Solidaridad llega a Cuba Sindicato de Sudáfrica: ¡Basta! 12
Workers and oppressed peoples of the world unite!
Nov. 22, 2012
Vol. 54, No. 46
General strikes sweep Europe Workers unite to fight austerity
By Gene Clancy The people of Europe are angry, very angry — and they’re doing something about it. On Nov. 14, a European day of “action and solidarity” will take place, called by the European Trade Union Confederation. Unions from 15 countries have already announced strikes, demonstrations and other types of protest, including an unprecedented joint general strike in Spain and Portugal that plans to shut down the entire Iberian Peninsula. According to the organizers, the protests are directed not only against the governments of each country, but also against institutions of the European Union, which is forcing crushing economic policies on its member nations. A prelude to what’s coming was shown in Greece on Nov. 6-7. A two-day general strike to protest new austerity measures proposed by the Greek Parliament shut down most of the country, and despite pouring rain and police use of tear gas and water cannons, the strike was accompanied by massive demonstrations, especially by the PAME union confederation, in Athens’ central Syntagma Square. Nevertheless, the Greek Parliament narrowly passed the newest round of austerity measures, but there are signs that this may be the last such approval. As the debate went on, parliamentary employees themselves found out that they had not been spared from the “reforms,” and they were about to be subject to the wage and allowance cuts introduced for other public sector employees. An impromptu rebellion followed as one such employee interrupted lawmakers debating the measures and announced that the workers were going on strike. Workers tasked with recording the proceedings stopped taking notes while other Parliament staff filled the house’s hallways shouting protests against the planned changes. One of
them called on the lawmakers to get out of the building while others tried to get the attention of pro-capitalist lawmakers as they walked into the building, demanding that they block the amendment. Following this rebellious display, several members of the ruling coalition expressed doubts that their slim parliamentary majority would survive the elections called for April of next year. Greek communists call for ‘disobedience’ Aleka Papariga, the general secretary of the Greek Communist Party, has urged members to take up civil disobedience against the country’s government, in an attempt to block its ongoing austerity programs. From the podium in the Parliament, she denounced the state’s repression. Greek workers will participate in the European-wide protests on Nov 14. Trade union confederations in Italy are also planning actions. The Italian General Confederation of Labour (CGIL) has called a general strike for four hours in the private sector, which will be accompanied by a 24-hour strike in the public Continued on page 11
‘LIKE MEETING FAMILY’ Alan Blueford’s parents visit Mumia
‘FISCAL CLIFF’ Capitalism falling down
Revolutionary reflections 8
SOLIDARITY WITH SANDY SURVIVORS • Aid from the people
• Workers demand rights
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Nov. 22, 2012
Activists from Houston who came on the Abolition Movement bus stand at the Capitol after the march — the group includes students from Univ. of Houston, the ACLU, the New Black Panther Party, the S.H.A.P.E. Community Center, Amnesty International, Workers World Party, KPFT Pacifica Radio’s The Prison Show staff, and the family of death row prisoner Howard Guidry.
this week ...
In the U.S. Annual march protests executions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Governor’s 250th execution protested . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Oakland marches against police killings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Mumia meets with parents of Alan Blueford . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Bosses meet global slowdown with mass layoffs . . . . . . . . . . 4 Why we need to demand a shorter work week . . . . . . . . . . . 5 New York transit workers want to be paid . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Community, unionists march on bank to stop foreclosure . 5
PHOTO: Mahsa Shahru
Annual march protests executions
Capitalism’s environmental death spiral . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
By Gloria Rubac Austin, Texas
Revolutionary reflections on bourgeois elections . . . . . . . . . 8
They chanted, “Executions? Shut ‘em down! Racist courts? Shut ‘em down! Lying cops? Shut ‘em down! Sleeping lawyers? Shut ‘em down! The death penalty? Shut it down! The whole damn system? Shut it down!” Close to 500 death-row families, exonerees, friends and activists rallied at the Capitol and marched through downtown Austin Nov. 3 for the 13th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty. Mark Clements kicked off the march by instructing the crowd that when he said, “Death row,” they were to respond, “Hell no!” Clements was arrested at the age of 16, brutalized by Chicago police, and spent 28 years in prison before finally being released for a crime he didn’t commit. Chants echoed off the Capitol and downtown buildings, while signs and banners were held high. Shujaa Graham, Albert Burrell and Ron Keine, three death-row exonerees with Witness to Innocence, led the march, along with Clements and former Black Panther Lawrence Hayes, who spent almost 20 years on New York’s death row. “We let [Texas] Gov. Rick Perry and every Texas legislator know that the movement to end capital punishment is building, and support [for the death penalty] is dwindling,” said Joanne Gavin, who traveled on the Texas Death Penalty Abolition Movement’s bus from Houston. Sarilda Routier, mother-in-law of Darlie Routier, was surrounded by Darlie Routier’s family as she explained how her daughter-in-law is innocent but remains on death row. Her moving words brought a stunned silence to the hundreds present and tears to many eyes in the crowd. Barbara Lewis, mother of former Delaware death-row prisoner Robert Gattis, spoke about hope and continuing the struggle “even if you are not rich, you are not educated, and you are not white. Never stop fighting!” Gattis’ 1992 death sentence was commuted this year from death
to life in prison without parole. Other speakers included Nick Been, of Kids against the Death Penalty, who is also Jeff Wood’s nephew. Wood was sent to death row under the law of parties, despite the fact that he had killed no one. He wasn’t even in the store when the shooting incident he was convicted of took place. Wood’s sister, Terri Been, spoke, as did the sister of Louis Castro Perez, Delia Perez-Meyer, of the Texas Moratorium Network. Marilyn Shankle-Grant spoke for her young son, Paul Storey, and Roderick Reed spoke for his innocent brother, Rodney Reed, an African-American man who was framed for the rape and murder of a white woman, despite evidence pointing to her fiancé, a white policeman who is now in prison for sexually assaulting another woman. Reed’s mother, Sandra Reed, and friend Caitlin Adams were also present. A banner for another innocent man, Rob Wills, was held by his supporters. When death-row families and exonerees were asked to come to the stage, more than 25 people — mothers, grandfathers, spouses, aunts, uncles, daughters, nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters — came forward, as well as several death-row exonerees. “The determination of these people is what inspires and motivates us to continue fighting executions in this racist state of Texas, which has carried out 489 legal lynchings since 1982, well over one-third of the 1,300 executions in this country,” said Pat Hartwell, of the Abolition Movement in Houston. The rally was chaired by Lily Hughes, the national chair of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, and was organized by her organization, along with the Texas Moratorium Network in Austin, the Abolition Movement in Houston, and Kids Against the Death Penalty, which is based in San Antonio. The spirit of the day was framed by Clements, who said, “This government is corrupt! Why in the world is Rick Perry still in office and Rodney Reed still in prison? Gov. Perry needs to be served a pink slip now!”
Governor’s 250th execution protested With the stick swinging the piñata at full force, the grandson of Shaka Sankofa literally knocked the head off Texas Gov. Rick Perry as the 250th execution under Perry’s watch was being carried out in Huntsville, Texas, on Oct. 31. Donnie Roberts Jr. was executed as activists in Houston gathered at a 400-year-old tree, officially known as the “Old Oak Hanging Tree,” where people were lynched during the 1800s. A four-foot likeness of Perry
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was beaten until it was just shreds of paper and wire and all 250 pieces of black-wrapped candy — each with one of Perry’s victim’s names written on it — had fallen to the sidewalk. Then Sankofa’s three grandchildren, Shardiasha Haywood, Shaka Sankofa Haywood and Jontaisha Hawkins, began the reading of Perry’s 250 victims. Sankofa was Continued on page 3
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Workers World, IAC deliver aid to Occupy Sandy . . . . . . . . . . 7 Sanitation and other public workers deserve support . . . . . 7 On the ground with Occupy Sandy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 PA environmental dept. fronts for frackers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Anti-racist youth counter fascists . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Around the world General strikes sweep Europe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Iraq still reeling from U.S. wars . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 U.S., Britain escalate threats against Syria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 U.S. foreign policy to remain imperialistic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Media misrepresent Puerto Rico vote . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Police kill student in Dominican Republic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Editorial Which ‘cliff’ should we be talking about? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Noticias En Español Solidaridad llega a Cuba . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Sindicato de Sudáfrica: ¡Basta! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Workers World 55 West 17 Street New York, N.Y. 10011 Phone: 212.627.2994 E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.workers.org Vol. 54, No. 46 • Nov. 22, 2012 Closing date: Nov. 13, 2012 Editor: Deirdre Griswold Technical Editor: Lal Roohk Managing Editors: John Catalinotto, LeiLani Dowell, Leslie Feinberg, Kris Hamel, Monica Moorehead, Gary Wilson West Coast Editor: John Parker Contributing Editors: Abayomi Azikiwe, Greg Butterfield, Jaimeson Champion, G. Dunkel, Fred Goldstein, Teresa Gutierrez, Larry Hales, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Cheryl LaBash, Milt Neidenberg, Betsey Piette, Minnie Bruce Pratt, Gloria Rubac Technical Staff: Sue Davis, Shelley Ettinger, Bob McCubbin, Maggie Vascassenno Mundo Obrero: Carl Glenn, Teresa Gutierrez, Berta Joubert-Ceci, Donna Lazarus, Michael Martínez, Carlos Vargas Supporter Program: Sue Davis, coordinator Copyright © 2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of articles is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved. Workers World (ISSN-1070-4205) is published weekly except the first week of January by WW Publishers, 55 W. 17 St., N.Y., N.Y. 10011. Phone: 212.627.2994. Subscriptions: One year: $30; institutions: $35. Letters to the editor may be condensed and edited. Articles can be freely reprinted, with credit to Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., New York, NY 10011. Back issues and individual articles are available on microfilm and/or photocopy from University Microfilms International, 300 Zeeb Road, Ann Arbor, Mich. 48106. A searchable archive is available on the Web at www.workers.org. A headline digest is available via e-mail subscription. Subscription information is at workers.org/email.php. Periodicals postage paid at New York, N.Y. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to
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Nov. 22, 2012
In honor of Alan Blueford
Oakland marches against police killings By Judy Greenspan Oakland, Calif. “We just commemorated the six-month anniversary of my son’s death. I am here today to speak for Alan Blueford. We are all Alan Blueford!” The powerful voice of Jeralynn Blueford, Alan’s mother, rang out across Oscar Grant Plaza — the site of countless demonstrations against police brutality, war, racism and injustice — as she greeted the crowd of 500 activists who came out Nov. 10 to protest her son’s murder by the Oakland Police Department. Blueford’s mother urged the crowd to redouble their efforts to win justice for her son and for all victims of police violence. On May 6, an OPD police officer drove up to a group of three young African-American men without his lights on. Blueford was alarmed and tried to run away. After chasing him for five blocks, the police shot Blueford dead in the driveway of a family celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Since Blueford’s murder, the OPD has done everything to obstruct the truth, including fabricating a gun battle between Blueford and the police. It turns out that the only bullets fired were by the police officer himself, including the one he shot into his own foot. The family has been continually lied to by police and city officials, and the story has been misrepresented in the major media. Other family members attended the Nov. 10 rally, including Adam Blueford, who just returned from an East Coast speaking trip about his son’s case. The Bluefords spoke in New York City and Philadelphia, drawing large crowds at the height of Superstorm Sandy. They also traveled with Jack Bryson, a hard-working activist fighting police murder and violence, to visit revolutionary journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal in prison in Pennsyl-
vania. Bryson’s son was with Oscar Grant on a Bay Area Rapid Transit platform when transit police killed Grant in 2009. Bryson read a moving statement from Abu-Jamal expressing solidarity with the struggle for justice for Adam Blueford. “Mumia told us to organize, organize, and keep organizing,” stated Bryson. Relatives of other victims of police murder addressed the crowd, including Dolores Gaines, the mother of Derrick Gaines, who was shot down and killed by police in San Francisco while running away from them. “Our teenagers don’t deserve to be murdered in cold blood. It’s not a crime to run, but it’s a crime to commit murder,” she said. Several union members and activists called upon labor to support the struggle for justice for Alan Blueford and all young people who have been murdered by the police. Gladys Gray of Service Employees Local 1021 told all union members to “put on your union T-shirts. We are calling for all members to support this family.” Jack Heyman, a retired International Longshore Workers Union Local 10 member, reminded the crowd about the port shutdown three years ago to protest the BART police killing of Oscar Grant and the “general strike” last year led by Occupy Oakland, which also shut down the Port of Oakland. Heyman said, “We have to do this again!” Following the rally, demonstrators took to the streets and held a spirited march through downtown Oakland, ending back at Oscar Grant Plaza. The Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition is holding a special program to continue organizing against police brutality “from Oakland and the Bay Area to Anaheim and New York City” on Dec. 18, 7 p.m., at Laney College in Oakland. For more information, visit justice4alanblueford.org.
Wearing Rick Perry masks protesting Perry’s 250th execution — on the right is Shaka Sankofa Haywood, reading the list of Perry’s 250 victims.
Continued from page 2 executed on June 22, 2000. More than 20 activists took the microphone and as each name was read, the utter horror of what Perry has done was made public. “In 12 years as Texas governor, [Perry] has set a record that will never be matched by any other U.S. governor — 250 executions. The death penalty will be history before anyone [else] could ever hit this unthinkable milestone,” said Abolition Movement organizer Pat Hartwell. Nation of Islam Mosque 45 Minister Robert Muhammad had witnessed Sankofa’s execution; he told the crowd that we must
Shardaisha Haywood, grandchild of Shaka Sankofa hits the piñata.
never let his execution be in vain, that the fight for abolition must intensify. Report and photos Gloria Rubac
Jeralynn Blueford speaking, with Adam Blueford behind her on the right.
WW photo: Judy Greenspan
Mumia meets with parents of Alan Blueford By Terri Kay Mumia Abu-Jamal met with Jeralynn Blueford and Adam Blueford, the parents of Alan Blueford, when they traveled to Pennsylvania on Oct. 29 to build support for justice for their son, Alan. The African-American youth was killed by Miguel Masso of the Oakland Police Department in California on May 6. The Bluefords traveled with Jack Bryson, who got involved in the struggle against police repression when Oscar Grant, another African-American youth, was killed on a Bay Area Rapid Transit platform there by the BART police in 2009. Bryson’s two sons were on the platform with Grant when he was killed. The visit was organized by Sandra Jones, a death-penalty abolitionist and assistant professor of sociology at Rowan University in Glassboro, N.J. Workers World spoke with the Bluefords, Bryson and Jones about the visit with Abu-Jamal, long-time political prisoner, award-winning journalist and former death-row inmate in Pennsylvania. Workers World: Why did you want to meet with Mumia? Jack Bryson: I read all his books and look at him as the Messiah of the movement. In thinking about everything he has been through, who better to comfort and advise the Bluefords? Jeralynn Blueford: I read up on his case. He experienced what I’ve been going through to the tenth power. Adam Blueford: I knew he’s been struggling for justice for many years. Through our struggle, I thought I could learn something from him. WW: What impressed you most about Mumia? A. Blueford: [Mumia’s] heart. He was such a pleasant individual, and me being a religious person, him saying “God is love” is something I brought home with me. His knowledge and his willingness to help. J. Blueford: His calming and soothing presence, coupled with his intelligence and strength. Bryson: He talked about how he loved Huey Newton, the Black Panther Party and Oakland. Sandra Jones: The ease at which he was able to go back and forth between commentary about politics, discussion of Obama to personal confirmation about himself and attention to Jack and the Bluefords. At this point he has been in general population for less than a year. He had been in solitary for so long. WW: What advice did Mumia offer about winning justice for Alan Blueford?
Bryson: Don’t depend on the government. Depend on the community and the people. Organize, organize, organize. “Organize with this” [he said, pointing to his forehead]. J. Blueford: Keep fighting. Keep mobilizing. Educating the youth in the struggle is really important. Jones: [Mumia suggested] creating a website “killer-cops.com.” He thought it would be controversial to have that name, but it would draw attention. He mentioned that all the victims could be listed and have a central place to build the movement. A. Blueford: Mumia said that justice is never given, it’s fought for. Not violently, but through education and movements, like the JAB [Justice for Alan Blueford Coalition], which we’re attempting to build. WW: What did Mumia share about his own case and situation? Jones: He spoke about being able to have contact with other prisoners. [He] told about one young prisoner who told him he didn’t “do books.” He now “does books,” and Mumia is educating other young prisoners. He’s able to spend time with Eddie Africa of the Move 9 [To learn about the Move 9, see workers.org]. Eddie has been alone most of the time he’s been in prison. Bryson: When asked, “How do you do this — you’re innocent and [have been] kidnapped?” He said every day he is alive is a victory. WW: Is there anything JAB can do for Mumia? A. Blueford: We want to make sure the injustice done to Mumia is not ever swept under the rug, that this movement we’re building will eventually get justice for Mumia and walk him out of the doors of that penitentiary. Bryson: We should write to him and continue to spread international support for him. WW: Anything else you’d like to share? Bryson: When [Mumia] was 14, he was arrested in Oakland for supporting Huey [Newton]. He talked about Oscar Grant, Kevin Cooper in San Quentin, Troy Davis and Tookie Williams. A. Blueford: Mumia really showed us a lot of love. It was like meeting a family member. … We talked, laughed, hugged, cried — like family. Mumia Abu-Jamal talked about the campaign for justice for Alan Blueford on his Nov. 4 Prison Radio broadcast. Listen to “Tears of Sorrow and Rage” at tinyurl.com/cgha3jx.
Nov. 22, 2012
As capitalism stagnates
Bosses meet global slowdown with mass layoffs By Fred Goldstein Big business economists breathed a public sigh of relief at the announcement that the U.S. economy grew by an annual rate of 2.0 percent in the quarter ending Sept. 30. They were thanking their lucky stars that it was an increase over the 1.3 percent growth in the second quarter. But workers should be alert to the less-publicized reservations behind this public show of optimism. First, the 2.0 percent growth was completely inflated by Pentagon spending. “What saved this figure from being much, much worse, was a somewhat freakish surge in government spending, driven by a 13 percent gain in national defense spending,” revealed Rob Carnell, the chief international economist at ING Bank. (Financial Times, Oct. 26) Thus the Obama administration and Leon Panetta at the Pentagon made sure a surge in military spending came in time to rescue the economic growth figures in the pre-election period. Without this military spending, the official growth number would have been 1.4 percent, essentially the same as in the second quarter. That would have been a statistical alarm bell warning that the economy was on the way to tanking. Other danger signs for workers In the wake of the global capitalist slowdown, U.S. exports last quarter declined for the first time in three and a half years. Capital investment by the bosses went from a 3.6 percent increase in the second quarter to a 1.3 percent decrease last quarter. When the bosses cut back investment, workers are bound to lose their jobs. Also, any rise in spending among the workers and the middle class is being fueled by the beginning of a new credit bubble. An article in the Oct. 27 New York Times entitled “Rise in Household Debt Might Be a Sign of a Strengthening Recovery” cheerily announced that U.S. households “are taking on more debt than they are shedding.” Debt from mortgages, credit cards and auto loans had been falling for 14 consecutive quarters as the masses tried to get out from under the mountain of debt accumulated during the bubble. The bubble burst, leading to the great financial crisis. Now the bankers are celebrating that people are going back into debt, bringing more income from interest and fees to the bankers and keeping the economy from collapsing. In other words, the bankers are looking forward to profiting from the next credit bubble. The bosses, economists and politicians are hoping it will keep capitalism going. The real news: mass layoffs planned What really should have made the headlines were the decline in worldwide sales by the giant monopolies, the announcements of mass layoffs and the expectation of future layoffs. As the crisis of overproduction begins to choke the capitalist markets in China, India, Brazil, Russia and especially Europe, the sales and profits of the giant transnational monopolies have begun to contract. As one bourgeois analyst put it, lower sales “are a sure prescription for layoffs to start heating up as companies take immediate action to show their shareholders how responsive they are.”
(Business Insider, Oct. 25) Another said that “North American companies since Sept. 1 have announced plans to eliminate more than 62,600 positions at home and abroad, the biggest two-month drop since the start of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News. Firings total 158,100 so far this year, more than the 129,000 job cuts in the same period in 2011.” (Bloomberg News, Oct. 25) There is fear that “the economic recovery is not picking up” as sales come in below estimates. Hewlett-Packard announced in September that it plans 29,000 job cuts as PC sales slow around the world. Banks in the U.S. are planning 19,000 job cuts, while the giant Swiss bank UBS is planning 10,000 layoffs. Ford is closing two European factories, one in Belgium and one in Britain, and will cut 6,200 jobs or 13 percent of its European workforce. Dow Chemical will close about 20 plants, eliminating 2,400 jobs. DuPont plans 1,500 layoffs right away and more in the future if profits continue to decline. AMD, the second-largest chip maker for personal computers, will lay off 15 percent of its workforce; Colgate-Palmolive, the engine maker Cummins and Kimberly-Clark are among the giants that have announced layoffs due to a decline in profits and/or sales. The giant corporations are a bellwether for the global economy and for what the workers will confront in the coming period as capitalism is unable to lift itself out of the crisis begun in 2007.
my reeled off four straight quarters of better than 4% growth.” The article failed to point out that even with 4 percent growth, that was the first “jobless recovery” in post-World War II history — meaning that despite economic growth, workers were not rehired. The hard fact regarding the development of technology under capitalism is that the more productive labor becomes, the greater must be the rate of growth of the capitalist economy in order to create jobs for all those made redundant. But the rate of economic growth is not increasing. It is declining as technology grows. Officially, the economy has generated 146,000 new jobs a month on average — which is just about enough to match population growth. Thus, the 23 million officially unemployed, underemployed or forced part-time workers cannot look forward to a capitalist recovery lifting them out of their misery. On the contrary, the winds of economic crisis and downturn are blowing stronger and stronger, from Asia to Europe to Latin America. The workers in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are already in a state of resistance to the crisis. Strikes and demonstrations are growing more frequent, more numerous and more widespread throughout the European continent. The ruling class here is fearful that these winds will stream into the U.S. and provoke a European-style wave of working-class resistance and/or explosions in the oppressed communities. The next administration will be imposing more painful cutbacks.
Big picture: capitalism can’t stop global slowdown
The debate between Obama and Romney about who can turn the economy around was utterly false. The crisis of unemployment is generated by the capitalist system, which has reached a stage that cannot be reversed in any fundamental way. The growth of job-destroying technology and the creation of a globalized economy in which workers everywhere are in a wage competition and a race to the bottom are developments beyond the control of politicians, or the capitalists themselves, for that matter. This process is driven by the struggle to get the most profit. This has always been the law driving capitalist development. It means making fewer and fewer workers turn out more and more goods in less and less time at lower and lower wages.
Some signs of the bigger picture seep through the media. The Financial Times points out that, despite the rise in profit margins on the index of the S&P 500 corporations over the last several years, “sales growth on the index has been down for a year and a half.” In other words, the markets have been unable to absorb the output of the corporations. Nevertheless, these firms have been able to squeeze out rising profits, mostly by speeding up workers or cutting them out altogether. That’s how they boost profits despite declining sales. The Wall Street Journal of Oct. 26 notes how dismal the 2 percent growth rate is for the economy: “After the much milder recession of 1990-1991 the econo-
Real issue: capitalism is at a dead end
The dangers of this process are beginning to seep into the consciousness of sections of the capitalist economic establishment. David Leonhardt, one of the chief economic writers for the New York Times, wrote a major piece on Oct. 24 based on polling a number of economists about the real issues behind the economic crisis. Leonhardt noted that real family income is now 8 percent below what it was 11 years ago, while in the decades following World War II it had increased by 30 percent. “The biggest causes, according to interviews with economists over the last several months, are not the issues that dominate the political debate,” wrote Leonhardt. “At the top of the list are the digital revolution, which has allowed machines to replace many forms of human labor, and the modern wave of globalization, which has allowed millions of low-wage workers around the world to begin competing with Americans.” The core of this analysis was begun not by bourgeois economists but by a Marxist, Sam Marcy, in his groundbreaking work, “High Tech, Low Pay,” written in 1985. Marcy, who was the founder of Workers World Party, said of the scientific-technological revolution that “its whole tendency is to diminish the labor force while attempting to increase production. The technological revolution is therefore a quantum jump whose devastating effects require a revolutionary strategy to overcome.” This was written in the wake of the capitalist restructuring of industry going on during the Reagan administration. Since that time, the scientific-technological attack on the workers has deepened and widened onto a global arena. This writer followed the process in 2008 with the book “Low-Wage Capitalism,” which analyzed the globalization process and its effect on the worldwide working class along the lines begun by Marcy. While the consciousness of the bourgeoisie can only extend to the symptoms of their crisis, the working class can and must understand the cause of the crisis: the capitalist system. And it must learn that the only way to combat the crisis is through mass mobilization and struggle. The only way to end the crisis once and for all is with the destruction of capitalism and the creation of a socialist system based on human need, not profit.
High Tech, Low Pay
A Marxist Analysis of the Changing Character of the Working Class
Capitalism at a Dead End Job destruction, overproduction and crisis in the High-tech era
What the new globalized high-tech imperialism means for the class struggle in the U.S.
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Nov. 22, 2012
Why we need to demand a shorter work week By Martha Grevatt In February, the Detroit Free Press reported that the United Auto Workers union was preparing “arguments over the thirty-hour week, perhaps the most widely discussed union demand of the current labor era.” If Detroiters reading this are wondering how they missed the news, there is a reason. The quote is from the Free Press of Feb. 21, 1937. With the crisis of mass unemployment during the Great Depression, unions and unemployed organizations were pressing for a shorter workweek. One of the demands of the 44-day sit-down strike of General Motors plants was for a 30-hour week with no cut in pay. Its logic was irrefutable: If four workers can do the work of three workers, 40 million can do the work of 30 million. That creates 10 million jobs. A headline on a 1930s leaflet said it all: Six-hour day, eight hours pay — Keep depression away. Even before the sit-downs, the 30-hour week was a demand of the Ford Hunger March in 1932, held in one of the worst years of the Great Depression and in one of the hardest hit cities. Five Detroit workers were killed and dozens wounded by Henry Ford’s notorious Service Department. A year later, however, the 30hour week almost became law when the U.S. Senate passed the Thirty-Hour Week Act. The Act failed the House by only a few votes, after business leaders put pressure on Roosevelt to withdraw support.
The shorter workweek was not a new concept. Some of the earliest demands that “wage slaves” made on the capitalist class were to reduce their long hours of toil. In 1791, Philadelphia carpenters struck for a 10-hour day. By 1840, that was the norm; the average seven-day workweek was a full 70 hours. May 1, 1886, was a day of huge demonstrations around the country for the eight-hour day. The biggest protests were in Chicago, where eight leaders were framed up for a bomb-throwing. On Nov. 11, 1887, four of them were hanged, with a fifth dying in a jail cell the night before his scheduled execution. May Day commemorates the battle for the eight-hour day and honors these martyrs. While it took a century of fierce class struggle to achieve it, by 1937 the average workweek was below 40 hours. However, many workers still worked 50 or more hours a week. They conducted frequent — and often successful — strikes around the most basic demands for the eight-hour day and 40-hour week. With the massive wave of unionization that followed the founding of the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1935, workers gained some say over the grueling speed of production. Right around this time, a capitalist consensus emerged to draw the line at 40 hours: no 30-hour week. Leading the campaign was a secret Special Conference Committee comprised of executives of GM, General Electric, Standard Oil and others, and directed by industrial relations consultant
Edward. S. Cowdrick. Cowdrick was previously an executive of Rockefeller-owned Colorado Fuel and Iron, the perpetrators of the 1914 Ludlow massacre of striking miners. Cowdrick’s secret capitalist consortium successfully lobbied Washington to block any attempt to pass 30-hour-week legislation. In 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act established the 40-hour workweek, after which time-and-a-half must be paid. While the productivity of labor has increased better than fivefold (U.S. Department of Labor; Bureau of Labor Statistics), with the increase highest since the high-tech revolution, not one amendment has been passed to shorten the workweek. And the law provides no protection against mandatory overtime as a condition of employment. Today, 75 years after the great sitdowns, at least 30 million workers are unemployed or underemployed. At the same time, the average weekly hours of full-time workers are actually higher than they were in 1945. The trend towards longer hours for fulltime workers, with a parallel expansion of the use of temporary and part-time workers, was described in Juliet Schor’s 1991 bestseller, “The Overworked American.” More workers were working overtime or working more than one job. For some, overtime was a job requirement; for others, it was needed to maintain their standard of living. For low-wage workers,
overtime had become an economic necessity. Yet, while workers were working harder than ever, average paid vacation time was falling. Those trends are continuing. In 2006, the average number of hours worked per year was 180 hours more than in 1979. Twenty percent of male full-time workers were putting in at least 50 hours a week. (Juliet Schor, “Less Work, More Living,” Yes Magazine, Fall 2011) Overwork continues to have a deleterious effect on health, safety, mental well-being, life expectancy, family and personal relationships, and the environment. The capitalist class is demanding more output from the working class and at the same time driving wages down, making it harder to get by on a 40-hour paycheck. Even unionized workers are being pressed to relinquish paid days off, take fewer and shorter breaks, and agree to backbreaking work schedules that undermine the eighthour day. The twin crises of overwork and mass unemployment and underemployment can only be seriously addressed by reviving the demand for a shorter workweek. It will be an uphill battle — it took more than a century of hard struggle to win the eight-hour day — but the need is pressing. Six-hour day, eight hours pay! Keep depression away! Next: What happened to the six-hour day?
Community, unionists march Transit workers on bank to stop foreclosure want to be paid By G. Dunkel New York
Nov. 10 march protests eviction.
By Joyce Sole Detroit More than 100 friends and neighbors of the Cullors family in northwest Detroit, including anti-foreclosure activists and dozens of unionists, gathered at their home Nov. 10 to protest the family’s imminent foreclosure and eviction. The crowd set off through neighborhood streets, chanting and passing out leaflets. They ended the march at a local branch of Bank of America, which has refused to negotiate a loan modification for homeowners Jerry Cullors and Gail Cullors. Bank of America officers shut the doors to the bank and refused to receive a letter of protest. Jerry Cullors, now a retired bakery truck driver and member of Teamsters Local 51, recently took steep pay and pension cuts when his employer, Wonder
WW photo: Joyce Sole
Bread, went into bankruptcy. This resulted in the couple falling behind on their mortgage payments. Bank of America led the Cullors to believe they qualified for a loan modification, but then began foreclosure proceedings. On Oct. 30, activists physically staved off the family’s eviction and prevented authorities from breaking into the house and taking their belongings to a curbside dumpster. Detroit police were prepared to carry out mass arrests, but an emergency stay was issued by a court that prevented this from happening. It is expected that neighbors and activists will pack the court on Nov. 13 to show the judge that the community demands a stop to this injustice by Bank of America and Fannie Mae, the federal-government-owned entity that now owns the Cullors’ loan.
A 2011 study from Columbia University estimated that it would take several weeks, or longer, for the New York City subway system to recover from a storm like Sandy. (quartz.com) The round-the-clock efforts of workers at the Metropolitan Transit Authority got all of its system up and running here in less than two weeks. The Straphangers’ Campaign called this deed “on the edge of magic.” MTA management’s reaction to the storm-imposed crisis situation, however, was to announce that it would dock the pay of any worker who failed to come in or call in Oct. 29 and 30. Those days were the height of Superstorm Sandy in New York. What makes the MTA’s threat particularly galling to the transit workers is that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the decision to close all public transportation in New York at 7 p.m. on Oct. 28 — and many employees of the public transportation system use that system to get to work. The MTA response to this complaint was that supervisors would arrange a livery cab if the employee just called in. One bus dispatcher told Workers World: “What planet were they living on? Telephone service was out. Neither land lines nor my cell was working!” The lack of power to cell towers and to the cable systems that also provide land lines, meant that many phones were out of service, especially in areas of south Brook-
lyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan, where many subway workers live. Transport Workers Union Local 100 President John Samuelsen scornfully said, “How do you shut down the entire bus and subway system and then penalize people for not getting to work?” (N.Y. Daily News, Nov. 8) He said thousands of workers who “busted their asses” working day and night getting the system back up and running now have “the Transit Authority kicking dirt in their face.” YouTube videos show teams of transit workers hauling heavy pumps into stations using ropes and brute force. The posted TWU statement affirms that the union is going to fight for the workers. It says the MTA managers “show how little respect they have for their workforce. During the hurricane, and then during the mammoth effort to restore service, the MTA praised Local 100 for the incredibly difficult work we performed. But actions speak louder than words, and we must never forget this assault on our paychecks. Every worker at the TA, OA and MTA Bus should remember this.” (transportworkers.org) The lack of foresight and preparation on the part of the people who run New York left an essential part of their economy — public mass transit — in jeopardy. Now they want to compound their mistakes by trying to squeeze a few million dollars from workers who performed magnificently to restore a complex system to full function far faster than the experts had predicted.
Nov. 22, 2012
Hurricane Sandy, climate change and capitalist crisis
Capitalism’s environmental death spiral By Fred Goldstein New York Perhaps the most profound exposure of the state of decay of U.S. capitalism is the way in which its pundits have reacted to the scientifically proven phenomenon of climate change and its root causes. It was only after Hurricane Irene in 2011 that Wall Street began to take extreme weather seriously. Up until then, it was the Southern states, from Florida through the Carolinas, which experienced the brunt of the damage and suffering from hurricanes. Even after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans and displaced hundreds of thousands of mostly Black and poor people, little was done to prevent a recurrence of this kind of disaster. Droughts affected mainly the Midwest and South. Forest fires were in the West. Wall Street only felt the effects of this extreme weather by increases in insurance costs. Hurricane Irene threatened the Northeast — New York City in particular. Massive evacuations were carried out in the city. The transportation system was shut down for the first time. But, although water washed over the walls along the Hudson River with a nine-foot storm surge and the tide came within feet of the subways and tunnels, the city dodged the bullet. That storm did $15.6 billion in damage in the U.S., another billion in the Caribbean, killed 57 people and caused record power outages. But the heavy part missed New York. It was just a matter of time. Irene should have been the handwriting on the wall. But other than making some slight improvements in agency coordination and putting supplies and transport in place, not much else was done. The message, however, was clear: Global warming can bring disaster, not only to Bangladesh
or the Maldives or sub-Saharan Africa or Bolivia and other areas oppressed by imperialism, and not just to the masses of the Southeast and Midwest, but to Washington and Wall Street. All the scientific warnings given to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change at all its conferences since Kyoto in 1997 should have rung true after Irene hit. And if any further confirmation was needed, this summer as much as one-third of the U.S. wheat and corn crop was wiped out by record droughts and 100-degree days. This was felt by agribusiness, the commodity markets and traders on Wall Street. However, the campaign by right-wing ideologists in recent years had pushed off-limits any public discussion of climate change by the media or big-business politicians, including Romney and Obama. Critics call this “climate silence.” Breaking climate silence — to cover for the polluters Hurricane Sandy broke the climate silence. Business Week has a cover story on climate change entitled “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.” Time magazine’s cover is “Lessons from the Storm” and deals with climate change. Nicholas Kristof’s conservative column in the New York Times was “Will Climate Get Some Respect Now?” The New Yorker, the New York Times editorial page and many other bourgeois voices that had remained muted or silent under the regime of climate change censorship have been emboldened and pressured by the magnitude of the disaster. They have opened up a counterattack against the right and against the anti-scientific views that have prevailed in bourgeois politics around global warming. The ruling-class media and politicians finally split over Hurricane Sandy and the ongoing social and economic disaster. But
Still reeling from U.S. wars Iraq
even those who now affirm climate change as a great problem caused by human activity are in denial about the polluters responsible for it. Their tepid rejoinders reveal the complete bankruptcy of the capitalist establishment in dealing with what is a growing global environmental crisis of life-threatening proportions. One cannot find a single commentator of any authority within the establishment who goes beyond a discussion of building sea gates, imposing carbon taxes, passing fuel emission standards for automobiles and so forth. No one is pointing the finger at the oil companies, the gas companies, the coal companies, the power industry, the giant industrial corporations, the auto industry, and all the corporate interests that have been behind climate censorship. No one has pointed the finger at the corporate polluters whose think tanks and foundations poison the political atmosphere with right-wing ideology and who pay scientists-for-hire to denounce scientific findings that are universally held and verified by research. No one has shown how the industry lobbyists have a stranglehold on politicians up to the presidential level, causing all U.S. presidents and their representatives to go from international conference to international conference, year after year, shooting down global attempts to stop the corporate polluters. The U.S ruling class has defied governments that represent the vast majority of the peoples of the world for two decades now in its campaign to protect corporate rights to pollute for profit. In fact, it is the polluters and the bankers who finance them who are really the most powerful interests at the summit of the U.S. ruling class. The idea of renewable energy is anathema to big oil, big coal and all the ancillary interests connected to the energy, power and industrial companies. They own trillions of dollars worth of carbon-based fuel and are spending billions scouring the globe right now for new discoveries. Trying to force these corporate predators out of the channels that bring in trillions in profits is like trying to force Niagara Falls to flow upward. Drilling for oil in the melted Arctic
The Pentagon launched the Desert Storm war against Iraq in January of 1991, destroying much of Baghdad’s water and sewage infrastructure with savage bombing raids. Strict sanctions against Iraq prevented full recovery in the 1990s, and the 2003 imperialist invasion added to the damage. After five years of occupation, this 2008 photo from Sadr City in Baghdad shows Iraqi children drinking water from these wrecked pipes. Cholera, a gastrointestinal disease, and typhoid, which had been virtually eradicated in Iraq by 1989, made a
comeback under the Western imperialist occupation. Today, the electricity and water supply systems in Baghdad are in even worse condition than in 2008. A couple million people in the Northeast U.S. have just experienced Superstorm Sandy and the collateral suffering produced by capitalist climate change and neglect of the infrastructure. The poorest and most oppressed have also received the least relief. This has placed them closer to the Iraqis, who have suffered for 22 years from the Pentagon’s direct destruction. — John Catalinotto
A case in point is the melting of the Arctic. This is caused by global warming, which is caused by greenhouse gases being trapped in the atmosphere. These gases are emitted by fossil fuel — mostly oil and coal. The energy companies are the main culprits. Their activity has dangerously accelerated the melting of the Arctic. An ice sheet the size of Rhode Island recently broke off in Greenland. What has been the reaction of the oil companies to the melting of the Arctic ice? Now that they have more access to the Arctic Ocean because of glacial melting, there is a race to drill for more oil there. This in turn will cause more ice to melt and lead to further increases in the rise of ocean levels and a warmer atmosphere. This is a death spiral for the environment and for hundreds of millions who live in island and coastal civilizations, including New York City, which has just been inundated for the first time in a significant way. It is a death spiral for the hundreds of millions whose arable land is being turned to desert, whose fertile valleys and plains are drying up, and whose rivers run lower and lower as mountain snows and glaciers
disappear. All this is the environmental equivalent of the capitalist financial and economic death spiral, whereby the economic system is grinding to a halt. Just in the U.S., tens of millions are unemployed, underemployed and/or underpaid. This economic slowdown reaches around the world. In this environment of mass poverty, the bankers and bondholders in Europe are demanding massive cutbacks in services and wages. In the U.S. the same is being done regarding Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other services. The only possible result of such cutbacks will be further poverty and further crisis of the system. It is absolutely necessary to wage a daily struggle against the polluters of the earth, whether to stop them from fracking, clear-cutting and mountaintop mining or from destroying the rain forests and polluting the rivers and aquifers. Everyone has a right and a duty to try to slow down, if not reverse, the course of capitalist environmental destruction. But it must be understood that to change the social and economic priorities of the country, to stop the mighty powers of big business and finance capital that garner fabulous profits from destructive industrial and chemical processes, an entire reorganization of society is required. The political superstructure and the economic foundation of society are in the hands of the ruling class that is doing the polluting and causing climate change. That goes for both big-business parties, the Republicans and the Democrats. Fight the right The destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy should give progressive and revolutionary forces an opening to attack the right-wing ideology that has been so pervasive, going back to the Reagan era and deepening since the coming of Tea Party Republicanism, which has cowed much of the Democratic Party and pushed it to the right. It is time to take the offensive. The people need more services, not less. It is the working class and the oppressed, as well as sections of the middle class, whose deficits have been aggravated by Hurricane Sandy. It is time to answer the deficit hawks who want to hand over social service money to the bankers and avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff.” Instead of worrying about the problems of the bondholders and bankers, it is time to make them and the polluters pay to restore the welfare of the millions who have been damaged, displaced, lost jobs and wages, lost homes and loved ones, and had their lives turned upside down. The workers and the oppressed are being pushed over the “hardship cliff.” Their deficit is increasing. If Hurricane Sandy shows anything, it shows that the mass of the people must fight back and ultimately take over the vast apparatus that is being used to pollute the environment. Need science for the people Thousands of research scientists in universities depend on corporate contributions and are subject to guidance and control by administrations beholden to the polluters. Thousands more work in the laboratories of the oil companies, the chemical companies, the coal companies and so on. All this scientific brainpower must be reorganized to serve society. These researchContinued on page 10
Nov. 22, 2012
Workers World, IAC deliver aid to Occupy Sandy By Teresa Gutierrez New York Members and supporters of Workers World Party and the International Action Center helped to deliver more than a vanload of material aid that these groups had gathered to Occupy Sandy — the Occupy movement’s response to Hurricane Sandy — on Nov. 11. It was an important experience and an important gesture of solidarity. Many activists brought in badly needed aid, including diapers, baby wipes, clothes, food, batteries and more. One WWP member organized some of her co-workers, who brought in bags full of relief items. Occupy forces are very much engaged in efforts to support survivors of the storm. On Nov. 11, they issued a call for volunteers to help house the more than 40,000 people who are now or will soon
become homeless. At the distribution site in Brooklyn activists held a consciousness-raising, anti-racist political orientation on how to present the aid to the affected communities. A young white man described how the term “looting” is a racist term that is mainly used against Black and Latino/a communities. The distribution site was buzzing with activity. Carloads and even a small U-Haul truck of aid were contributed by many volunteers. The area was so heavy with activity that Occupy Sandy organizers had to assign traffic coordinators to make sure donations were not blocking traffic. Thousands of people remain without heat in Sunset Park, Coney Island, the Rockaways and Staten Island. While the temperature in New York is warm during the day for this time of year — as a result of the same global warming that caused Hurricane Sandy — it is still very cold at
WW photo: Anne Pruden
night and will get colder in the days to come. The victims of Hurricane Sandy in the most oppressed areas had to weather a freezing northeaster snow storm on Nov. 7. Entire neighborhoods, especially
some of the housing projects, have been devastated and are still without power. Many see an ominous plan to use the occasion of the hurricane to shut these projects down altogether. It is important to continue to engage in this struggle of working and oppressed people for survival, including continuing to provide material aid. There is nothing stronger than material aid provided with a political program. The aid gatherers are no longer taking winter clothes. They must be selective about what will meet the needs of the people. What is needed are cleaning supplies, batteries, flashlights, diapers and other such materials. For more information visit interoccupy.net/occupysandy/.
Letter to the editor:
On the ground Sanitation and other p ublic with Occupy Sandy In Sandy’s aftermath,
workers deserve support By a New York City Sanitation Department Worker On top of sanitation workers laboring 12-hour workdays and seven-day workweeks, needed nonstop to clean up the city after Hurricane Sandy, one of the workers’ biggest problems is the difficulty of obtaining fuel to get to work. According to the president of the sanitation workers’ union, Harry Nespoli: “They want to work but they have to have gas. People are saying that they’re not going to give gas to Sanitation Workers. That’s a total disgrace.” (thechiefleader.com, Nov. 9) In the aftermath of the storm, gas stations hit by shortages and long lines of customers are also often closing at night, the only time sanitation workers can access them after long shifts. Sanitation workers who live in the Rockaways, Coney Island, Red Hook, Long Island, Staten Island and other hard-hit areas of the city have been staying in sanitation garages with no electricity and no heat since the storm began on Oct. 29. The job of sanitation workers has been transformed into one of cleaning up memories of New Yorkers’ homes destroyed perhaps forever — resembling the mission of rescue workers dispatched to a war-ravaged city. Hurricane Sandy has caused sanitation workers many injuries, including from downed live electrical wires abutting uncollected debris. A co-worker of this reporter had to be hospitalized after stepping on a bed of nails immersed in a pile of debris. A year ago he had been injured when he was stuck by a half dozen hypodermic needles that had been deposited in a trash bag. Racism compounds workers’ misery One sanitation worker from Staten Island, Damian Moore, and his African-American spouse, Glenda Moore, suffered an unimaginable tragedy when their two sons, Connor, 4, and Brendan, 2, were swept from their mother’s arms by floodwaters. As she tried to escape in a sports utility vehicle to Brooklyn, she found she could no longer drive, so she got out to look for help. The children’s aunt said Moore banged on the door of a nearby house, but the occupants turned
her away in a racist fashion, telling her, “I don’t know you. I’m not going to help you.” (nydailynews.com, Nov. 9) The boys were found dead three days later. Three hundred sanitation workers were temporarily released from storm cleanup duties to attend the brothers’ Nov. 9 funeral. Bad treatment of sanitation workers is not new in New York City. On Dec. 26, 2010, a powerful storm dumped 20 to 32 inches of heavy snow on the East Coast from the Carolinas to Canada over 36 hours. Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration sabotaged snow removal operations with bad decisions, such as ordering the department not to salt major streets and highways prior to the storm, as had been city policy for decades. Several New Yorkers died when ambulances failed to get through the snow-covered streets. Mass transit was slow to nonexistent. Hit by heavy public criticism, the mayor’s office, along with much of the corporate-owned mass media, tried to deflect anger by treating the sanitation workers — who were heroically battling the snow — like Public Enemy Number One. Anti-labor politicians and racist tabloids spread an unproven allegation that a “worker slowdown” had impeded the snow removal operations. The City Council and the NYC Department of Investigation in June 2011 concluded that this allegation had been totally false. Nespoli, also the chair of the Municipal Labor Committee representing more than 90 city worker unions, told this reporter that the thanks Bloomberg is showing sanitation workers — and about 200,000 other municipal workers — is offering all of us a huge pay cut, with two annual zero-percent raises and a huge increase in paycheck deductions for health insurance. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, whom my union now calls “The Prince of Darkness” because of his anti-labor policies, is threatening to repeal the Triborough Amendment. That, in return for the no-strike provisions of the Taylor Law, guarantees city workers our current wages and economic benefits when our contracts expire. In cahoots with Cuomo, Bloomberg has conveniently allowed all city worker contracts to expire. But city workers plan to fight this and all anti-union tactics.
Dear Editor: As part of a delegation from Workers World Party and the People’s Power Assembly movement, I was able to witness firsthand the “Occupy Sandy” hurricane relief operation. Launched by a handful of Occupy activists just one day after the hurricane devastated coastal areas of Brooklyn and Staten Island, the effort has mushroomed into a major — and exemplary — people’s power initiative that shows the tremendous impact of people-to-people solidarity. There are now several operations centers and numerous field distribution points in various parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island providing relief to tens of thousands of hurricane victims in New York's coastal areas. At the operation center I worked in — located in a large Episcopal church in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood nestled between downtown Brooklyn and the massive Bedford Stuyvesant community just beyond it — our delegation was greeted by Easton, an Occupy activist we first met on picket lines in support of cafeteria workers at his college. Easton plugged us in to a five-minute sidewalk orientation with 8-10 other new arrivals, provided by another Occupy activist, who quickly explained the operation’s highlights — collection and distribution of food and other emergency needs like flashlights and batteries, and the current oversupply of shoes and clothing. Within minutes we were urged to commit ourselves to the effort however possible: as sorters, canvassers, drivers, coordinators, computer specialists, medical workers, contributors, or whatever. Literally hundreds of volunteers were integrated into the effort during the few hours I was there to witness it. There was a coordinator or dispatch center for each of the functions. One orientee was immediately recruited to “shadow” a coordinator who needed relief. I reported to the driver dispatch desk in the rear of the church sanctuary, where a cluster of four or five organizers put drivers’ information into their laptop computers and advised us they would call us as soon as we could be sent out. Recent arrivals formed a “bucket line” that continually transported new arrivals of relief supplies. Behind and beside the dispatchers, a large mass of recently arrived goods were sorted and bagged. In
the church pews, teams matched the bundles to specific requests transmitted from the communications crew working in a room next to the choir loft. Downstairs in the church basement, a massive kitchen and food preparation team was at work at five long lines of tables. A crew of at least a hundred people — women, children and men — prepared basic lunch bags with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, fruit and cupcakes, while hot food offerings like chili, pasta and casseroles were cooking in the kitchen. On the church steps, an Occupy organizer I had met in Bloombergville – the 2011 budget protest occupation at New York’s City Hall which preceded Occupy Wall Street — was giving an in-depth orientation to people who would be canvassers. He explained the vision and philosophy of the Occupy Sandy initiative: mutual aid, with respect and sensitivity, awareness that the hurricane’s victims add this most recent tragedy to a long list of hardships and general oppression. He urged canvassers and distributors to listen carefully to people hurt in the storm, and be aware their needs are multiple. The Occupy Sandy effort must rely, he said, on the leaders who have already emerged among the victims in their communities, and find ways to support and strengthen them — aware that the current stage of grappling with the storm’s immediate impact will be followed by stages of rebuilding, and resisting efforts to displace the victims instead of helping them. The orientation made it clear that while the storms were natural disasters, their underlying cause was a decades-long refusal by energy corporations and politicians that serve them to deal with climate change caused by overuse of fossil fuel. All the Occupy orienters made it clear that the underlying cause of the disaster is capitalism, and that the fundamental goal of this relief effort is to develop a new way of responding that replaces the oppressive hierarchies of the capitalist system with solidarity and people’s power. I was proud to see comrades I knew taking roles along with other volunteers in this effort, which appears to be a genuine glimpse of a future in which people come together in a conscious and highly organized way to help each other, and in the process give birth to a better way of organizing society. – Dee Knight
Nov. 22, 2012
Revolutionary reflections on bourgeois elections By Kris Hamel Under capitalism, especially here in the United States, so-called “democracy” serves the wealthy. Whoever wins elections, the Pentagon and weapons industry still get funding, imperialist wars and occupations go on, the rich get tax breaks, while workers and the poor face more layoffs, cutbacks and attacks. Election campaigns cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The U.S. Supreme Court intensified this aspect of U.S. democracy by allowing billionaires to fund super PACs (political action committees) with unlimited millions and letting corporations, deemed to be “persons,” make exorbitant campaign contributions. In the 2012 presidential election, incumbent Democratic President Barack Obama outraised and outspent Republican Mitt Romney, but just barely. The candidates, through affiliated super PACS and donors, raised a combined $1.82 billion. As of Oct. 17, Obama still had $134.7 million in cash on hand, while Romney had $193.3 million. (New York Times, Nov. 12) Romney benefited from the very richest donors. Obama also got Wall Street backing, but received more small contributions and money from unions, women, women’s and reproductive rights organizations, the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer community, environmental groups and others. The staggering amounts needed to run effective campaigns virtually shut out smaller parties. Candidates who are not Democrats or Republicans have little chance to crash the corporate-owned media. It is difficult and costly just to get on the ballot. Nevertheless, to the extent that they
provide information about political and social trends, the elections are analyzed by revolutionaries. They reveal the mood of the working class and help prepare for real battles to come. These decisive battles will not be won in the ballot box, but in the streets by the masses of workers and oppressed. Right wing repudiated by voters This election showed a repudiation of the politics and agenda of the most reactionary, right-wing elements in the U.S., especially by women, African Americans and Latinos/as, workers and the poor of many nationalities, and LGBTQ people. Obama’s reelection and the Congressional vote leave the status quo largely in place, but the deep rightward shift that Tea Party billionaires and anti-woman reactionaries had bet on didn’t happen. Exit polls revealed that Mitt Romney took 59 percent of votes by whites, 52 percent of men, and 78 percent of white evangelical Christians. Obama won 55 percent of women voters, 60 percent of those 30 years old and younger, 93 percent of African-American votes, and more than 70 percent of Latinos/as and Asian peoples. (NYT, Nov. 12) While Republicans won more seats in the House of Representatives, they actually lost the popular vote. Their gains came from intensive gerrymandering of state districts. Ballot proposals and initiatives — which usually represent a more democratic, although still costly, measure of the electorate’s desires — provided some progressive results, not the least of which was legalizing same-sex marriage in four states; overturning some local and state marijuana laws that have given cops a legal weapon to harass and arrest youth, especially youth of color; and overturning
Michigan’s racist (financial) emergency manager law that allowed the state to try to take control of cities like Detroit. How rapidly change can come Just two short years ago, the reactionary tide was seemingly winning the day. The ultra-right, racist Tea Party was riding high and helped the ultra-conservative wing of the ruling class retake control of the House of Representatives. It was a big defeat for the Obama administration and Democratic Party supporters. Some in the progressive movement felt they had to squelch their own independent demands challenging Obama on such issues as war, the environment and the economic crisis because of accusations that this would only help the ultra-right. In the African-American and other oppressed communities, there was serious, justified concern about increased racism in response to the first African-American president in U.S. history. But was there really a broad social base for the Tea Party, which quickly gained media attention and was pumped up by millionaires’ money? This vote shows that the predicted swing to the right among the masses hasn’t happened. Instead, the working class — the majority of the U.S. population, whether they vote or not — has undergone a tremendous change over the course of the last three decades. It is no longer dominated by higher-paid white males, who have been more easily swayed by the ruling class’ divide-and-conquer use of racism, sexism and anti-LGBTQ bigotry and oppression. Continuing capitalist restructuring has been driving down wages and eliminating skilled jobs at the same time that more women and people of color have entered the work force, where they
have helped revive militancy and solidarity in unions and in general. In February 2011, after Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his cronies in the state legislature rammed through anti-union laws that undermined public workers and their right to collective bargaining, a general working-class uprising began in that state. The State Capitol was occupied for weeks by workers and their supporters, notably students, not just from Wisconsin but around the U.S., with international support. Some six months after that, the Occupy Wall Street movement began in earnest, led by youth with no future other than low-paid jobs and never-ending pay-back of massive student loans. That movement is still alive. OWS is providing major relief aid to the masses in New York and New Jersey devastated by the recent hurricane. Neither capitalist party can provide the millions of jobs that are sorely needed. Neither can provide a plan that puts the needs and interests of the workers and oppressed first. Neither has an answer to the economic crisis still engulfing the U.S. and the rest of the capitalist world. Conditions are ripening for intensified working-class fightback, not just against cuts and austerity but against the capitalist system itself and for a socialist future — where planning for people’s needs, not profits for the rich, is the guiding light of society. A revolutionary Marxist vanguard party is an indispensable ingredient for that victorious struggle. Hamel is a managing editor of Workers World. From 1990 to 2006 she represented Workers World Party in five revolutionary election campaigns for Michigan seats ranging from U.S. Senator to State Representative. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
PA environmental dept. fronts for frackers By Betsey Piette Philadelphia For years, Pennsylvania families living near natural gas drilling activity have relied on the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to determine if hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, was impacting their well water. Little did they know that the DEP was systematically withholding information on potential contamination by issuing incomplete test results. This practice, dating back to 1991, was confirmed by the testimony of DEP employees Tara Upadhyay and John Carson in connection with a lawsuit brought by eight Washington County homeowners against Range Resources and 12 of its subcontractors. John Smith, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, described the DEP’s water contamination findings as “based on a system designed not to identify contamination.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 2) Under oath, Upadhyay, a DEP Bureau of Laboratories technical director, stated that the DEP’s lab identified volatile organic compounds, known components of fracking fluid, in one plaintiff’s water well. Exposure to these compounds has been linked to serious sinus, skin, neurological, liver and kidney problems. Yet the agency’s letter to the plaintiff dismissed these findings as laboratory error, claiming his water was not contaminated by drilling activity 3,000 feet from his home. While water may be tested for 24 metals related to gas drilling under state guidelines, reports given to homeowners routinely identify only eight of them: bar-
ium, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, sodium and strontium. Depositions from the DEP whistle-blowers alleged that the presence of other heavy metals, including boron, chromium, cobalt, lithium and titanium, are tested for but deliberately not reported, even when levels violate safe drinking water standards. Testing results for the volatile organic compounds acetone, chloroform and t-butyl alcohol are also not reported. These compounds, as well as several of the omitted metals, are known fracking-related contaminants and carcinogens. The tainted DEP reports have often been used to dismiss claims of Pennsylvanians who suspect their water and their family’s health are at risk from drilling. Complaints about water contamination in legal cases in Washington County, the Woodlands area of Butler County near Pittsburgh and Dimock in Susquehanna County were all dismissed because of DEP’s reports. This limited reporting clearly serves the Marcellus Shale natural gas industry’s claim that fracking is “perfectly safe.”
Adding insult to injury, DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday said, “That the lab is capable of doing additional analysis for a particular investigation doesn’t mean that our analysis was inadequate or incomplete.” (Associated Press, Nov. 2) Sunday also threatened that “the DEP may not be able to invoke the presumption of liability to hold drillers [responsible]” if people don’t allow the gas companies to do pre-drill sampling. This sampling supposedly determines if contamination existed before drilling. (Shalereporter. com Nov. 3) In his deposition, Carson, a DEP water quality specialist, stated that a special lab code, “942 Suite,” is used for Marcellus Shale water contamination complaints. Upadhyay confirmed that this code means “don’t test for or report on certain chemicals” found in fracking fluid, limiting the information going back to DEP field offices and to property owners. Suite codes 942 and 946 are also used by the DEP to omit or hide testing for drilling-related compounds. Pennsylvania DEP Director Michael Krancer has publicly stated that “at the
end of the day, my job is to get gas done.” Krancer was appointed by the current and openly pro-drilling governor, Tom Corbett. He directed DEP investigators to not issue violation notices to shale gas drillers, even when an active leak or major violation is ongoing, without first getting approval from the state’s capital in Harrisburg. A storm of protest forced the reversal of this policy. Despite DEP claims that the omitted chemicals were not linked to fracking, a 2009 study clearly connects them to the practice. In samplings of water at 19 locations before and after fracking, the study found several of the metals in the post-fracking flowback water. The study, “Sampling and Analysis of Water Streams Associated with the Development of Marcellus Shale Gas,” was prepared for the industry-funded Marcellus Shale Coalition. (Shalereporter.com, Nov. 3) State Rep. Jesse White called for state and federal government investigations of the DEP for alleged misconduct and fraud, calling the situation “beyond outrageous.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Nov. 2)
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Nov. 22, 2012
U.S., Britain escalate threats against Syria By David Sole The United States and Britain appear to be moving closer to direct intervention against the Bashar al-Assad government of Syria. With support inside Syria declining for the puppet “rebel” forces, the imperialist powers are being driven to even more desperate military measures to fulfill their goal of “regime change.” British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan last week, called on Britain and the U.S. to do more “to hasten the end of this regime.” RT news headlined Cameron’s push for an end to the European Union arms embargo enacted in 2011 (Nov. 9), which would free Western powers to send a greater quantity and more sophisticated weapons to the “Free Syrian Army.” These weapons would be in addition to arms now being funneled through Saudi Arabia and other proxies. Turkey has publicly called for the U.S. and NATO to place batteries of Patriot missiles along its border with Syria. The New York Times, citing a Turkish newspaper, revealed Nov. 7 that “Turkey had agreed with the United States on a plan to use the missiles in an offensive capacity to create safe zones in Syria.” An expanded version
of this plan would see Patriot missiles also placed along the Jordan-Syria border. The reach of these Patriot missiles could give the Syrian so-called “rebels” — who are really counterrevolutionaries or contras — the chance to seize what they haven’t been able to on their own: control of a major city. Syria’s largest city, Aleppo, lies within the potential no-fly zone. If the contra-rebels were successful in seizing Aleppo, the West could then “recognize” them as the “legitimate government of Syria” and “accept” their invitation to directly intervene militarily. This is precisely the imperialist playbook that was followed in Libya with the takeover of Benghazi. Major problems still hinder these U.S.-British plans. The Syrian opposition is plagued by internal division, jealousies and competing ideologies. A meeting convened at the demand of the U.S. in Doha, Qatar, on Nov. 8, has been trying to hammer together these disparate Syrian elements for four days. Reuters claims that an agreement was signed for a new government-in-exile and military body. (Nov. 11) Yet in the same report it states that the talks “appeared to fall through” after marathon bargaining that lasted until 3 a.m. on Nov. 11.
Agence France-Presse states that the fractious parties “agreed in principle … on a plan to unite against President Bashar al-Assad” after intense pressure from the U.S. and other backers. (Nov. 11) But then AFP reports that “details” were holding up the signing and that the parties needed “time to study the internal rules.” In any case, it is clear that all the factions are creatures of the Western powers, bending to the will of the U.S., Britain, France and their allies. Waning support inside Syria for the counterrevolutionary forces is also driving the U.S. toward direct military intervention. A lead article in the Nov. 8 New York Times describes how they “are losing crucial support from a public increasingly disgusted by the actions of some rebels, including poorly planned missions, senseless destruction, criminal behavior and the coldblooded killing of prisoners.” The fighting has, by all estimates, killed around 40,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands into refugee camps. The Times report includes many details of criminal actions by armed individuals and groups of contras. In the town of Saraqib, contras drove Syrian government troops from a milk factory and then proceeded to destroy it, depriving the
population of this crucial product. Of greater importance is the emphasis the Times gives to the failure of the contras to capture and hold Aleppo in their September offensive: “The fighting failed to achieve the turning point the rebels had promised. … The Aleppo battle catalyzed simmering frustrations among civilian activists who feel dominated by gunmen.” Many Syrians are concerned with the rising influence of extremist sectarian contra groups that have similarities to al-Qaida — an additional reason the U.S. government has been pressing for a new and centralized opposition at the Doha conference. In Damascus, President al-Assad made it clear that he had no intention of leaving Syria to any neocolonial group. In an interview with Russia Today he stated: “I am not a puppet. I was not made by the West to go to the West or to any other country. I am Syrian. I was made in Syria. I have to live in Syria and die in Syria.” (Nov. 8) The West is also being hindered by the support given so far to the al-Assad government by China and Russia, especially these countries’ vetoes in the United Nations Security Council to proposals for a U.N. cover for imperialist intervention.
U.S. foreign policy to remain imperialistic By Abayomi Azikiwe Editor, Pan-African News Wire With Barack Obama’s reelection as president of the leading imperialist state in the world, the Obama administration will continue along the same foreign policy trajectory as in its first term: exploitation of the labor and resources of oppressed peoples and the intensification of militarism in Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and other geopolitical regions. The Obama administration enhanced the role of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), started under the Bush presidency, and led a war of regime change against the oilrich nation of Libya, resulting in the brutal assassination of martyred leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi. The upsurges in Egypt and Tunisia in 2011 shook up the U.S. and its allies in the region. However, the governments that have come to power in these countries have not fundamentally changed their relationships with imperialism. Palestine is still under Israeli siege despite a new government in Egypt, and the regime in Tunisia was compelled to turn over the former prime minister of Libya to the CIA-installed junta in Libya. The economic damage done to the world capitalist system as a result of imperialist war has been enormous. The economies of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan and Haiti have all been devastated. Imperialist militarism will escalate Under the Obama administration the Horn of Africa nation of Somalia has become an outpost of U.S. imperialism. With a military base in neighboring Djibouti at Camp Lemonier, the Somalia nation is a staging ground for military operations against the Islamist resistance movement Al-Shabab. At present more than 17,000 U.S.backed troops from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) are stationed in Somalia. These troops are
trained and financed by the Pentagon with full political support of the White House. Somalia is a source of growing oil exploration. In the breakaway northern region of Puntland, oil is already being extracted by Canadian and British firms. In fact, throughout the entire regions of East and Central Africa, new findings of oil, natural gas and various strategic minerals are fueling the increased presence of transnational corporations and military forces from the U.S., Britain, Israel and the European Union. Drones and fighter aircraft are flooding into the area under the guise of fighting “terrorism” and “piracy.” The presence of the U.S. and other imperialist states in Central and East Africa has not stabilized the political situation at all. The plight of the people has actually worsened under the Obama administration, with widespread dislocation in Somalia and Ethiopia as well as the spread of war into Kenya. Kenya has deployed several thousand of its defense forces in southern Somalia at the behest of the U.S. administration. The southern Somalia port city of Kismayo has been seized by the Kenya Defense Forces and AMISOM. The Israeli Air Force bombed the country of Sudan in late October. A military factory was targeted at the same time that Sudan and Iran were engaged in joint military exercises around Port Sudan. This was not the first time that Israel has bombed Sudan. These provocations are also designed to send a clear message to Iran that Israel can strike there, too. Sudan is still under sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other imperialist states. Formerly the largest geographic nation-state in Africa, Sudan has been partitioned between the North and the South, and other efforts are ongoing to break away the Darfur region in the west of the country. Last October, at the height of the Occupy Movement across the U.S., the Obama administration announced the deployment
of at least 100 Special Forces and military trainers to Uganda, the Central African Republic, South Sudan and the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. These U.S. military forces were purportedly dispatched to hunt down Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army. The campaign known as “Invisible Children” was launched through social media on the internet. The entire operation was designed to deflect attention away from mass demonstrations taking place, throughout the U.S. and the world, against Wall Street financiers and the impact of their policies of exploitation and oppression. It was also aimed at creating confusion about the role of the U.S. military within Africa and other parts of the world. In West Africa, the imperialists are planning an intervention in Mali to put down a rebellion in the north of the country by the Tuareg people. The Mali crisis is partly related to the Pentagon-NATO destabilization of Libya, as thousands of Tuaregs were displaced as a result of the 2011 war. Malian armed forces staged a coup against President Amadou Toumani Touré in March, despite the fact that the U.S. has maintained close ties with the Malian army through AFRICOM training and joint maneuver projects. The coup leaders said that the military takeover was related to the government’s failure to quell the Tuareg rebellion. Nevertheless, the situation in the north worsened after the coup, leading to a declaration of independence by the Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and other regional Islamist groups. In November, the U.N. Security Council announced that some 3,300 troops provided by the member-states of the Economic Community of West African States will be sent to Mali to put down the Tuareg rebellion. However, Pentagon and E.U. military forces will provide the logistics and funding for this operation, which will inevitably benefit imperialism in its drive for resources and profits. In South Africa the rising tide of the
labor movement is challenging the transnational mining industry. An outbreak of wildcat strikes is weakening the neoliberal policies of the ruling African National Congress and their allies within the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party. A broad-based debate within the national liberation movement in South Africa is taking place over the future of the struggle, which after 18 years has still not reached the objectives outlined by the Freedom Charter of 1955. The South African revolution must move toward socialism, or it will face even greater contradictions and internal strife. In Zimbabwe, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front party has consolidated the comprehensive land redistribution program, and is moving toward greater control of the mining industry, which is linked with the same sectors in neighboring South Africa. Throughout the Southern Africa region, the former liberation movements are once again enhancing their dialogue and political coordination. The anti-war and anti-imperialist movements in the U.S. must follow the situation in Africa very closely. These movements must be prepared to politically defend the various movements and states that are under threat by imperialism. Unemployment in the Western industrialized states has not been as high since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Poverty and social misery are increasing even within the advanced capitalist countries. As economic conditions of the workers and the oppressed inside the U.S. and the imperialist countries grow more desperate every day, the aggressive military actions against the peoples of the so-called developing states will intensify. Consequently, the workers and oppressed of the West must form closer alliances in order to coordinate political actions with their counterparts in the developing and oppressed nations.
Nov. 22, 2012
Which ‘cliff’ should we be talking about?
lot of workers in all the capitalist countries feel like they’ve fallen over a cliff. The ground under their feet has disappeared, along with their jobs, homes and plans for the future. But that’s not what U.S. politicians mean when they warn about a “fiscal cliff.” They’re talking about some tax and spending measures that would automatically go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013, unless Congress passes a bill to reduce the budget deficit. The right wing in particular uses this scary phrase in order to pressure the Obama administration to go along with budget cuts that are highly unpopular — such as cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. On Nov. 11, Bob Woodward, the Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate scandal, appeared on NBCTV’s “Meet the Press” with a document confirming that the Obama administration’s “last offer” to the Republicans would cut spending for these programs. The GOP rejected the offer anyway — setting up the “fiscal cliff” scenario. Social Security was signed into law in 1935, during the depths of the Depression and a time of working class radicalism. It was to be a separate trust fund, not to be touched for other government needs. Workers paid into it like a savings account, along with their employers, so that when they retired they would be guaranteed an income to live on. However, the federal government regularly borrows from the fund, replacing the cash with Treasury bonds, so that the health of the fund depends on whether the promised “full faith and credit” of the capitalist government is reliable. That faith has been shaken. During the Bush administration, when military spending began to soar as hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, the government’s budget deficit soared along with it. Tax cuts for the rich, but not for workers The deficit — and the federal debt — have risen not only because more money was going out, but also because less money has been coming in. Back in the 1950s, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president and the U.S. was in fierce competition with the Soviet Union, those in the top tax bracket — with incomes over $400,000 — were supposed to pay 92 percent of that in income taxes. Of course, they could afford lots of lawyers to find loopholes, but at least on paper that’s what they paid. Today those in the top bracket, with incomes over $388,350, are required to pay only a 35 percent income tax. Obviously, this so-called marginal tax rate for the wealthy has dropped steadily over the years. There has been no corresponding decline in the marginal tax rate paid by ordinary workers, most of whom still pay between 15 and 25 percent before deductions. If the government goes over the “fiscal cliff,” the tax rate on the wealthy will automatically rise to 39.6 percent. That’s nothing like the 92 percent tax of the 1950s, but it’s enough to make the rich cry bloody murder. Capitalist economic crisis drives the deficit The liberal bourgeois argument on what to do about the deficit centers around the issue of taxes. Liberals want to raise the top tax rate on the rich, which is now grotesquely low. But they don’t address
an even bigger problem: the deepening capitalist economic crisis. Government revenue, both in the form of income taxes and FICA, the Social Security/Medicare tax, is adversely affected when fewer people are working. As of this July, 17 percent of young people between 16 and 24 years of age couldn’t find jobs, according to Labor Department figures. This is an official average; in the oppressed Black and Latino/a communities, the jobless youth rate is much higher. That means some 4 million young people who could have begun paying into FICA aren’t able to, and the businesses they would have worked for aren’t paying in either. This is true for older workers as well, who are being laid off in droves even as productivity rises. So as technology more and more replaces workers, the bosses’ contributions to Social Security and Medicare become an ever smaller cost of production and payments to the fund decline. Also, as our Social Security benefits are calculated based on a lifetime of work, the jobless younger people not only have a bleak present but an even bleaker future, whether or not the fund remains solvent. Other results of no budget agreement by Dec. 31 would be an across-the-board cut in all government spending, including for the Pentagon, and an end to federal extended unemployment benefits. While veterans’ benefits are on the table to be cut, which could affect many with medical disabilities, both imperialist parties vow to preserve the Pentagon’s war-fighting capacity, which is by far the most destructive and costliest in the world. Robbing Social Security and bailing out banks After the 2008 housing crisis morphed into a banking crisis, the Obama administration sank trillions of dollars into bailing out the banks. To blunt working-class anger and boost purchasing power, they also proposed, and Congress voted for, lowering the amount workers paid into Social Security from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent, beginning in 2011 and extended in 2012. The “fiscal cliff” would bring the FICA tax back to 6.2 percent. Lowering the deduction for FICA was presented as a 2 percent “tax cut,” but in fact it was robbing money from Social Security. A true tax cut could have been achieved by cutting the trillions spent on capitalist wars abroad and repression at home. But instead this phony “tax cut” just weakened the Social Security fund, giving ammunition to those demanding “reforms” that would lower benefits, further raise the retirement age and even open the door to privatization. How big a compromise the Democratic Party will make on these issues is yet to be seen. Liberals are arguing that the reelection of Obama shows that the majority rejected the Republican drive to cut social programs while shifting even more wealth to the rich. That’s true. But the election is over, and the ruling class is still the ruling class. Behind the scenes, they command both capitalist parties. And they aren’t letting up. They’re just figuring out their next step to rob the workers’ savings in a “legal” way and make it “bipartisan.” Many “cliffs” lie ahead, and they’re all a product of the rotting capitalist system — which is what really should be shoved over the cliff.
Anti-racist youth counter fascists
On Nov. 10, the "National Socialist Party," commonly known as neo-Nazi scum, joined with the Ku Klux Klan to organize a national gathering in Charlotte, N.C. The neo-Nazis from across the country received support and solidarity from the Ku Klux Klan, whose members were dressed in traditional white robes and pointed hat garb. North Carolina residents and activists wouldn’t let fascist, racist and white supremacist voices trump those who fight for equality. El Cambio, United 4 the Dream and the Latin American Coalition organized a counterdemonstration and successfully "sent in the clowns" and showed Charlotte that, even though they came dressed as clowns, the neo-Nazis with arms raised in the traditional Hitlerian salute and the KKK in traditional dress, still looked more ridiculous than the anti-racists. Mocking the hooded robes, one counterdemonstrator was dressed as a banana and led a chant, "B-A-N-A-N-A-S, Nazis are bananas!" Among the immigrant rights groups there were also many organizers from the Charlotte People’s Power Assembly, Workers World Party, Occupy
Charlotte, several anarchist groups and an anti-racist skinhead group called S.H.A.R.P. — Skin Heads Against Racial Profiling. Chanting "Racist, fascist, anti-gay, take your hate and go away!" along with "LOL not KKK!" the counterdemonstration successfully outnumbered the neo-Nazis and KKK members approximately at a five to one ratio. Although some believed these fascists should be allowed to have freedom of speech like everyone else, that didn’t stop the protesters from drowning out the hateful speeches with noisemakers, chants and whistles. Some thought it to be ironic to have three oppressive hate groups in one area at the same time: the neo-Nazis, the KKK and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. While the neo-Nazis and KKK spoke of preserving "white civil rights" and claimed that the U.S. is a "white nation" and should only have white leaders, this demonstration reminded us that white supremacy is still alive and well, and that only a fighting movement can fundamentally change the racist, classist system. — Story and photo by Cameron Aviles
Capitalism’s environmental death Continued from page 6 ers must be freed from the profit interest and mandated to come up with better sources of renewable energy and ways to restore the environment that will begin to reverse the course of devastation. Millions of young people who are condemned to low-wage jobs, unemployment or prison by this system, which offers them no future, should be educated and trained to take on the scientific and other challenges of the future. What is needed is science for the people — a scientific renaissance freed from the shackles of capital and turned
toward serving human need. This is the only way that humanity can surmount the present crisis. And it means getting rid of capitalism. The first part of this article was printed in the Nov. 15 issue of Workers World. To read this article in full, search for “Hurricane Sandy, climate change and capitalist crisis” at workers.org. Goldstein is author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End.” More information is available at www.lowwagecapitalism.com. The author can be reached at fgoldstein@ workers.org.
The Lavender and Red series of articles by Leslie Feinberg, author of Stone Butch Blues, is now available online. The series includes:
Rainbow Solidarity In Defense of CUBA This groundbreaking book documents revolutionary Cuba’s inspiring trajectory of progress towards liberation ofsexualities, genders and sexes. Book available at Amazon.com
Nov. 22, 2012
Media misrepresent Puerto Rico vote By Berta Joubert-Ceci While U.S. citizens cast their votes for president Nov. 6, Puerto Rico’s residents were also voting for the next governor of the island. They also voted in a nonbinding referendum, a plebiscite, supposedly to define the island’s status. Currently Puerto Rico is a “commonwealth” or an Estado Libre Asociado (ELA) or Free Associated State. This is a pure contradiction in terms, as Puerto Rico is not a state, it is not free, and it is does not have sovereignty to establish a real association. A country whose economy, foreign relations and trade, legislature and police force are in the hands of the U.S. government cannot freely decide anything. Puerto Rico has been a colony of the USA since the Yankee invasion of 1898. Any change in Puerto Rico’s constitution has to be “approved” by the U.S. Congress. Thus this so-called plebiscite is a legal farce. Nevertheless, it is interesting to look closely both at the vote and how the international corporate media reported the results. Even in social networks like Facebook and Twitter, there was constant reference to “Puerto Ricans choosing statehood.” This is far from the truth. Let us look at the questions and numbers. Slightly over 2 million voters were registered. Some 77.4 percent of them voted, a high turnout compared to that in the U.S. The plebiscite was divided into two parts. The official ballot was written in Spanish and English, which are the island’s official languages, although Puerto Rico’s primary language is Spanish. The first question was: “Do you agree that Puerto Rico should continue to have its present form of territorial status? Yes or No.”
This was followed by the second question: “Regardless of your selection in the first question, please mark which of the following non-territorial options would you prefer. The options [are] Statehood, Independence or Sovereign Free Associated State.” Reject colonial status For the first time in the history of Puerto Rico, the majority of voters rejected the current colonial status. The “No” received 52.4 percent, the “Yes” got 44.7, and the rest of the ballots were blank. The last option was encouraged by a sector of the colonial Partido Popular Democrático (PPD) or Democratic Popular Party. The response to the second question, which has been misrepresented by much of the international media, does not show that statehood was the choice of the majority. If you add votes for Independence, Sovereign ELA and the 473,000 blank ballots, plus some contested ballots, the total is 55 percent of voters who did not choose statehood! These numbers in themselves are incapable of reflecting the complex economic and demographic reality of Puerto Rico. Elections, particularly a plebiscite on status in a colony, are not a real exercise in democracy. There is no authentic freedom to organize for the option that will make the people of Puerto Rico truly free: independence. The repression of Puerto Rican independence activists and fighters is still very much alive — through assassinations, harassment, long prison terms with no justification, FBI record keeping, etc. The struggle for independence has always been criminalized. Puerto Rico is a country whose econo-
my has been destroyed, where the median income is less than that in the poorest state of the USA, and whose work force has been forced to migrate to the “mainland” in order to survive. The island’s population has decreased over the last few years. There are 3.7 million people living on the island, but 4.2 million Puerto Ricans in the USA! The Puerto Ricans who reside outside the island are not permitted to vote in Puerto Rico’s elections. In an article written by Puerto Rican independence hero Rafael Cancel Miranda the day before the elections, entitled “Democratic Elections?” he raises another important issue regarding the demographics of the island and its impact on the elections: “And how many of these 3.7 million residents in Puerto Rico are Puerto Rican? In Puerto Rico there are a large number of people of the USA eligible to vote, so many, that the electoral ads are published in Spanish and English. And there are other thousands of foreigners who reside in Puerto Rico, but who have sworn allegiance to the United States flag, not to
the Puerto Rican. How do you think the majority of them will vote? We must not forget that in Hawaii the foreigners made up the majority in a so-called plebiscite that brought statehood to that former nation.” (pr.indymedia.org) Fortuño rejected as governor In the gubernatorial election, Luis Fortuño was the pro-statehood, pro-business incumbent governor responsible for the latest neoliberal policies on the island. These include the attempt to privatize national institutions like the University of Puerto Rico, the layoff of thousands of state workers, the threat of imposing a gas pipeline, and many other anti-people laws and maneuvers. Fortuño was voted out, getting only 47.1 percent of the vote. The new governor, Alejandro García Padilla, representing the PPD, won with 47.8 percent, a very narrow margin. The rest of the votes were divided among four parties, including the older Puerto Rican Independence Party (PIP). The other three parties were new, participating for the first time in elections.
Dominican Republic protest
Police kill student
Demonstration against sales tax, privatization of education
General strikes sweep Europe Workers unite to fight austerity Continued from page 1 sector. General strikes are also expected in Cyprus and Malta. In France, five trade union confederations have called for mass participation in demonstrations called for 95 regions of the country. In Belgium, in addition to countrywide symbolic actions, work stoppages are planned in certain areas. According to the Belgian Workers’ Party newspaper, the FGTB trade union confederation will call a general strike in Wallonia, the predominantly French-speaking southern region of Belgium. National actions have also been announced in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, Romania and Croatia, and the German Trade Union Confederation joined the Europewide
call, so there will also be demonstrations in Germany. European workers have good reason to be angry. Within the European Union, 24 million workers are unemployed as the EU economies slog through a disastrous double dip recession initially brought on by the financial crisis of 2008, and exacerbated by the austerity programs forced on workers by the “Troika”: the European Commission (EC), which is the EU’s executive arm; the International Monetary Fund; and the European Central Bank. Still, the EU’s subservient capitalist governments continue to pass crushing austerity measures. European workers are making it clear that this capitalist crisis is not of their making, and that they will resist the big banks’ offensive aimed at solving the crisis on the backs of the workers.
War Without Victory
Sara Flounders “By revealing the underbelly of the empire, Flounders sheds insight on how to stand up to the imperialist war machine and, in so doing, save ourselves and humanity.”
– Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, Pres. of U.N. General Assembly, 2008-2009, Foreign Minister of Nicaragua’s Sandinista government 1979-1990
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Nov. 11 protest in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The sign reads “Social inequality is more violent than any protest.”
Special to Workers World Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Police shot and killed a student at the Autonomous University here during a campus protest against a higher sales tax and the proposed privatization of the school. Witnesses said that William Florian Ramírez, 21, was only watching the Nov. 8 demonstration when he was shot in the back. The university is the country’s largest, with 180,000 students. The administration of President Daniel Medina is under fire for corruption carried out by his ruling Dominican Liberation Party. Critics say the budget deficit this year of $4.6 billion stems largely from the widespread theft of public funds. Giving the deficit as an excuse, the government has increased the nation’s sales tax from 16 to 18 percent, putting the burden directly on the already poverty-stricken working class. The tax applies to almost all commodities, including food and fuel. The protest at the campus against the higher tax was just one of many that took place all over the country. Medina was elected this August, but
belongs to the same party as the previous administration. Accusers say that much of the money stolen by the governing party was used for his election. The police killing of civilians is common here. About 400 persons per year are murdered by the police, who are rarely if ever arrested and tried. However, public outrage over this shooting was so great, especially coming at a time when the government was on the defensive over corruption charges, that Medina quickly had the cop fired and arrested. Several other police officials who had been at the scene are “under investigation.” Even the conservative head of the Senate called for “swift justice” against the cop who killed the student. The cop’s arrest is highly unusual and reflects fear in ruling circles that the growing desperation of the masses over the new president’s economic measures will lead to greater struggles. For most of the decades since U.S. Marines first invaded the Dominican Republic in 1916, corrupt right-wing governments have ruled here with Washington’s blessing. A brief period of revolutionary nationalism in the mid-1960s was ended by a second U.S. invasion in 1965.
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¡Proletarios y oprimidos de todos los paises unios!
La solidaridad llega a Cuba después del huracán Por Cheryl LaBash Antes de arrasar el lado oriental de los Estados Unidos, el huracán Sandy pasó por las islas del Caribe, causando muertes en Jamaica, Haití, Puerto Rico, Bahamas y hasta en la bien preparada isla de Cuba. A pesar de las 330.000 evacuaciones en las provincias orientales, Santiago de Cuba, la segunda ciudad más grande de la isla con casi medio millón de personas, informó nueve muertes y Guantánamo dos muertes, principalmente por el colapso de edificios y caídas de árboles. La provincia de Holguín también fue duramente golpeada, pero no sufrió bajas. El diario Granma informó sobre los primeros estimados de daños a 132.733 viviendas, quedando 15.322 totalmente destruidas y 43.426 sin techo. El 26 de octubre, la estimación del daño inicial fue de más de $2,1 mil millones, sin incluir las pérdidas en turismo, azúcar, café y otros cultivos, construcción, farmacéutica y otros sectores productivos. Además de las pérdidas en la agricultura, las redes de producción, procesamiento y distribución de alimentos en Santiago quedaron seriamente dañadas.
Con 186 tiendas de abastecimiento destruidas, las casas o los lugares de trabajo se han convertido en centros de distribución para la canasta familiar de alimentos racionados. Once unidades de preparación de alimentos sirven comidas. Las tiendas de campaña que generalmente son utilizadas para el proyecto de recreación Noches de Santiago, se están utilizando por 29 ayuntamientos para la distribución y venta de alimentos preparados. (Juventud Rebelde, 2 de noviembre) El desafío inmediato más apremiante es restablecer la energía eléctrica a la provincia de Santiago de Cuba, donde la tormenta afectó a todos los 127 circuitos disponibles. Raúl García Barreiro, director general de la Unión Nacional Eléctrica, dirige a más de 2.000 trabajadores luchando para volver a conectar la provincia a la red eléctrica nacional. El presidente Raúl Castro, que visitó las provincias dañadas por la tormenta dijo, “No me voy hasta que Santiago tenga electricidad”. (Granma, 3 de noviembre) Además de enviar trabajadores de la electricidad y otros trabajadores especializados y más equipo pesado, las otras provincias envían materiales, incluyendo postes, materiales para techo y comida. La producción de transformadores y la cosecha de los cultivos se aceleraron. Artemisa,
una provincia al oeste de Cuba envió 940 toneladas de batatas y 40 toneladas de malanga, excedentes de la abundante cosecha de este año. Octavio Morera, un estibador trabajando con otros para llevar ayuda, dijo que se habían comprometido para ayudar a las víctimas de Sandy. La solidaridad dijo, “es lo que nos hace cubanos y es una manera de pagar por toda la ayuda que hemos recibido cuando hemos sido afectados por tormentas similares”. (Agencia de Noticias de Cuba, 2 de noviembre) La solidaridad internacional también está llegando. Venezuela comenzó un puente aéreo de siete días para enviar 646 toneladas de alimentos no perecederos, agua, equipo y maquinaria para Cuba y Haití. La República Dominicana envió escaleras altas para la restauración eléctrica. El 3 de noviembre, Bolivia envió el primero de dos cargamentos de agua y alimentos por un total de 120 toneladas de ayuda, subrayando la solidaridad que Cuba ha demostrado para ayudar a eliminar el analfabetismo y formar a médicos bolivianos. Rusia envió 30 toneladas de suministros para la construcción. El 31 de octubre, el Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores de Cuba informó
haber enviado mensajes de condolencia a los gobiernos de las Bahamas, Canadá, Estados Unidos, Haití y Jamaica por la pérdida de vidas humanas y daños materiales significativos causados por el huracán Sandy. Un obstáculo importante para la recuperación luego del huracán y para el desarrollo económico y social es el bloqueo económico estadounidense de Cuba, que ha durado más de medio siglo y ha costado a Cuba tanto como $1,07 billones. El 13 de noviembre, una resolución de la ONU pidiendo el fin del bloqueo será votada por la Asamblea General. Pasará por 21 año consecutivo, con una votación unánime salvo Estados Unidos, Israel y tal vez uno o dos pequeños países dependientes de los Estados Unidos. Es tiempo para que Washington normalice las relaciones con Cuba socialista, libere a los 5 Cubanos que están injustamente detenidos en cárceles de Estados Unidos, y ponga fin a su inconstitucional prohibición de que los/as residentes estadounidenses viajen a Cuba. La Red Canadiense pro Cuba ha lanzado una campaña de “Fondo de ayuda de Sandy”. En Estados Unidos, las contribuciones pueden hacerse a través de “Global Links” en http://globallinks.org.
Sindicato de Sudáfrica declara:
¡Basta! ¡Queremos un cambio! Por Abayomi Azikiwe Continúan las huelgas de mineros. La huelga continúa en los sectores mineros de platino, oro, carbón, diamante y hierro surafricanos. Los empresarios amenazan con despidos masivos si los paros continúan, ya sean protegidos o no. El malestar laboral ha golpeado a la Anglo-American Platinum (Amplats) durante los últimos meses. Amplats ofreció reintegrar a 12.000 trabajadores, pero la huelga sigue debido a las continuas disputas sobre salarios y beneficios. Los trabajadores de Atlasta todavía están de huelga en la industria de platino donde han despedido a 1.500 empleados. Los trabajadores tuvieron una huelga de brazos caídos el 1 de noviembre contra la AngloGold Ashanti sobre cuestiones de seguridad y bonos. La Corporación de Minería Goldfields despidió a 8.100 trabajadores por su participación en actividades de huelga; la mayoría está apelando la decisión. El 5 de noviembre, la Minería de Carbón Sudafricano anunció que una huelga de dos semanas terminó en Umlabu Collieri. Se profundiza la lucha de clases Estos acciones de huelga están estremeciendo a los dueños de la industria minera. Mark Cutifani, el director ejecutivo de la AngloGold Ashanti, dijo “todos estamos en el filo de un cuchillo. … No voy a empezar a amenazar el capital, pero claramente si no resolvemos el problema, entonces ¿cómo justificar a los accionistas que debo seguir invirtiendo en Sudáfrica”? (Financial Times, 5 de noviembre) Esta compañía, la tercera productora más importante de oro del mundo, detu-
vo sus operaciones en Sudáfrica después de que 35.000 trabajadores abandonaran sus puestos de trabajo a finales de septiembre. Aunque AngloGold Ashanti ha reanudado operaciones con los empleados que regresaron al trabajo, la situación en otras minas sigue siendo volátil. Los bajos salarios y las malas condiciones de trabajo siguen impulsando los disturbios. El Financial Times informa que, “incluso si todos los mineros regresan a trabajar, las causas de los conflictos — incluyendo las pobres condiciones de vida de los trabajadores en los campamentos de refugiados y las frustraciones más amplias sobre la pobreza y las enormes desigualdades en una de las sociedades más desiguales del mundo, es probable que continúe. Incluso antes de los disturbios, el sector — todavía entre los 10 más importantes en el mundo — luchaba para atraer la inversión debido a la incertidumbre de las políticas, a los embotellamientos en infraestructura y al aumento de los costos”. Sin embargo, en toda África, la creciente conciencia de los trabajadores y los gobiernos están causando un movimiento hacia un mayor control de los intereses mineros. La situación en Sudáfrica está llevando a los capitalistas aumentar la producción en otras naciones. La AngloGold también tiene intereses mineros en Ghana, Guinea, Tanzania, Namibia y la República Democrática del Congo. Sin embargo, en el sector del platino, hay pocas opciones. Sudáfrica contiene el 80% de este mineral estratégico; otra gran parte se encuentra en la vecina Zimbabue. Hasta el Financial Times señaló, “el gobierno zimbabuense ha estado imponiendo un programa controversial de “indigenización” bajo el cual quiere que las
empresas extranjeras pasen a ser el 51% propiedad de los locales. Otros, incluyendo a Ghana, Guinea y Zambia, han implementado o planean implementar cambios en sus regímenes de minería mientras que una tendencia de nacionalismo de recursos gana ímpetu”. La NUMSA dice: ‘Basta ya’ El Comité Ejecutivo Nacional (CEN) de la Unión Nacional de Trabajadores Metalúrgicos en Sudáfrica (NUMSA por las siglas en inglés) publicó una profunda declaración el 29 y 30 de octubre. Establece la raíz de los problemas de la industria minera: la propiedad del capital por extranjeros que fue heredado del sistema colonial del apartheid. El documento de NUMSA comienza con una cita del programa de 1989 del Partido Comunista de Sudáfrica: “El estado capitalista de Sudáfrica no surgió como resultado de una revolución antifeudal popular interna. Fue impuesto desde arriba y desde afuera. Desde su nacimiento hasta el presente, el capita lismo sudafricano ha dependido fuertemente de los centros imperialistas”. La declaración señala el origen de las contradicciones económicas dentro de la sociedad sudafricana: “El CEN destaca el empeoramiento de la crisis del capitalismo global. Está claro que Estados Unidos, Europa occidental y las grandes economías de Asia están todavía en una crisis profunda. Esta crisis . . . está afectando al resto del mundo. . . Hay claras manifestaciones de los fracasos crónicos inherentes del capitalismo en nuestro país y en todas partes del mundo. Estos signos de desastroso fracaso están ahora firmemente anclados en el corazón
del capitalismo — en los Estados Unidos y en Europa occidental”. NUMSA propone demandas económicas y políticas sobre el tratamiento de los mineros y otros/as trabajadores/as. Rechaza la idea de que la preocupación principal del gobierno deba ser las evaluaciones emitidas por las agencias de calificación de bonos, las cuales recientemente han bajado la calidad crediticia del país. NUMSA pide una reorientación política dentro del gobernante Congreso Nacional Africano, en el cual están aliados como afiliados del Congreso de Sindicatos Sudafricanos (COSATU por sus siglas en inglés), la federación sindical más grande del país. El sindicato de trabajadores metalúrgicos hace un llamado a establecer un programa para avanzar los intereses de los/as trabajadores/as dentro del congreso del CNA que se celebrará en Mangaung en diciembre. Sobre el carácter de clase del CNA dice NUMSA, “queremos advertir a aquellos que, 18 años después del 1994 — con la evidencia masiva de las fallidas políticas neoliberales y de una economía capitalista de apartheid [aún] sin transformar, las cuales siguen profundizando y empeorando el desempleo masivo, la pobreza extrema y la desigualdad en Sudáfrica a nivel de medalla de oro olímpica, [ellos] que todavía quieren ser líderes del CNA en Mangaung para continuar llevándonos por este camino desastroso: ¡no deben buscar la reelección”! NUMSA declara “Nosotros/as, la clase obrera de Sudáfrica, los que sufren de salarios bajos y colonial, hemos declarado que ya basta. ¡Queremos cambio, un cambio verdadero y fundamental en nuestras vidas”!
Workers World November 22, 2012