Monthly Archives: May 2009

workplace occupation needs to become a trend

Workers Taking Over Chicago Plant

Workers Taking Over Chicago Plant

The Republic Windows factory occupation caused a stir of excitement among the left in the US. It seemed for a minute like we were going to witness a militant response from the working class to the economic crisis. Unfortunately, the workplace occupation tactic didn’t turn into a trend.

The important thing about the Republic Windows occupation is that it showed that certain methods of struggle are timeless, and that they can be embraced by people all over the world. This method was used in the 1930s with the sit down strikes and in Latin America after the 2001 crisis in Argentina.

Since almost all of the workers at Republic were Black and Latino, the occupation also showed that class antagonisms often underlie people of color’s struggles and that organizing on a class basis is a powerful strategy.

http://links.org.au/node/804

Anti-Racism in the Class Struggle

Ben Fletcher

Ben Fletcher

Ben Fletcher was a Black member of the Indusrial Workers of the World who led strikes at the ports in Pennsylvania in 1912, integrating and uniting Black and White workers against racism and exploitation. Threatenend by the government, he was arrested as a subversive in 1920 during the Palmer raids.

http://www.iww.org/culture/biography/BenFletcher1.html

feminism through class struggle

USAflynnElizabeth Gurley Flynn is one of the most important labor leaders in American history and helped lead the Bread and Roses strike when she was only 23 years old. This strike had 30,000 immigrant workers, mainly women, who struck against horrific conditions and political oppression against other wobblies.

http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/5202/rebelgirl.html

Internationalist Opposition Movements Within Labor

Most view the organized labor movement as being a static, conservative body that was often heirarchal and racist. Much of it was. But labor historian David Montgomery investigates the opposition and internationalists that existed in the bodies of organized labor at the turn of the century.

David Montgomery Internationalism 1900s

Malcolm X on Worldwide Revolution

Check out this clip of brother Malcolm touching on the need and beginning of an  international struggle.
” . . . and you know how they can get red . . .”

Prachanda Steps Down

In the latest turn of events in Nepal, it appears that Maoist Prime Minister Prachanda, or Pushpa

Prachanda Steps Down

Prachanda Steps Down

Kamal Dahal, as he is also known, has resigned. In recent weeks things have heated up in Nepal, with Prachanda’s dismissal of Army head Rookmangud Katawal. Prachanda dismissed Katawal for continuing to recruit for the Nepalese Army and for refusing to integrate 19,000 Maoist fighters currently restricted to United Nations monitored barracks following a peace accord.

The resignation of Prachanda may come as a surprise to some who have been eagerly following the events in Nepal. However, this may not be such a surprise if we examine the nature of the state in Nepal.

Some claim that the situation in Nepal has been one of “Dual Power,” meaning that the Maoist bloc in parliament represents an a direct challenge on the bloc of landowners and politicians aligned with the former monarchy and of course, its armed wing the Nepalese Army (formerly the Royal Nepalese Army). In order to understand whether or not the situation in Nepal represents Dual Power, it may be worth examining the roots of the term – it was a phrase coined by VI Lenin during the course of the Russian Revolution of 1917.  Now, the point here is not to be dogmatic and say something like, “if Lenin said it it’s right!  And if anyone doing anything that differs in any way is wrong!”  Rather, the point is to examine what the concept of Dual Power meant in practice – in the course of events which gave rise to the theoretical concept.  This helps us to get clarity on the application of the concept to the events in Nepal.

Lenin wrote: “What is this dual power? Alongside the Provisional Government, the government of bourgeoisie, another government has arisen, so far weak and incipient, but undoubtedly a government that actually exists and is growing—the Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies.What is the class composition of this other government? It consists of the proletariat and the peasants (in soldiers’ uniforms). What is the political nature of this government? It is a revolutionary dictatorship, i.e., a power directly based on revolutionary seizure, on the direct initiative of the people from below, and not on a law enacted by a centralized state power. It is an entirely different kind of power from the one that generally exists in the parliamentary bourgeois-democratic republics of the usual type still prevailing in the advanced countries of Europe and America. This circumstance often over looked, often not given enough thought, yet it is the crux of the matter. ”

The people and the People’s Army were Prachanda’s only real power. These bases which served to bring down the monarchy disappeared long ago with the dissolved councils and with the allowed enclosure of the people’s army into UN barracks…

Forbes: Obama not a Socialist, More like an Oligarch

Just another example of the fact that business news publications tend to be the most honest (they speak honestly to their constituency). Forbes editor Michael Maiello’s newest column proclaims:

Obama Loves The Rich

Here’s an excerpt:

Obama’s no socialist. An observer from Mars would think the man’s a downright oligarch. While the “angry white men” movement assembles into tea parties, the real anger should be felt by those on the left who have so far watched the president continue to follow an economic rescue plan that was outlined by George Bush and Hank Paulson. The only thing that Obama has socialized are the losses incurred by Wall Street’s major banks….

obama-wall-street

Yeah we’d say that’s pretty right on. Obama’s brand of socialism involves foisting the burden of Wall Street excesses upon the people to share, while privatizing profits made by Wall Street Execs (who still continue to receive bonuses…)

Again, it is important to point out that Obama is incapable of bringing any kind of real change because its the system that needs changing not its leadership. Power should (and could) be in the hands of the people, that would be real change. However that kind of change requires much deeper and qualitatively different struggle.

Calcutta Sex Workers March on May Day

Here’s a report (with video) discussing the recent May Day Protest in Calcutta where sex workers marched demanding the legalization of sex work.

India May Day

The question of sex work is touchy in general, but amongst the Left and Feminists in particular.  There are groups denouncing those who seek de-criminalization of sex work in the Bay Area due to the entanglement of human trafficking which they claim goes unchecked if sex work is decriminalized.

These Indian sex workers are demanding the right to be able to earn a legal wage in return for their work.  If they were to get this, wouldn’t it represent a more accessible terrain for class struggle on their part?

Kwame Nkrumah: Marxist Pan Africanist

Some people claim Marxism is Eurocentric and inapplicable to other countries around the world. We disagree. Here is a piece written by a leading Pan-Africanist, (Kwame Nkrumah) who considered himself some kind of Marxist and is still seen by many Black Nationalists as a hero. Nkrumah puts class struggle forward as a strategy for liberation.

Excerpt from Kwame Nkrumah’s: What I Mean by Positive Action

Kwame Nkrumah: Marxist Pan Africanist

Kwame Nkrumah: Marxist Pan Africanist

What is Positive Action?

By Positive Action we mean the adoption of all legitimate and constitutional means by which we can cripple the forces of imperialism in this country. The Weapons of Positive Action are:

(1) Legitimate political agitation
(2) Newspaper and educational campaigns and
(3) as a last resort, the constitutional application of strikes, boycotts and non-co-operation based on the principle of absolute non-violence.

Treasury Secretary Geithner: Puppet of Finance Capital

Tim Geithner and his Capitalist Cronies

Tim Geithner and his Capitalist Cronies

For all the progressives that drank Obama’s Kool-Aid: Who’s Obama’s real constituents?

The New York Times published a lengthy article recently with the following revelations about Obama’s Treasury Sectretary Timothy Geithner:

1. A year before he was elected Geithner shocked then-Treasury Sectretary Henry Paulson with a proposal “to give the president broad power to guarantee all the debt in the banking system”. Paulson was shocked by the proposal, seen as audacious and “politically untenable” because it would “put taxpayers on the hook for trillions of dollars”.

A year later, Geithner’s proposal has been implemented almost entirely.

2. As President of the New York Federal Reserve, The NYT reports, Geithner maintained “unusually close relationships with executives of Wall Street’s giant financial institutions.”

A look at the New York Federal Reserve’s former and present Board of Directors shows it staffed by CEO’s of such big capitalist firms as: General Electric, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Quandrangle Group (Investment Firm), etc. etc.

For those who thought Obama was going to usher in all this radical progressive change, one can only ask… What were you thinking?

Obama is not the “elected representative” of the people, he is the elected representative of Capital. After trillions in bailout money, its safe to say he’s served them well.

The only thing that can defeat the bankers is class struggle. The working class vs. Geithner, Obama and the rest of the Capitalist ruling class.


Swine Flu: Blame Capitalism Not Immigrants

pig-factory-farmsHere’s an Interview with Robert Wallace from Democracy Now!, who says the swine flu is partly the outcome of neoliberal policies that forced poorer countries to open their markets to poorly regulated Western agribusiness giants.

The Swine flu highlights two aspects of life under capitalism:

1) Under capitalism everything is commodified even our food. Commodities compete on the market, so the ones with the lowest price tend to win the competition and sell the best. A natural result of this are things like the “livestock revolution”. Because capitalists constantly need to undercut each others competition there is a tendency towards large scale operations that make production cheaper and more efficient. With whole cities of livestock living together in the tens of thousands, the potential for health crisis multiplies exponentially.

2) The new factories that came with the livestock revolution are symptomatic of capitalism’s tendency towards accumulation of capital. It is through the accumulation process that people get concentrated in ever-expanding factories and cities. Meat processing industries located largely in the mid-west and the southern U.S. have become a major pull for workers to migrate. As we know, some of the biggest immigration raids have taken place at livestock processing factories. Its also no coincidence that the politicians are now using Swine Flu to whip up racist hysteria and as a pretense to further militarize the border.

The lumpenproletariat and marginal identity politics

Interesting discussion on identity politics. Check out the article below. It not only talks about identity politics but also the role of the proletariat and the lumpenproletariat.

The lumpinproletariat and marginal identity politics

Informal Economy

Here’s something from Revolutionary Autonomous Communities on the Informal Economy.

SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE WORKERS IN THE INFORMAL ECONOMY

At a time when many have lost their jobs and more cannot find them;

At a time when donations to food banks, missions and charities are drying up;

At the same time more and more people find themselves in dire need of assistance;

At such a time we must all pull together lest we all fall apart.

Let us face it.

The system of capitalism is failing the majority of the people. Because profits can no longer be made, workers are laid off:

In March of this year, 742,000 people joined the ranks of the official 6,000,000 laid off workers receiving unemployment compensation. Many more are receiving the pitiful benefits of general relief and welfare payments. Many, many more get no benefits at all.

Workers terminated from their positions find that there are no jobs to be found. Yet we still have bills to pay, rent to cover and the mouths of our families to feed. Having been expelled from what is called the formal economy, an economy that has failed, we humans struggle to find ways to keep our families together, to keep themselves sane.

RAC says

“Hands off the Workers of the Informal Economy”

“Living-wage Jobs for All”

New methods of making a living are and will continue to arise in the informal economy:

Day Laborers: skilled plumbers, masons and carpenters who can find no regular work stand in front of Home Depot hoping for jobs that pay a fraction of their just wage; Urban Miners: collect aluminum cans, glass bottles and plastic from trash cans; Concessionaires: cook hot dogs, tacos and burritos, and pupusas, etc; Street Vendors: sell jeans, dresses, appliances, dishes, etc. at prices less than the stores charge.

At a time when workers’ efforts to generate and create work are more and more necessitated, the LAPD has increased its efforts against those whose only crime is to try to make a living. Day laborers are driven away from their posts; Urban Miners are given a ticket for having the shopping cart they must have; Concessionaires are given violations of a health code designed to ensure that only the well-off can start a business; and, Street Vendors are hassled with their goods confiscated and/or trashed.