POEMS: THE PERMANENT CARNIVAL & IN MEMORIAM

  • Mitchel Cohen recites the lead poem in his book, The Permanent Carnival (order by clicking on the picture on the Left, please), with orchestration (such as it is) and ooomph! CLICK HERE to hear the poem!
  • Mitchel Cohen recites his In Memoriam, a poem he has read aloud at memorial services for dozens of friends and comrades, and here for Daniel Simidor. CLICK HERE to hear the poem!

KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR: THE COMING RACE WAR WON’T BE ABOUT RACE

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — who went to school in New York City as Lew Alcindor — was always a very smart guy and a committed observer (and sometimes a participant) in anti-war and civil rights struggles. To say nothing about being one of the greatest basketball players who ever played the game. Here (and I write as someone who was on that 12-member 1970 national student strike steering committee that Kareem references, which came about at the “Free Bobby Seale and Erica Huggins” mass protests in New Haven two days before the murders at Kent State), he’s again right on the money with his sky hook from left field ….
- Mitchel Cohen

Ferguson is not just about systemic racism — it’s about class warfare and how America’s poor are held back, says Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
TIME Magazine: Aug. 17, 2014

Kareem Abdul-JabbarWill the recent rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, be a tipping point in the struggle against racial injustice, or will it be a minor footnote in some future grad student’s thesis on Civil Unrest in the Early Twenty-First Century?

The answer can be found in May of 1970.

You probably have heard of the Kent State shootings: on May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard opened fire on student protesters at Kent State University. During those 13 seconds of gunfire, four students were killed and nine were wounded, one of whom was permanently paralyzed. The shock and outcry resulted in a nationwide strike of 4 million students that closed more than 450 campuses. Five days after the shooting, 100,000 protestors gathered in Washington, D.C. And the nation’s youth was energetically mobilized to end the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and mindless faith in the political establishment.

You probably haven’t heard of the Jackson State shootings.

On May 14th, 10 days after Kent State ignited the nation, at the predominantly black Jackson State University in Mississippi, police killed two black students (one a high school senior, the other the father of an 18-month-old baby) with shotguns and wounded twelve others.

There was no national outcry. The nation was not mobilized to do anything. That heartless leviathan we call History swallowed that event whole, erasing it from the national memory.

And, unless we want the Ferguson atrocity to also be swallowed and become nothing more than an intestinal irritant to history, we have to address the situation not just as another act of systemic racism, but as what else it is: class warfare.

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Then we’ll argue about whether there isn’t just as much black-against-white racism in the U.S. as there is white-against-black. (Yes, there is. But, in general, white-against-black economically impacts the future of the black community. Black-against-white has almost no measurable social impact.)

Then we’ll start debating whether or not the police in America are themselves an endangered minority who are also discriminated against based on their color — blue. (Yes, they are. There are many factors to consider before condemning police, including political pressures, inadequate training, and arcane policies.) Then we’ll question whether blacks are more often shot because they more often commit crimes. (In fact, studies show that blacks are targeted more often in some cities, like New York City. It’s difficult to get a bigger national picture because studies are woefully inadequate. The Department of Justice study shows that in the U.S. between 2003 and 2009, among arrest-related deaths there’s very little difference among blacks, whites, or Latinos. However, the study doesn’t tell us how many were unarmed.)

This fist-shaking of everyone’s racial agenda distracts America from the larger issue that the targets of police overreaction are based less on skin color and more on an even worse Ebola-level affliction: being poor. Of course, to many in America, being a person of color is synonymous with being poor, and being poor is synonymous with being a criminal. Ironically, this misperception is true even among the poor.

And that’s how the status quo wants it.

Continue reading »

GENETIC RACISM & BIOLOGICAL DETERMINISM

Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting’s (FAIR) Steve Rendall has written an excellent critique [click here to read it] of former New York Times science columnist Nicholas Wade’s racist views, which Wade rationalized by applying a genetic determinist argument. Rendall asks why it took the Times so long to finally see through (did they?) Wade’s racist framework, which it published for three decades on its pages. Here, I write to supplement Rendall’s work and show how genetic determinism is used by capitalist “science” to repress people.  -MITCHEL COHEN

Is Violence in Your Genes?

Psychology, Racism, & the Violence Initiative Project

“Unemployment runs in the genes just like bad teeth.”

- Richard Herrnstein, Princeton University, co-author of “The Bell Curve”1

In the 1980s, a small but influential group of prize-winning scientists were trying to prove that black children were, on average, less intelligent than white children. Intelligence, they said, ran “in the genes” of racial groups. Their evidence? They reviewed a series of infamous studies of twins who had been separated at birth and raised far from each other. The studies were designed to prove that behavior is genetically determined. They also compiled results from IQ tests across the country and subjected them to statistical analysis, which, they claimed, showed a differential between racial groups. This alleged differential, they went on, was due to genetic factors.2 These scientists – all of whom were white – concluded that black people were genetically inferior to whites when it came to intelligence.

And yet these scientists made a number of critical errors trying to squeeze their round “facts” into square holes. First, the variation of IQ scores within each racial group far outstripped the differential between racial groups. Second, what exactly did these tests measure? Were they culturally or racially biased? A large body of work during the 1970s and early 1980s had discredited the notion that standardized IQ tests measured anything “objective” at all.3 Lastly, Sir Cyril Burt’s “twins’ studies,” on which many racially charged IQ assertions had been based, turned out to have been fabricated, and the benighted scientist’s reputation now lies in tatters, his name disgraced.

Although such racially based intelligence theories never fully disappeared, they were roundly discredited scientifically.4 In fact, as professor Gerald Horne of the University of California at Santa Barbara writes,

“[R]esearch is never ‛neutral.’ Who asks the questions, what questions are asked and what ones ignored, who pays for the research, who interprets the results are all subjective decisions outside the realm of ‛pure science.’ The bias is built in.”5

With the publication of The Bell Curve in the early 1990s by Herrnstein and Murray, some of the same quack theorists re-emerged and, with new jargon, proceeded to offer the same white-supremacist views in the guise of new “scientific research.”6

Today, some scientists are again proposing biologically deterministic explanations for behavior, but instead of focusing on a genetic basis of “intelligence” they now substitute the more au courant “violence” – a hereditary characteristic of Black and Latino people, they say. The recent biology-and-crime movement was kicked off by the publication in 1985 of Crime and Human Nature by James Q. Wilson and Richard Herrnstein.7 A major media campaign followed, leading in 1992 to a report by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council. Titled Understanding and Preventing Violence, the report called for more attention to “biological and genetic factors” in violent crime, new pharmaceuticals that reduce “violent” behavior, and studies of “whe­ther male or black persons have a higher potential for violence.”8 Scientists now seek to control the alleged “genetic predisposition” of black children to commit criminal acts of violence, by medicating them before aggressive behavior and violence ensue.

And so, under the aegis of the federally funded Violence Initia-tive Project, Gail Wasserman, a professor of child psychiatry at Columbia University, and Daniel Pine, a medical doctor associated with the same institution, have picked up where the discredited racially based intelligence theories of Jensen, Herrnstein, Eysenck, Shockley and Murray left off.9 They led a team of researchers in performing numerous experiments, partly funded by federal tax dollars, on Black and Latino children as young as six years of age.10 Continue reading »

GUEST POST BY DAVID SWANSON: SO THAT’S WHY THEY KEPT THE ‘DRONE MEMO’ SECRET

Now that the U.S. government has released parts of its We-Can-Kill-People-With-Drones memo, it’s hard to miss why it was kept secret until now.

Liberal professors and human rights groups and the United Nations were claiming an inability to know whether drone murders were legal or not because they hadn’t seen the memo that the White House said legalized them. Some may continue to claim that the redactions in the memo make judgment impossible.

I expect most, however, will now be willing to drop the pretense that ANY memo could possibly legalize murder.

Oh, and y’all can stop telling me not to use the impolite term “murder” to describe the, you know, murders — since “murder” is precisely the term used by the no-longer secret memo.

The memo considers a section of the U.S. code dealing with the murder of a U.S. citizen by another U.S. citizen abroad, drawing on another section that defines murder as “the unlawful killing of a human being with malice aforethought.”

David Barron, the memo’s author, needed a loophole to make murder-by-missile a lawful killing rather than an unlawful killing, so he pulls out the “public authority justification” under which the government gets to use force to enforce a law.  It’s a novel twist, though, for the government to get to use force to violate the law, claiming the violation is legal on the Nixonian basis that it is the government doing it.

Alternatively, Barron suggests, a government gets to use force if doing so is part of a war. This, of course, ignores the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact and the illegality of wars, as well as the novelty of claiming that a war exists everywhere on earth forever and ever. (None of Barron’s arguments justify governmental murder on U.S. soil any less than off U.S. soil.)

In essence, Barron seems to argue, the people who wrote the laws were thinking about private citizens and terrorists, not the government (which, somehow, cannot be a terrorist), and therefore it’s OK for the government to violate the laws.

Then there’s the problem of Congressional authorization of war, or lack thereof, which Barron gets around by pretending that the Authorization for the Use of Military Force was as broad as the White House pretends rather than worded to allow targeting only those responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

Then there are the facts of the matter in the case of Anwar al Awlaki, who was targeted for murder prior to the actions that President Obama has claimed justified that targeting.

Then there are the facts in the other cases of U.S. killings of U.S. citizens, which aren’t even redacted, as they’re never considered.

Then there are the vastly more numerous killings of non-U.S. citizens, which the memo does not even attempt to excuse.

In the end, the memo admits that calling something a war isn’t good enough; the targeted victim has to have been an imminent threat to the United States. But who gets to decide whether he or she was that? Why, whoever does the killing of course. And what happens if nobody ever even makes an unsupported assertion to that effect? Nothing, of course.

This is not the rule of law. This is savage brute force in minimal disguise. I don’t want to see any more of these memos. I want to see the video footage of the drone murders on a television. I want to see law professors and revolving-door State Department/human rights group hacks argue that dead children fall under the public authority justification.

And — Mitchel Cohen writing here — I want to see the officials in the U.S. government who are responsible for ordering such targeted assassinations (along with all the so-called “collateral damage”) put on trial for premeditated murder, and thrown into prison for the rest of their lives.

 

IN DEFENSE OF BOWE BERGDAHL

For years, Arizona Senator John McCain hammered President Obama for failing to exchange prisoners being tortured in Guantanamo for American POW Bowe Bergdahl, imprisoned in Afghanistan. Now that the President has finally done so (after years of trivial squabbling while Bergdahl as well as the so-called “enemy combatants” wasted away in prison), Sen. McCain flip-flops and attacks President Obama for finally doing exactly what McCain had been advocating!

Meanwhile all those chicken-hawks in Congress and the corporate media — mostly those who skipped serving in the military themselves while sending other people’s kids to kill and to be killed in wars that they started and voted for — blast away at what they perceive to be Sgt. Bergdahl’s political beliefs as a pretext for letting him rot in an Afghan prison. Perhaps every soldier taken prisoner should be required to fill out a form as to their beliefs, to be scrutinized word by word by members of Congress, the Taliban and the media before being certified sufficiently “politically correct” and redeemable by the Good Housekeeping Presidential Seal of Approval, to be “authorized” OK to be freed from prison and brought home?

I wonder if Sen. McCain himself would have passed muster, during his confinement in Vietnam after dropping bombs on civilians in that country.

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on their show Democracy Now! have broken so much new ground over the entire week in exposing Congress and the corporate media’s hypocrisy in interview after interview and report after report, that they deserve, in my opinion, to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for their brilliant work.

Meanwhile, the corporate media’s national hit parade against the freeing of Sgt. Bergdahl from his incarceration as an American soldier in Afghanistan belies their curious notion that soldiers are all gung-ho for the wars they’re sent to fight, and that any soldier who doubts or criticizes U.S. policy is a traitor to their country and to the oil and natural gas pipelines they’re sent to secure at the behest of Exxon-Mobil and BP. Forget the hundreds of “fragging” incidents in Vietnam, in which U.S. soldiers assassinated their commanding officers who were sending them to kill or be killed for no discernible cause other than the financial interest of giant corporations using soldiers (and civilians) as cannon-fodder to maximize their profits.

In that vein, I am re-posting here a series of essays I wrote of the tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers who deserted, went AWOL, or resisted in other ways the orders of the U.S. military during the 1990-91 Gulf War. In renouncing the orders of their military commanders, these soldiers, like Bergdahl, are heroes. They are courageous and moral individuals — the very best America has to offer — standing up for humanity in the face of enormous pressures to do chicken-hawk Dick Cheney’s, Bill Clinton’s and George Bush’s fighting for them.

Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl – THANK YOU!

 

FOR EACH & EVERY WARRIOR WHOSE STRENGTH IS NOT TO FIGHT

The story of the widespread resistance of working class kids in the U.S. military to the 1991 Gulf War.

During the 1990-91 Gulf War, between Aug. 2, 1990 and March of the following year, more than 13,000 U.S. soldiers resisted the war’s drumbeat directly. Hundreds were imprisoned, and tens of thousands of others went AWOL.

Enraged soldiers, including a number who went AWOL, along with seafarers from other countries, actually blocked or sabotaged shipments of munitions to the Gulf. In one incident, a German-owned container vessel, the Eagle Nova, staffed by German officers and crew members from the Philippines, refused to deliver military goods to the Saudi Arabian port of Dammam on the Gulf.1

In another case, 27 Moslem crew members on the Banglar Mamata, a Bangladesh vessel, jumped ship in Oakland, California, rather than continue on to deliver their cargo of ammunition to U.S. troops.2 Unionized Japanese officers and crewmen on container ships and tankers chartered by the U.S. also refused to transport U.S. military cargo to the war zone.

International working class direct actions against the war build-up were, in fact, so wide­spread that officials worried that “supply disruptions could become frequent enough to affect U.S. front-line fighting ability in a long war.”3

In one incident, 67 National Guard members from Louisiana went AWOL as a group from Fort Hood, Texas, in early February to protest inadequate training, unfair leave policies and racism, in the shadow of the war. Tod Ensign, a staff person for Citizen Soldier, termed it “the largest known act of mass military resistance” during the Gulf war.4 

Continue reading »

INTERNATIONAL STATEMENT ON THE UKRAINE BY LEFT PARTIES AND MOVEMENTS

The dramatic events in Ukraine occupy the center of world politics and are sure to determine decisively developments not solely in the region and in the whole of Europe, but the future of humanity at large.

We, as Marxists and revolutionary internationalists, thus as real humanists in practice, extend our deep concern and solidarity to the Ukrainian people and share their sufferings and losses. The tragedy of the Ukrainian people is escalating in the wake of the war in Eastern-Southern Ukraine, the Odessa massacre of May 2, and the killings during the peaceful demonstration of the people of Mariupol the Day of the Anti-fascist Victory on May 9.

Our urgent tasks are threefold: 1) to stop the war 2) to defeat resurgent Fascism, and 3) to create the conditions under which the people of Ukraine would be able to resolve the crisis independent of all foreign intervention and to determine itself its own present and future.

From this standpoint we call on all the peoples of the world and all the parties of the Left and the workers’ movement and all movements for social emancipation, human rights groups, etc. to mobilize and demand that

1. The “elections” of May 25 in Ukraine, under the current conditions, should be canceled. They will bring not a solution but an exacerbation of the crisis by attempting to give a legitimate façade onto an illegitimate anti-popular regime. If these fraudulent “elections” do take place, we call for their boycott.

2. All military operations launched by Kiev in the entire territory of Ukraine and in the newly created Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics should be immediately stopped.

3. The United States of America and the European Union should immediately and unconditionally cease intervention in the domestic affairs of Ukraine.

4. The United States of America and the European Union should abandon all plans for the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe as well as the roguish “Eastern Partnership”, attempts to turn this region into an economic colony and an area of geopolitical antagonisms, and should also liquidate all military bases.

5. Ukraine should not be turned into a protectorate of the EU.

6. The package of “assistance” of the IMF to Ukraine, connected with anti-popular measures that would lead to further poverty and misery for the Ukrainian people, should be rejected and the external debt of the country should be repaid by those politicians and businessmen whose policy created it in the first place.

7. Any political, military, diplomatic or financial support to the criminal Kiev alliance of oligarchs and the Nazis waging war against their own people should be stopped. The present illegal “provisional government” should resign.

8. The will of the people expressed in referenda in Donetsk and Lugansk on May 11, 2014 should be immediately recognized.

We consider it necessary also:

1. To dismiss immediately the Supreme Rada and replace it and other bourgeois authorities with new national authorities created at a national congress and consisting of Councils of workers and their executive committees at local, regional and national levels, including at all enterprises. Only then, on condition of the right of a recall of deputies by those who have elected them, will there be such conditions when workers and other laborers will be able to define democratically the destiny of their country.

2. To accept at a referendum a new constitution for Ukraine guaranteeing to all the people of Ukraine without exception social, cultural and other human rights, including the right to speak their mother tongue.

3. To carry out the transformation of the economy on new social bases with confiscation without compensation and under workers’ control of all social wealth appropriated by oligarchs in both Western and Eastern Ukraine.

Our view is that the perspective of a united, independent, socialist Ukraine, without oligarchs or bureaucrats, in the framework of a socialist unification of Europe, is the sole historical path and the necessary way out from the current tragic impasse.

May 18, 2014

Signatories:

Savas Michael-Matsas, on behalf of the EEK, Greece

Sungur Savran, on behalf of the DIP, Turkey

Mikhail Konashev, Co-Chairman AMO-Leningrad, Russia

Tatiana Filimonova, Petersburg, Russia.

Said Gafourov, economist, journalist(Pravda), Moscow, Russia

Matyas Benyik, Board member of Karl Marx Society, Chairman of ATTAC Hungary

Ana Bazac, Professor, University of Bucharest, Romania

Dr. Elizabeth A. Bowman, President, Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Dr. Robert V. Stone, Professor Emeritus, Long Island University, New York, New York

Bertell Ollman, Professor , Dept. of Politics, NYU, USA.

Mitchel Cohen, Brooklyn Greens/Green Party, and
Co-founder (1969), Red Balloon Collective, USA

Jeremy Lester, political philosopher, editor of Counter-Hegemony, Britain

Roberto Yépez y José Capitán, a nombre de Opción Obrera, CRCI, Venezuela

Osvaldo Coggiola, Professor of the University of  Sao Paulo,
member of the National Committee of the University Professors National Union of Brazil

Yuri Bobrov, communist , Russia

Dimitris Mizaras, on behalf of the Marxist Workers League(MTL), Finland

Calliope Rigopoulou, Professor, University of Athens, Greece

Giagkos Andreadis, Professor, Panteion University, Athens, Greece

Yannis Stefanakis, visual artist, editor of the art journal Neo Epipedo, Greece

Artermis Kardoulaki, editor of NEA THS TEXNHS( Art News), Greece

Marco Ferrando e Franco Grisolia per il Partito Comunista dei Lavoratori , Italia

David Epstein, professor, Dr. of Economics, Russia

Tamas Krausz, historian, Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary

Yuri Sakhin, “Against the Current’, Ukraine

Davis Dzhokhadze, Marxist philosopher, Moscow, Russia

Monika Karbowska, militant of the Anticapitalist Left, Poland

Dr Ewa Groszewska, sociologist, anticapitalist left, Poland

 

February 27, 2014 … REPRINTED FROM COUNTERPUNCH.ORG 
http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/27/wither-ukraine/
An Imperialist Invasion Without an Imperialist Army

WHITHER UKRAINE?

by MARILYN VOGT-DOWNEY

It’s not just that Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was a coward for fleeing in the dead of night from angry and rebellious Ukrainian nationalists in Western Ukraine to what (he hoped) would be a friendlier population in the Russian-speaking Eastern Ukraine. Of course, he probably was a coward to run away. However, a coup d’etat had been carried out against him, his government security forces were melting away, and roughnecks with weapons and shields were just outside his door.

But more important than his cowardice is the fact that he is a scoundrel.

He could have easily calmed the rebellion in Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital Kiev early on if he had simply told the crowds the truth about what the Association Agreement with the European Union would mean to their lives and futures, which is one reason he apparently refused to sign it. His refusal to sign this Agreement on November 21, 2013 has been called the “spark” that led to the current crisis and his overthrow. However, if, for example, he had summarized the terms of only one part of it — the Agreement’s “Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area” — and explained what it would mean to the Ukrainian people, he would have severely dampened enthusiasm for this  Agreement. This Free Trade section alone–removing tariff barriers and export duties–would convert Ukraine into one big “free trade zone,” where the anti-environment, anti-labor, and pro-business laws would prevail.

This is what “European integration” and “joining” the glamorized “West” would really mean to Ukraine’s massive working-class population of 46 million. It would create the economic devastation of the type that NAFTA has created in Mexico.

“You want a free, independent Ukraine?” Yanukovych could have asked, were he a man of integrity. “Well, so do I! That is why I cannot — in good conscience — sign this Agreement.”

THAT is what an honest leader would have said back in November 2013, or even before that. It is not complicated. Then he could have gone on to outline what the pending IMF “financial aid package” would do to further worsen their lives.  The last but one paragraph of  The February 23 The New York Times report on Yanukovych’s flight and its aftermath summarized very well what the “EU option” will mean. “The economy will remain the greatest problem facing the country,” The Times reported, and then goes on:

“The International Monetary Fund remains a potential source of financing to replace the $15 billion that Russia had made available before the protests. But that comes with an insistence on austerity and economic changes that will inflict considerable pain….” (Italics added.)*

Considerable pain, indeed!! The IMF loans will require in Ukraine, as they do everywhere, that the government undertake broad-scale privatization of resources and basic public services, cut government spending on education, health care, pensions, housing, and benefits for the needy, as well as laws that hinder the accumulation and free movement of capitalist profits. And that’s just for starters. All this will further lower the wages and standard of living of the mass of the population of Ukraine, which are already lower than the European average.

However, Yanukovych could not say such things. It is not just that he is not a man of integrity. The problem is that during his time in power, he — like all the Ukrainian rulers since Ukraine became independent with the collapse of the USSR in 1992 — had already been pursuing measures similar to those the IMF would impose. These include measures such as privatizing public resources, cutting public spending, cutting subsidies for major industries–leading to stagnation, non-payment of wages, and benefit cuts–and imposing market mechanisms. All these measures have impoverished the workers and lowered the standard of living for the majority of the population. The New York Times reported one woman protester outside the reconstituted Parliament after Yanukovych fled, for example, only wondered when the rump Parliament would reopen the health clinics and provide jobs. (“Amid Political Upheaval…,” February 25, 2014.) In the meantime, the economy as a whole stagnated while politicians and their cronies have managed to considerably enrich themselves and acquire vast fortunes from resources that should belong to the Ukrainian working people.

In the capitalist world, we would call them the ruling class. In Ukraine, they are called “the oligarchs.” They own the politicians, they own major means of production, and they own the media so they can mold public opinion as they please, and have been quite effective in doing so in many respects.

What is unfolding right now in Ukraine is not a revolution but imperialist consolidation of the capitalist counterrevolution by imperialist finance capital and the army of international capitalist investors who seek unfettered opportunities to milk every ounce of profit they can from the Ukrainian working class and the resources in their territory.

Imperialist Invasion without an Imperialist Army

This counterrevoloutionary attempt is not being carried out by a military invasion or heavy weaponry — although surely some of the roughnecks in ski masks wielding weapons throughout Western Ukraine, occupying and destroying buildings, throwing molotov cocktails, and setting fires were paid agents of the imperialist powers. **

There is no doubt that the mass uprising in Ukraine since November was inspired by or “made in America,” in the bowels of international finance capital; the US government has the deciding vote in the IMF. This Ukrainian campaign was calculated to achieve several related goals:

1. To use popular unrest with the already deteriorating economic conditions as a cudgel against the existing Ukrainian government officials who were tending toward signing a long-term trade agreement with Russia and joining the Eurasian Union, an economic union  much like the European Union but composed of former Soviet republics. The Eurasia Union , as a new economic power center,  would compete with the European Union and the IMF.

2. To gain Ukraine’s  acceptance of the Association Agreement with the EU  causing Ukraine to fall  into the clutches of the IMF and other imperialist lenders.

3. To exploit the illusions of vast numbers of the Ukrainian population that joining “the West” is the road to “freedom,” when precisely the opposite is true.

Meanwhile, for Ukraine, accepting the Association Agreement with the EU and the IMF aid package would actually remove any semblance of Ukrainian independence.

1. It stipulates that Ukraine cannot accept any financial support from Russia,

2. It would make impossible any Ukrainian economic planning that did not follow the guidelines established by the IMF and other imperialist lending agencies.

3. Because of he nature of the IMF-imposed economic agenda, Ukraine would find it very difficult to ever escape the debt cycle. The IMF mandates, for example that capitalist profits be only minimally taxed, the government provide generous financial support and tax breaks for capitalist ventures, public services be privatized, and restrictions on transfer of capitalist profits abroad be minimal. As a result, it would be difficult, if not impossible for any Ukrainian government to raise funds for basic institutions people need to live a quality life. (If you have doubts about these claim, look at the living conditions of the masses of the people in the 27 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa that have been controlled by the IMF for many years now.) IMF control of the economies of the “developing world” is the reason it never develops!

Most commentators have presented the dilemma facing the Ukrainian people as a choice between being under the thumb of Russia or of “the West.” The dice are loaded when the choice is posed that way.

The Crimes of Stalin

Most Ukrainians know well the massive crimes against the Ukrainian people and their culture committed by the Poles, the RussiansTsars, the Germans Nazis, and–most importantly–by the Stalin’s regime of the USSR.

Stalin was Georgian, of course. But, in the name of the revolutionary internationalism that he in reality destroyed, Stalin imposed Russification on all the non-Russians, including the Georgians. Furthermore, the crimes of the Stalin regime were undoubtedly the worst oppression of those committed against the Ukrainian people. Unfortunately, Stalin falsely called himself and his government Communist, Marxist, Bolshevik, and Soviet even though Stalin’s first targets WERE the genuine Communists, Marxists, and Bolsheviks and the soviets or workers councils themselves, all of which contradicted his reactionary policies.

The memories of these atrocities committed by Stalin in Ukraine are still fresh and are nourished by seemingly unlimited and generous doses of US State Department funds to academics and anti-communist organizations FOR THE PURPOSE of continuing the lie that Stalinism equals Bolshevism. The persistence of the life of this faulty equation has  prevented Ukrainians from realizing that their liberation is only possible with a genuine Marxist, materialist, dialectical understanding of the world. They can only ultimately free themselves from the hold of the lies by studying on their own the history of the Russian revolution and its degeneration, particularly the works by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Leon Trotsky, who was Stalin’s main and longest opponent.

Internationalism or Russification?

The rise of Stalin’s control over the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was a disaster for the Russian Revolution and for the workers of all the world. However, it was particularly devastating in Ukraine. Stalin–suspicious to the point of paranoia toward anyone speaking another language–in the late 1920s reversed the policy of the Bolsheviks under Lenin of promoting the rights of non-Russian nationalities oppressed by the Tsar in Russia’s “prisonhouse of nations”.

In Ukraine, the Bolshevik policy was called “Ukrainization.” It meant that all government business, all schools, all culture, etc. were to be conducted in Ukrainian. As a result of Ukrainization, there was an unprecedented flourishing of Ukrainian culture in the 1920s.*** But when Stalin came to power, he not only arrested and murdered the revolutionaries from Lenin’s time, but his henchmen in Ukraine carried out mass arrests and deportations of all the intellectuals, artists, professionals, and workers, of everyone even remotely associated with the expression of Ukrainian national rights. (Then, after committing all Stalin’s criminal assignment, his henchmen were also all arrested and shot.)

Then, on top of that, Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization of agriculture from 1929-33 led to a massive famine in Ukraine — “The Holodomor” — which killed nearly 7 million people. Moreover, Stalin’s massive terror and purge campaigns of the 1930s — aimed at wiping all the Bolshevik Old Guard and the genuine revolutionary-minded workers and leaders who he feared would rise up against him — hit Ukraine the hardest. Layer after layer of civic, party, and government leaders AND their families was arrested, deported to labor camps, tortured, and shot. This happened all over the USSR as the counterrevolutionary and criminal regime of Joseph Stalin — atrociously and falsely cloaked in the name of Communism — wiped out virtually all the genuine Communists. This happened throughout the USSR. But it was particularly savage and severe in Ukraine where the national spirit and pride were very strong.

The Post-Soviet “Free-For-A Select Few”

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine has been nominally “independent.” However, it still remained under the control of the corrupt Communist Party and other politicians whose market and privatization policies produced “the oligarchs,” into whose pockets all the politicians had to jump to be be elected, much like it is in the capitalist world, “the West.” What happened in Ukraine was typical of what happened throughout the USSR –  including in Russia — after the Soviet Union collapsed. It is often called the “post-Soviet free-for-all.” But it only benefited a tiny segment of the population.

But what caused this current crisis to unfold?

On November 5-6, 2013, in New York, I attended a conference on the Famine in Ukraine, the “Holodomor,” a two-day event where scholars from the US, Canada, Ukraine, and elsewhere, described various aspects of this holocaust, including some extraordinary academic papers incorporating new archival materials.

On the last evening, there was a special memorial ceremony with various speakers, one of whom, a US Federal Judge seemed to hold celebrity status. In his speech he made a direct pitch to Ukrainians do everything they could to make sure that Ukraine signed the Association Agreement with the EU. I couldn’t believe my ears. This man, like everyone present, claimed to support an independent Ukraine. Yet he was promoting what amounted to the negation of this independence. Europe, like the rest of the capitalist world is in a deep-going crisis. Did he want Ukraine to end up like Greece, Italy, and Spain?

I later  posed the question directly to him: “How can you claim you support Ukrainian independence while promoting the Association Agreement?” He looked at me, refused to answer and turned away. The reason is obvious: The two are obviously incompatible, and he knew it. It was obvious that something strange was going on.

Then, within a few weeks, on November 20, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych suspended talks with the EU on the Agreement after the Ukrainian Parliament refused to pass measures aimed at furthering the accord. A week later, Yanukovych refused to sign the Agreement, ending a process that had been in the works for seven years, His refusal was widely interpreted as a sign that his government was going to align Ukraine with Russia and its  Eurasian Union instead of with the EU; this might have sealed his fate.

For Washington, the political face of finance capital, this move by Yanukovych could have been the tripwire that unleashed  Washington’s plan for still another “regime change.”

By November 21, there were already mass protests in the streets, at first mostly students and youth, but soon involving broader layers of society. The rest is history. To summarize it: Starting in November, the protests at first peaceful and massive, ended up occupying Independence Square in Kiev for three months. Police repression to disperse the crowds failed and incited anger. Parliamentary passage of a law strictly outlawing public protests only caused the crowds to grow. Soon they were joined by men in ski masks and helmets who grew in number and aggressiveness, beating up police and soldiers, setting fires around the encampments to stop the police and army who were trying to disperse them. Masked men took over buildings and raided arsenals. Overall, the violent confrontations led to over 80 deaths and many more wounded. Finally, the army and security forces withdrew from battle, demoralized, fearful and, certainly in some cases, paid considerable sums. When the security forces guarding Yanukovych’s compound evaporated, he fled early February 22.

Meanwhile, the capitalist media across the board distorted the nature of the crisis (as Stephen Cohen pointed out in an interview on Democracy Now! on February 20, 2014) committing acts of great hypocrisy (as they always do) by focusing almost exclusively on the Yanukovych government’s repression — as if caring for the Ukrainian people’s welfare — while downplaying the dire economic stakes involved. (The New York Times coverage of the Ukrainian events is in sharp contrast, for example, to its coverage of the far more pervasive violence by the US-backed military government in Egypt, which has arrested and killed 100 times more protesters in recent months. Both are awful, but it is the contrast in coverage that is being emphasized here.)

This “rebellion” in Ukraine, regardless of the various motivations for those attending or how they got there, surely did not happen by itself. Behind the scenes, through a variety of avenues, US government and private capitalists provide funds to a multitude of groups such as The National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, Democratic Institutes of both the Republican and Democratic parties, and dozens of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Such organizations as these have been and are funding and providing tendentious ideology, equipment and other logistics to either agents or unknowing youth and other organizations to incite rebellion,” just as they did for “The Orange Revolution” of 2005 in Ukraine.****

On December 23, an internet publication called The Ukrainian Week published an interview with this same Judge, who at that November 3 gathering had been propagandizing for support for Ukrainian acceptance of the Association Agreement. He is only a small cog in a giant endeavor, but such little cogs play an invaluable role in the process and can help reveal the grander operation. This Judge, by December 23 apparently “teaching” in Kiev, provides a sort of summary of his role and the roles of other cogs in this US government’s campaign to manipulate Ukrainian opinion to serve its own ends, in this case, to overthrow Yanukovych:

“ I was in Ukraine when it all began. … America’s top officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, senators [John McCain was one of them], the Helsinki Committee, Hillary Clinton and Victoria Nuland, condemned [the attacks by the Ukrainian government on the protesters]…..Meanwhile, State Secretary John Kerry and Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland have called on Yanukovych to refrain from the use of force and law enforcers against peaceful protesters. .. Young people and students took to the streets – they are making demands, even though they don’t always agree with politicians…These people have traveled to Europe. They have seen life in the West and the processes there. I had Ukrainian judges for internship here and I talked about these things with them. I talk about this in my lectures at the Kyiv Mohyla Academy. It’s very important for people who were born after Ukraine gained independence to begin to see their state differently, in the way that the role of the state is seen in the West  [?!] ..If the President really wants to be a guarantor of the Constitution and preserve the rule of law, he must come to terms with the people, the opposition, NGOs and the clergy, discuss compliance rules with them and seek a peaceful solution.”

Such individuals as this judge, along with the parade of US politicians and State Department figures that he described, were working hard in front of and behind the scenes to shape and mobilize Ukrainian public (particularly youth) opinion, and to promote and orchestrate the protest events for the purpose of “freeing” Ukraine’s economy for “free” imperialist plunder.

The well-known leaked portion of a conversation between State Department official Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, wherein THEY are deciding who should be the next rulers of Ukraine provides chilling evidence of the nuts and bolts behind this audacious plot.

What Options Do Ukrainians Have?

However, the question remains: If joining the EU surrenders Ukraine’s independence and if remaining under the thumb of Russia is to be avoided, what is the solution?

Any honest observer who studies history will easily learn that Stalin’s first crimes were against the genuine Communists and Marxists. The fact that Stalin carried out his crimes in the name of communism and Bolshevism caused incalculable damage to the class struggle to this day and led to a prolonged life of capitalism.

The false claim Marxism, Bolshevism, and the Russian Revolution are to blame for Stalin’s crimes in Ukraine is reinforced, obviously, by the shameful fact that these crimes were carried out and supported by Stalinized Communist Parties–by people who falsely called themselves Bolsheviks and Communists– both inside the USSR and abroad. The capitalist class has used every means at its disposal to tirelessly exploit this tragic state of affairs to discredit communism, socialism, Marxism, Trotskyism, and revolution. They seemingly find an endless supply of mercenary charlatan academics, scholars, and experts who live by promoting the “evils of communism” and the glorification of “the West.” As a result, the Ukrainian masses have been taught to shut out the only road to Ukrainian liberation, which is a Marxist understanding of how the world, works and how to escape from the clutches of Stalinism and capitalism.

How fertile is the atmosphere now for the ideas of Marxism, socialism, and and particularly Trotskyism in Ukraine right now?

According to Russian socialist organizer Ilya Boudraitskis, who attended the mass protests in Independence Square, “there was no room for the left,” by which obviously includes Marxists and Trotskyists. This is because of the prevailing anti-communism for reasons just discussed and the large numbers of men organized and armed by fascistic groups. “The far right confronts the left activists, Ilya said. “They take their leaflets and flags and sometimes beat them up.” *****

Since Yanukovych fled and his government collapsed, the situation has retained this ominous character. Nicolai Petro, a visiting US scholar, currently living in the southern Ukrainian city of Odessa, described it in an interview by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! on February 24. According to Petro, although things were quiet in Odessa, the atmosphere in other parts of the country were tense and dangerous partly because roving, armed, masked goons have replaced disbanded state security forces. “All across the country, headquarters of parties are being sacked by their opponents. Vigilante militias routinely attack and disperse public gatherings” they do not approve of.  Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament is now dominated by a party called Svoboda (meaning Freedom), which even the European Parliament has designated “racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic.” One of the first laws passed was one stipulating that only the Ukrainian language could be used for official business. Although this may be an understandable thing for a new Ukrainian parliament to do, in the present context, it is a deliberate arrow aimed at the heart of the Russian-speaking eastern part of Ukraine — which voted for Yanukovych’s Party of Reform. Such a measure can only heighten the crisis and divisions within the working class.

Meanwhile, finding a way to unite, rather than divide, the Ukrainian and Russian speaking workers in the West and the East of Ukraine is essential. They need to be made aware that that they have common interests in finding a way to take control over the entire Ukrainian economy, setting up a workers nationalize as soon as possible all the resources, confiscate the wealth and property of the oligarchs — property and wealth that the oligarchs stole and/or squeezed from the Ukrainian people.  A group called the Left Opposition Collective in Ukraine has issued a Manifesto listing “10 Thesis of the Leftist Opposition” that could be an important bridge to these goals. But how much of an audience will it or other revolutionary proposals get if these cannot be freely distributed for fear of brutal attacks by right-wing goons? If these goons are not representing the cause of the working class, and are in fact inhibiting this cause, the workers organizations and their allies need to set up their own militia to protect themselves and their ability to function freely and openly.

Time to Read Leon Trotsky on the Ukrainian Question.

For those who may not know about it, the Russian Revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky — himself born in Ukraine — was Stalin’s main opponent and target who was expelled from the Communist Party, from the Soviet Union, and murdered by Stalin. Trotsky tirelessly opposed and exposed Stalin and his policies as the negation of all that the October 1917 Revolution stood for. In the 1930s, he wrote several articles on the Ukrainian question that are the most brilliant exposition of problem of and solution to “the Ukrainian Question” that are still true today.

These articles need to be read and studied by everyone who cares about the present crisis in Ukraine and who has the strength and will to open a book. In them, Trotsky outlines Ukrainian history and explains why the only way Ukrainians can ever gain their national rights is by creating a free, independent workers and peasants socialist Ukraine: “The Ukrainian Question,” written April 22, 1939 and “Independence of the Ukraine and Sectarian Muddleheads,” of July 30, 1939, “Democratic Feudalists and the Independence of the Ukraine,” of August 5, 1939, and “Stalin, the Temporary Holder of Ukraine,” written just following the Stalin-Hitler Pact, September 18, 1939. These are all available in the Writings of Leon Trotsky published by Pathfinder Press in New York. I will quote from the first article, which although written nearly 75 years ago, applies today:

“The Ukrainian question, which many governments and many ‘socialists’ and even ‘Communists’ have tried to forget or to relegate to the deep strongbox of history, has again been placed on the order of the day and this time with redoubled force..The Ukrainian question is destined in the immediate future to play an enormous role in the life of Europe…

In the conception of the old [pre-1926] Bolshevik Party, Soviet Ukraine was destined to become a powerful axis around which the other sections of the Ukrainian people would unite. It is indisputable that in the first period of its existence [ i.e., during the period of Ukrainization in the 1920s], Soviet Ukraine exerted a mighty attractive force, in national respects as well and aroused to struggle the workers…

The [Stalinist] bureaucracy strangled and plundered the people within Great Russia, too. But in the Ukraine matters were further complicated by the massacre of national hopes. Nowhere did restrictions, purges, repressions, and in general all forms of bureaucratic hooliganism assume such murderous sweep as they did in the Ukraine in the struggle against the powerful deeply rooted longings of the Ukrainians masses for greater freedom and independence…

Ukraine is in a state of confusion: Where to turn? What do demand? This situation naturally shifts the leadership to the most reactionary Ukrainian cliques who express their “nationalism” by seeking to sell the Ukrainian people to one imperialism or another in return for a promise of fictitious independence…

We are dealing with a people that has proved its viability, that is numerically equal to the population of France and occupies an exceptionally rich territory, which, moreover, is of the highest strategic importance. The question of the fate of the Ukraine has been posed in its full scope. A clear and definite slogan is necessary that corresponds to the new situation. In my opinion there can be at the present time only one such slogan: A united, free, and independent workers’ and peasants’ Soviet Ukraine.” (Writings of Leon Trotsky [1938-39], Pathfinder Press, New York, 1974, pp. 301-304.)”

What other option exists for Ukraine? Ukraine cannot be independent if it remains within the capitalist and market system. It has to break out of the deadly grasp of direct rule by finance capital — like Cuba has tried to do — to begin to take control over its present and future to the extent possible. Obviously, capitalism is a world system and the market dominates international finance and trade. No country by itself can escape it nor can socialism be built in one country. However, by replacing the system of private ownership with public ownership of the national wealth and instituting a national economic plan to meet the common needs, Ukraine can begin to build a better life for itself by collaborating with Cuba and other nations in non-exploitative trade agreements. This can be a holding action until both Ukraine and Cuba get aid from the drastically belated working-class revolutions elsewhere, particularly in the industrially-developed capitalist regions, which could be greatly inspired by such an Ukrainian example. Real revolutionists in Ukraine today must work toward that goal. This means workers organizing their own revolutionary organizations to mobilize the masses of people around their own needs — Ukrainian, Russian, or any other nationality that resides there — to take over and run their own economy. This is the only way to stand up victoriously against the oligarchs of Ukraine and of the planet.

MARILYN VOGT-DOWNEY  was a Russian translator for many years. She translated the writings of Leon Trotsky for the Pathfinder Press, Writings of Leon Trotsky series. She also translated Notebooks for the Grandchildren, the memoirs of a Ukrainian Trotskyist who survived the Stalin era. A collection of her writings on the former Soviet Union appeared in a volume the USSR: 1987-1991: Marxists Perspectives.

Notes.

* Since Washington has achieved “regime change” in Kiev, The Times has been much more frank about the grim future that awaits Ukrainians under European capitalist and IMF rules. See “Amid Political Upheavals, Ukraine Fades Dire Need for Economic Help,” February 25, 2014. Before the “change,” The Times focused almost exclusively on popular attraction to “the West.”

**Anyone who has attended a peaceful protest knows to beware of masked individuals who break from the crowd and begin breaking windows, setting fires, attacking police, etc. all of which only serve to provoke police attacks, transforming the character of the action, and endangering protesters.

Such persons are usually suspected of being provocateurs.

The success of this project, and similar recent projects show that imperialist domination no longer requires “traditional armies.

***See Ivan Dzyuba, Internationalism or Russification: A study of the Soviet nationalities problem, Pathfinder Press, 1974, a brilliant work by a Ukrainian scholar who is still alive in Ukraine today.

****For a history of such subversive activities in the past, read two books by William Blum, Killing Hope and The Rogue State, Common Courage Press, Maine, 1995 and 2005 respectively.

***** See the interview with Ilya Boudraitskis in Intercontinental Press, February 23, 2014.)

 

BEWARE THE NEW YORK TIMES’ REPORTS ON UKRAINE

BY CHRIS KINDER

Beware talk of workers in Eastern Ukraine mobilizing against pro-Russian separatists, and in favor of “unity” — with the coup regime in Kiev. The NY Times report below speaks of a mobilization in Mariupol in Eastern Ukraine of steel workers and miners who support unity and oppose the separatists. The mobilization may have really happened as described, but what lies behind it?

The workers who took to the streets, forming patrols, “were among the hundreds of thousands in the east who are employed in metals and mining by Ukraine’s richest man, Rinat Akhmetov…” The Times’ article explains that miners now employed by Akhmetov “helped bring down the Soviet Union.” Capitalist oligarchs such as Akhmetov are the only ones who benefitted from the destruction of the Russian degenerated workers state, and they are the only ones who will benefit now from the long-planned take-over of Ukraine by Western capitalists and IMF bankers.

The article reports that the chief executive of one of the steel works in question is “leading the steelworker patrols in the city.” His motivation for the workers to follow his lead against the separatists was a classic employer’s argument: we provide your jobs. He conveyed to the workers “that a separatist victory would close the export markets in Europe, devastating the factory and the town.”

The article quotes Akmhetov as saying in a video that if separatists win his assets will be at risk: “We will come under huge sanctions, we will not sell our products, cannot produce. This means the stopping of factories, this means unemployment, this means poverty.” This sounds like what happened in Greece after IMF-ordered austerity measures were imposed by a compliant comprador government. Historically, the eastern parts of Ukraine (east of the Dnieper River), which were industrialized in the Soviet era, are closely tied to the Russian economy. So, they are less likely to suffer from pro-Russian self-determination in the east than this article makes it sound.

US monopolist corporations such as Cargill, Monsanto, Chevron and others have been penetrating Ukrainian markets for years, buying up companies involved in big agriculture, shale gas exploration, port facilities on the Black Sea, and so forth. This is part of a post-cold war goal to take over all the East European countries which were formerly in the Soviet orbit, and turn them into open fields for Western capital penetration and exploitation, as well as for incorporation into the NATO alliance which now, as before, is aimed against Russia. The big oligarchs of Ukraine tend to be sucked into this growing economic juggernaut. But the outcome won’t be so good for the people.

Working people throughout Ukraine will be the victims when the IMF-imposed austerity measures — eagerly agreed to by the US-imposed and fascist supported regime in Kiev — take effect. The new monopolist bosses will cut jobs and social services to the bone. The real task of workers in Ukraine, both east and west, is to form a united front against the fascist gangs that led the coup in Kiev and now terrorize Ukraine, and build a movement to oppose IMF-imposed austerity, which in turn could pave the way for a workers’ revolution, workers’ government and a planned economy. Failing that, their fate will be, as someone in the article is quoted as saying, to “do what the factory [read: “factory owner”] demands.”

 

THE NEW COLD WAR’S UKRAINE GAMBIT

BY MICHAEL HUDSON

flashpoint-in-ukraineThe following article is from a new bookFlashpoint in Ukraine, edited by Stephen Lendman. It is currently available from Clarity Press as an e-book, and soon to be printed.

Finance in today’s world has become war by non-military means. Its object is the same as that of military conquest: appropriation of land and basic infrastructure, and the rents that can be extracted as tribute. In today’s world this is taken mainly in the form of debt service and privatization. That is how neoliberalism works, subduing economies by indebting their governments and using unpayably high debts as a lever to pry away the public domain at distress prices. It is what today’s New Cold War is all about. Backed by the IMF and European Central Bank (ECB) as knee-breakers in what has become in effect a financial extension of NATO, the aim is for U.S. and allied investors to appropriate the plums that kleptocrats have taken from the public domain of Russia, Ukraine and other post-Soviet economies in these countries, as well as whatever assets remain.

In a recent interview in The New York Review of Books, George Soros outlines what he thinks should be done for the Ukraine. It should “encourage its companies to improve their management by finding European partners.”[2]

This means that kleptocrats should sell major ownership shares in their companies to Westerners. This would give the West a stake in protecting them, pressuring their government to tax labor rather than the wealthy, and helping them cash out and keep their takings in London and New York to finance Western economies, not that of Ukraine.

The West’s ideological conquest of the Post-Soviet economies

That is not how replacing Soviet communism with a free market was supposed to work out — at least, not for the Soviet side. Mikhail Gorbachev and his supporters hoped that ending the Cold War would enable Russia to dismantle the arms race whose costly military overhead prevented the Soviet Union from devoting resources to produce consumer goods and adequate housing. In addition to the peace dividend, the aim was to establish a price feedback system that would raise industrial productivity and living standards.

The West’s ideological victory — or more to the point, the neoliberal anti-labor, anti-government and pro-Wall Street game plan — was sealed at the Houston summit in July 1990. Russian Prime Minister Gorbachev and other Soviet leaders endorsed the World Bank/USAID plan for shock therapy, privatization, deindustrialization and a wipeout of domestic personal savings (characterized as an “overhang”) to start by impoverishing the population at large and vesting an overclass with the most unequal distribution of wealth in the Northern Hemisphere.

U.S. Cold War advisors urged Russia and other post-Soviet states to give hitherto public assets and property to individuals, preferably to plant managers and political insiders. The cover story was that it did not really matter who got them, because private ownership in itself would lead the new owners to re-organize production along the most profitable lines. Pinochet’s Chile was held out as a shining success story, and a right-wing Pinochetista movement started in Russia.

The Communist Party nomenklatura, Komsomol leaders such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Red Directors were excited by these neoliberal promises to turn over natural resources, real estate, infrastructure and factories to themselves. The sanctimonious pretense was that property has its own logic of self-interest, which serves the social good because wealth will trickle down to uplift the population at large. In practice the neoliberal “free market” turned out to be a euphemism for looting. Subsidized by U.S. support and imposed by Yeltsin’s presidential fiat (unconstitutionally, over the objections of the Duma), ownership of hitherto public investment and natural resources were given to managers who made their fortunes by selling their takings to Western investors.

Already before 1990 billions of dollars in rubles already were being siphoned off via Latvia (Grigory Loutchansky and Nordex played a major role), while co-op leaders KGB and army leaders already were creating proto-predatory financial structures. U.S. bankers, officials and academics went to Russia and other former Soviet republics to explain that the most practical path was to create joint-stock companies and sell shares to Western buyers to bid up the price. Western banks helped kleptocrats keep the proceeds from these sales abroad so that they didn’t have to reinvest it at home (or pay taxes). The tax burden was placed on labor and consumers, not on the windfall gains and natural resource rents, land rent or monopoly rent being siphoned off.

Instead of bringing about Western European or American-style industrial capitalism with their heavily subsidized technology and protected agriculture, the effect has been to de-industrialize Russia and other post-Soviet economies, except for East Germany and Poland. In effect, the former Soviet Union was colonized in the world’s largest resource grab since Europe’s conquest of the New World five centuries ago.

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JOHN “TITO” GERASSI: MY FRIENDSHIP WITH CHE GUEVARA AND SALVADOR ALLENDE

CLICK HERE TO HEAR JOHN “TITO” GERASSI (Steal This Radio 117)

Mitchel Cohen interviews radical journalist, author and philosopher John ‘Tito’
Gerassi in 2010. This remarkable, wonderful comrade and story teller died in July, 2012.

Gerassi was writing for the NY Times in 1962 and later Newsweek when he
was sent to cover Che Guevara shortly after the revolution in Cuba. He
and Che became friends, and here Gerassi gives riveting anecdotes of
those times, including the CIA’s attempt to poison Fidel Castro, and why
one ended up poisoning him and 5 other journalists but left Fidel
unscathed.

Gerassi, whose godfather was none other than famed French philosopher
Jean-Paul Sartre and whose parents were participants in the Spanish Civil
War (his father became a General conducting the defense of Barcelona
against the fascists), discusses all aspects of his life with Mitchel
Cohen, Robert Gold, Linda Zises, and college students Malika and Joe.

CLICK HERE TO HEAR THE SHOW, EDITED FOR PRESENTATION TO WBAI RADIO, 99.5 FM.

ON PINOCHET’S CAPTURE (song by Mitchel Cohen & Victor Jara)

Song by Mitchel Cohen and Victor Jara
click here to listen

LISTEN TO THIS SONG BY CLICKING HERE

ON PINOCHET’S CAPTURE

Words & Music by MITCHEL COHEN

I awoke one day it was early September
A prisoner in my own land
For fighting against the war that my country
Was waging against Vietnam
How sad I remember it came over the news
Jangling the bars to my cell
That Chile had fallen, the great eagle’s talons
Had gauged out its insides, 10,000 slaughtered
And Chile, O Chile fell to the fascists
Socialist Chile fell.

I leaped from my bunk to the bars like a madman
Desperate to bend them escape
Riverhead prison had hold of my body
But my heart Santiago did take
As Pinochet swept through the gray streets at dawn
And murdered all who’d protest
“I protest. I protest, you bastards let me out”
I screamed and a guard sneered: “You’re next.”

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REMEMBERING DENNIS BRUTUS, AS WELL AS NELSON MANDELA

Nelson Mandela is now widely seen as a hero, exemplifying what is best in the human spirit. But some of those same folks today extolling Mandela’s virtues are also the ones who locked him in South Africa’s dungeons and condemned him for taking up arms against the vicious Apartheid regime.

One of Mandela’s equally heroic comrades was Dennis Brutus, the great poet, thinker and revolutionary. CLICK HERE to hear Mitchel Cohen’s interview with Dennis Brutus, who died four years ago.

Right near the beginning, Dennis reflects on the time that Nelson Mandela while underground came to his apartment to hide out from the apartheid death squads funded by the United States government and multinational corporations.

Below is a photo of Dennis Brutus with our hearty band of n’er-do-wells at dinner in Park Slope, Brooklyn, following the radio interview in July 2008. Dennis died on December 26, 2009 at 85 years of age.

Dinner in Brooklyn (July, 2008) with Dennis Brutus. From Left (clockwise): Robert Gold, Dennis Brutus, Shaune Velasquez, Murray Gordon, Alison Cichowski, Cathryn Swan, Frank LeFever, Mitchel Cohen

COMMENTARY BY MUMIA ABU-JAMAL

Detroit: Night of The Wolves [CLICK HERE] — Class war against the working class. (December 5, 2013)

 

REMEMBERING FR. PAUL MAYER

WBAI radio’s Robert Knight writes:

Wednesday night on WBAI’s “Earthwatch with Robert Knight,” a tribute to the late Father Paul Mayer:

Civil rights leader, environmentalist and global humanitarian, The Rev. Paul Mayer, passed away on November 22nd. Tonight we shall hear Father Paul in conversation with WBAI’s “Earthwatch” and “Five O’Clock Shadow.” So please join us on WBAI-99.5 / wbai.org at Midnight Wednesday-Thursday for an Earthwatch celebration of a Conscience for the Generations!  LISTEN HERE.

Hear Fr. Paul Mayer’s own words, CLICK HERE, while being arrested at Occupy Wall Street in 2011.

Paul Mayer’s more than half century of service to the earth has included eighteen years as a Benedictine monk, involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement in the South, work in the barrios of Central America, participation in the effort to end the war in Vietnam as well as co-founding peace and environmental organizations.

Mayer’s childhood experience as a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany inspired him to co-found Children of War, a youth leadership organization that helped transform the lives of teenage survivors of international and domestic wars.

Mayer’s commitment to global peace, social justice, ecology, non-violent social change explores the link between spirituality and activism. He is a Yoga practitioner and teacher. He has an active wedding ministry as a non-canonical, formerly married priest.

BILL AYERS – BERNARDINE DOHRN – RACHEL LAFOREST – MITCHEL COHEN

WBAI's Michael G. Haskins welcomes the audience & speakers on behalf of WBAI radio.

Listen to STEAL THIS RADIO SHOW November 18, 2013. Benefit for WBAI. Recorded in NYC before a live and interactive audience. EXCERPT: Bill Ayers & President Barack Obama

Mitchel Cohen auctions off original copies the the Weather Underground's 1973 book, "Prairie Fire", to benefit WBAI radio.

Bernardine, Bill, Mitchel, & Rachel

WHY I HATE THANKSGIVING

Something fun to read with our families around the dinner table Thursday.
CLICK HERE

On Thanksgiving morning 2003, George W. Bush showed up in Iraq before sunrise for a photo-op, wearing an Army workout jacket and surrounded by soldiers. He cradled a platter with what appeared to be a golden-brown turkey. Washington Post reporter Mike Allen wrote that “the bird looks perfect, with bunches of grapes and other trimmings completing a Norman Rockwell image that evokes bounty and security in one of the most dangerous parts of the world.”


As the world was soon to learn (but quickly forgot), the turkey platter was a phony, a plastic decoration that Bush posed with for the cameras. Bush shook a few hands, said a few “God Bless Americas,” and scurried back to his plane as quickly as he had arrived.

Thus, in one fell swoop, the new Conquistador had tied to history’s bloody bough the 511-year-old conquest of the “New World” ­ whose legions smote the indigenous population in the name of Christ ­ with the U.S. government’s bombardment and invasion of Iraq and the torture-detentions of prisoners of war at U.S. military bases.

Read More of Mitchel Cohen’s Why I Hate Thanksgiving HERE

Also, Glen Ford, The End of American Thanksgivings: A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

and Robert Jensen,

 

ARMISTICE DAY 2013

This morning on WBAI (listener-sponsored, free-speech, non-commercial radio), Bob Hennelly advised listeners to “thank the veterans” for serving “our” country and protecting us.

What a crock!

It’s not “our” military, “our” war against Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s theirs. The rulers. The one-percent.

The fact is in this day and age, no one fights for their country. They fight for the interests of those in power (or hope to become one!), the capitalist class, who turn them into murderers and send them to war on a pocketful of broken promises and lies.

Why only our veterans? According to the media pundits, service in a country’s military is seen as a wonderful thing. Well, what about all those in other lands who fought for their countries? Is God on “our” side … only? What kind of God would be on the side of our country, only? our city, only? our white (or brown, or red) people, only? our team, only? our family, only?

Yayyy, GO TEAM!

When a baseball batter hits a home run, circles the bases and points “to God” in appreciation, should the pitcher who gave up the home run similarly look skyward and give God a different finger?

Since when did praying become a contest — a forum for lobbying God, bending his ear?

Where do these religious-infused petty nationalisms end?

There’s a reason why today’s holiday used to be known as Armistice Day – the day the PEACE was signed to end World War 1. They changed it to “Veterans Day”, just as the Department of War was changed (through various permutations) to the Department of Defense — to propagandize the masses into accepting war as natural and those who fight in it as what you do to become a “man”. To win, in military parlance, “the hearts and minds of the people,” at home as well as abroad. To conquer … us.

So — contra Hennelly — thank people in the military who resist orders to kill; thank them when they reject orders to steal resources and oppress others.

Thank those, in Marine Corps Commander Smedley Butler’s words, who refuse to be a hit man for Wall Street.

And, thank people when they refuse the call-up, dodge the draft, flea to Canada or Sweden, go to prison, turn the guns around (!) to protect the real values of America, the America that should be but never was.

Should we help our returning veterans, who have been so gratuitously thrown onto the rubble heap and left with physical and mental wounds festering, and who have become homeless, jobless, suicides? Well, yes we must — not because they’re veterans but because they’re human beings, same as for every human being who is suffering those horrible fates.

Thank those who spurn the twistories, and celebrate what it means to be human in an era of robots.

Forgive me if I now turn off the radio to start my day, so I can think about our great history of resistance, instead of the mealy mouthed glorification of the warrior offered this morning on WBAI (listener-sponsored, free-speech, non-commercial radio), and everywhere else.

Click also on: For Each & Every Warrior Whose Strength Is Not to Fight.

TESTIMONY FROM U.S. MARINE CORPS COMMANDER GEN. SMEDLEY BUTLER (1938)

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon4/smedley_butler.jpg

I spent thirty-three years and four months in active service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps.

I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period I spent most of my time being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the bankers.

In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of the higher-ups. This is typical of everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for the American oil interests in 1914.

I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in.

I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street.

The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912.

I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916.

I helped make Honduras ‘right’ for American fruit companies in 1903.

In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three city districts. I operated on three continents.

Statement of Gen. David Shoup, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps (1960-63), winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor

 

I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own … and if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the “haves” refuse to share with the “have-nots” by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don’t want and above all don’t want crammed down their throats by Americans. (1968)

REMEMBERING CHE GUEVARA (June 14, 1928 – October 9, 1967)

Guided by Great Feelings of Love:

The Revolutionary Legacy of Che Guevara, on the 46th anniversary of his assassination.

by Mitchel Cohen

Che was captured, tortured and murdered in Bolivia under the direction of the CIA on October 9, 1967. Forty-six years have passed. Still Che is remembered, not as some ancient and hazy patriarch, but vividly, as one who exemplified the spirit of liberation … and the ideals of our own youth. He inspired so many ordinary people to commit themselves to their vision of a different world and called on us to persevere even in the face of bureaucratic intransigence and the enormous power of U.S. imperialism, against all odds.

Che Guevara, sans beard.

Che Guevara did not concern himself with “elections” as a means for transforming capitalist or authori­tarian states, unlike many in the U.S. and European “Left” today. But he was extremely concerned about finances, and how to fund the revolution.

 

There is a piece in the documentary film, “Ernesto Che Gue­vara: The Bolivian Diary,” which is eerie in that it shows Che as part of a Cuban delegation in Moscow begging for funds for Cu­ba. In the film, the 34-year old Che Guevara is barely able to bite his tongue and check his scathing sarcasm for the Russian bu­reaucrats, in order to gain funding from them.

I.F. Stone revealed that in 1961, at a conference in Punte del Este, Uruguay, Che Guevara — born in Argentina and a student of medicine there — huddled in discussion with some new left­ists from New York. A couple of Argentine Communist Party apparatchiks passed. Che couldn’t help shouting out: “Hey, why are you here, to start the counter-revolution?”

Like many in the emerging new left around the world, Che had first-hand experience with party apparatchiks and their attempts to impose their bureaucracy on indigenous revo­lutionary movements. He hated the Cuban revolution’s uneasy reliance on the Soviet Union. As the only one among the victorious guerrilla leadership in the Cuban revolution who had actually studied the works of Karl Marx prior to the Revolution’s victory in 1959, Che inspired New Left activists to take a critical stance towards the “socialism” of the Soviet Union and the local parties that blindly followed the Soviet line.

Indeed, contrary to the conceptions of many in the U.S. to­day, the revolution in Cuba was made independent of, and at times in opposition to, the Cuban Communist Party. It was not until several years after the revolution succeeded in taking state pow­er that an uneasy working relationship was established leading to a merger of the revolutionary forces and the Party — a merger that provided no end of problems for Che, and for the Cuban revolution itself.

We can learn something for our situation in the US today — particularly with regard to the role of non-governmental and not-for-profit organizations within progressive circles — by ex­amining Che’s strategies in Latin America. Fundamental to Che’s understanding was that “Yankee imperialism is like an octopus; its tentacles reach across the globe. We must cut them off: create two, three, many Vietnams.” Continue reading »