Tag Archives: Economic crisis

The Taking of Lakeview

The sight of young children digging into a planter box full of soil and sprouts is nothing new – an activity that happens at any given summer school for elementary school aged kids. The difference with this picture is that the gardening activity is taking place at a school site, Lakeview elementary, that’s been taken over by parents, teachers, community members and radicals. On the last day of school, June 15th, this motley mix of people held a bbq that marked the end of the Oakland Unified School District’s 2011-2012 school year and marked the beginning of the transformation of the Lakeview elementary campus into the People’s School for Public Education. This initiative is led by a committee of activists, parents, and teachers that formed out of the struggle against school closures in the fall of 2011; this struggle was itself intimately bound up within the context of a general strike called for by Occupy Oakland one day after 5 elementary schools were announced to be closed by the OUSD. The purpose here is to document and explore some of the context behind this current struggle, the complexities and contradictions involved in its organizing, and thoughts on moving forward.

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Obama’s War: Foreign and Domestic

Obama’s recent decision to commit 30,000 more soldiers to the

Translation: he criticized him so much . . . yet he follows his footsteps!

Translation: he criticized him so much . . . yet he follows his footsteps!

occupation of Afghanistan has angered folks who thought the promised “change” would include change in the US government’s imperialist foreign policy.  Anti-war, semi-socialist ex-Democrat Cynthia McKinney puts the cumulative effect well in a recent editorial:

“…there is deep disquiet today within the ranks of the President’s own base in the Democratic Party, with independents, and with middle-of-the-roaders called “swing” voters.  In unprecedented numbers, voters in the United States of all previous political persuasions went to the polls and invested their dreams and, most importantly, their votes in the “hope” and “change” promised by the Obama campaign.  But in light of the President’s defense of Bush Administration war crimes and torture in U.S. courts, the transfer of trillions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars to the wealthy banking elite, continued spying on environmental and peace activists as well as support for the extension of the Patriot Act, and removal of Medicare-for-all (single payer) as a central feature of proposed health care reform, Obama voters are rethinking their support.”

The resulting uproar from the liberal/progressive wing of Democratic Party voters doesn’t result from simple naïveté about the nature of the US political system; many up-until-recently disillusioned US residents were bamboozled by Obama’s race and rhetoric.  The Black electoral base, which is generally the most progressive section of US society, has been especially victimized by the assumption that racist, imperialist politics radiate from a white, racist chief executive.  The Obama administration PR team, and the Democratic Party in general, have encouraged this image through Obama’s constant appropriation of Black political heroes like MLK and most recently Muhammad Ali.  As Dave Zirin observes in his recent article Message to Obama: You Can’t Have Muhammad Ali, this is a cynical bastardization of one of the most famous war resisters in the 20th century. Continue reading

Worker Unity from China and Mexico to the U.S.

As economies crumble, we can expect political structures to as well. Both Mexico and China have received a fair amount of US outsourcing, and get blamed by protectionists for taking American jobs. It behooves the US working class to pay attention to what’s going on in those countries, because in some ways, the US, Mexico, and China are one extended economy, with one extended (though fractured) proletariat.

Imagine a general strike starting in a plant in Guangdou that makes micro chip parts, spreading to workers in a plant in Mexico, where workers set the China-made parts into processing units to be shipped to LA for final assembly and stamped with a Made in the USA label. Could such a tri-country workers’ movement ever take shape?

In Mexico, the peso crisis of the early nineties and the passage of NAFTA have left the economy in a shambles. Massive emigration, social upheaval (Zapatistas, Oaxaca uprising, 2006 elections, etc) and increasing privatization drives (especially against the state-owned oil company PEMEX) all indicate political instability to match the economic. The latest tragedy to hit the country is the opening of a ruthless drug war that exposes the Mexican state’s vulnerabilities and shows that there is no total monopoly on the means of violence. The Mexican state is under attack and could be said to be slowly breaking down.In China, the political system had been very stable since the Tiannamen Square protest of 1989, thanks in large part to a booming economy. With the onset of the global economic crisis, China’s manufacturing based economy has contracted, leaving 10s of millions of chinese workers unemployed. The boom itself opened up a rift between haves and have-nots that was much less acute prior to China’s meteoric economic rise, but the bust holds the potential to revive China’s Marxist legacy. It remains to be seen what the destiny of China’s rising left is, but conditions are ripe for its growth.

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David Harvey and the Economic Crisis

harvey2David Harvey, a leading geographer Marxist, makes important points on the contemporary economic crisis on how the capitalist elite has concentrated enormous amounts of wealth while the working class is being thrown into poverty and unemployment, and eliminating this crisis will only led to another crisis later on.

David Harvey On Crisis Upping the Ante

David Harvey on Crisis

David Harvey on Crisis Katrina-like Phenomenon

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.


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.