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...

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.

Greek deal means more hardship for workers, more money for bankers

By Fred Goldstein

July 20 — The bailout deal signed by Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and the European bankers has brought more hardship to the Greek workers, more money to the bankers and shows that electoral politics without vigorous class struggle is a dead end for the working class.

Cutting pensions and raising sales taxes on items needed to survive so that bankers can be paid are a crime against the working class. Yet that has been agreed to by Tsipras and his new-found bourgeois allies: the center-right New Democracy party, the bourgeois social democrats in PASOK and the To Potami party. They made up the votes he needed in Parliament due to defections from the Syriza delegation.

German imperialism and the Greek debt crisis

By Fred Goldstein, March 4, 2015

For five years the European Central Bank, dominated by German finance capital, has engineered bailouts and imposed austerity on Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy. And for five years various establishment economists, politicians and pundits in the U.S. like Paul Krugman and James Galbraith have been frustrated and perplexed.

Their complaint? Capitalist Europe is in an economic crisis. Austerity will make the crisis worse. Why don’t the German bankers and the ECB listen to reason? Why pursue such a destructive policy, which harms the economy and causes untold mass suffering?

Stop bankers’ rule in Greece

Mass resistance must say NO!

By Fred Goldstein

July 14 — With a gun to their heads, the leaders of Syriza, headed by Alexis Tsipras, have capitulated to the financial powers of Europe, headed by the German bankers. The terms of the agreement spell even graver hardship for the Greek masses and outright international bankers’ rule over Greece.

This agreement overrides the resounding “No” vote to austerity by the Greek masses in the referendum of July 5. The 61 percent vote against giving in to the bankers showed there is widespread basis for mass resistance.