In Brief

Prison profiteers drive detention of immigrants

By Fred Goldstein, published April 22, 2015 The U.S. prison system is more and more becoming a profit center for big private corporations. The detention of undocumented immigrants fleeing persecution has become a special source of “profit from misery.” A new study from “Grassroots Leadership” documents how the largest private prison corporations in the country, the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and the GEO Group, have spent millions of dollars lobbying the Department of Homeland Security...

Mass protests, boycott specter make anti-LGBTQ laws bad for business

By Fred Goldstein, April 6, 2015 It is rare when the capitalist class openly reveals its relationship to its political servants. But in the cases of the bigoted so-called “religious freedom” laws passed in Indiana and Arkansas, some of the biggest corporations in the U.S. panicked in the face of mass outrage and protests and pressured two right-wing Republican governors to shift course. Passage of the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” in Indiana was right-wing revenge for a string of court rulings...

Bosses get $243 billion subsidy for paying low wages

By Fred Goldstein The capitalist class has found more and more ways to pay tens of millions of workers below-subsistence wages by shifting what should be the cost of wages onto government at various levels. This shift of wage and benefit costs off the payrolls of the bosses and onto the government amounts to a massive subsidy to many of the richest corporations and biggest employers in the U.S. for paying poverty or below-poverty wages. Every dollar not paid by the corporations to keep their workers at...

Charlotte uprising forces release of killer cop videos

By Fred Goldstein posted on October 5, 2016

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The truly heroic forces of the Charlotte Uprising have carried out a great struggle to get justice for Keith Lamont Scott, who was murdered in cold blood by the cops on Sept. 20 while waiting in his car for his son to come home from school. Now they are also fighting for freedom for Rayquan Borum, who has been framed up for the police killing of Justin Carr during the rebellion. Eyewitnesses say that the rubber bullet that killed Carr was fired by the police. Only the police have rubber bullets.

In the course of the righteous rebellion, the Uprising has pushed back the cops and established an important precedent that the movement should study and try to follow. They have carried their rebellion to the commercial and financial centers of Charlotte, the Wall Street of the South.

For example, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Duke Energy, the real ruling class of North Carolina, were forced to tell their workers to stay home for several days.

Taking it to the ruling class

The commercial EpiCenter, which houses businesses, a major hotel, restaurants and bars, was invaded and business has fallen way off. There were major cancellations at large hotels. The Westin Hotel had three large groups cancel, losing several 4,000-room nights of business. The Aria Tuscan Grill restaurant had 300 reservations on a Friday night and none of them showed up.

According to the owner of the Aria Tuscan Grill and City Smoke, “I remember 9/11 vividly, and remember thinking that was the worst. This event is even bigger.” (Charlotte Observer, “Unrest ‘huge blow’ to uptown hospitality industry,” Sept. 28) There was also damage to Walmart, the Omni Hotel, the Hyatt, the Charlotte Convention Center and an office tower near the NASCAR Hall of Fame. There were boarded-up stores in both downtown and uptown.

Demonstrators blocked interstate highways I-77, I-85 and I-277, all of which are important access routes to the commercial districts. The police had to shut down I-277 for several hours.

The Carolina Panthers game on Sept. 25 was the most undersold game in two years. With tickets costing $120 each, much revenue was undoubtedly lost.

Police do 180 on videos

The protesters’ victory so far has been to force an adamant police chief and the mayor to release police videos of the shooting. The police initially refused to release them.

Police Chief Kerr Putney spoke the day after the killing. With Mayor Jennifer Roberts by his side, he firmly refused to release any videos on the grounds that they were part of an ongoing investigation.

Putney started litigating the case in public right away, declaring that Scott got out of his car with a gun and pointed it at the police.

The next day, as the rebellion grew, Putney said that even if the videos didn’t show Scott with a gun, the cops found a gun. Later they said they found an ankle holster. Of course “dropping a gun” is standard police operation when they want to cover up a killing or frame up someone. One video also shows the cops yelling at Scott, “Drop the gun.” But the police knew full well that the dash cam was on them and they acted out their lines accordingly.

A day later Putney said the cops would release the videos when there was a good reason to.

And finally, in the wake of the movement’s calls for his resignation, Putney totally reversed course on Sept. 24 and said he would release the videos.

So far the police have released partial videos; they are due to release much more video. This victory is going to put pressure on police departments across the country to release videos of police shootings. And it was done in a matter of days.

This is no small accomplishment. In Chicago the movement could not get the release of the video of Laquan McDonald’s murder for 14 months, and it was only released after a court order based on a lawsuit by a reporter.

Taking on state by pressuring ruling class

At the present time, the movement against racist police killings and brutality does not have the force to take on the state directly. The local police are militarized, as are the state police and the National Guard. The state can only be pushed back indirectly, by interfering with the sales and profits of the banks, big business, and medium and small businesses. Because the cops are, in the end, only the servants of business, it is the capitalist ruling class that can be forced to tell their servants to pull back.

Of course, the ruling class is secretly behind the new wave of repression being brought against the Uprising — including hundreds arrested, new warrants for organizers and the frame-ups of key people. It is quite expected that the ruling class will strike back with repression. But no matter what, the victory has already been accomplished and cannot be erased. And the repression must be fought, not just by the Charlotte movement, but also by people from the entire country in the struggle for Black lives.

Displaying extraordinary heroism and determination, the Uprising refused to be intimidated by a massive show of force. Hundreds of cops in riot gear, showering rubber bullets and tear gas, and wielding clubs, could not drive the demonstrators off the streets.

The Uprising defied a state of emergency declared by the governor and curfews by the local government. The activists came back, day after day, night after night. While they could not defeat the state outright, they also refused to be intimidated. They pushed up against the cops, the Guard and the state police. And they stayed in the streets.

This struggle has illuminated the relationship between the bosses and the cops. That alone is an accomplishment. Of course, there still has to be the indictment, the trial and the conviction of the cops involved. That is a much larger struggle. But the Uprising has shown the great potential of a truly grassroots rebellion.

Black August of 1970: The Heroes of San Rafael

In the momentous political event that marked “Black August,” freedom fighter Jonathan Jackson, at the age of 17, burst into a San Rafael, Calif., courtroom, armed, to free his brother, George Jackson, along with Fleeta Drumgo and John Clutchette, on Aug. 7, 1970. The three “Soledad Brothers” were being tried and faced execution — despite a lack of evidence — for killing a white prison guard at Soledad prison following another guard’s murder of three African-American inmates.
George Jackson had been imprisoned for over 10 years for a $70 robbery and faced an indeterminate [read “life”] sentence. He was a leader of the Black Panther Party, vanguard organization of the Black Liberation Movement, founded in October 1966 in Oakland, Calif.
Jonathan Jackson was joined by San Quentin prisoners James McClain, Ruchell Cinque Magee* and William Christmas inside the courtroom where they took a judge, district attorney and three jurors hostage and demanded the Soledad Brothers’ immediate release.
As Jackson drove away, court police and San Quentin guards opened fire, killing him, McClain, Christmas and the judge. The rest survived, including Magee, who has been incarcerated for 53 years, currently the longest-held U.S.political prisoner.
Workers World republishes here the original article written — with some small edits suggested by the author — by Fred Goldstein, who was then a leader of Youth Against War and Fascism and a supporter of the Panthers, and is the author of the books, “Low Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End.” Workers World staff
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By Fred Goldstein
Aiming to free his unjustly imprisoned brother George, Jonathan Jackson, 17, William Christmas, James McClain and Ruchell Magee take judge, prosecutor, three jurors as hostages to waiting van Aug. 7, 1970.
August 7, 1970, shall go down in history as the day of the heroes of San Rafael. On that day four courageous Black liberation fighters gave the world a truly awe-inspiring demonstration of revolutionary heroism and self-sacrifice in the struggle against the racist tyranny of U.S. imperialism. Their deed has already become an imperishable part of the revolutionary heritage of the Black Liberation struggle and of oppressed people everywhere.
Three of these heroes were prisoners of war — captives in the war of the master class against Black America. The fourth was a young revolutionary whose brother was being held prisoner in the concentration camp called San Quentin.
On August 7, 1970, they tore loose from the very jaws of the monster. In a blaze of glory, these prisoners of war broke the iron grip of the slave master, struck him a surprise blow and captured the enemy in his own lair. By a stroke of historic justice they were able to capture a judge, a prosecutor and a juror — representing the three elements of the capitalist frame-up system which has consigned an endless procession of helpless victims to perish, to die a slow, agonizing death in the dungeon-graveyards of iron and cement. Fate could not have planned a more fitting circumstance.
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George Jackson, by unknown Palestinian artist, Palestine, 2015
Died for the people
“We are revolutionaries,” they proudly proclaimed. “We want the Soledad brothers free by 12:30.” Their deed was performed for the people and for history.
They showed the people that they were not afraid to die for liberation. They showed the people a black-robed tyrant torn from his throne and trembling in the hands of Black revolutionaries.
They proved before the people, the exploited and oppressed Black people everywhere, that the jailer can be taken prisoner; that the prosecutor of the people can be forced to reckon with the people’s justice; that the hangman can be made to beg for his life; that those who torture and torment the people, those who remorselessly show no mercy and turn a deaf ear to the cries of pain and suffering — that these brutes turned loose in society by the master class can be struck down by determined and revolutionary representatives of the people. This is what the heroes of San Rafael wanted the people to see. This is what the people saw. This is what they will remember.
In a flash of revolutionary daring, the heroes of San Rafael breached the fortress of the enemy where he thought he was impregnable — in the court. They assailed that onerous organ which has been held sacred and inviolable by ruling classes throughout history. Since the dawn of class society this institution has served the rich, the exploiters, as the arena of class discipline, where the poor are held to account for every act of rebellion, be it large or small, personal or political, against exploitation and class domination. In all areas of life there is no place where the master class has grown so accustomed to submission as in the courts.
Therein lies a great political, moral and psychological victory won for the Black Liberation struggle at San Rafael. Political because the example has been inscribed indelibly into the minds of thousands of as yet anonymous revolutionaries who cannot but be inspired by such a heroic exploit. This example alone has already prepared a future augmentation of the forces of liberation.
Morally, the people cannot but contrast the heroic self-sacrifice of the brothers with the bestiality of the ruling class which used overwhelming numbers to slaughter its own devoted servants rather than permit Black men to be free.
Psychologically, the slave masters have been terrified by the boldness and innovative tactical conception. The tension in the ruling class must increase tremendously as a result. No court is safe any more. Blind passivity and fatal acceptance by its victims can no longer be taken for granted by the enemy. Every prison has become a veritable cadre school of the oppressed. The courts will have to become armed camps. The bourgeoisie will have to show the people its teeth in every “hall of justice” across the country.
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Rulers sacrificed own stooge
Only those who fail to see the power of the people’s revolutionary potential can see a defeat in San Rafael. True enough, they did not achieve their tactical objective. But this was unavoidable. Even the most seasoned revolutionary could not have predicted that the enemy would, without remorse, without a moment’s hesitation, slaughter its own judge, prosecutor and jurors. In this deed the pigs exceeded their previous record for brutality.
Who could have foretold the complete overthrow of all rational procedures of warfare? Who could have gauged that fear and rage would drive them to devour their own? These brave warriors were hardly naïve. On the contrary, having lived the caged existence of the dungeon, these fighters were on intimate terms with the system in its most brutal and sadistic aspects.
The tactic of San Rafael flows directly from the present stage of the struggle. The revolution, the war of liberation has sunk into the bones of the people. There is a universal desire to struggle. But the people have not yet created an army capable of dealing the enemy blow-for-blow on an equal basis, capable of smashing the power of the oppressor.
Under those conditions the people are forced to begin the struggle sporadically and against vastly superior forces. At these junctures, groups and individuals scale the heights of revolutionary heroism against the most overwhelming odds. Being unable to select the terrain of battle, being unable to commit large-scale forces to equalize the conditions of battle — in fact, being powerless to exercise control over any of the decisive elements which influence the military outcome of any major struggle, the people are nevertheless determined to fight and die for liberation. Therefore, they must begin the struggle under conditions handed to them by the class enemy — that is, under circumstances which must inevitably be unfavorable.
It is at such moments in history that the most fearless and determined representatives of the oppressed people come forward to do battle. They form the vanguard and their deeds become the inspiration and the foundation for future struggles and for ultimate victory.
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Ruchell Magee, George and Jonathan Jackson, by Kiilu Nyasha
It is to such an illustrious category that James McClain, Jonathan Jackson, William Christmas and Ruchell Magee belong. Their courageous sacrifice deserves nothing less than the highest tribute. The only tribute worthy of their example is to build a revolutionary fighting force which shall not only equalize the battle but which shall carry out a relentless and implacable struggle for the revolutionary destruction of imperialism and the capitalist foundation on which it rests.
Epilogue: A year later on Aug. 21, San Quentin guards murdered author and revolutionary George Jackson. Enraged at his assassination and protesting racist “brutal, dehumanized” prison conditions, 1,200 inmates of New York’s Attica Correctional Facility rebelled on Sept. 9, 1971. Four days later, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller ordered 600 state and National Guard troops to storm the prison. Within 10 minutes, they fatally shot 29 prisoners and 10 guards. Surviving prisoners were ferociously beaten, many injured were left untreated.
Soledad Brothers Drumgo and Clutchette were acquitted by a San Francisco jury on March 27, 1972.
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*Tlaxcala’s Note
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Ruchell “Cinque” Magee (he adopted the middle name of Cinque, after the enslaved African who led the takeover of the slave ship Amistad, which eventually lead to the freedom of all the slaves on board)  is today the longest held political pr

 

What next for the Sanders campaign?

shutdownDNCBernie Sanders has given an early, pre-convention endorsement of Hillary Clinton as the Democratic Party nominee. Thus, the battle that he promised, of fighting all the way to the convention, is largely over.

Sanders officially got 12 million votes. He probably received at least 1 to 2 million more in California, which have not yet been counted. Several million more Sanders supporters could not vote for him because of closed primaries and restrictive registration rules in major states.

From the very outset, the Sanders campaign was wrapped in a severe contradiction. Sanders was advocating a rebellion against Wall Street, against income inequality and for basic economic rights. Yet he fought from within the Democratic Party, which is the party of Wall Street, big business and the Pentagon, as it has been for the last century. Now he has chosen to remain in the Democratic Party, whose leadership is profoundly opposed to Sanders’ goals.

To be sure, Sanders would never have been able to have the national impact he did had he not run in the Democratic Party presidential primaries. This is a reflection of the undemocratic nature of the U.S. electoral system. The winner-take-all elections, the absence of proportional representation, the enormous petitioning obstacles to getting on the ballot, and the control of electoral publicity by the media monopolies are guaranteed to keep the working class and the left on the margins of electoral politics.

Despite that, the Sanders campaign has shown the great potential for a real grass-roots rebellion against the political establishment. But it has also led to his present contradiction of backing Hillary Clinton, the very establishment candidate he fought against.

But that is his contradiction. The movement that supported him must not be locked into that contradiction.

Independent road to fight big business

The question for millions of followers of Sanders is, what to do now? Should they hold their noses and run to the Clinton camp on the grounds that Trump must be defeated, or should they chart an independent course?

The answer at the moment is that the most important thing to do for the future of the movement in the U.S. is to chart an independent course. The answer for what to do about Trump right now is to fight him with demonstrations and disruptions wherever he and his racist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-women forces appear.

The electoral question should not become a reason to give up the freedom to wage an independent struggle against the big-business establishment, as represented by the two capitalist parties — the Democratic Party leadership as well as the Republicans.

The elections must not tie the hands of Sanders’ supporters who want to continue and deepen a progressive and revolutionary struggle. The Sanders movement must chart a course that at least includes what they were fighting for when they voted for Sanders in the first place.

It must escalate the fight against the rich and their obscene salaries and profits, the fight against the giant banks, for universal health care, for free college tuition, for an end to student debt, to stop the polluters and climate change, for the right to a union, for a woman’s right to choose, an end to deportations and so forth. These were the premises of the Sanders campaign. This program must not be abandoned or left in the hands of Hillary Clinton and the big-business dominated Democratic Party.

And because Sanders’ program was limited, the movement has a chance to go far beyond it. A truly comprehensive, independent course must be a working-class course. It must be based on solidarity with oppressed people at home and abroad. It must support the Black Lives Matter movement against police terror, the movements against Pentagon aggression, deportations of immigrants, and the persecution and exploitation of undocumented workers.

A course of struggle

The other vital question is: Should an independent course take an exclusively electoral form, or should it be broadened and sharpened and taken to the streets, the workplaces, the communities and the campuses?

Given the momentum of the Sanders campaign, many want to pursue an independent electoral course. And there is nothing at all wrong with a truly left, independent electoral campaign. But it must be accompanied by a campaign of struggle.

What the establishment really responds to is mass resistance, protest, demonstrations, occupations, sit-downs, strikes and everything that interferes with business as usual. History shows that legislative victories that improve the life of the people in a significant way are the result of mass struggle.

The right to organize mass unions was won by hundreds of plant occupations and sit-down strikes in the 1930s. Civil rights were won by African Americans and their allies in the 1950s and 1960s all over the South, confronting the police and racist forces, at great sacrifice. Poverty programs and affirmative action were won after hundreds of urban rebellions in the North. The right to abortion was won by mass marches and countless demonstrations by women all over the country. Gay and lesbian rights began with the Stonewall Rebellion in 1969 and countless mass demonstrations after that.

Such examples could be multiplied endlessly.

Democratic Party trap

Now Sanders and many of his top supporters in the Democratic Party are claiming that the victory of his campaign is represented by “the most progressive program” in party history.

A notable exception is Cornel West, an African-American professor who campaigned for Sanders and was appointed as one of his representatives on the Democratic Party platform committee. West has announced that he will be supporting Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for president, in the general election. West wrote: “We are tied in a choice between Trump, who would be a neofascist catastrophe, and Clinton, a neoliberal disaster.” (The Guardian, July 14)

The Democratic Program Committee accepted some of Sanders’ program, but rejected major portions of it. However, that is not the fundamental problem. The real problem is that the first thing to go into the waste basket if the Clinton machine gains the White House is the program. That has been true of all previous Democratic Party programs.

The Democratic Party is a capitalist party. As such, no bourgeois leadership is bound in any way to carry out the party program. This is unlike a working-class party, in which the leadership and the rank and file alike are bound to support and fight for the party program. In working-class parties, the program is decisive. In bourgeois parties, the program is just window dressing.

Sanders is trying to persuade his followers that progress in the Democratic Party program is a step on the road to a political revolution in the U.S. Should Hillary Clinton get into the White House, however, she will be at home surrounded by Pentagon generals, the CIA, the FBI, bankers, the entire upper echelons of the capitalist state, not to mention business lobbyists, influence peddlers of all types. It will be her job to defend U.S. capitalism and U.S. imperialism.

Generations of progressive activists and even revolutionaries have tried time and again to gain a foothold in the Democratic Party in order to “transform” it and push it to the left. This has always been a trap. They have always had to sacrifice their principles and their struggle while the imperialist Democratic Party leadership attacks the masses and carries out one war and intervention after another — from World Wars I and II to Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and on and on.

And let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton, as President Obama’s secretary of state, was the leading force advocating regime change in Libya; was a strong supporter of the overthrow of the Assad government in Syria; and defended the coup in Honduras. She also denounced “superpredators,” referring to Black youth, in support of Bill Clinton’s crime bill of 1996, which greatly increased mass incarceration.

Let’s not forget how the Clinton machine destroyed welfare, known as Aid to Families with Dependent Children, throwing millions of single mothers and their children into poverty. Nor should we forget the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which severely limited habeas corpus appeals by death row prisoners. All this gives the lie to her attempts to paint herself as “progressive” in the current presidential campaign.

Let’s remember how the Clinton machine launched the Yugoslav War and the bombing of civilians in Serbia, continued the Iraq sanctions started under George H.W. Bush, which killed half a million children, and repealed the Glass-Steagall Act, which had been enacted during the Great Depression to put some regulations on Wall Street. This is just a selection of some of the reactionary policies of the Clintons, as well as previous Democratic administrations.

A political revolution needs a social revolution

While the Sanders campaign represented a sweeping electoral rebellion against the Democratic Party establishment, his program was a relatively mild one. But U.S. politics are so reactionary, including Democratic Party politics, and the crisis of the people is so deep on so many fronts, that the Sanders program caught on and understandably generated enormous enthusiasm.

Big business is so dominant in U.S. politics that even demands for basic reforms like breaking up the big banks, Medicare for all, free college tuition, eliminating student debt, strengthening the right to organize, opposing anti-worker so-called “free trade deals” and so forth were like a breath of fresh air and captured the imagination of millions.

Sanders talked about carrying out a “political revolution” in the U.S. By political revolution he meant his reformist program. While he called himself a socialist, he never attacked capitalism as a system. He never called for socialist measures to end the people’s suffering.

A real political revolution means that the workers, the oppressed communities, women, LGBTQ people, immigrants — all must be in charge of their fate. They must not have to rely on capitalist politicians who serve the rich to determine what happens to them, while year after year they try to survive and can gain only the most meager concessions.

For there to be a political revolution in the United States, there has to be a social revolution. The capitalist class, its state, its property, its machine will have to be broken up. The vast resources in wealth that the working class has created will have to be put to use in a planned way, not for profit but for human benefit and well-being. When the workers and the oppressed are in charge, that will be a genuine political revolution.

A party that advocates and fights precisely for a socialist form of revolution is Workers World Party. It is running an election campaign, but one that is aimed at keeping the movement in the streets, not diverting it to the ballot box. To struggle for revolutionary socialism, solidarity with the workers and oppressed at home and abroad, become part of the Moorehead-Lilly campaign: #socialists4blacklives on Twitter and Monica Moorehead & Lamont Lilly 2016 on Facebook.

Stop Brexit racism with global worker solidarity

By Fred Goldstein posted on June 28, 2016.

The Brexit referendum in Britain is the result of a reactionary, racist campaign by the right wing of the British ruling class, which pushed through the Leave victory and took Britain out of the 28-member European Union.NigelFarage_brexit

The working class and the middle class of Britain were confronted with a referendum, called for by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, in which they were given an onerous choice: remain in an imperialist economic bloc that has imposed austerity and anti-working-class policies on hundreds of millions, or choose the Leave option led by a racist, demagogic campaign to leave the EU on the basis of anti-immigrant rhetoric.

The initiator of the Leave political position was Nigel Farage, head of the racist, anti-immigrant United Kingdom Independence Party. The Leave forces turned the campaign into a referendum on immigration.

UKIP has become the third-largest party in Britain, getting 4 million votes in the last election. It has done this by stirring fears about immigrants, especially since the refugee crisis with Syrians and others fleeing war in the Middle East.

UKIP leader Farage publicly stated in March 2015, “There is an especial problem with some of the people who’ve come here and are of the Muslim religion and don’t want to become part of us. People do see a fifth column living within our country, who hate us and want to kill us.” (The Guardian, March 12, 2015)

Farage and UKIP also target Eastern European workers, such as Poles and Romanians, who are exploited as cheap labor in Britain. He warned of a “Romanian crime wave” in 2014. He proposes to institutionalize job discrimination by legalizing “British jobs for British workers.”

Rampant immigrant bashing

The campaign for Leave was filled with slogans and graffiti denouncing Poles and Muslims and calling to “make Britain great.” It spread the word, falsely, that Turkey is to become a member of the EU and then Britain will be flooded with Muslims.

One of the adherents of this camp assassinated Jo Cox, a Labour Member of Parliament known for supporting the rights of immigrants. She was killed the day she was scheduled to address Parliament with a pro-immigration speech.

Boris Johnson, of the Conservative Party and the former mayor of London, is head of the Leave campaign. Around the time of Cox’s assassination, the campaign put up a billboard/poster with a picture of thousands of Syrian refugees and the caption “The Breaking Point.” The photo was actually taken at the Slovenian border. The poster was denounced as false all over Britain by the Remain forces and had to be taken down.

The vote to Remain among whites was 46 percent. Among the oppressed the vote was as follows: Asians 67 percent, Muslims 70 percent, Chinese 70 percent, Hindus 70 percent, Blacks 73 percent. This speaks volumes about the racist character of the Leave vote. (Independent, June 25)

The largest Muslim organization, the Muslim Association of Britain, voted to Remain because, among other things, a vote to Leave would “increase the levels of hate crimes against British Muslims.” (Sunday Express, June 26)

Sayeeda Warsi, a former minister of the ruling Conservative Party, quit and switched to the Remain camp because of “spreading lies, hate and xenophobia.”  She added, “I don’t want the Leave campaign to be running this country.” (Express Tribune, June 27)

Showing solidarity the paramount issue

The Remain forces in the Conservative Party, led by Cameron, based their arguments exclusively upon the threat to the economy. Of course, this was important for the workers because leaving is a threat to the economy and jobs. But Cameron and his forces never mentioned the danger of Islamophobia, the attacks on Poles and Romanians, nor did he admit that racism was a fundamental issue in the campaign.

Jeremy Corbyn, head of the Labour Party, did come out against hate and Islamophobia and visited a mosque to show solidarity with the Muslim community. This was in spite of the fact that Corbyn has a history of progressive opposition to the EU.

From the anecdotes and statistics above it would seem clear that it was better to vote Remain while giving an anti-imperialist, anti-EU explanation that showed solidarity with the oppressed than to remain silent and abstain, leaving your position unknown. Also, whatever anti-imperialist arguments are made, it is clear that the Leave movement is a right-wing movement with a flagrantly racist agenda.

Showing solidarity with the oppressed is particularly urgent in light of the widespread refugee crisis and the crisis of immigrant workers — from the Middle East to the southern borders of the United States. Working-class opposition to Leave would be a good answer to Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall to keep Mexicans out and stop Muslims from coming to the U.S. Trump flew to his golf course in Scotland and announced that he thought the Leave vote was a good thing, despite the fact that Scotland voted to remain.

Right wing takes advantage of economic crisis

What happened in Britain is happening throughout the imperialist world. The long economic crisis — the inability of capitalism to come back from the shock it received in 2008-09 — is undermining employment, wages and working conditions everywhere. Austerity is a universal policy on Wall Street and in Frankfurt, Paris, London, Rome and Rotterdam.

To be sure, the Leave vote struck a blow at the EU. But that blow is hardly to the advantage of the working class, even if it brings havoc to imperialist commerce and finance capital. The British vote to Leave the EU is now being hailed by the National Front in France, by the Alternative for Germany, by the rightist Democratic Party of Sweden, by the right wing in the Netherlands, Austria and Hungary and by Donald Trump.

All these ultra-right, near-fascist and racist forces see the Leave vote as an opening and are bound to become more aggressive. It will not be to the advantage of the workers and the oppressed if the EU disintegrates into blocs of capitalist right-wing governments.

It is also worth pointing out that there has always been a right wing of the British ruling class that never got over the loss of the empire and has never reconciled itself to accommodating the continental powers, especially Germany and France, in any association. There has always been a so-called “Eurosceptic” wing of the British ruling class.

They don’t want the imperialists from the continent, who have had to make certain concessions to the working class over the years, to be telling them that they have to give four weeks’ vacation, or paid maternity leave, or comply with environmental regulations set in Berlin and Paris.

These are the forces that have triumphed in the Brexit referendum. They are fanatics who in their rabid chauvinism have injured their own export position with regard to the largest capitalist market in the world, with 500 million potential customers. They have jeopardized their position as the financial hub of Europe. They have courted an economic crisis that will have dire consequences for their profits and for the workers.

The EU had $741 billion worth of investments in Britain as of 2014. All these investments are now stranded outside the EU, damaging U.S. and British financial interests. The U.S. has 2,750 companies in Britain, with about 1.2 million workers and $558 billion invested there. These include the biggest banks — Morgan Stanley, Citibank, JPMorgan/Chase, Goldman Sachs, among others — who may have to apply to the EU now for licenses, etc. (Revolutionary Communist Group, May 26) Of course, all financial and commercial arrangements are subject to negotiations, but the immediate effect is a sharp blow.

International solidarity and class consciousness

The way to strike a blow from the left at the EU is to open up a working-class campaign against European capital — to resist the rule of the banks and the multinational corporations across international borders. The French workers are engaged in a fierce battle against the Hollande regime. It would be very timely for the labor movement and the radical movement in all of Europe to open up their own struggles of solidarity — and not just symbolic struggles.

This is easy to say but difficult to do on short notice. But if the workers’ movement of Europe could begin to turn itself around from being reactive and defensive and think in terms of fighting — not just the EU, but the capitalist system — on a continentwide basis, that would be a great step forward.

A struggle against the EU could be a struggle against the austerity being imposed on Greece. Such a struggle would have been timely when the Syriza government came to office in 2015 and became the first government in Europe to openly oppose austerity. It was, of course, a social democratic regime that could not carry such a struggle through by itself against German finance capital and all its cohorts, and it finally capitulated.

A class for itself

Karl Marx said that the working class must become a class “for itself.” That means it must be conscious of its class position in society and the position of all other classes, especially the ruling class. Above all, the working class must be conscious of special oppression. It must see how the attempt to divide on the basis of immigration status as well as race, color, gender and sexual orientation is a lethal instrument used against solidarity and meant to obscure the real enemies: the rich, the exploiters, the possessing classes.

Marx also said that the working class has no homeland. (This does not apply to the nationally oppressed.) What is common to all workers is that they are exploited by the bosses, that they are forced to sell their labor power on a daily basis. This is true of British workers, Greek workers, Irish workers, U.S. workers, South African workers or Venezuelan workers. Our class must resist seeking advantage over each other on a national basis.

British workers can only unite as a class when they unite with Muslim workers, Polish workers, Rumanian workers, Indian workers, Pakistani workers, African workers, Philippine workers, Irish workers and so on.

When that day comes, the days of the capitalist class will be numbered.

 

Two sides of the Sanders campaign

By Fred Goldstein, posted on March 21, 2016

The Bernie Sanders campaign has a dual character. On the one hand, it has unearthed and given voice to widespread opposition to Wall Street and massive economic inequality and injustice. On the other hand, Sanders is running in the Democratic Party, which has been controlled for generations, and is controlled now, by the very financial oligarchs the Sanders’ supporters are rebelling against.

break-up-banksThe mass response to Sanders’ call to break up the banks and make the rich pay for universal college education, universal health care, raising the minimum wage and so on is totally understandable. After decades of austerity, takebacks, union busting, racism and mass incarceration, it is no wonder that Sanders’ appeals have fallen like rain on dry grass.

But in the long run, the road to dealing with the banks, the billionaires and corruption does not lie through electoral politics and the Democratic Party. It lies through mass mobilization and independent struggle. The Sanders’ adherents are eventually going to have to come to grips with this hard truth.

That being said, whatever the final outcome of the Democratic Party primaries, at present it is undeniable that the Bernie Sanders campaign has given expression to the accumulating anger at Wall Street and the Democratic Party political establishment. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a known friend of Wall Street, a pro-Pentagon hawk and a thoroughly opportunist politician, represents that establishment.

When Sanders began his campaign, denouncing not only Wall Street but the upper echelons of the corporate monopolies, he was regarded as a minor candidate who would, at best, be a mere novelty in the campaign.

As a senator from a small rural state who called himself a democratic socialist, he was outside the Senate millionaires’ club and was expected to be a marginal candidate in the Democratic primaries.

But within weeks after he declared his candidacy and began to campaign, the capitalist media began to notice that he was drawing huge crowds on campuses, in cities, in rural areas, everywhere he went. His audiences numbered from a few thousand to 28,000 at a rally in Oregon.

The massive popularity of the Sanders campaign, especially but not exclusively among white youth, workers and young women, took the capitalist media and the political establishment by complete surprise.

It should be noted that Sanders has since expanded his appeal to African Americans and Latinos/as, with a number of prominent civil rights leaders, political figures and activists in the arts campaigning for him.

Occupy Wall Street at the ballot box

The message Sanders is preaching bares a close resemblance to the message Occupy Wall Street advocated.

In September 2011, OWS seized Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, established a general assembly in the streets and denounced the massive inequality in the U.S. This movement put forth the slogan, “We are the 99%.” It opposed the 1%, who control vast amounts of wealth. OWS was dedicated to direct action.

The assemblies quickly spread to many cities throughout the U.S., indicating that OWS had millions of passive sympathizers. Even the big business media had to feign sympathy for a while, until the police systematically swept the assemblies off the streets with brutality and arrests. The development of this movement, and especially its widespread support, took the ruling class totally by surprise. From the biased vantage point of their board rooms and estates, the rulers always underestimate the people’s wrath.

And just as they underestimated OWS, so they also underestimated the hatred for Wall Street and grinding inequality that has left a whole generation without a future. Economic and social conditions have gotten worse since 2011.

The Sanders campaign is, in some ways, a continuation of OWS in electoral form. Therein lies the appeal of Sanders and is the basis of his wholly unexpected electoral success.

Up against the machine

As of March 20, Sanders had accumulated over 6 million votes, not counting the caucus states of Iowa and Nevada. Even then, his vote count hardly reflects the popularity of his anti-banker, anti-billionaire message. He has raised $140 million in repeated small contributions from a record-setting base of 2 million-plus contributors and 4 million individual donations.

Yet, not all his supporters can vote in the primaries, for a variety of reasons — obstructive voter qualifications, age limits, conflicts with school, etc. By the time the campaign ends, Sanders will probably gain millions more votes.

His broad support is remarkable, since the campaign is up against the two most powerful political machines in capitalist politics, the Clinton machine and President Barack Obama’s machine, which have combined to block him in every way possible.These two machines are deeply entrenched nationally and have been in existence for years.

Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign has been active since 2007. After she lost to Obama in 2008, her campaign quietly resumed during his administration. She had been a U.S. senator from New York, the home of Wall Street, and then became secretary of state, where she worked closely with the Pentagon.

Sanders began without any organization that could remotely match the Clinton machine.

Corporate media bias

Sanders is also up against the capitalist media. The media are using Donald Trump to boost their ratings and pile up profits. The Hollywood Reporter on Feb. 29 quoted CEO Les Moonves of CBS on Trump and the Republican “circus”: “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”

Moonves went on: “The money’s rolling in and this is fun. I’ve never seen anything like this, and it’s going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It’s a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

Moonves would hardly mind having millions of viewers who would likely watch Sanders on a daily basis the way Trump is viewed. But Sanders has attacked too many millionaires and billionaires and won’t take their money. So for the media moguls, politics come before ratings.

The networks are billionaire corporations. They feel fine publicizing Trump. But between Sanders and Clinton, they are all for Clinton. “Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting” wrote on March 20 that the Washington Post printed 16 negative articles about Sanders in 16 hours. The Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, whose Amazon.com fortune is worth $50 billion.

The New York Times marginalized the Sanders campaign to such an extent that its own readers rebelled and the Times’ public editor had to publicly rebuke the management.

The Tyndal Report, which tracks campaign media coverage, reported that in 2015 Clinton received 121 minutes of coverage (excluding the hearings on her emails) and Sanders received 20 minutes.

The media want to conceal labor’s significant support for Sanders. The Communication Workers, the National Nurses Association, the American Postal Workers and over 40 local unions have endorsed him. All the unions that endorsed Sanders polled their rank-and-file members.

The unions that endorsed Clinton did it by executive action, without consulting the rank and file. But because of the strong rank-and-file support for Sanders, the AFL-CIO leadership has been unable to endorse Clinton.

Billionaires and bankers fear Sanders

Bankers, financiers and corporate heads want to bury Sanders. Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, is perhaps the most powerful and influential banker in the U.S. Sanders called him out for his greed and his guilt in the financial crisis. Blankfein responded on CNBC on March 3, saying of Sanders’ campaign, “It has the potential to be a dangerous moment, not just for Wall Street, not just for the people who are targeted, but for anybody who is a little bit out of line.”

Who are the people Blankfein was talking about? They are the 18 top corporate criminals Sanders named for massive tax dodging and who were complicit in the economic crash of 2008. They include Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America, the bank that got $1.3 trillion from the government bailout; Blankfein of Goldman, which got $824 million from the Treasury bailout; James Dimon of JPMorganChase, which got $416 billion in a bailout; Boeing; GE; and so on.

Sanders lists all the jobs the corporations moved overseas, the billions in taxes they would have owed except for offshore tax havens and the fact that many of them paid zero taxes. (trueactivist.com)

These management decisions must be what Blankfein meant by being “a little bit out of line.”

Capitalist elections and mass struggle

The rules of U.S. capitalist electoral politics are extremely restrictive, even in comparison with other capitalist countries. The elections are winner-take-all, which rules out proportional representation. For anyone but Democrats or Republicans just to get on the ballot, there are onerous petition requirements. Campaigns are extremely expensive, which has made it easy for the rich to totally control the election process — even before the “Citizens United” Supreme Court decision removed donation limits.

Only rarely can a presidential primary campaign be used to express mass opposition. It happened in 1968 when Sen. Eugene McCarthy opened up a campaign against the hated Vietnam War. It happened again in 1984 when Jesse Jackson waged a campaign against Reaganism, austerity and racism.

Now it has happened with Sanders. However, progressives and revolutionaries must not overlook Sanders’ negative side and the deceptive lure of the Democratic Party. Sanders has still failed to fully embrace the Black Lives Matter movement and the struggle against racism and police brutality. He has yet to denounce the multi-trillion-dollar rathole of military spending that starves social services. He has been ambivalent about Cuba, defending its social gains in one breath and calling it a dictatorship in the next. He is a supporter of Israel and has many other contradictions.

In addition, all true advances of the people have come not through elections but through struggle. Union rights, social security and welfare were won in the 1930s through marches, general strikes and sit-down strikes. Civil rights were won through the struggle of millions of African Americans and white progressives who sat in and faced the police. Anti-poverty measures were won by rebellions in cities throughout the country. Women’s rights were gained by marches and protests. The fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer rights began with the Stonewall Rebellion. Harsh anti-immigrant legislation was defeated by the historic strike of millions of immigrants on May 1, 2006.

Reforms are always a reflection of prior struggle.

Above all, while Sanders’ self-description as a democratic socialist has legitimized the term socialism, he is, in fact, a liberal reformer of capitalism. He wants to make the system of capitalist exploitation more humane. A real socialist stands on the platform of abolishing capitalism.

It is not enough to break up the banks. It is not enough to curb corporate greed. As long as the banks and the corporations have control of the economy, they have tens of thousands of threads by which they can control the government, the state, the treasury and the economic life of the country.

True socialism seeks to abolish the system of wage slavery altogether and place the economy in the hands of the workers and the oppressed. The economy must be run in a planned way for the health and benefit of the people and not for profit of any kind. This is the way to end income inequality, injustice and oppression of all types.

There is a way to register support for revolutionary socialism without embracing the two-capitalist-party system. Vote for Monica Moorehead for president and Lamont Lilly for vice president on the Workers World Party ticket.