Tag Archives: Capitalism

Oakland Goes Commie

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Power to the Jews and Therefore the Class!

SteveO writes:

One important component in the radical Left’s impulse for solidarity with oppressed people across the whole world is a condemnation of Israel’s relationship with Palestine, which is considered racist, colonial, fascist – a settler state par excellence. In our critique of Israel, we forget that nations are composed of antagonistic classes, and that the dialectic of class struggle in Israel-Palestine is not exclusively an anti-colonial one. The duty of a conscious Israeli to the world proletarian struggle for liberation does not lie in a self-sacrificing or suicidal “traitor-ism” wherein good Jews give themselves over to the Palestinian cause as a servant to it.

Israeli Jews have battles to fight of their own, bones to pick with other Israeli Jews, those who are their class enemies. Leftists in general, and Marxists especially, could consider the Jewish working class their sibling for once, rather than limiting our orientation to the contemporary Jewish question to the colonial aspect of the Jewish state. None of this is to say that we should stop criticizing and organizing against Israel’s apartheid regime. But we could and should consider a strategic re-orientation toward support for the working class Israeli, urging its alignment with its Arab counterpart, and forging a common interest between the two against racism, apartheid, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism.
This 7 part series serves as an accessible tutorial on the economics of Israeli Occupation:
These stories highlight some of the class contradictions between Israeli workers and capital, and the  action that Israelis are taking against “their own” government.

In May train workers wildcatted against the political arrest of union members for protesting privatization of the trains

On Tuesday hundreds of doctors in training (medical residents) walked out in response to a draft agreement with the Israeli Finance Ministry.  The strike has been happening since April, and a hunger strike is growing.

200 Years of Imperialism in 4 Minutes

CAPITALIST uneven development – imperialism – speaks for its racist self.

… a large proportion of the so-called underdeveloped countries are in total stagnation, and… in some of them the rate of economic growth is lower than that of the population increase.

These characteristics are not fortuitous; they correspond strictly to the nature of the capitalist system in full expansion, which transfers to the dependent countries the most abusive and barefaced forms of exploitation. It must be clearly understood that the only way to solve the questions now besetting mankind is to eliminate completely the exploitation of dependent countries by developed capitalist countries, with all the consequences that this implies.

-Che Guevara, 1964

We’ll Ride Until the Wheels Fall Off: Prisoners as Proletarian Actors

Georgia – On December 9, 2010, thousands of Georgia prisoners struck – making it the biggest prisoner protest in the history of the United States. What does this mean? Prisoners across the Georgia penitentiary system collectively refused to cooperate with the system incarcerating them, to leave their cells, to work for free for the government. They organized to exert direct control over their bodies, their lives and their circumstances, something they could only do by acting in concert in the thousands. Since December 9, the initial strike day, thousands have continued their struggle against brutal, punitive, unjust conditions, standing up against extreme violence from the prison guard forces.

Despite its size, the unique thing about this prisoner resistance is that it uses the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the proletariat: consciously and collectively withholding its labor power across the divisions created by bourgeois ideology and its division of labor. One prisoner put out the following statement:

…Brothers, we have accomplished a major step in our struggle…We must continue what we have started…The only way to achieve our goals is to continue with our peaceful sit-down…I ask each and every one of my Brothers in this struggle to continue the fight. ON MONDAY MORNING, WHEN THE DOORS OPEN, CLOSE THEM. DO NOT GO TO WORK. They cannot do anything to us that they haven’t already done at one time or another. Brothers, DON’T GIVE UP NOW. Make them come to the table. Be strong. DO NOT MAKE MONEY FOR THE STATE THAT THEY IN TURN USE TO KEEP US AS SLAVES….

Across and against the extreme racial antagonisms which exist throughout all of capitalist society but especially in the USA’s “corrections” system, prisoners of all colors united against a common enemy: the coercive, violent, exploitative force of their captors. Organized through existing networks of prison life, using cell phones purchased from guards (who profit from illicit trade with the prisoners – charging as much as $800 for a cell phone!), the strike has put forward intelligible, clear, justifiable demands – demands that many of us can identify with as exploited workers, but also demands that go beyond working conditions or wages to challenge the logic of incarceration in the US today.   The list and more below the fold:

To the Budget Cut Movement: No More Ignoring State Violence

by Rebelde

The anti-budget cut movement and struggle for public education in California over the last year has inspired worldwide resistance, and has brought in a lot of new people who have never organized or been political before. The March 4th movement provided an outlet for people to get involved and educate themselves about the budget cuts; it also created a base to build off for the next cycle of struggle. Since March 4th conferences have gone down and a new date for mass action has been picked: October 7th… but will October 7th be qualitatively different than March 4th? Will more sectors of society be brought in? Will struggle deepen and become more militant? As the economic crisis deepens and affects more and more people internationally, there is a real need for a militant perspective examining why the budget cuts are happening, who is causing them, and who is suffering from them.
So far the education sector has largely lead resistance to the cuts, on college campuses specifically, but these cuts go far beyond the universities. It is not just education that is being destroyed; social services, such as free and/or affordable healthcare are being cut; there are massive foreclosures and a lack of affordable or public housing; unemployment remains high. Anyone can see that these cuts aren’t just affecting students, but the working-class as a whole. While all these cuts are happening in the public sector the top corporations and banks were immediately bailed out by the Federal Government as soon as their financial instruments evaporated in the bubble pop. If it wasn’t clear to you before that this system was based off of exploitation and a class divide between the rich and the poor, massive bailouts to the capitalists and bankers while we are left to struggle for the basic necessities of life should make it clear.

Police attack people protesting the racist murder of Oscar Grant. - July 9th, 2010, Oakland

These budget cuts are also occurring during a time period of massive state violence to communities of color and queer people; the passage of the anti-immigration bill SB 1070 is causing and supporting more profiling of immigrant populations and ICE raids; the Oscar Grant movement has exposed the police’s continual assault against Black women and men that stems from the days of slavery; and there is consistent harassment and murder of queer and gender oppressed people. Is a budget cut struggle solely confined to defending education enough to really fight the cuts and the crisis? Is it enough for the people most affected by it to be brought in? No. We need a larger analysis that identifies the true enemy, the capitalist system, which relies on other systems of oppression (patriarchy, racism, & homophobia) to target and discipline people of color, women, and queer folks to keep divisions within the class that makes uniting and resisting harder.

Continue reading

Everything Touched by Capital Turns Toxic

In the article below, written by Gifford Hartman, capital’s war against the ecological is couched within a rich history of class struggle in California.  California’s economy transformed from its early days as center of raw mineral extraction (primarily gold and, later oil), to one based on agriculture, and then became the site of the pioneering suburban sprawl model of housing development. The earth was abused and re-abused through every cycle of accumulation right along with the indio slaves, mexicano laborers, chinese contract workers, okie migrants,  black longshoremen, and the rest of us who were drawn by the dynamic economy at the Pacific rim of  US imperialism.

Crisis in California: Everything Touched by Capital Turns Toxic

I should be very much pleased if you could find me something good (meaty) on economic conditions in California…. California is very important for me because nowhere else has the upheaval most shamelessly caused by capitalist centralisation taken place with such speed.

– Letter from Karl Marx to Friedrich Sorge, 1880

Shantytown USA

In California toxic capitalist social relations demonstrated their full irrationality in May 2009 when banks bulldozed brand-new, but unsold, McMansions in the exurbs of Southern California.

Across the United States an eviction occurs every 13 seconds and there are at the moment at least five empty homes for every homeless person. The newly homeless are finding beds unavailable as shelters are stretched well beyond capacity. St. John’s Shelter for Women and Children in Sacramento regularly turns away 350 people a night. Many of these people end up in the burgeoning tent cities that are often located in the same places as the ‘Hoovervilles’ – similar structures, named after then President Herbert Hoover – of the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The tent city in Sacramento, California’s state capital, was set up on land that had previously been a garbage dump. It became internationally known when news media from Germany, the UK, Switzerland and elsewhere covered it. It featured in the French magazine Paris Match and on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the US. Of course this publicity necessitated that Arnold Schwarzenegger, California’s governor, and Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, shut it down. When we visited in March 2009 to investigate, we met Governor Schwarzenegger and Mayor Johnson there by chance. Johnson told us the tent city would be evacuated, saying, ‘They can’t stay here, this land is toxic.’

Almost half the people we spoke with had until recently been working in the building trades. When the housing boom collapsed they simply could not find work. Some homeless people choose to live outside for a variety of reasons, including not being allowed to take pets into homeless shelters or to freely drink and use substances. But most of the tent city dwellers desperately wanted to be working and wanted to be housed. In many places people creating tent encampments are met with hostility, and are blamed for their own condition. New York City, with a reputation for intolerance towards the homeless, recently shut down a tent city in East Harlem. Homeowners near a tent city of 200 in Tampa, Florida organised to close it down, saying it would ‘devalue’ their homes. In Seattle, police have removed several tent cities, each named ‘Nickelsville’ after the Mayor who ordered the evictions.

Yet in some places, like Nashville, Tennessee, tent cities are tolerated by local police and politicians. Church groups are even allowed to build showers and provide services. Other cities that have allowed these encampments are: Champaign, Illinois; St. Petersburg, Florida; Lacey, Washington; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Reno, Nevada; Columbus, Ohio; Portland, Oregon. Ventura, California recently changed its laws to allow the homeless to sleep in cars and nearby Santa Barbara has made similar allowances. In San Diego, California a tent city appears every night in front of the main public library downtown. Continue reading

Education Under Capitalism: LA Public Schools and Colleges Cancel Summer School

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L.A. Unified School District cancels bulk of summer school programs

Los Angeles Unified School District announced Thursday it is canceling the bulk of its summer school programs, the latest in a statewide wave of cutbacks expected to leave hundreds of thousands of students struggling for classes.

The reductions, which will force many parents to scramble for child care, are the most tangible effect of the multibillion-dollar state financial cuts to education. Community colleges also have announced summer program cancellations. – LA TIMES

Commentary by JAI: The lessening of the value of labor-power finds it complement in the depreciation of the worker’s skills (i.e. labor’s ability to add value during the production process.  Similarly, when it comes to value-realization (i.e. the sale of the produced items), the workers’ ability to purchase the products of its own labor is diminished.  A virtual virtueless spiral ensues.

The value of labor-power, as the value of any and all commodities, is itself the sum total of the values of the goods and labor that go off into its making.  A large portion of that value is added to the worker-to-be during the education process.  The diminishment of the school year, ‘pupil-free days’ and now the cancelling of summer school indicates the depth of the capitalist crisis.  System-wide, labor is that which the capitalists cannot do without.

Labor is the only source of new value (surplus-value) though competition compels the individual capitalists to cut its own labor-force.  This is the fundamental contradiction of capitalism.  And this shrinking of the time and resources and personnel allocated by the system towards the education of its replacement labor force is but a parallel in the education factory of what takes place in the industrial factories.

There is absolutely no reason (save capitalism) that schools should cut back on education.  There is no reason that factories ought close (save temporarily when they have (and could) produce what they are needed to produce).  There is no reason for the insanity of wars, homelessness, poverty and famine save that these things exist eith because someone can make money off of them or ‘there is no money in them’.  These are the evils of production-for-profit.  These are the stigmata of capitalism.

Now!  More so than ever.  It is socialism or barbarism.