Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The ‘Worker President’ and the Banker Regime: Brazil under Lula DaSilva 2003-2010

James Petras
            Leftwing academics, writers and journalists have written tendentious articles where they manage to transform reactionary political leaders into working class heroes and present their dreadful policies as progressive advances.
            Recently, leftist pundits throughout US and Latin America have plagued the reading public with gross distortions of historical events contributing, in their own way, to the demise of the left and the rise of the right.
            The leading international figures in this deceptive leftwing punditry include the famous Noam Chomsky, once eulogized by the New York Times (NYT) as ‘America’s most important public intellectual’.  Such effusion is not surprising: Professor Chomsky and the NYT both supported the presidential candidacy of the warmongering Hillary Clinton, the perpetrator of seven wars that uprooted 20 million people from Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, sub-Sahara Africa (Is this any different from Stalin in the ‘30’s?) and author/supporter of numerous coups and attempted ‘regime changes’ in Brazil, Honduras, Venezuela, Paraguay and Ukraine.
            The same MIT intellectual turned his prestige-laden ire on the authors of the definitive critique of the pro-Israel lobby (The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, Professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt (2007)) and slandered the most effective activist group against Israeli colonial land grabbers – the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS).  So much for America’s most ‘prominent intellectual’ – a crypto-warmonger, who not only supported the candidacy of the blood-gorged war goddess Clinton, but has become a leader of the post-election propaganda and ‘regime change’ campaign to overthrow the buffoonish President-Elect Donald Trump.   Chomsky’s wild, hysterical diatribe against Trump claimed nothing less than the world now faced the gravest danger in all its history with the election of the real estate-casino King Donald.  Noam deftly papered over his defeated candidate Hillary’s vow to unleash possible nuclear war by shooting down Russian planes over Syria – in opposition to Trump’s reasoned proposal to work with Putin in ending the brutal war in Syria.
            There are different versions of the ‘leftist’-imperial-collaborator apologist Chomsky throughout Latin America.  One is Emir Sader.
            Emir Sader, professor of Political Science at the University of Rio de Janeiro and author of the book celebrating the first ‘workers’ President of Brazil, Lula DaSilva (Without Fear of Being Happy: Lula, The Workers Party and Brazil (1991)) is a frequent contributor to the leading ‘progressive’ daily newspapers throughout Latin America, including La Jornada of Mexico, as well as the influential bi-monthly The New Left Review in Great Britain.
            Needless to say, Sader never cited any inconvenient facts when praising the leadership of Lula Da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s last two elected presidents from the Workers Party.  For example, Sader omitted the fact that President Da Silva implemented an IMF-mandated austerity program upon taking office.  He tiptoed around the Wall Street Bankers’ awarding Lula a “Man of the Year” prize.  Professor Sader forgot to cite the abrupt drop in farmland expropriations (guaranteed under Brazil’s Constitution) for rural landless workers movement (MST) – leaving hundreds of thousands of landless peasant families under thin plastic tents.  His ‘Worker President’ Lula appointed neo-liberal economists and central bank directors to his cabinet.  Lula supported the interests of big agro-business, big oil and big mining oligarchs who slashed and burned the Amazon rain forest murdering indigenous leaders, peasants and ecologists who resisted the devastation and displacement.
            Sader lauded, as ‘generous’, the monthly ‘food baskets’, equivalent to $60 dollars, which the local Workers Party operative passed out to about 30 million destitute families to create a rural client-base.  Sader and his string of leftist followers in North and South America, England and France never attacked the high level bribery, fraud and corruption linking Workers Party leaders to construction multi-nationals and Petrobras, the state oil company and billions of state contracts.
            Sader and his international acolytes celebrated Brazil’s ascent to world power as a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) with Lula as a leader in bringing the poor into the ‘middle class’.  He never stopped to analyze how Lula managed to balance the interests of the IMF, Wall Street, agro-business, bankers while enticing a huge voting majority among the poor and workers. 
Lula’s ‘miracle’ was a temporary mirage, its reality evident to only a few critics who pointed to the reliance on a prolong commodity export boom.  The business elites backed Lula because of state subsidies and tax incentives.   Hundreds of rightwing Congress people and cabinet members jumped on the Workers Party bandwagon to enjoy the payola payoffs from contractors.  But by the end of Lula’s eight year term, exports of primary commodities to China sharply declined, commodity prices collapsed and the business elites and bankers turned their backs on the ‘Worker President’ as they looked for a new regime to rescue them by sacrificing the poor. 
The rest of the story is well known:  Former PT allies launched corruption investigations to pull down the PT government.  Twice-elected President Dilma Rouseff was impeached in a bizarre legislative coup, orchestrated by a corrupt PT ally from a rightwing party, Congressional head Eduardo Cunhal; Rouseff’s corrupt Vice President Temer took over and Lula was indicted for corruption by rightwing prosecutors appointed by the PT.  The House of Cards in Brasilia became a grotesque comic opera with all the major players waltzing in and out of jail (except the impeached Rouseff).
            But Professor Sader did not looked back in contemplation, let alone class analysis, at the 13 years of Worker Party power in coalition with the worst of Brazil’s crooks.  Instead, he bellowed that Lula’s former allies, the corrupt politicians from the rightwing parties, had unjustly ousted the PT.  These ‘traitors’ were the same politicians that Professor Sader embraced as ‘strategic allies’ from 2003 to 2014.  Any serious observer could understand why Lula’s was first embraced  and then divorced by the financial elite – for its own class interest.
Lula and Dilma’s ‘Three-Cornered Ménage’ with Bankers
            Contrary to Sader’s PT propaganda and the predictably ill-informed kudos of Chomsky, et al, the Workers Party policies benefited the banks and the agro-business elites above all others, to the detriment of the popular movements and the Brazilian people.  Brazilian investment bank revenues rose from $200 million dollars in 2004 to $1.6 billion dollars in 2007 and remained close to the peak until the commodity crash reduced bank revenues drastically.  Likewise, the financial speculators and corporate monopolies took part in the capitalist bonanza under Presidents Lula and Dilma.  Merger and acquisitions (M & A’s) rose from $40 billion in 2007 to $140 billion in 2010 but then sharply declined with the drop in world commodity prices down to $25 billion in 2015.  The banks made billions of dollars in management fees for arranging the M&A’s over the eight-year period (2007-2015).
The Fall of Banking Revenues and the Rise of Corporate Activists
            If we examine Brazilian merger and acquisitions activity and investment bank revenues, one sees a close correlation with the rise and fall of the PT regime.  In other words, when the bankers, speculators and monopolists flourished under the PT policies, they supported the government of Lula and Dilma.  When the export agro-mining commodity boom collapsed, slashing profits, management fees and interest, the financial sector immediately mobilized their rightwing allies in congress, allied prosecutors and judges and successfully pushed for Dilma’s impeachment, Lula’s indictment, the arrest of former PT allies and the appointment of Vice President Temer to the Presidency.
            With the recession fully underway, the business and banking elite demanded large-scale, long-term cuts in public expenditures, slashing budgets for the poor, education, health, housing and pensions, severe wage reduction and a sharp limit on consumer credit.  At the same time they pushed through the privatization of the multi-billion dollar petroleum industry (Petrobras) and related state industries, as well as public ports, airlines and airfields, highways and whatever else among Brazil’s public jewels could compensate for their drop in investment bank revenues and management fees for M&As. 
For the finance sector, Lula and Dilma’s main crime lay in their reluctance to impose the brutal ‘new austerity policies’ fast enough or totally privatize public enterprises, reverse subsidies to the destitute, freeze wages and slash social budgets for the next two decades.
            As soon as the economic elite successfully ousted President Dilma Rousseff through a legislative ‘coup’, their newly enthroned (Vice) President Michel Temer rose to the task: He immediately announced the privatization of Petrobras and froze health and educational budget for the next twenty years.  Instead of recognizing the true nature of the ruling class interests behind the coup against Dilma and the arrest of Lula, the PT party hacks and writers denounced political ‘plotters’ and “traitors” and imperialist agents . . . puppets who were only following orders from the banking and export elite.
            After the fall of Dilma and faced with resounding defeats in the 2016 municipal elections wiping out almost all of the PT big city mayors and city officials, Lula finally called for a ‘Left Front’ – fifteen years after having pursued an allied bankers’ . . . front!
Reflections on a Debacle
            What stands out is how pro-PT intellectuals and writers have failed to understand that the party’s vulnerability, opportunism and corruption were present early on and reflected the class composition, policy decisions and lack of ethical principles among the PT leadership.  Wide-eyed and seduced at their warm reception at PT functions and international conferences, the ill-informed US, Canadian and European intellectuals understood nothing about the real structural and strategic flaws within the party and instead published hundreds of shallow ‘puff pieces’ about Lula’s poverty reduction, minimum wage increases, and consumer credit – ignoring the real nature of class power in Brazil.
            Apparently, they threw out two centuries of even the most basic grammar school level history lessons describing the cyclical boom and bust nature of commodity export economies.  They ignored a half-century of left-right ‘populist front’ governments, which collapsed into coups once bourgeois support was withdrawn – and instead whined about ‘betrayals’ – as if the elite were capable of anything else.
            The fundamental problem was not the stratospheric intellectual pronouncements – the key was the economic and political strategies and policies under Lula and Dilma
            The PT Presidents failed to diversify the economy, institute an industrial program, impose content regulations on foreign producers, nationalize the banks and monopolies, prosecute corrupt political officials (including PT leaders) and stop the practice of funding political campaigns through kick-back rewards for rotten deals with construction contractor-cronies.
            Once in power, the PT ran expensive campaigns with heavy mass media saturation, while rejecting their own twenty years of effective class struggle that had built the political party with a strong working class cadre.
            By the time it was elected to the presidency, the PT membership had shifted dramatically – from workers to middle class professionals.  By 2002, 70% of active party members were professionals.  They formed the leadership base running for office, designed the new strategies and forged new allies.
            The PT discarded its popular class allies in order to gain short-term capitalist alliances based on the export commodity boom economy.  During the height of the ‘boom’ they managed to satisfy the bankers and stockbrokers, while providing some subsidies to workers and the poor.  When the budgets and the boom economy crashed, the business allies turned against the PT.  Meanwhile, the PT had also lost its mass base, which was experiencing double-digit unemployment.  The once reliable PT voters knew that, while they suffered, some of their ‘Workers Party’ leaders had become millionaires through corruption and were living in ‘soap-opera’-style luxury.  They could imagine them consulting their gold Rolex watches so not to miss an appointment with the corrupt contractors…
            Lacking critical and knowledgeable advisers, depending on allies and ministers from the capitalist elite, abandoning the politics of class struggle, and failing to implement any national industrial strategy - including the most basic processing of Brazil’s agro-mineral products, the Left disintegrated losing Latin America’s historic best opportunity to build a workers’ and peasant government from below.
            The fiasco of left intellectuals and politicos is not confined to the case of Brazil.  The same capitulation to the hard-right keeps happening: In the US, France, England, Greece and Portugal, there were the Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomskys and a small army of left journalists and identity activists rushing to support the candidacy of Hillary Clinton--the most bellicose imperial politician in recent memory.    Despite her record of supporting or launching seven wars, creating twenty-million refugees and over one million deaths, despite her reckless advocacy of nuclear war with Russia over Syria, the self-declared ‘anti-fascists’ joined hands to support a recidivist catastrophe-candidate, whose only real success would be her million-dollar speeches before the financial elite and speculators!         But then again, the famously furious Greek Left voted for Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras who then imposed history’s worst peacetime austerity program on the people of Greece.  It must console Lula and Dilma to know they have plenty of company among the left politicians who speak to the workers and work for the bankers.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Presidential Elections: Myths and Deceits

James Petras

Every aspect of this year's US Presidential election has been

fraught with myths, distortions, fabrications, wishful thinking and invented


We will proceed to discuss facts and fictions.

Electoral Participation

The mass media, parties and candidates emphasized the 'unprecedented voter
turnout' in the elections.  In fact, 48% of the eligible voters abstained.  

In other words, nearly half of the electorate did not vote.
There were many reasons, including widespread disgust at both major party
candidates and the weakness of 'third parties'.  This includes disappointed
Bernie Sanders supporters angry over the Democratic Party's cynical
manipulation of the primary nomination process.  Others were unable to vote
in their neighborhoods because US elections are held on a regular workday,
unlike in other countries. Others cast protest votes against economic
programs or candidates reflecting their distrust and sense of impotence over
policy.  Eligible voters generally expressed reservations over the gap
between campaign promises and post campaign policies.  These political
attitudes toward elections and candidates are deep-seated among those who
'stayed home'.

In contrast among registered voters (53% of the electorate) over
90% cast their ballot.  Ultimately, the presidential elections were decided
by just half of the eligible voters with the winning candidate receiving
about 25% eligible votes.  This is not a robust mandate.  Furthermore,
Clinton may have 'lost' with the plurality of popular votes, since the US
Presidency is ultimately decided by the 'Electoral College'.  In this case,
Trump secured more states earning substantially more Electoral College
votes, while the losing candidate's votes were more concentrated in big
cities and large coastal states.

The Myth of the Trump Revolution

Trump's campaign displayed the typical demagogy of US
politicians.  In previous campaigns Barack Obama's promised to work for
peace, domestic prosperity, social justice and immigration reform.  Once
elected, Obama reneged on his pledge and continued to wage the old wars and
launched new ones (seven altogether for the 'peace candidate').  He approved
a $2 trillion dollars Wall Street and bank 'bailout', while leaving over 3
million family home mortgages in foreclosure.  He rounded up and deported
two million immigrant workers.  Meanwhile wage inequality between black and
white workers actually widened; and overt police violence against black
youth increased.  We can expect Trump to follow Obama's pattern of double
speak and reverse his campaign promises.

So far, Trump seems to have appointed conventional Republicans
to his Cabinet posts.  Treasury and Commerce Secretaries will remain in the
hands of Wall Street insiders.  Prominent Republican warmongers will manage
foreign policy.

Meanwhile, Trump has been on a post-election charm offensive to
woo traditional conservative Republican Congressional leaders who had
opposed his candidacy during the primaries.  They will work with Trump in
lowering taxes while eliminating government regulations and environmental
controls - policies that have long been on their agenda.  On the other hand,
Trump's populist pledge to 'reindustrialize' America will be opposed by
Congressional Republicans with ties to Wall Street and financial
speculators.  Trump's promise to persuade US multi-nationals to repatriate
their billions and headquarters to the US will be opposed by the majority
Republican Congressional leadership.  Even a Trump Republican majority on
the Supreme Court, will veto any Trump initiative to 'force' big business to
sacrifice its tax-free overseas profits to come home and 'Make America Great

In other words, Trump will implement only policies that coincide
with the traditional Republican agenda and will continue some version of
Obama's pro-Wall Street policy.  Instead of Obama's executive tax loopholes
benefiting big business, Trump will do it through legislation.   Where Obama
made pronouncement about supporting Civil rights and justice for
African-Americans but actually ended up increasing police power and
impunity, Trump will simply make modifications directly favoring the police
state via Congressional legislation or Presidential decree.  Whereas Obama
rounded up and expelled 2 million immigrant workers, Trump will go after an
additional 2 million Latinos on the basis of 'criminality'.  Obama relied on
border police; Trump will beef up border patrols and concoct some agreement
with Mexico's conservative counterpart - short of erecting 'the Great Wall'.

Obama and his Democratic predecessor, President 'Bill' Clinton
cut the proportion of unionized workers in the private sector to 8%, through
economic and labor policies backed by millionaire trade union bureaucrats.
Trump, on the other hand, will crudely dismiss these impotent 'union'
functionaries and hacks while slashing whatever remains of worker rights.

Presidents Obama and Clinton linked 'identity groups' with the
interests of bankers, billionaires and militarists, but Trump will toss out
'identity politics' in favor of populist appeals to construction workers and
infrastructure contractors while attracting the same Wall Street executives,
billionaires and militarists that had worked closely with previous

Trump's Wall Street appeal was clear after his victory when the
stock market broke new highs, jumping 1,000 points between November 4 and

The pro-Clinton Wall Streeter boosters were smartly outflanked
by the 'silent majority' of financial CEO's who applauded Trump's promises
of deregulation and corporate tax cuts.

Despite the certainty of President Trump's reneging on all his
promises to American workers, he will still retain the support of small and
medium businesses and professionals, who outnumber and outvote the so-called
'white worker vote'.
Trump Complies with Rightwing Republican Agenda
To unify the Republican Party and gratify the rightwing
electoral base Trump will offer up some symbolic gratification, such as:

1.      Increase frontier security -  He will triple the number of border
patrol officers and extend the Obama-Clinton's search and expel formula. His
PR machines will crank out timely reports of mass deportations of Latino
workers to titillate the Anglo voters - while reassuring agribusiness and
other industries that their access to cheap imported labor will continue.

2.      He will appoint a rightwing WASP (first in a long time) to the
Supreme Court after decades of 'identity appointments'.  His court will try
to reverse Roe versus Wade on access to abortion- satisfying Catholics,
fundamentalists, orthodox Jews and Protestants - sending the issue back to
the reactionary states.  Women in the urban centers and large population
coastal states will retain reproductive health rights while poor and rural
women will see significant regression. 

3.      Trump will 'renegotiate NAFTA' without reversing current free trade
provisions, offering tax incentives and tax penalties to discourage future
flight but with little effect.

4.       Trump will force a repeal of the multi-party nuclear agreement with
Iran, but he will not re-impose international sanctions because of Russian
and Chinese vetoes in the UN Security Council and the lucrative billion-
dollar trade deals signed between Iran and Germany and France.  Trump's Iran
caper may pleasure Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli lobby,
but this would force him to violate his own stated pledge to avoid more
Middle East entanglements.

5.      Trump's anti-Muslim policy will be reduced to writing tighter
immigration rules for Muslims from the Middle East and South Asia, but not
include total exclusion.  These watered-down policies will quell opposition
and satisfy Islamo-phobes.

6.      President Trump's deregulation of environmental protections will
alienate ecologists and the science community but will appeal to big energy
corporations and their employees, workers and gas property leasers.
However, the rest of the world will continue to treat climate change as real
and Trump will end up isolated in a climate-denial corner with the
reactionary presidents of Poland and kleptocratic-Ukraine.  

7.      Trump will face stiff opposition when he tries to break the newly
restored diplomatic and economic relations with Cuba to please his rightwing
Cuban exile supporters.  But the deals will go thru:  On December 1, 2016
Delta Airlines will begin three daily flights, joining a dozen other
airlines to the delight of thousands of travel agency owners and employees
as well as tens of thousands of tourists and visitors.  US business and agro
exporters will object to any re-imposition of trade sanctions.  Trump will
probably end up tossing some bones to the rightwing exile community in the
way of rhetoric while maintaining diplomatic ties and Obama's embargo.  He
may expand the US base in Guantanamo.

8.      Trump will continue to support the right-wing 'golpistas' in
Venezuela but will not commit US troops for an invasion.  He will make deals
with right wing and center-left regimes in the Latin America without pushing
for coups or exclusionary regional trade pacts.

9.       Trump will end economic sanctions against Russia and then negotiate
some cooperation agreement with Putin to bomb Syria's Islamist terrorists
'into the stone age' and withdraw US commitments to the Saudis, Gulf
Monarchies and its jihadi mercenaries on regional 'regime change'.  He will
renegotiate trade relations with China to encourage greater reciprocity,
investments and exchange rates (if necessary).
On vital economic policies, Trump will pursue traditional
Republican business policies - the linchpin being lower taxes and fewer

On identity politics (as well as human rights), Trump will
tighten restrictions on access to abortion and immigration to satisfy the
right-wing moralists and religious fundamentalists.
Trump will not confront Wall Street, the multi-nationals, the
military industrial complex or the pro-Israel billionaires and lobbies.  US
workers will find very few new well- paying jobs except in select
infrastructure projects.  The industrial rust belt will continue to rust.
The tens of thousands of public sector workers and professional slashed by
Trump's pledge to cut government will not find decent jobs in the private
sector.  Over time, Trump supporters who flocked to his promises for
economic change will be replaced by a motley collection of Bible thumpers of
all colors and faiths.  There will emerge a new groundswell of frustrated
workers, employees and professionals -- but where will they turn?  Certainly
they must not return to the increasingly discredited 'progressive' Bernie
Sander, who perfected his role as political 'Judas Goat' herding his
reluctant supporters into the blood-stained Wall Street Corral of the War
Goddess Hillary Clinton - known as the Democratic Party.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Freedom Rider: Dump the Democrats for Good

Margaret Kimberley
This columnist did not see a Donald Trump victory coming. The degree of disgust directed at an awful candidate was more than I had predicted. Neither the corporate media, nor Wall Street nor the pundits nor the pollsters saw this coming either. Their defeat and proof of their uselessness is total. Those of us who rejected the elite consensus and didn’t support Hillary Clinton should be proud.
Black people are now in fear and in shock when we ought to be spoiling for a fight. All is not lost. Even the victory of the openly bigoted Trump poses an opportunity to right our political ship. Not the electoral ship, the political one. For decades black Americans have been voting for people who have done them wrong. Bill Clinton got rid of public assistance as a right, and undid regulations that kept Wall Street in check. He put black people in jail and yet black people didn’t turn on him until he and his wife tried to defeat Obama. But Obama gave us more of the same. Bailouts of Wall Street, interventions and death for people all over the world, and a beat down of black people who still loved him. Despite the fear of Republican victory we end up losing whenever a Democratic presidential candidate wins.
“Obama bailed out banks, insurance companies, Big Pharma and even Ukraine.”
Victory is ours if we dump the Democrat Party and their black misleaders. The Democrats were so entrenched in their corruption and self-dealing that they didn’t see the Bernie Sanders campaign for modest reform as the savior it might have been. Instead they marched in lock step with a woman who was heartily disliked. Sanders went along as the sheep dog who led his flock straight over the cliff. The Democrats inadvertently galvanized people who had stopped participating in the system and who want change from top to bottom.
One of our biggest problems lies not in facts but in perceptions. What did Democrats do for black people? The Democrats ship living wage jobs off shore in corrupt trade deals like NAFTA and TTP. They don’t prosecute killer cops or raise the minimum wage. Trump will be hard pressed to deport more people than Obama did. The list of treachery is very long.
When Donald Trump asked black people, “What have you got to lose?” his words were met with derision. But in reality he posed a good question. What do we have to show for years of Democratic votes? Obama bailed out banks, insurance companies, Big Pharma and even Ukraine. But he didn’t rebuild Detroit or New Orleans. The water in Flint, Michigan is still poisoned and the prisons are still full.
“There may be opportunity in this crisis if we dare to seize it.”
The outpouring of love for Barack Obama was purely symbolic. In state after state, black people who gave him victory in 2008 and 2012 stayed home. They loved seeing him and his wife dressed up at state dinners but they were never fully engaged in politics because that is not what Democrats want. The love was phony and void of any political intent. Donald Trump will be president because of that veneer of political activism.
As for white people who voted for Trump, of course many of them are racists. However they are not without valid complaints. They don’t want neoliberalism but black people don’t either. They don’t want wars around the world and neither do black people. We corrupt our own heritage of radicalism in favor of shallow symbolism. While we slept walk in foolish nostalgia for Obama and cried at the thought of him leaving office, white people kept their hatred of Hillary to themselves or lied to pollsters. They want America to be great again, great for them. White nostalgic yearnings are dangerous for black people, and we must be vigilant. But there may be opportunity in this crisis if we dare to seize it.
Republicans have been the white people’s party for nearly 50 years. Trump just made it more obvious. He didn’t tell us anything we didn’t already know. We don’t have to be the losers in this election. Let us remember what we have achieved in our history. Half of black Americans didn’t even have the right to vote in the 1960s yet made earth shattering progress in a short time. But we must understand the source of that progress. It came from struggle and daring to create the crises that always bring about change.
“The dread of redneck celebration should not be our primary motivation right now.”
Yes white people will strut for president Trump but that doesn’t mean we must submit as if we are in the Jim Crow days of old. We have ourselves to rely on and we can reclaim our history of fighting for self-determination. The dread of redneck celebration should not be our primary motivation right now. Before we quake in fear at white America we must send the scoundrels packing.
The black politicians and the Democratic National Committee and the civil rights organizations that don’t help the masses must all be kicked to the proverbial curb. The rejection must be complete and blame must be laid squarely at their feet.
Those of us who voted for the green party ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka must stand firmly and proudly for our choice. We must strategize on building a progressive party to replace the Democrats who never help us. We must applaud Julian Assange and Wikileaks for exposing their corruption. There should be no back tracking on the fight to build left wing political power.
“We must strategize on building a progressive party to replace the Democrats who never help us.”
The black people who didn’t return to the polls shouldn’t be blamed either. Those individuals must have personal introspection that is meaningful and political. Their lack of enthusiasm speaks to Democratic Party and black misleadership incompetence. We should refrain from personal blame and help one another in this process as we fight for justice and peace.

The end of the duopoly is the first step in liberation. Staying with a party that literally did nothing was a slow and agonizing death. Sometimes shock therapy is needed to improve one’s condition. If we don’t take the necessary steps to free ourselves this election outcome will be a disaster. Instead, why not bring the disaster to the people who made it happen? The destruction of the Democratic Party and creation of a truly progressive political movement is the only hope for black America.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

KKE - Theoretical Issues of Our Program

The struggle of the working class against the capitalist class in order to be complete, i.e. a struggle of class against class, must foremost be revolutionary. The struggle should be against both individual capitalists and the capitalist class as a whole, and their power as well. The Communist Party, through its activity, organizes the workers and transforms the struggle against the exploiters into "whole class struggle, of a determined political party for definite political and socialist ideals"

Lenin argued: "....only the political party of the working class, the Communist Party can unite, educate and organize as the vanguard of the proletariat and the working class. This vanguard is capable alone to oppose the inevitable petty bourgeois' vacillations, the inevitable traditions and relapses of professional paucity or superstition within the proletariat and guide the action of the whole proletariat, namely to guide it politically and through the proletariat to lead the working masses"

In the history of revolutionary workers' movement, the communist identity-the characterization and incorporation into the Communist International- emerged in conditions of conflict with the opportunist social-democratic wing, which acted treacherously towards the interests of the working class during the European imperialist war (World War 1) 1914-1918, and in the revolutionary conditions that followed in countries such as Germany, Hungary, Slovakia, Italy, etc.

It was a result of the Socialist Revolution's victory in Russia(1917) and its influence on the revolutionary workers' movement. The characterisation of the workers' parties as Communist has its roots in the "Union of Communists" and the Communist Manifesto by Marx-Engels.

Later, during the final decades of 19th century and in the early 20th century, the worker's parties were characterized as social-democratic or socialist, a characterization that expressed to a great extent prevailing reality in these parties. In April 1917, Lenin proposed the need to change the names of the workers' parties and to adopt the term communist and establish a new International.

In this direction the Communist International (3rd International) was founded in 1919. Over the years, under the influence of the new changes in the correlation of forces in the class struggle worldwide (the retreat of the revolutionary upsurge in the second half of the 1920s, World War II and the Nazi's attack against USSR in 1941, the "Cold War" and nuclear threat, as well as due to post-war capitalist development) new opportunist currents were formed, such as eurocommunism.

Opportunist currents also developed inside the Communist Parties of the socialist countries, with the 20th Congress of the CPSU (1956) as a milestone in this process. The transformation of the Communist Parties that exercised state power into treacherous parties of the counter-revolution was a catalyst for the deep, ideological-political and organizational crisis of the international communist movement.

It is not sufficient for the Communist Party today in order to be the vanguard of the working class to affirm its communist identity(title), to generally accept the Marxist-Leninist theory of scientific communism and recognize the vanguard role of working class. All the above are preconditions.

In order to be a vanguard, it must have a revolutionary political programme, it must have the ability to act in all conditions, namely in conditions of the movement's retreat or rise. It must develop and regenerate the ability to face the objective pressures that are formed by the negative correlation of forces in the class struggle.

A criterion for the character of a Communist Party is its programme and its political line: "To understand the meaning of the struggle of the parties, we shouldn't believe the words that are spoken, but we should study the history of the parties, probe the actions of a party and how they solve the different political issues, what is their stance towards the issues that affect the crucial interests of the different classes in the society..."

What is the main issue that determines the character of a party's programme, and what is the precondition for its revolutionary content?

The most important question that determines the revolutionary content of the programme of the communist party is the clarification of the revolution's character, i.e. the answer to the question: "Which contradiction will be solved by the impending social revolution, which class will take power?"

Based on this position, the line for the concentration of social forces is formed (motor forces), which have an objective interest in the revolution.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Inside the invisible government: War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump

This text is adapted from an address to the Sheffield Festival of Words, Sheffield, England.

The American journalist, Edward Bernays, is often described as the man who invented modern propaganda. The nephew of Sigmund Freud, the pioneer of psycho-analysis, it was Bernays who coined the term “public relations” as a euphemism for spin and its deceptions.

In 1929, he persuaded feminists to promote cigarettes for women by smoking in the New York Easter Parade – behaviour then considered outlandish. One feminist, Ruth Booth, declared, “Women! Light another torch of freedom! Fight another sex taboo!” Bernays’ influence extended far beyond advertising. His greatest success was his role in convincing the American public to join the slaughter of the First World War.

The secret, he said, was “engineering the consent” of people in order to “control and regiment [them] according to our will without their knowing about it”.  He described this as “the true ruling power in our society” and called it an “invisible government”.  Today, the invisible government has never been more powerful and less understood. In my career as a journalist and film-maker, I have never known propaganda to insinuate our lives as it does now and to go unchallenged.

Imagine two cities. Both are under siege by the forces of the government of that country. Both cities are occupied by fanatics, who commit terrible atrocities, such as beheading people. But there is a vital difference. In one siege, the government soldiers are described as liberators by Western reporters embedded with them, who enthusiastically report their battles and air strikes. There are front page pictures of these heroic soldiers giving a V-sign for victory. There is scant mention of civilian casualties.

In the second city – in another country nearby – almost exactly the same is happening. Government forces are laying siege to a city controlled by the same breed of fanatics. The difference is that these fanatics are supported, supplied and armed by “us” – by the United States and Britain. They even have a media centre that is funded by Britain and America. Another difference is that the government soldiers laying siege to this city are the bad guys, condemned for assaulting and bombing the city – which is exactly what the good soldiers do in the first city.

Confusing? Not really. Such is the basic double standard that is the essence of propaganda. I am referring, of course, to the current siege of the city of Mosul by the government forces of Iraq, who are backed by the United States and Britain and to the siege of Aleppo by the government forces of Syria, backed by Russia. One is good; the other is bad.

What is seldom reported is that both cities would not be occupied by fanatics and ravaged by war if Britain and the United States had not invaded Iraq in 2003. That criminal enterprise was launched on lies strikingly similar to the propaganda that now distorts our understanding of the civil war in Syria. Without this drumbeat of propaganda dressed up as news, the monstrous ISIS and Al-Qaida and al-Nusra and the rest of the jihadist gang might not exist, and the people of Syria might not be fighting for their lives today.

Some may remember in 2003 a succession of BBC reporters turning to the camera and telling us that Blair was “vindicated” for what turned out to be the crime of the century. The US television networks produced the same validation for George W. Bush. Fox News brought on Henry Kissinger to effuse over Colin Powell’s fabrications. The same year, soon after the invasion, I filmed an interview in Washington with Charles Lewis, the renowned American investigative journalist. I asked him, “What would have happened if the freest media in the world had seriously challenged what turned out to be crude propaganda?”   He replied that if journalists had done their job, “there is a very, very good chance we would not have gone to war in Iraq”.

It was a shocking statement, and one supported by other famous journalists to whom I put the same question — Dan Rather of CBS, David Rose of the Observer and journalists and producers in the BBC, who wished to remain anonymous. In other words, had journalists done their job, had they challenged and investigated the propaganda instead of amplifying it, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children would be alive today, and there would be no ISIS and no siege of Aleppo or Mosul. There would have been no atrocity on the London Underground on 7th July 2005.  There would have been no flight of millions of refugees; there would be no miserable camps.

When the terrorist atrocity happened in Paris last November, President Francoi Hollande immediately sent planes to bomb Syria – and more terrorism followed, predictably, the product of Hollande’s bombast about France being “at war” and “showing no mercy”. That state violence and jihadist violence feed off each other is the truth that no national leader has the courage to speak.   “When the truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

The attack on Iraq, the attack on Libya, the attack on Syria happened because the leader in each of these countries was not a puppet of the West. The human rights record of a Saddam or a Gaddafi was irrelevant. They did not obey orders and surrender control of their country.

The same fate awaited Slobodan Milosevic once he had refused to sign an “agreement” that demanded the occupation of Serbia and its conversion to a market economy. His people were bombed, and he was prosecuted in The Hague. Independence of this kind is intolerable. As WikLeaks has revealed, it was only when the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad in 2009 rejected an oil pipeline, running through his country from Qatar to Europe, that he was attacked.

From that moment, the CIA planned to destroy the government of Syria with jihadist fanatics – the same fanatics currently holding the people of Mosul and eastern Aleppo hostage. Why is this not news? The former British Foreign Office official Carne Ross, who was responsible for operating sanctions against Iraq, told me: “We would feed journalists factoids of sanitised intelligence, or we would freeze them out. That is how it worked.”

The West’s medieval client, Saudi Arabia – to which the US and Britain sell billions of dollars’ worth of arms – is at present destroying Yemen, a country so poor that in the best of times, half the children are malnourished. Look on YouTube and you will see the kind of massive bombs – “our” bombs – that the Saudis use against dirt-poor villages, and against weddings, and funerals. The explosions look like small atomic bombs. The bomb aimers in Saudi Arabia work side-by-side with British officers. This fact is not on the evening news.

Propaganda is most effective when our consent is engineered by those with a fine education – Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Columbia — and with careers on the BBC, the Guardian, the New York Times, the Washington Post. These organisations are known as the liberal media. They present themselves as enlightened, progressive tribunes of the moral zeitgeist. They are anti-racist, pro-feminist and pro-LGBT.   And they love war.

While they speak up for feminism, they support rapacious wars that deny the rights of countless women, including the right to life. In 2011, Libya, then a modern state, was destroyed on the pretext that Muammar Gaddafi was about to commit genocide on his own people.  That was the incessant news; and there was no evidence. It was a lie.

In fact, Britain, Europe and the United States wanted what they like to call “regime change” in Libya, the biggest oil producer in Africa. Gaddafi’s influence in the continent and, above all, his independence were intolerable. So he was murdered with a knife in his rear by fanatics, backed by America, Britain and France.  Hillary Clinton cheered his gruesome death for the camera, declaring, “We came, we saw, he died!”

The destruction of Libya was a media triumph. As the war drums were beaten, Jonathan Freedland wrote in the Guardian: “Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong.” Intervention — what a polite, benign, Guardian word, whose real meaning, for Libya, was death and destruction.

According to its own records, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. They included missiles with uranium warheads. Look at the photographs of the rubble of Misurata and Sirte, and the mass graves identified by the Red Cross. The Unicef report on the children killed says, “most [of them] under the age of ten”. As a direct consequence, Sirte became the capital of ISIS.

Ukraine is another media triumph. Respectable liberal newspapers such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian, and mainstream broadcasters such as the BBC, NBC, CBS, CNN have played a critical role in conditioning their viewers to accept a new and dangerous cold war. All have misrepresented events in Ukraine as a malign act by Russia when, in fact, the coup in Ukraine in 2014 was the work of the United States, aided by Germany and Nato.    This inversion of reality is so pervasive that Washington’s military intimidation of Russia is not news; it is suppressed behind a smear and scare campaign of the kind I grew up withduring the first cold war. Once again, the Ruskies are coming to get us, led by another Stalin, whom The Economist depicts as the devil.

The suppression of the truth about Ukraine is one of the most complete news blackouts I can remember. The fascists who engineered the coup in Kiev are the same breed that backed the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Of all the scares about the rise of fascist anti-Semitism in Europe, no leader ever mentions the fascists in Ukraine – except Vladimir Putin, but he does not count.

Many in the Western media have worked hard to present the ethnic Russian-speaking population of Ukraine as outsiders in their own country, as agents of Moscow, almost never as Ukrainians seeking a federation within Ukraine and as Ukrainian citizens resisting a foreign-orchestrated coup against their elected government.

There is almost the joie d’esprit of a class reunion of warmongers. The drum-beaters of the Washington Post inciting war with Russia are the very same editorial writers who published the lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

 To most of us, the American presidential campaign is a media freak show, in which Donald Trump is the arch villain. But Trump is loathed by those with power in the United States for reasons that have little to do with his obnoxious behaviour and opinions. To the invisible government in Washington, the unpredictable Trump is an obstacle to America’s design for the 21st century.

This is to maintain the dominance of the United States and to subjugate Russia, and, if possible, China.

To the militarists in Washington, the real problem with Trump is that, in his lucid moments, he seems not to want a war with Russia; he wants to talk with the Russian president, not fight him; he says he wants to talk with the president of China. In the first debate with Hillary Clinton, Trump promised not to be the first to introduce nuclear weapons into a conflict. He said, “I would certainly not do first strike. Once the nuclear alternative happens, it’s over.” That was not news.

Did he really mean it? Who knows? He often contradicts himself. But what is clear is that Trump is considered a serious threat to the status quo maintained by the vast national security machine that runs the United States, regardless of who is in the White House. The CIA wants him beaten. The Pentagon wants him beaten. The media wants him beaten. Even his own party wants him beaten. He is a threat to the rulers of the world – unlike Clinton who has left no doubt she is prepared to go to war with nuclear-armed Russia and China.

Clinton has the form, as she often boasts. Indeed, her record is proven. As a senator, she backed the bloodbath in Iraq.  When she ran against Obama in 2008, she threatened to “totally obliterate” Iran. As Secretary of State, she colluded in the destruction of governments in Libya and Honduras and set in train the baiting of China. She has now pledged to support a No Fly Zone in Syria — a direct provocation for war with Russia. Clinton may well become the most dangerous president of the United States in my lifetime –a distinction for which the competition is fierce.

Without a shred of evidence, she has accused Russia of supporting Trump and hacking her emails. Released by WikiLeaks, these emails tell us that what Clinton says in private, in speeches to the rich and powerful, is the opposite of what she says in public. That is why silencing and threatening Julian Assange is so important. As the editor of WikiLeaks, Assange knows the truth. And let me assure those who are concerned, he is well, and WikiLeaks is operating on all cylinders.

Today, the greatest build-up of American-led forces since World War Two is under way – in the Caucasus and eastern Europe, on the border with Russia, and in Asia and the Pacific, where China is the target. Keep that in mind when the presidential election circus reaches its finale on November 8th,  If the winner is Clinton, a Greek chorus of witless commentators will celebrate her coronation as a great step forward for women. None will mention Clinton’s victims: the women of Syria, the women of Iraq, the women of Libya. None will mention the civil defence drills being conducted in Russia.  None will recall Edward Bernays’ “torches of freedom”.

George Bush’s press spokesman once called the media “complicit enablers”.  Coming from a senior official in an administration whose lies, enabled by the media, caused such suffering, that description is a warning from history.

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “Before every major aggression, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack. In the propaganda system, it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”