otto's war room banner

otto's war room banner

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Revival of Iraqi Communism among Youth alarms Shiite Militias

Weather it is significant that Communist youth are gaining in numbers, I'm reporting it. There is no doubt that Islamic revolutionaries are the dominant anti-imperialist fighters in the Middle east today. For the left it has been a disappointing and depressing two decades into the new 21st Century. But things can change and this may be a sign that things will change. A left presents in Iraq is welcome news. - សតិវ ​អតុ 

- Mustafa Habib

Last week’s kidnapping of seven activists in Baghdad could be another sign of increasing tensions between secular parties in Iraq and the country’s ruling religious groups. Is history repeating?
Last week, an unidentified armed group kidnapped a number of younger civil society activists from their small apartment in the Sadoun area of central Baghdad. After three days it was announced that the young men had been freed, after intervention by Iraq’s Minister of the Interior, Qassim al-Araji.
In announcing the release though, the Ministry made no mention of who might have been responsible for the kidnapping even though many locals blamed members of one or other of the Shiite Muslim militias, who run security in certain parts of the city and who have been controversial in the recent past.
Some of the young activists who were abducted also happened to be members of the Iraqi Communist Party. The Communists have been firm supporters of recent demonstrations in Baghdad during which protestors called for an end to corruption and demanded political reform. The Iraqi Communist party is just one of a number of civil society and political groups uniting to take part in, and organize, the protests.

For the rest click here.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Donald Trump visits Saudi Arabia—an absolute monarchy and absolute dictatorship

This week President Donald Trump visited a dictatorship where political power is handed down from the leader to his children. While that has been done in North (Democratic People's Republic) Korea. He could also focus on the lack of religious freedom, once again as in DPR Korea. But once again it is Saudi Arabia that has made Islam the only legal religion in the country.
As in the ISIS (Islamic State) territories, Saudi Arabia has people beheaded in public. Women can be beheaded for "witchcraft" or sorcery." In Saudi Arabia no political parties or national elections are permitted. It is a lot like the DPR Korea in the fact that it allows little political or religious freedom.
On DPR Korea Trump has said:

"There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea. Absolutely," Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview ahead of his 100th day in office on Saturday."

But in Saudi Arabia, a nation with no more rights than in DPR Korea:

"Trump said it was a "tremendous day" and spoke of "hundreds of billions of dollars of investments into the United States and jobs, jobs, jobs. So I would like to thank all of the people of Saudi Arabia."

On top of that Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal. So on an Asian country with a bad human rights record, he promises to attack. On a similar country in the Middle east, a country that has oil, he agrees to sell them arms.
If there own violation of civil rights wasn't enough, Saudi Arabia has led an illegal war on Yemen. According to the Washington Examiner:

"Saudi Arabia, armed with American weapons, fought a proxy war with Iran in Yemen, where the government was overthrown by a rebel group tied to the Iranians. Allegations that Saudi Arabia has bombed civilians and committed other human rights abuses compromised what would otherwise tend to be unanimous U.S. support for the conflict. A $1.15 billion arms deal last year turned controversial, but that pact is dwarfed by the $110 billion pact signed Saturday."

So he is in the Middle east sucking up to a absolute monarchy, a totalitarian dictatorship, and using the regime to bring jobs to Americans —jobs that would be brought to us by human rights abuses —blood money.
The US tries to overthrow one such absolute dictatorship in Asia and yet the US is fine with a different one in the Middle east. And in the Middle east it is a dictatorship that has used proxy armies to foment war. If DPR Korea did that it would be unacceptable. But it is being done by an ally so we look the other way.
I must point out that Trump is not the first or the only US President to honor this dictator. But it needs to stop no matter who is over there kissing the asses of these murderers.
Trump just pretends he's cutting off an opponent's head. Now that is funny! (for him) Pix by Business Insider.

Friday, May 19, 2017

50th anniversary of Naxalbari, beginning of the Naxalita Revolution

Translated to English by Google:

The Network of Communist Blogs (RBC) is committed to the diffusion and solidarity with the People's War in India and the Naxalita Movement. Therefore, we publish the text (translated from the original by New Peru ) of comrade Varavara Rao, Maoist writer and leader of the Association of Revolutionary Writers, about the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Naxalite Revolution in Naxalbari (celebrated on 23 Of the May Revolutionary Popular War led by the PCI (Maoist) in India, considered by the government of Delhi as the greatest threat to the country's security, that is, for the interests of local and multinational capital and The Hindu oligarchy.

It was on May 25, 1967, when Naxalbari landed the landed peasants and declared themselves the right to cultivate them, giving many of them their lives to protect them against the brutal intervention of the state armed forces, Of the beginning of the well-known Naxalita Revolution that continues today, under the leadership of the PCI (Maoist), putting in check the fascist-capitalist government of India, under the leadership of the PCI (Maoist).

The Network of Communist Blogs joins the celebration of May 25, Anniversary of the beginning of the Naxalite Revolution of the Naxalbari Movement, 

Long live the Naxalita Revolution!
Long live the People's War of India!

" In India, the revolutionary armed uprising of the peasants of Naxalbari, which marks the 50th anniversary, was inspired by the Great Proletarian Chinese Cultural Revolution. Naxalbari was a key event in history under the leadership of Com. Charu Majumdar - one of the two great leaders, teachers and founders of the PCI (Maoist), along with Kanhai Chatterjee, event that marked a new beginning in the history of the democratic revolution of the country .

"In India, the Naxalbari peasant revolutionary armed uprising, which will mark its 50th anniversary, was influenced and inspired by the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution of China." Naxalbari was a breakthrough event under the leadership of C. Charu Majumdar - one Of the two great leaders, teachers and founders of the CPI (Maoist, C. Charu Majumdar and Kanhai Chatterjee - which marked a new beginning in the history of the country's democratic revolution. "

It is the observation made by the Central Committee of the CPI (Maoist) at the same time as it calls to celebrate the four great events of history to achieve socialism in the world, including the fiftieth anniversary of Naxalbari. It is obvious that the Maoists - even more so in the CPI (Maoist) - are the true heirs of the Naxalbari Movement in India, as well as certain revolutionary groups and individuals throughout the country. Unless a Bolshevik party is built with the Bolshevik spirit to bring about the Indian revolution that unites all these revolutionary forces, the New Democracy Revolution in India, a precursor to socialism can not be achieved.

Naxalbari is a dividing line in all aspects of politics, Semicolonial semi-feudal society and culture between the exploiting and exploited classes, the rulers and the ruled, the comprador bourgeoisie and the broad masses of peasants and workers, parliamentary politics and the alternative way of the people. In a word, the class struggle under the leadership of the working class as the vanguard to seize the power of the state by the people, the productive forces to change the relations of production.

Naxalbari for the first time defined the character of the State as a semifeudal and semicolonial dictatorship, a bourgeois comprador. He had taken Maoism, Marxism-Leninism of this time as his vision of the world. He had rejected parliamentary policy. He had chosen the path of the Revolution of New Democratic and had undertaken a prolonged war against the State, with the armed struggle as the main form of struggle. Its economic program of struggle for land began in Naxalbari on May 23, 1967, with the Santalas of Naxalbari and the Kheribari peoples occupying land and declaring their right to the land until May 25 and giving their lives to protect it against the Intervention of the state armed forces. His military program is guerrilla warfare until he liberated villages and ultimately entered the face-to-face war in the capture of the Center. Until reaching its stage of mobile warfare as a whole in Dandakaranya, Bastar in Chhattisgarh and Gadchiroli in Maharashtra.

Its political program is "all power for the people" as that of the Soviets in Soviet Russia, the communes in the People's Republic of China. This political program was in force in its embryonic form in Naxalbari, Srikakulam, Wynad and other areas of adivasi peasant struggle, even during the peasant armed struggle Telangana (1946-51). The program has taken a firm, vivid and crystalline form by adopting the resolution to form the Rajya Grass Committees in 1995 at the Special Plenary of the CPI (People's War). Despite being crushed in hundreds of villages in Telangana del Norte during 1995-2003, with killings in clashes and other extra constitutional forms of bloodshed to implement imperialist policies of globalization, Was able to sustain in Dandakaranya and during the last twelve years has risen up to Janatana Sarkar, where a united front, self-sufficient, united front of the landless, poor peasantry, middle peasantry and rich peasantry. Adivasi, Dalit and oppressed classes are governed under the leadership of the Party, with the Popular Liberation Guerrilla Army protecting the alternative power of the people. And that is why we see the people's war today, particularly in East and Central India, in the Adivasi areas of Jangalmahal in Bengal, Saranda in Jharkhand, Dandakaranya, Andhra-Orissa Border and Western Ghats.

In fact, The spirit of Naxalbari of wide expansion is continued by the CPI (ML) of Andhra Pradesh taking advantage of the experience of the campesino armed struggle of Telangana in the implementation of the mass line and the formation of mass organizations, especially after the movement of Srikakulam.

Following the retreat and martyrdom of Charu Mazumdar in 1972, self-criticism was drafted and efforts were made to form the Central Organizing Committee which finally resulted during the Emergency to establish the "Road to Revolution" at the meeting of the Telangana Regional Committee in 1976 Due to the inheritance of the Telangana Virasam Armed Struggle - Association of Revolutionary Writers was formed in 1970, Jana Natya Mandali a large increase in popular cultural movement has arrived in 1972, Pilupu - a magazine for the oppressed masses began in 1973 and by that time also formed the Union of Radical Students of 1974 (RSU).

During the Emergency the radical students had to go underground and conducted studies on land relations in villages that can be compared to the Hunan Studies under the leadership of Mao Tse Tung, resulting in the massive massive increase in Occupation of land by poor and landless peasants, especially Dalits and oppressed classes. The Second USW Warangal Conference had called on students and young people to "go to the villages" to propagate the policy of the New Democratic Revolution and to help the peasants occupy the land and fight to protect it. A meeting organized in Jagityal, Which later became known as Jagityal Jaitra Yatra in September 1978, occupying land in 150 villages and declaring the right of the people over it. From then on it is a continuous history of class struggle with mass line.

The CPI (People's War) was formed in 1980 and with Perspective Dandakaranya had sent squadrons to Sironcha from Maharashtra and Bastar from Madhya Pradesh. The Dandakaranya Perspective predicted that, unlike a base zone liberated in China's Yenan, the Indian Revolution might need more base areas to usher in the New Democracy Revolution, as it will also be a revolution to achieve socialism in the world.

In 1999 the CPI Party (ML) unit that is active in Bengal, Bihar, Delhi and Punjab join with People's War taking the name of CPI (ML) People's War On September 21, 2004 the CPI (People's War) and the Maoist Communist Center with the long history of class struggle in Bihar and Bengal under the Leadership of Dakshinadesh were united and constituted as CPI (Maoist).

The United CPI (Maoist) Congress took place in 2007 after the first CPI (ML) congress in 1970. During the last ten years the People's War in this country continues under this leadership of the CPI (Maoist). It also seals a mark among the different parties of the CPI (ML) that participate in the parliamentary elections, while they speak of the armed struggle and the CPI (Maoist) that adheres to the boycott of the elections and to the armed struggle like main form of fight of classes. The United CPI (Maoist) Congress took place in 2007 after the first CPI (ML) congress in 1970. During the last ten years the People's War in this country continues under this leadership of the CPI (Maoist). It also seals a mark among the different parties of the CPI (ML) that participate in the parliamentary elections, while they speak of the armed struggle and the CPI (Maoist) that adheres to the boycott of the elections and to the armed struggle like main form of fight of classes. The United CPI (Maoist) Congress took place in 2007 after the first CPI (ML) congress in 1970. During the last ten years the People's War in this country continues under this leadership of the CPI (Maoist). It also seals a mark among the different parties of the CPI (ML) that participate in the parliamentary elections, while they speak of the armed struggle and the CPI (Maoist) that adheres to the boycott of the elections and to the armed struggle like main form of fight of classes.

Despite the ups and downs, advances and setbacks, once the mass line was adopted in 1976, there has been a consistent run. Today we see the movement in more than one state, even according to the central government there is the organization of the CPI (Maoist) in 16 states and in many states particularly in DK, AOB, Jharkhand and Bihar, Western Ghats there are armed struggles supported By mass organizations. And in DK there is Bhoomkal Militia which is the People's Guerrilla Army safeguarding the power of the people.

Although it seems a struggle for land, whether in Naxalbari, Srikakulam or Telangana in 1970, it is a real anti-feudal, anti-imperialist struggle with a slogan of "land for the one who works it," But pointing to the takeover of state power by the people. That is why the purchasing power class of the Center (ie the Federation, our note) and the States look at it with fear and mark it as the "greatest internal threat" to The system and the State.

The imperialist policy of globalization adopted by the Indian government in 1991 as a new economic policy demonstrated Naxalbari's vision of characterizing the state as a collusion of comprador, feudal, and imperialist forces.

Naxalbari in Dandakaranya, Bihar and Jharkhand, AOB, Western Ghats and Jangalmahal is adopting an alternative village development program to protect the natural wealth and human labor that are looted by multinational companies and large East and Central India companies. Whatever the political party in power in parliamentary politics - whether a party of the whole of India or a regional party - is adopting the politics of globalization and therefore the patriots, the democrats, the environmentalists and all those who genuinely They feel that to defend the sovereignty of the country is to be united with the struggles of the great masses of this country, in particular adivasis, dalits, peasants, workers, women, Muslims, students and young unemployed in different sectors not organized under the direction of the CPI ) And other revolutionary forces for the political alternative - self-sufficient and self-sustaining - self-government that will inaugurate the Revolution of New Democrcy. That is the dream of thousands of martyrs who have given their lives in the struggle against this system of exploitation and the State. It is not necessary to go into details of the degeneracy of parliamentary politics, especially in the light of 72 votes in favor of Sharmila in Manipur and the UP elections where the BJP could obtain the absolute majority without giving a single place to the Muslims. So the only hope left for the democratic forces in this country is the New Democracy Revolution, the unsatisfied democratic task that the Naxalbari movement has given us 50 years ago.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

France: Why Macron's victory over Le Pen deserves no cheers

This article is as good as any I have seen. What is really sad is that France, as in the US, had really terrible choices in this election. Right now, all across Europe, and in the US and elsewhere, elections have offered up really crappy people, who offer virtually no real reason to vote for them. They don't even promise to make life better for the average person. They offer to manage conservative systems that do little or nothing for the people they are supposed to represent. I honestly probably would not even have voted if I lived in France. In England Theresa May, a lacklustre do-nothing conservative who has nothing to offer the English people, is expected to win upcoming elections. Not since the Ronald Reagan years have the electorate of most countries had such crappy choices during election time. - សតិវ ​អតុ 

Emmanuel Macron, who beat the fascist Marine Le Pen in the final round of the French elections, was the consensus candidate around whom most of the French capitalist ruling class and its political representatives rallied. But that doesn't change the fact that the man who won by a two-to-one margin represents a deeply unpopular programme opposed even by most of those who voted for him because he was the "least worst" candidate. Further, it doesn't change the reality of the collapse of the political set-up that has governed the country since the end of the last world war, and the erosion of the underlying social compact and ideology that held the country together. It won't bring political and social stability. And rather than turning back the danger of fascism in France, these elections demonstrate and further the legitimation of Le Pen's party and especially of her openly-stated fascistic politics.

A candidate of continuity and capitalist consensus

One irony of this election is that even though neither of the two parties that have alternated in governing France, the Socialists and the party now called Les Républicains, made it into the run-off elections, Macron's programme represents the continuation and intensification of measures favoured by both of them. The difference is that until now the process of making French capital more competitive has largely proceeded in disguised form. For example, despite the official 35-hour work week, many service and transport workers feel the life drained out of them by split shifts. Office employees spend "free time" in front of a home computer screen. Long periods as unpaid or underpaid interns feel like slave labour to young people, and the extensive use of renewable short-term employment contracts means that many never obtain job security. Employees with seniority face harassment – sometimes to the point of suicide – meant to force them to quit despite supposed legal job protection. 

Now Macron proposes to "unblock" the labour market with new laws. One is that wages and working conditions be negotiated enterprise by enterprise, eliminating the whole concept that society owes any general protection, which would surely lead to a downward spiral. He would also give employers far more power to lay off at will, force the unemployed to accept almost any job after the first two offers, and in other ways abolish acquired entitlements that used to make life tolerable for many working people. He calls for drastically cutbacks in social services in order to provide government financing in key areas to make French industries stronger and reduce the public debt. 

This is the path already well worn in the UK and Germany. When the outgoing Socialist President Francois Hollande brought in Macron as his protégé and finance minister as part of a broader bid to implement such measures, the resulting social upheaval helped kill Hollande's career and led Macron to resign from the government and party. Yet now Macron is back, with a new party and the same programme on steroids. Under the cover of his defeat of Le Pen and the spectacle focusing on his age (at 39, the youngest French head of state in modern times) and his penchant for off-the-rack rather than bespoke suits, Macron promises to "renew" and "moralize" French politics by replacing some of the country's old men politicians with young women and men. It's not hard to predict that the current media-driven intoxication will be followed by a bad hangover. It's also not hard to predict that this will work to the benefit of Le Pen.

In a way similar to other imperialist countries since the end of the last world war, the French monopoly capitalists have ruled through a political model where governance has alternated between centre-left and centre-right political forces representing real, but far from fundamental, variations on an underlying social model in which the satisfaction of a few basic human needs has been more or less guaranteed to a broad section of the population, including much of the working class, in exchange for a social peace underwritten by the country's position among the global imperialist system's top predators. In particular, the Socialist Party, which plunged to the level of a fringe party almost overnight, is no longer able to pose as a real alternative to the traditional openly capitalist right-wing party, while a significant part of society, including strata once considered the base of the parliamentary left, has fallen prey to Le Pen's promises to upend the status quo. This is a new and dangerous polarization. 

Le Pen's paradoxical defeat

The attack on Le Pen by her rivals, the media and other highly placed figures mainly took place on grounds favourable to her, so that even in defeat she is stronger than ever. She claims, not without reason, that others in the political establishment are copying her proposals, differing mainly in degree and determination. Macron, for instance, rather than denouncing her ugly demand for more repression, calls "security" his priority concern and plans to institute systematic jail terms for petty crimes and make room for 20 percent more prisoners in a country that already has one of the highest incarceration rates in Europe. He would also hire far more police and border guards, institute house arrest for asylum seekers and speed up their processing and expulsion. Such steps have little to do with protecting people against violent crime, which despite politician-stoked popular perception, is in decline. Nor, reactionary experts agree, would any of this have prevented the recent Islamist terrorist attacks. These measures are largely in line with Le Pen's argument that what France needs most is an even more punitive climate aimed especially at Moslems and at people kept at the bottom of society more generally, along with the strengthening of the state's repressive forces. All this demonstrates that rather than being an isolated phenomenon, Le Pen is part and parcel of an overall rightward shift in French politics. 

But paradoxically, it is where Le Pen is qualitatively different from her rivals that she enjoyed impunity in the electoral campaign. It might seem obvious that the fascist label objectively describes her party, which is rooted in the fascist Vichy regime that ruled in collaboration with the Nazi occupiers during World War 2. Her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen is notorious for calling the Holocaust a mere "detail" of World War Two. An amnesty for French war criminals shielded him from prosecution on charges that he committed torture as an army officer during France's unsuccessful war to prevent Algerian independence. 

Marine Le Pen is more than a key actor in the rightward shift in France and Europe more generally. She also represents an effort to create a whole new legal and ideological framework, one that explicitly demonizes and strips the rights of millions of people she deems insufficiently "French", even if born in France, with more than a hint of threatened ethnic cleansing – fascism for short. Although tens of thousands of angry people demonstrated against her candidacy, it was nothing like the angry million who marched against her father when he made a breakthrough and reached the Presidential run-off elections in 2002 – and far from what needed to take place this time. This is partially explained by the fact that most ruling class politicians and media refrained from erecting a political ring fence around her. She was treated as a legitimate candidate in the televised debates, especially by Macron, who condescendingly focused on her intellectual clumsiness rather than calling her out as the enemy of the bourgeois-democratic form of rule and the slogan "Liberté, égalité, fraternité". This slogan summarizes an ideal, that all people are equal, which never could describe the reality of a society divided into antagonistic classes, let alone a world divided into oppressor and oppressed nations. But it has been at the core of the ideological glue holding together French society. 

In short, Le Pen got a free pass when it comes to what she really represents. That she captured one third of the votes is seen as sufficient to make her a legitimate figure, despite her programme, but even that probably could not have happened had she not been treated as a legitimate possibility all along. Part of what changed is that a small but very significant section of the traditional right joined with her, for the first time in her party's history. She, at least, hopes to place herself as the leading alternative to Macron and what she denounces as the political system he represents. At the very least, it can be said the French ruling class overall has objectively favoured her presence in the electoral landscape, if not her victory – under current circumstances. 

How the "far left" candidate did his bit for the system

The other major player in producing electoral illusions – the illusion that elections are anything more than a form of rule under which the monopoly capitalists exercise a disguised dictatorship – was Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his party, La France insoumise (France Unbowed). His appeal to "all the children of the Republic" was not so different than Macron in covering up the systematic and vicious structural oppression of those in France whose origins lie in the former French colonies and slavery. While Le Pen's nationalism stinks to many people, Mélenchon did a great deal to give French nationalism and patriotism a left cover and make it respectable. This was the most important aspect of his programme, and not his wish list of new benefits of the kind unions successfully sought in decades gone by when French imperialism and the world imperialist system were in better circumstances. (He also distinguished himself by his unstinting praise for the police and the CRS, the paramilitary force widely hated for attacking strikers and protests, whose only mission is to enforce social order.)

Mélenchon's proposed solution to the failure of the Socialist Party to keep its promises is to strengthen French imperialism's position in the world. This does not contradict or distinguish him from what unites Le Pen and Macron: taking French imperialist interests as the highest good. Mélenchon's hostility to the European Union may very well be a major reason why France's "political class" excludes him in a way that Le Pen is no longer entirely excluded, especially now that she appears to be backtracking on her previous opposition. But he continuously emphasizes France's necessary place in "Europe", a term that refers to something more than a continent only insofar as its identity is that of the collective heir (along with the US and UK) to the riches produced by slavery and colonialism, whose living standards are made possible only by constantly expanding global exploitation and the looting of the world's oppressed peoples. On the contrary, Mélenchon's gripe is that France is not doing well enough in the sharpening rivalry within this fraternity of thieves. 

Once elected, Macron, like his predecessors, was scheduled to open his presidency with a visit to Mali, one of the many places where French troops stationed abroad. These troops are tasked with defending French domination against both Islamists and rival imperialists – to defend, against the interests of humanity, the illegitimate notion of "Françafrique", that France has an inherent right to dominate much of Africa in collusion and rivalry with other imperialists. Would – could – Mélenchon have acted very differently? 

Further, it's striking that while Mélenchon called Le Pen a fascist in a previous campaign – and won when she sued him for libel – he did not repeat that charge this time. This is consistent with his attempts to poach supporters from her social base, as she did to his. He called on his followers not to vote for her in the run-offs, and it seems that far more Les Républicains supporters ended up voting for Le Pen than did Mélenchon's. Still, there is a similarity in their appeal to the sentiment that vaguely identified "elites" have opted for a globalization that has destroyed traditional values and robbed "the French" of their rightful place in the world. This reactionary nostalgia has a particular resonance among those in the working class who held jobs denied to the immigrants or in other ways enjoyed petty privileges compared to the many millions brought to France to work as labourers. Furthermore, as part of his effort to appeal to Le Pen's social base, Mélenchon did not attempt to fight her on the field of values, where Le Pen vigorously reaffirmed patriarchy and other traditional Catholic values that have been increasingly strained by objective economic and social factors at work, including major changes in French society itself. (Significantly, the French Catholic hierarchy, unlike its counterparts of other religions, did not call for Le Pen's defeat.) 

Despite the seeming opposition between the defence of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" by Mélenchon – and Macron – and Le Pen's fascism ("French people first"), these positions both hide the fact that France, like all other countries, is a society made up of social classes, most basically exploiters and exploited, whose interests are in antagonistic opposition to one another. 

A way out of today's unacceptable choices 

There is a need and a basis for a completely different kind of society that works toward the elimination of class distinctions throughout the world, relying on and unleashing the creative energies and vast potential of human beings. This can only mean genuine proletarian revolution as it has been re-envisioned by Bob Avakian, when those at the bottom and their allies throughout society seize political power led not by an appeal to narrow perceived self-interest, but as part of a global process to consciously transform themselves and the world. 

No political force in French society has vigorously opposed Le Pen with a vision and a plan for an entirely different kind of society and world, one that is neither a continuation of the current capitalist status quo that so many people in France today find unacceptable, nor a resolution of its hypocritical values through an even more reactionary appeal to naked self-interest and oppression enforced by terror. Yet the circumstances cry out for for just that – the development of a genuine revolutionary communist movement. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Housing Vouchers get blocked by the US capitalist disease—Classism

By សតិវ ​អតុ 
Just the other day I was listening to a piece on NPR, on my car radio, and they had an interview that really disturbed me. It turns out that a program the government runs to help low income people move into good houses usually doesn’t work at all because residence in the better homes won’t let poor people move in.

The program, for Section 8 housing vouchers, provides these poor people with vouchers to help them pay for apartment or housing rent until they can make enough income to pay it on their own. To begin with, this is one of those programs were the money is available, but for most of the people who need it, there just isn’t enough to go around. There is a waiting list. It can take up to six months to finally get the vouchers. The vouchers expire if not used in a short span of time.
"It took me six years to get my voucher but I got it," Farryn Giles told NPR. "You can best believe I'm going to utilize it."

But she won’t be using them. It turns out that getting these doesn’t accomplish anything. Few if any landlords will accept them. And even if they do, angry middle and upper class residence will stop her from moving in. It all comes down to America’s last great ism, next to racism, sexism and homophobia—classism.
Classism is still perfectly acceptable to a great many people here in this country. The NPR story is a testimony to that. Unlike racism or sexism, no one seems to rush in and defend poor people when they are a product of discrimination. This last ism may be America’s worst form of discrimination at this point in time. And as this story points out the damage is very real.

"I've been to Oak Cliff, I've been to south Dallas, I've been to Pleasant Grove," Giles said. "I've been way down south. Nobody wants my voucher."

And it is not that the money is no good. The government pays out. But prejudiced middle and upper class people run prospective renters, such as Giles, out of their part of town.
The NPR article gave the example of Developer Terri Anderson who ran into problems trying to build an apartment complex, with 13 units set aside specifically for voucher holders.

"The city actually called a public hearing for our property and about 250 angry residents showed up," she said. "Our superintendent has been threatened, issued a criminal trespass warning. Police officers blocked our entrance."

It seems that people who can pay their rent don’t want poor people moving in near them. Their reasons are nothing short of preconceived ideas about what poor people are like. They are reacting to stereo types that conservative forces have reinforced in their rhetoric for decades. They have implied or just came right out and said that poor people are lazy, dangerously attracted to criminal activity and most of all, they have different values. They lack the values the upper class people believe are responsible for their better lifestyle they can afford. And most of all, they just won’t fit in.
One thing that really stands out is that most of these arguments are the same that white people used to say about Afro-Americans back in the 1950s and 1960s when efforts were being made to wipe out racism in housing. In many ways this problem is simply an extension of plain old racism in housing. Such problem that goes back over the last century and the classism of today is really a product of past racist attitudes.
Nicole Humphrey, who lives a couple miles away from Anderson's development, provides us with an example of the classist attitudes that get in the way of a person, such as Giles, trying to make a better life for her and her son.

"I feel so bad saying that," Humphrey told NPR. "It's just not people who are the same class as us."

She continues:

"In this neighborhood, most of us are stay-at-home moms with young kids," she says. "The lifestyle that goes with Section 8 is usually working, single moms or people who are struggling to keep their heads above water."

When asked if others who did not have the same opportunities as her could live in her neighborhood, she says: "The problem with that is I hear a lot of the unfair of: 'Oh we haven't been given this or that, or we haven't been afforded things you have been afforded.' I don't look at multi-millionaires and think, 'Why don't I have a yacht?'"

Humphrey says the issue for her is not about race. She says her neighborhood – with rows of tidy new houses and with well-cut lawns — is diverse. The real concern, she says, is that the voucher holders won't fit in or they won't understand her life.
All of this is straight out prejudice and ignorance about what poor people are really like. Chances are good that Humphrey has never spoke with a poor person of the lower classes to see what these people are really like. And chances are even better that she goes out of her way to avoid talking to people such as Giles. This all reinforces the stereo types that keep these bigoted views alive among people of the middle and upper classes.
The US is guilty of ignoring this problem and conservative forces[1] are guilty of perpetuating the stereo types of the lower classes. People who defend the lower classes are often labeled socialist, communist or some other kind of nasty word that paints support of the lower classes as anti-American. But this housing problem demonstrates just how destructive these types of prejudism are. We are a society that values wealthy people and stigmatizes the opposite. We are bombarded daily with commercials that tell us how important it is to “make it.” The messages are very clear: “If you are not making enough money to afford the things you are entitle to, the things you need and want, you are a LOSER!”
Over the last half century, the cold war has allowed our society to ridicule anyone who dares to defend the culture of the lower classes. But now is the time to fight back and reverse that trend.
One part of this change is to fight against the stereo types and attitudes that devalue the lives of the poor. This means speaking out for such people publicly. We need to challenge the stereo types that imply that it is the fault of the poor for being poor. People don’t usually choose poverty. Many people are born into it. We can confront politicians at their town hall meetings. We can write blog articles and letters to the editor. Whenever such stereo types appear, public, in print or other media, we need to speak out. Let’s make classist attitudes on par with racism, sexism, homophobia and any other ism that discriminates.
We should encourage people to get to know persons who live in poverty. We need to challenge the middle and upper class people to talk to the poor. They need to find out what they are really like. It may be possible to hold events that will allow people of different classes to meet up personally.[2]
We need to support political people and institutions that can challenge the stereo types against poor people. Then we need to fight the political system itself. Prejudice against the poor comes from a system that encourages a consumer society and perpetuates the idea that wealthy people are just move valuable to society than poor ones. What we need is revolution and then socialism. Then we can really stamp out classism.

Pix from Meme Generator.

[1] There are plenty of examples of liberals who are also guilty of looking down on the lower classes and perpetuating stereo types about them. See the “The Culture Of The Smug White Liberal,”
Huffington Post.

[2] Breaking down class barriers was one of the goals of the Cultural Revolution in China. Our news media and educational systems have tried to keep people in the US ignorant of what that event was really for. They tell people here that it was all just a purge where Mao Zedong went after his enemies. But that is far from the reason for the Cultural Revolution. One thing Mao wanted to do was to use government campaigns to allow people to get to know members of the other classes. Much of the Cultural Revolution was designed to break down cultural barriers to the various classes in China. That included programs where people from the city where taken out to the country side to meet with peasants, to live and work with them. Such a program would probably not work here. But we can still use that model to find ways to get people from other classes to work together on various projects to produce the same results.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Australia: A war on refugees

"People here don’t have a real life. We are just surviving. We are dead souls in living bodies. We are just husks. We don’t have any hope or motivation."

This is what a woman refugee told an Amnesty International researcher about life in Nauru. Seeking asylum in Australia, instead she was forcibly transferred to this tiny Pacific island and kept there. She wasn't just making a poetic statement. She was speaking for the 21 year-old Somali woman Hodan Yasin who set herself on fire in May 2016, and the 23 year-old Iranian Omid Masoulmali, who also set himself on fire in Nauru and, in his case, ended his life. This is the message of the more than 60 refugees on this island who have either committed suicide or tried to harm themselves to escape an unbearable captivity. All this is the result of the extreme abuse, ill treatment and deliberate mental and psychological torture the Australian government has inflicted on refugees who try to reach Australia by boat.

Boats carrying thousands of refugees, mostly from Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and South Asian countries, have headed for Australia for years. Some never made it. Many of the boats were old and in bad shape. If they capsized in the Indian Ocean between Indonesia and Australia, no one came to their aid. Many lives were lost because of the indifference of the Australian authorities. SOS calls went unanswered. Surviving witnesses recounted occasions when the coastguard was contacted and promised to send help, but no help ever came. It became increasingly obvious that the coastguard's indifference constituted deliberate negligence. Proposed new laws were so brutal that many people could not believe they would be passed, let alone implemented. Yet they were approved in parliament by both mainstream parties and enforced by the coalition government that came to power in 2013.

"Operation Sovereign Borders" put the military in control of asylum operations. They intercepted boats at sea and took their passengers to one of two remote islands in the Pacific Ocean, Nauru and Manus (part of Papua-New Guinea), two nations dominated by Australia. Supposedly the refugees' forced stay there was temporary while their application for asylum was processed. But months lengthened to years, and during these years the anti-immigrant laws got even tougher.

Following the passing of another anti-immigrant law in 2014, military vessels now patrolling Australian waters seize and capture migrant boats, towing them back to Indonesia or sending them back in inflatable boats or lifeboats. This cut off the flow of asylum seekers to Nauru and Manus, but those trapped there have little prospect of leaving. Now even if these asylum seekers are found to be refugees, they are told they will never be allowed to enter Australia. Instead, they must settle in Nauru and Papua New Guinea, or be taken to Cambodia. No matter where they may acquire citizenship, they are prohibited from ever setting foot in Australia in the future, even on tourist or business visas.-

The "life" of refugees in such conditions

Currently, there are about 1,900 people being held on Australia’s two offshore detention islands. The latest Australian government statistics show there are 871 men in detention on Manus Island and 373 people living in the regional processing centre on Nauru. About 700 more refugees sent to Nauru live in the community on that island. (Guardian, 2 February 2017) Those settled in Papua-New Guinea and Cambodia may not be included in these figures.

Those transferred to Nauru initially spent a year or more housed in cramped vinyl tents in a detention facility where indoor temperatures regularly reach 45 to 50 degrees Celsius. Nauru has an area of 21 square kilometres, with extremely limited faculties for its barely 10,000 inhabitants.

The refugees taken there with life-threatening conditions, such as heart and kidney diseases, diabetes accompanied by weight loss and so on, do not receive specialised medical attention, according to the 2 August 2016 Amnesty International report. The fact that the Australian government treats refugees like criminals leaves them vulnerable to physical attacks and abusive treatment by some local residents outside the camps and sometimes inside as well. During one assault on a camp, an Iranian asylum seeker was killed and at least 70 were hurt. Women are especially endangered They rarely ever leave the camps, and when they do, it is usually in a group or with male companions.

Ali Bagheri, a young refugee from Afghanistan of the Hazara minority there, arrived in Australia in 2001 after surviving a fire that killed his nephew on the boat that brought them. After that, he spent 10 years in detention in the South Pacific. He told BBC, "You don't want anyone else to go through that… the people there had no hope. They had a lot of mental illnesses and psychotic disorders. Why keep innocent refugees and torture them? Every human being has the right to seek asylum…. As a little kid I had to witness people trying to commit suicide. I lost my childhood in that detention centre." (, 11 November 2014)

This has been confirmed by the Amnesty International report that states refugees suffer from severe anxiety, inability to sleep, mood swings, prolonged depression, and short-term memory loss. This has affected children who suffer from nightmares and other worrying behaviour. They talk about the extreme pressure and prolonged uncertainty about their future in a way that clearly implies they are tormented by thoughts of self-harm or committing suicide.

The photojournalist Ashley Gilbertson, originally from Australia, managed to interview some of the people in Manus Island away from the eyes of the authorities: "[O]ver 900 of them, from Iran, Iraq, Sudan and elsewhere, have been detained since 2013. I’ve never come across refugees this broken. The vast majority didn't want to share their stories with me. 'What's the point', they would say. They have been beaten into despair, tortured by disempowerment…[Many] have taken up drinking, or trading cigarettes (they receive up to three packets per week) for local marijuana. Many take sleeping pills handed out by nurses. Anything to pass the time and escape from their anguish." ("I am Ashamed to be Australian", New York Times, 12 December 2016)

Refugees and their choices

Here again the usual question poses itself: Why do people choose to undertake such dangers and hardships? The reactionaries ruling the imperialist-developed countries have a stereotypical answer. They believe, or at least propagate, that the refugees come to these countries to abuse the welfare system and take advantage of their way of life. Refugees are called undesirable people, a burden on "taxpayers", and blamed for unemployment, crime and other social problems. But the media rarely mention that the vast majority of people who become refugees have no better choice.

Imperialist policies and intervention have given rise to the destructive wars in, to name only a few examples, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Yemen, taking the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and causing the displacement of tens of millions. Many refugees are fleeing persecution by governments propped up by the very countries where they have to seek asylum. This violence goes hand in hand with the unequal relations through which the global system of trade and investment has enriched the imperialist powers and distorted the economy of many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, destroying the livelihood of millions of peasants and other people. Yet for the imperialist rulers, the problem is not the billions of afflicted people, but the very small percentage who seek refuge in the better-off countries.

The Australian government claims that its forcible transfer of refugees to Pacific islands is a policy of "deterrence" meant to ensure that other refugees will no longer risk death by taking a boat to Australia. In reality, this policy is a crime against people whose lives have been destroyed by the world imperialist system that Australia is a part of, and often, wars that Australia in particular has played a role in (such as Afghanistan). This policy is part of the normalisation of extreme cruelty against refugees on a world scale.

The previously mentioned photojournalist Gilbertson, who has covered refugee camps and the treatment of refugees around the world for 20 years, says that even after "seeing so many extreme atrocities" and "so much injustice against the refugees", "in all that time, I have not seen the level of cruelty toward these vulnerable people that the Australian government is perpetrating against the refugees on Manus Island." Yet in the UK, ministers have raised the possible adoption of the Australian method more than once. Prime Minister Theresa May has all but explicitly called for letting refugees drown in the Mediterranean to deter others from coming to Europe. To a lethal extent the European Union has moved closer and closer to the Australian model, which could be considered a kind of pilot project for other imperialist countries.

Recently the German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière suggested that the refugees caught crossing the Mediterranean be transferred to centres in North African countries. Specifically, he had in mind the area in Libya under the control of a government imposed by Europe and the US after Nato reduced the country to a hell-hole. There have been recent reports of thousands of children and young women sexually and physically abused in the refugee centres in that part of Libya. The US government, under Obama and now Trump, has supported Australia's refugee policy, despite a recent dispute about whether or not the US will now honour Obama's commitment to take in a tiny number of Australia's Pacific island detainees as a sign of solidarity with Australian policies.

Yet at the same time that the government of Malcolm Turnbull blusters that Australia will never change its polices, it is going to great lengths to hide their effects from the public at home and internationally. According to the Amnesty International report, "Australia and Nauru impose strict secrecy on the processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and refuse most requests to visit from journalists or researchers.... journalists in particular face severe restrictions on entry, with an $8,000 non-refundable visa fee and a protracted application process. Nauru has granted visas to just two media outlets since January 2014. Other requests have been rebuffed or met with no response. UN officials have been denied entry or in some cases have concluded that a visit would be impractical due to severe limitations on their access." Other governments, in the first place the US, are complicit in this cover-up.

However, there has been strong opposition to this crime by many groups and individuals inside and outside Australia. Thousands of people have marched in Australia's cities carrying banners saying, "Bring them here." Among the refugees there are some who have not lost all hope and given up their just fight. There have been many occasions of resistance. In Manus in January 2015, hundreds went on hunger strike and barricaded themselves into a compound in the camp to disrupt the policy of keeping those granted refugee status on the island.

The refugee crisis is a crisis of the world capitalist-imperialist system. In "protecting" their borders with ever more violence, the imperialists are seeking to protect their system from upheavals resulting from the consequences of their system and all that they do to both profit from and maintain the lopsided division of the world. More exposure and much stronger opposition is needed to defeat these vicious attacks against refugees by taking the side of the oppressed and exploited against the oppressors and exploiters on a world scale.

Pix by

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

US- 1970- Four dead in Ohio

On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on a group of students who were demonstrating against President Richard Nixon’s Cambodian invasion Campaign. He had just ordered troops and bombers into Cambodia as part of his Vietnam War strategy.
The guards killed four people and wounded nine others. One student was permanently paralyzed. This song was written soon after:
-សតិវ អតុ 
Crosby,Stills,nash and Young: Four dead in ohio  

4 dead in Ohio- no music:

Privatised Affordable Housing Program Costs More, Houses Fewer

Day after day I drive my wife to work and each day we pass a McDonald's. One thing I can always see are homeless people. I keep reading that our Kansas governor has cut back on welfare and most of those people are now working. But my suspicions are that these people represent the fruits of our conservative societythey are the people know one want to see, because they represent what does not work in our capitalist system.
And there are a lot of these people. They all looked leathered and weathered by the sun and the elements. I can tell they spend little time indoors. They often carry most of their possessions. They often change in the McDonald's bathroom. They dress poor. They are poor.
The system has failed many of our citizens. And another failure from the great ideas of conservatism are the ideas that a department such as government housing can  be turned over to private interests and they will do a better job than the government did. WRONG! And this article proves it. - SJ Otto

From NPR:
On the south side of Dallas, Nena Eldridge lives in a sparse but spotless bungalow on a dusty lot. At $550 each month, her rent is just about the cheapest she could find in the city.
"I'm tired, but I don't have nowhere to go and I don't have enough money to do it," she says, fighting back tears. But she adds, "I'm not living on the streets. I'm not homeless."
After an injury left her unable to work, the only income she receives is a $780 monthly disability check. So she has to make tough financial choices, like living without running water.
Every day, she fills bottles with water from a neighbor's house and takes them home. She washes her hands with water heated in an electric slow cooker. She uses a bucket to flush the toilet
Eldridge is among the 11 million people nationwide making these kinds of choices every day. The government calls them "severely rent burdened" — people paying more than half their income in rent.
Thirty years ago, Eldridge was the type of person Congress sought to help when it created the low-income housing tax credit program, which is now the government's primary program to build housing for the poor.
But the tax-credit building that's only a little more than 2 miles from Eldridge's house, where she might pay as little as $200 or $300 in rent based on her income, has a waiting list up to four years long. In Dallas and nationwide, many of these buildings don't have any vacancies.
In a joint investigation, NPR — together with the PBS series Frontline — found that with little federal oversight, LIHTC has produced fewer units than it did 20 years ago, even though it's costing taxpayers 66 percent more in tax credits.
In 1997, the program produced more than 70,000 housing units. But in 2014, fewer than 59,000 units were built, according to data provided by the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

For the rest 
click here.