capitalism, Chris Cuomo attacking Green Party Vice President candidate Ajuma Baraka, for calling Obama an Uncle Tom. I expect nothing less from this individual as the Green ticket is a threat to capitalism. He even attacks him on the grounds that he is racist. I could tell a story about work with regarding to that but later.

Mr Draister writes: “Does anyone doubt that, from a purely objective perspective, President Obama has indeed abdicated his responsibility to improve the political, economic, and social lives of Black Americans?”

Of course not. But why would the author think that Obama had any responsibility to black people? Obama is a slick representative of US capitalism and the deterioration of the conditions among the black population in the US as well as the conditions of women, men and all workers, including workers in Europe and around the world, is part of the global offensive of capitalism, and Obama is a leading figure in that offensive.

But capitalism doesn’t exist at all for Mr, Draitser. 
It’s as if black people are exempt from class relations and there's no black capitalist class. The black population in the US is already suffering additionally for reasons that are obvious, centuries of racism and exclusion not to mention a few centuries of labor that received no wages. It's a given that the capitalist offensive hits them harder.

I defend Ajuma Baraka against any attacks from a mouthpiece of the white racist capitalist class like this Cuomo character despite his phony demeanor. I do not know a lot about Baraka's politics but he a black man in the US and I am aware he has publicly savaged the brutality and hypocrisy of US society. He will face a racial assault for this from their media and its flunkies like Cuomo. But Obama is a consummate bourgeois politician doing his job. He is not a beaten down defeated individual seeing only subservience to white masters, he is leading politician of the ruling class and will defend his class interests.

Obama is not passive and subservient at all. And he does not kill Iraqi’s because they are black or brown; it is a political question. Ireland was a semi colonial country until the late 60’s due to British colonialism. The Irish have white skin. They were not invaded and occupied for 500 years (including today in the 6 northern Counties) because they’re Catholic, attacking their religion was a means to colonizing the land and its wealth and oppressing the native population using violence and resting on Protestants it settled there. Ireland was the first country British capitalism colonized as it brutalized its own peasantry and removed them from their means of subsistence.

The author uses the term imperialism and words like this and then explains wars and occupations as being based on white people not liking brown or black people. Most thinking workers see how racism, sexism, and in the other cases, religious sectarianism is used as a tool to dominate and maintain social control of the exploited population. It’s somewhat childish to be honest to portray history in the way Mr. Draitser does, but most importantly he is wrong claiming Obama has some obligations to black people?

And I’d like to ask Mr. Draitser. Does he, or brother Baraka for that matter, agree with Malcolm X when he said (and he chose his words carefully), “you can’t have capitalism without racism”? I agree with this statement. If we agree with this statement from a man who is arguably one of the greatest revolutionaries of the 20th century, then we must surely draw the conclusion that we cannot eliminate racism without eliminating capitalism. And we can't eliminate capitalism without uniting the working class.

But capitalism doesn’t seem to exist for Mr. Draitser.

That’s what I think.

More on the Minimum Wage

By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

A business owner in my community responded to my previous article onthe minimum wage. I explained that community businesses should join the movement for a living wage and the workers’ movement should join with community businesses in freeing them from the grasp of the corporations insurance companies and other leeches. In other words, the fight for a minimum wage is also a fight against the banking system, the system of land ownership, the taxation system, the class system, agribusiness, the domination of big business etc.

Unfortunately, this business owner spoke against raising the minimum wage and began his opening remarks to me with a lecture about the failure of Stalinist totalitarianism (he called it “Russian style communism” as if there is a national brand of communism) but then went in to more detail.

He rejects collectivism as it, goes against human nature”, and not sustainable. He does make some exceptions, “education, insurance and social safety nets”, he writes, can be provided by society. In other words, all those other minor details like health care, Medicare, unemployment pay, education and who knows what other social necessity that the private sector cannot provide in society can be provided by the taxpayer through the state.

He writes further that, It is this human spirit and drive for personal gain that has created the many luxuries we take for granted today.”  This statement confirms that simply because someone asserts something doesn’t make it so. He goes on to make the claim that it is a person’s desire for a better life is what lifts all boats as they say. This is the age-old argument of course and is bogus. All history proves him wrong as modern history is the struggle of the exploited against the exploiter.  Slaves against slaveowners, serfs against feudal lords and the British peasantry as I pointed out recently were dragged kicking and screaming off the common land and in to the marketplace in a process that lasted three centuries.

The natives of the “New World” went through a similar process, dragged from their ancestral lands as did the people of West Africa who undoubtedly resisted kidnapping and also their enslavement in a far away land. Their struggles as all our as struggles for emancipation and the ending of the purchase of human beings and the use of our life activity for personal gain, continue to this day.

Every freedom we have today was one through collective action, from the masses collectively confronting the oppressing power.  The history of all human society is this way.

What this person’s argument amounts to is that his view of freedom as a business owner is to pay as little as possible in wages that deny his employees’ children a college education so his kids can get one.  “We mustn't force higher wages on small business owners and kill their incentive to be in business.”, he writes. Well, his incentive is a better life, an incentive we all have but to do that he has to make profit and that profit comes from the labor power of his workers. By keeping wages as low as possible it will allow him and his family to live in a safer neighborhood, a nicer home, bigger car etc. In other words, his more secure existence is secured through denying it to others. This is his philosophy in a nutshell.

As I wrote in my earlier commentary, So what happens when an employer can’t pass the cost of a forced wage increases on to the consumer?  Where do the increased wages come from? Well, their profits of course; the income of the business owner. But they are not going to say, “I can’t pay higher wages because I will have less for myself” or “I have to raise prices because I live in a nice neighborhood and will have to move if I don’t.”  By saying that they will have to lay people off which means the worker accepts a lower wage or no wage, or increase prices which means the business goes under and there’s no job and no service, the motive seems egalitarian as opposed to self serving. This is not always intentional, sometimes the system works behind the backs of its participants.”

The community business has many other expenses. There is the landlord, the insurance company, and in no way should a community business hiring a few workers be responsible for providing them with health coverage. A universal health care system is what must do that. Medical care should not be a business. But they take the easy way out and either lay workers off, cut their wages or raise prices if the market will bear it.

A minimum wage should be presented as a basket of goods. Everyone should receive a wage that covers what is needed for them to live a decent and secure life, a percentage of this basket for shelter, food, entertainment etc.

Instead of taking the easy way out (for them) the small business owner should join with the worker and direct the fight at the people with money, the billionaires big landlords (the largest landlords in the country are capital management companies), they must challenge the system. Their existence as a small business owner business is not secure as anyone in this situation knows.

But in the last analysis as the example we give here shows, the private sector has not and never will provide a decent life for the vast majority of Americans. For the rest of the world, capitalism means starvation and disease; it’s that simple.  The author says as much when he says, communistically I might add, that the necessities of life musty be provided by the state.

Capitalism never provided a secure life for most people here in the US even during the Post War Boom from 1950 to 1970 where the material conditions for the so-called “American Dream” were present.  We must not forget as well, that a brutal and violent Apartheid system existed in a fifth of the country during that so-called dream. And mass consumption and excess living has turned in to a nightmare for both humans and nature. 
Big Business lies to avoid higher pay and keep their profits up*
I repeated a quote from a book I read the other day that explained that the US never invaded the tiny island of Grenada to corner the nutmeg trade. US capitalism doesn’t demonize Chavez and Castro because they are dictators, good grief, the US has supported and sheltered some of the worst despots in modern history and is home to some of the world’s most infamous mass murderers including Henry Kissinger.  It opposes these regimes because they show that the private sector is not so efficient when it comes to our needs as human beings. It undermines their argument that the market is the answer to all things when a little island like Cuba, blockaded for a half century by the most powerful nation ever existing has a life expectancy equal to the US and an infant mortality rate fare better. All due to a socialized medical system

The ideological war against the collective form of anything except a collective formed and directed under their guidance and with their goals in mind, is what US capitalism wages war against including here at home as it privatizes public property and services and eliminates decent public sector jobs.

The workers’ movement must reach out to that section of the petty bourgeois, those community businesses that are open to struggling with us for the end to corporate power and landlordism and the dictatorship of capital over human life. And as I said before, if they claim they can’t pay the wages people need, open the books and let the movement decide.

But when small business or the private sector refuses or cannot pay a wage that workers can live on, the public sector must.

Here is the comment to my last commentary on this subject.

Communism is a failed system Richard Mellor. Even the great Marx and Lenin couldn't pull it off.

Look how Russian style communism failed it's people. How did the eastern communist countries thrive compared to their counterparts in the West? The fact is Richard Mellor , collectivism beyond education, insurance and basic social safety nets is not sustainable because it goes against human nature. People want and need more than equality of outcomes.

The freedom to succeed or fail drives them to dream of a better life and to create it. Take incentive away and you destroy human spirit and drive.

 It is this human spirit and drive for personal gain that has created the many luxuries we take for granted today.

I believe that in a great country like ours, no one should be homeless, starve or be refused medical care because they are poor. I also believe our government officials need to get out of the pockets of the powerful oligarchy. But we mustn't throw out the baby with bathwater and ruin our democracy because some people are struggling.

We mustn't force higher wages on small business owners and kill their incentive to be in business. This only forces more workers into the clutches of the major chains and franchises who's profits go to Wall Street and the politicians who enable their crimes.

 No Richard Mellor, your ideology does not work. What we should do collectively is to start buying more from small business owners in our own communities. If they had more customers, they would surely share the success with their employees and at the same time, create more jobs.

* Marx explained the issue of wages and prices 15 years ago and it's still worth reading

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sanders' Movement Resignations: Green Party Must reach Out

Sanders did not end up here by accident. He knew what he was doing
Statement From Facts For Working People

From the word go, the organizers of this Blog which is the Blog of  Facts For Working People, opposed supporting Sanders and his campaign to be the Presidential nominee of the capitalist Democratic Party. Download our early statements on this here and a slightly different version here in pdf form that we handed out at Bernie events during the nomination campaigns.

We also said that when Sanders would be seen to be supporting the right wing militaristic capitalist Clinton, there would be a break in the situation with large sections of his supporters looking for an alternative. Despite our very limited resources, we saw it as part of our responsibility as socialists to try and help provide this alternative. Looking at the existing political situation at the time we came to the conclusion that the Green Party was the only viable alternative.  Not only that, we believed that a considerable section of Sander's supporters would be prepared to join the Green Party. 

As long as a year ago those of us around Facts For Working People, after much discussion with some young people in the Sanders’ campaign, saw that the Green Party, with its national presence, would be the Party that many of the former Sanders supporters who wanted to continue in political struggle would look to. So we joined and called on others to join the Green Party. We did not say people should vote for the Green Party and that was it. We advocated that the Green Party stand firmly on its own political two feet and reach out to the Sanders people and seek to convince them not only to vote for the Green Party but to join and build the Green Party. Yes, interact with the Sanders' base, but not support Sanders. Explain what Sanders would do, explain they were making a mistake and advocate they should join the Green Party and build the Green Party.

But we didn’t leave it there. We argued that members of the Green Party, both old and new, should seek to move the Green Party to being an openly eco socialist party. This has now been done as at the recent convention the Party adopted an eco socialist and anti capitalist plank in its platform. The task now is to see that this plank is aggressively fought for. We also argued that the people who saw and were seeing through Sanders should not only join the Green Party, but that they should organize within the Green Party and with other Green Party members, and in a non sectarian manner, a left current to lead the fight for eco socialism in the Party, and also to advocate that the Green Party become a workers Party.

Another issue we stressed was for the GPUS to become a proper membership dues based party where decisions are made on the basis of one person one vote with the minority always having the right to put forward their views openly. This was a correct position. Those who supported Sanders, those who did not support Sanders but who talked in an abstract way about building a new party were mistaken. But it is not too late to make amends. In fact the situation is more ripe now than before. 

This is because the break in the Sanders movement is becoming even more acute. It began when Sanders supported Clinton. Now it has developed even more rapidly and thoroughly with the recent resignations of eight out of the 13 staffers who were working for what Sanders called "Our Revolution." This "Our Revolution" was what he said was going to carry on the work of his campaign, what he saw as maybe keeping together some of his base, or at least covering up his betrayal of his base. This organization was to have over 2,300 house parties this week.

Now "Our Revolution" has half its staffers resigning including the core of its organizing and digital teams that were the two pillars of its structure. The right wing Jeff Weaver has been put in charge and the top leadership team are all white men from Vermont. Sanders promised some of the staffers that Weaver would not be involved but he did not keep his word. Weaver is more for using the huge email and data base list for raising money from rich people and spending this on Democratic Party candidates rather than building a movement. 

As we have said many times on this Blog, Sander's talk of revolution was irresponsible and unrealistic and dishonest. It amounted to no more than getting more people out to vote for the capitalist counter revolutionary Democratic Party. Tragically it won the support of many young and not so young people who wanted a genuine change. Sanders has to take responsibility for this betrayal. People like the organizers of this Blog knew what would happen from the get go and pointed out what would happen from the get go. We warned our readers not to be taken in. Sanders has a big responsibility on his shoulders. 

But it is not only Sanders who is to be blamed for this. The left groups, especially such groups as Socialist Alternative, but also other left groups and individuals, who supported Sanders are also to blame. And the lefts who stood on the sidelines calling for a new party are also to blame. What was necessary was what this Blog advocated. No support for Sanders. Join and build the Green Party as an eco socialist party. Build the Green party as a workers party. Change the internal life of the Green Party from the present undemocratic consensus method to one of honest and open discussion and decision making with the majority view being the party policy but with the minority views being heard at all times. Build in a non sectarian way a left current in the Green Party to work to build the Green Party in this manner. We ask all those who are interested in these ideas and working in this way to contact us at this Blog and let us work together. 

Sanders' house parties, an opportunity for Greens to reach out to his supporters
But we also have another appeal that we think is very urgent. It is to our own Green Party leaders. Sanders has been calling what has come out of his campaign - "Our Revolution." He has announced that "Our Revolution" will hold over 2,300 house parties this week throughout the country. This is a serious development. And it is taking place against the background of two other processes. One is the increasing divisions in the Sanders movement itself as Bernie Sanders and Jane Sanders and Jeff Weaver take it further to the right and away from its rank and file base. The other process is the increasing support for the Green Party and the increased coverage of Jill Stein as its presidential candidate.

There is real opportunity here for the Green Party. Jill Stein has clearly upped the ante in the wake of the Sanders’ betrayal. She is aggressive, she is in their face and she has taken them up on foreign policy and other issues better than any Democrat. The leadership of the Green Party, the Green National Committee (DNC) must act immediately. It must initiate discussions with the people who are resigning from the Sanders movement and appeal for them to join the Green Party along with the many others who are now increasingly questioning the Sanders movement.

As part of this the GNC must seek to mobilize our own Green Party base to, in a diplomatic and democratic way, attend these more than 2,300 house parties and ask to be allowed to put our views and our case as to why the people who formerly supported Sanders should now join the Green Party.  

It is no time to miss opportunities. The two main parties of capitalism are in serious crisis and fragmenting.  Decisive, imaginative and audacious action is what is necessary. And if it is taken the results can be very surprising. There is a big responsibility now on the shoulders of the leadership of the Green Party.  As one GP member said recently,  “this is the big time now”.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Irish woman use social media to fight for their rights.

By Sean O'Torain.

Irish women use social media to fight for their rights. They are an example and inspiration and a lesson to us in all ways. See below.

Irish women live-tweet journey for abortion

The Hill: Jill Stein op-ed: In praise of WikiLeaks

We reprint this Op Ed from The Hill  Julian Assange spoke to us at the Green Party US Convention through Skype. The GPUS is commended for having Assange speak at our convention and I recall him being visibly moved by the reception he received. Clinton and other US politicians have called him a terrorist and called for his assassination or death through one of Obama's infamous drone attacks.

Stein has also defended Snowden and said she would appoint him a cabinet post whereas Clinton and her more recent open campaigner, Bernie Sanders called for his prosecution as he broke the law. Congratulations Dr. Stein and the Greens.

Getty Images
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a hero. Like Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and other whistleblowers facing government persecution, Assange has sacrificed his personal comfort and safety to bring us the truth.

George Orwell said, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Thanks to WikiLeaks, we know that powerful institutions have been abusing their power and lying to the public. For example, redacted State Department communications published by WikiLeaks revealed that Secretary Clinton identified Saudi Arabia as a leading funding source for terrorist groups around the time she approved a whopping $29 billion arms deal with the Saudi dictatorship.

WikiLeaks courageously published the infamous “Collateral Murder” video showing an American helicopter gunning down Iraqi civilians, Viewed over 15 million times on Youtube alone, it revealed just one of the many shocking war crimes whitewashed as “collateral damage” by the US government.

WikiLeaks’ stunning revelations of how top Democratic National Committee officials conspired to sabotage Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, in collusion with the media, shattered the illusion of a fair electoral process and confirmed what millions Americans already knew in their gut: we live under a rigged political system.

What WikiLeaks actually does — to political parties, the military, and other powerful entities — is pull back the curtain of censorship, spin, and deception to show the public what’s really going on. Unlike pundits in the mainstream media, WikiLeaks doesn’t tell us what to think. They invite us to read the emails, watch the footage, and decide for ourselves.

The political and economic elite, used to controlling information, see this unprecedented transparency as a tremendous threat. They have mercilessly persecuted a series of heroic whistleblowers. Chelsea Manning, convicted of leaking the Collateral Murder video among other revealing materials, was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison.

Manning, a transgender woman, has been subjected to treatment that the UN described as “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment” in violation of the Convention Against Torture. Shockingly, after a recent suicide attempt, Manning faces disciplinary charges that could land her in indefinite solitary confinement.

The security state would like to make an example of Assange, as it has done to Manning and others. In fact, the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined. And the persecution of whistleblowers is often accompanied by ruthless character assassination to discredit them.

Many have asked how Greens, who count feminism among our ten key values, can support Assange when he’s been accused of rape. As a strong advocate for victims of sexual violence, I take this question seriously.

While countless media reports highlight the allegations against Assange, most people have never heard that an official UN report has declared the case against Assange to be unfounded. Three investigations have been dropped without charges ever having been filed. And the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has stated that Assange has been unlawfully detained and should be released. In light of these facts, it appears the allegations against Assange were a false pretext used by those who want to give him the Chelsea Manning treatment — or worse.

As the Presidential candidate of a party that has maintained principled criticism of powerful political, military and corporate institutions, I’ve gotten a first—hand look at how the establishment attacks people who challenge the status quo. These attacks are intended to brand their targets as pariahs and stigmatize anyone who dares to challenge this narrative. The truth is a frequent casualty to political vendettas.

On that note, one of the strangest developments this year has been seeing journalists attack WikiLeaks for doing what journalists are supposed to do: reveal the unvarnished truth to the public. WikiLeaks has done us an invaluable service by shining a light into the dark corners of power where corruption and wrongdoing fester.

The economic and political elite have targeted Assange not because his hands are dirty, but because he’s given us a glimpse of how dirty their own hands are. WikiLeaks’ revelations are inspiring countless people to mobilize against corruption and wrongdoing at the highest levels, and for that, Julian Assange is a hero in my book.
Jill Stein is the Green Party candidate for President.

Green Party Can Lead a Movement to Open up Debates

Jill Stein arrested tying to get in to the 2nd Presidential debate 2012
By Sean O’Torain

The US Green Party has been around for a while in this volatile and unpredictable election year environment yet the Green party, like other parties that are running candidates in the national election, is banned, censored, out of all three debates that are being held by the mass capitalist media.

The body that decides which candidates or political party the American public is allowed to see or hear in these televised debates is the CPD. CPD is not one those syndromes the drug companies invent so they can sell us their pills on TV. It stands for the
Commission on Presidential Debates and its far more deadly than the invented syndromes of the drug companies; it is a commission controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties.

Commission members are representatives of the two capitalist parties the Democrats and Republicans. So political representatives of the capitalist class have determined that to participate in the debates and have their views televised to the nation, a party must get 15% of the votes in polls.  The only political and economic views that will be expressed will be those of the capitalist class.

The idea is not hard to discern. Keep all non-capitalist, or even reformist representatives from being elected to the Presidency. This is about as blatantly undemocratic as you can get.

As a member of the Green Party I think the party should make opposition to this censorship, this undemocratic practice, a priority. Not simply a priority, the Green party should go to war over it.

US capitalism is always whining on about democracy. But the truth is that the US is the most undemocratic the most censored, the most gerrymandered country of all the capitalist countries. Look how bad it is. When the brutal apartheid regime in South Africa was crumbling, the white capitalist class tried to hang on by saying they wanted to emulate the US system. By this they meant refusing to accept one person one vote which is the present situation in the US.

Each US state no matter what its population, has the same number of senators. Two for California, with a population of 30 million and two for states that have less than 1 million like Utah. The Electoral College is rigged the same way. The entire US political system is gerrymandered against the urban working class. The apartheid regime in South Africa wanted to gerrymander the system against the black majority, separate the different races into different areas and give them all the one number of votes.

They were  prevented for doing this not by any vote in any parliament but the mass direct action of millions who took action in protest at the murder of
leading black activist Chris Hani. The US political system, elections and the Electoral College is a rigged game the same way the apartheid regime wanted to rig their dying regime to keep blacks down out. The censorship of debates, keeping Jill Stein and the Green Party out of debates is part, of this undemocratic stitch up. 

I come originally from Ireland. Northern Ireland had a similarly undemocratic system to what the USA has now. In the city of Derry where I was politically active, the Catholic two thirds majority were all corralled into one of the city's three electoral areas. Each of the three electoral areas elected one third of the city's councilors. So the two thirds of the city's population in this Catholic area could elect only one third of the City's councilors.

The one third Protestant minority on the other hand were divided between two electoral areas which could therefore elect two thirds of the city's councilors. In this way the one third Protestant minority, if voting took place along religious lines, could control, and for decades did control, the city. This was backed up by force and violence through the Protestant dominated police force. We are seeing the same thing here in the US.  This eventually led to the mass civil rights movement and eventually a thirty-year war. The US remains as undemocratic today as Northern Ireland was before the mass civil rights movement forced the changes there.

As we stressed in previous pieces on this blog, the Green Party has a golden opportunity to transform the political situation in the US if it takes the bull by the horns. If the Green Party leadership and the recently formed left caucus of which I am a member, (The Watermelon Greens) were to make opposition to the undemocratic nature of the US electoral system a priority. It would get a real echo nationally.

I would like to propose that we make this a priority and a priority for all three debates. Jill Stein took direct action to try and get into the last debate and was arrested. She has set a great example. What the Green Party can do now is to take the lead and organize mass direct action protests at these debates.  We Greens should call on all forces and parties that are locked out of the debates through these undemocratic maneuvers to join with us and ensure that the debates cannot take place without all parties.

An action like this would receive mass public support and would place the Green Party at the center of events aimed at changing the rigged game. Seattle, Occupy, the Black Lives Matter movement has had successes and we have to recognize that to be effective we have to be prepared to be arrested as our presidential candidate has.

Polls now show that more people want a different candidate from Clinton or Trump. They have the right to hear from Jill Stein and the Green Party. The Green Party must reach out to these also. We should make the point that whole system is undemocratic and rigged against us in favor of the 1%.  I think the Green Party should be aggressive with our policies on all issues. But I particularly think we should be aggressive on this issue. The ruling class in this country is always on about democracy but this is the most censored and undemocratic country of all advanced capitalist countries. The 1% is very weak on this. The US does not have one person one vote. It does not allow all candidates to participate in debates.  Only those that can muster 15% of the vote in polls can appear but without media coverage it’s hard to do that. It’s a rigged, undemocratic system, let’s call it what it is.

A powerful movement can be mobilized in a mass direct action united front to stop the censorship and to open up the debates in the capitalist media. This must be accompanied by mass rallies and the Green Party turning itself into a real membership party based on a dues paying membership and an end to the undemocratic concensus method of decision making that now exists within the party.

This mass movement can also put on the agenda that the Green Party can win the election.  The Green left caucus, the Watermelon Greens, can be transformed into the major influence in the Party through such actions and a democratic non-sectarian internal life.

If the Green Party takes these issues up aggressively we will be well down the road to becoming a mass party in the US and the real alternative to the rigged circus we see now every four years.