November 27, 2016

Obama's Silence on Standing Rock



by Caitrin Smith

Democrats and socialists have fundamentally different ideas of how American democracy works, how change comes about, and who makes that change happen. Democrats seem to understand it as an interplay of policies, laws, treaties, and courts that come together to form what many agree is an American democracy.




Socialists argue, that "American democracy" is really unfettered capitalism, oligarchy, and a system which bends all those polices, laws, treaties, and courts to benefit the ruling class (those with capital/and those protecting it). It will be challenging for us to come to an agreement on Obama's response (or lack thereof) to Standing Rock if we have fundamentally different understandings on how the system operates. They argue that the bureaucratic process is "how our system is designed to work" and that change comes from "courts and congress."

What we argue, through a careful look at history, political theory, and practical experience in struggle, is that sweeping social movements are what pressure and make those laws pass, not the slow process of Democrat sanctioned reform.

To compliment the suggestion that working class solidarity/struggle pushes change, we argue that capital is the opposing force that makes these same laws bend. What we see at Standing Rock is a dance between oppressor and oppressed; the protectors of water push the laws in our favor and the protectors of capital push them back against us. In other words, there are two things that pressure our government: the working class's ability to organize and capital; our task is to make the former more powerful than the latter.

Standing Rock will continue to mount this pressure. Obama's complacency is an admission of allegiance to the protectors of capital rather than the protectors of water. If you are interested in exploring the effectiveness of reforming capitalism/the democratic party, to read Lance Selfa's "The Democrats: A Critical History" and Howard Zinn's "A People's History."

Selfa lays out, quite convincingly, the faults of the Democratic Party as being a pro capitalist, neoliberal, reformist party that has actually been detrimental for working people who have dedicated their lives to the black freedom struggle, LGBTQ rights, immigration reform, native american sovereignty, the list goes on.

Zinn argues that social change in these areas has not come from Democrats and the "bureaucratic process" but pressure of mass movements in the street and pressure from the people. Those who continue to have faith in the system (and the elected leaders who protect that system at our expense) that created and spawned the conditions for something like standing rock to occur, are digging their own graves: history teaches us to look elsewhere for real, social change.

That being said, it is not mutually exclusive to understand the working class as the agent for social change AND argue for the president of our country to at least offer a statement of support or admit that native american's are treated like absolute garbage historically and currently in the US. He hasn't done that, and they deserve that. They deserve something beyond, "We will get to addressing your oppression later, when the courts and congress and the bureaucratic process allows it."

Native American women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other race (and not by Native American men- mind you), Native American men are more likely to be murdered by police than any other race. Native Americans have some of the worst healthcare, highest poverty rates, and hardest living conditions than any other subgroup in the US. They demand to be heard and they should be.



Its deplorable that Obama hasn't even bothered to acknowledge this reality and they are only asking for clean drinking water. "I'll get around to it when the system allows" is an inexcusable response to oppression that will only worsen in his complacency.

I am not a Democrat, I have no faith in the two parties of capitalism. I am a socialist, which means I doubt the Democrats will agree with us; they wont until they see our system through a similar lens.

As Lenin once stated, "...'Full freedom' means election of officials and other office-holders who administer public and state affairs. 'Full freedom' means the complete abolition of a state administration that is not wholly and exclusively responsible to the people, that is not elected by, accountable to, and subject to recall by, the people. 'Full freedom' means that it is not the people who should be subordinated to officials, but the officials who should be subordinated to the people."

November 16, 2016

Preliminary thoughts on the disarray in Trump's transition camp:

via Owen Hill:

1. The disarray at the moment is not primarily being driven by protests in the street but instead by the arrogance and overreach of a triumphant Trump. They have axed a section of their ruling class supporters in an effort to settle scores and punish those that they deemed insufficiently loyal.

2. This has two effects: first of narrowing their base of support within the ruling class, second of energizing their far right populist base--since they are proving their "anti-establishment" credentials.

3. While the discord is being driven from within the administration, the ongoing protests have made it clear that there is a political price to be paid for compliance. Sanders and Deblasio seem to be the most prominent Democrats who have broken ranks so far from the Democratic Party line of "unity" for "an orderly transition". The early breaks widen our opening to assert a politics of mass resistance to the Trump regime. Simultaneously the continued protests are making it less likely that other establishment politicians will easily forgive and forget the scorn of the moment, which is how they would like to proceed.

4. Two dangers confront us: first that we assume that the rulers who break ranks and turn against Trump are really on our side. They are making a political calculation based on our mobilizations. End the mobilizations and the political calculus changes. Second, that we miss the way in which the discord at the top will actually energize Trump's base. The hardest of the hardcore elements will become more determined to fight as a result of the fighting at the top and they will have a broader appeal as well. This heights the need for self-defense and for a readiness to defend those being attacked. Moreover it puts a premium on confronting the far right as they begin to organize: their demonstrations, organizing meetings and organizing networks must be exposed and challenged. Meetings of the Klan must be broken up when they emerge. Keep them atomized and on the run.

November 6, 2016

Bernie Was Wrong to Endorse Hillary

There's nothing admirable about selling out the movement you built to back a candidate who worked with party operatives to sabotage your campaign and oppose everything you campaigned on.

Sanders ended his campaign exactly wrong, and has completely disoriented the movement he built and funnelled it into a bourgeois political party that sabotaged him from day one-- and he will extract nothing from the DNC in return for it-- neither for his personal gain, nor for his movement. What he will get in return, is a candidate who campaigned in 2008 on using nuclear weapons against Iran, who lobbied in Haiti to suppress the minimum wage at the behest of sweatshops, who used the state department to back a right-wing military coup in Honduras and then deported the refugees back to die, who lobbied for fracking around the world as Sec of State, who voted repeatedly as Senator to authorize and fund Bush's illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who called the TPP "the gold standard in trade deals", who supported NAFTA as first lady, who lobbied for racist drug laws, who opposed gay marriage (and continues to privately), who calls Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden traitors who should be put to death, who backs the Keystone XL, and who is backed by all the same banks who are backing the DAPL pipeline going through Standing Rock (which is why she's silent-- she will complete the pipeline when she is president).

People said that Bernie could be like the "Ron Paul of the left wing" and move the right-wing DNC to the left. Yet, at the end of it, Bernie has proven himself a political coward. Ron Paul ended his campaign by refusing to endorse the GOP nominee, and endorsed the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and gave birth to the Tea Party, which has shifted both the DNC and GOP to the right wing. Bernie could have done the same by backing Jill Stein.

Bernie forfeited his chance to build a serious left wing challenge, when he endorsed Hillary. His "our Revolution" is neither revolutionary, nor ours, it is just another liberal nonprofit in a long line of failed liberal nonprofits formed in the attempt to reform an unreformable Wall Street political party. The Tea Party sought to make a far-right party more right wing. It succeeded. If Bernie's movement is an attempt to reform a center-right political party and make it leftist, it is doomed to fail.

What's needed is for the American left to say Goodbye DNC and work to build a politically independent party that runs it's own candidates, which remains independent of corporate money. Jill Stein is doing that work. I back her, and I back the Green Party. Because with the atmosphere over 400ppm CO2, the future of the planet quite literally depends on it.

September 27, 2016

Are you worried about Trump Winning?

People are worried that everything is going to go to shit if Trump wins. But things have already gone to shit. People are presently dying at the hands of this horrible system, from racist police, from not having access to healthcare, from homelessness, from hunger, from bombs being dropped on them... And we have Democrats in charge. It doesn't do any good. The problem is that we spend the bulk of our life having our labor exploited, and no real democracy at all.

Democrats on city council are the ones cutting General Assistance, shutting down health clinics, and giving away money through tax breaks to corporations.

Democrats are the ones who introduced workfare, which gutted the welfare system.

No matter who wins, they will be in charge of the state which makes sure that housing is for profit, that food is for profit, that wars are for profit, and that empire keeps expanding for profit.

Besides that, Trump doesn't scare me, his supporters do. And they don't go away if you vote for Hillary. They'll still be around, just like they are around right now. We can't vote them out of existence, we need to develop organizations that have the philosophical grounding to undercut Trumps false populism while critiquing the status quo.

Hillary is the Status Quo. She doesn't want any radical reforms. People know that the system isn't working. Trump's rhetoric is filled with answers-- wrong answers. Racist answers. Misogynistic answers. But answers.

And the American left is more than happy to brow beat one another into shutting up about how horrible Clinton is, which leaves the vast majority of people who are looking for answers as to why everything sucks so badly, to look to Trump for a critique of the situation.

Lesser evilism voting, and the vote-shaming and stifling of dissent that comes with it, actually weakens the left, and makes it more difficult for us advance our agenda because it allows the only critique of the status quo to come from right-wing demagogs like Trump.

We must build a leftist party that can take on both the Democrats and Republicans. I think the Green Party can be that party, but maybe not. Something has to change though. If we don't, things will just continue to get worse and worse and the lesser evil will get more and more evil- and the greater evil will grow in response.

Fight back.

August 17, 2016

Clinton's Lackeys Are Ramping Up Smears Against Jill Stein

I was scrolling through facebook today and found this from Kevin Zeese:

"Please share widely. There is a smear campaign going on against Jill Stein by Clinton-Democrats. Below is an example of how it is done from Robert Naiman who claims to be a peace activist but is supporting the war hawk, Hillary Clinton, and smearing the only real peace candidate, Jill Stein. Here is the email he is sending out to people urging them to slander Jill with statements he knows are false. As I said -- please share this widely so Naiman and the Clinton campaign are exposed. - Kevin Zeese

From: Robert Naiman
If you have a lot of Facebook friends, you may have recently noticed a high level of activity on your Facebook feed by Jill Stein acolytes.
If so, you may find the following links useful to throw them off their game. No warranty, express or implied. You don't have to prove that Jill Stein is an anti-science conspiracy theorist. You just have to say, "There are unanswered questions about whether Jill Stein is an anti-science conspiracy theorist."

There's Nothing Green About Jill Stein's Vaccine Stance
http://www.forbes.com/…/theres-nothing-green-about-jill-s…/…
Jill Stein on vaccines: People have ‘real questions’
https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/jill-stein-on-vaccines-pe…/
Jill Stein Promotes Homeopathy, Panders On Vaccines http://www.patheos.com/…/jill-stein-promotes-homeopathy-pa…/
Jill Stein Worries Wi-Fi Is Dangerous For Kids
http://www.patheos.com/…/jill-stein-worries-wi-fi-is-dange…/
===
Robert Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org
naiman@justforeignpolicy.org
"

This is just gross. These are a bunch of bullshit lies and smears, that have already been addressed by Jill Stein and put to rest as just that-- lies.



But the Clinton lackeys in the nonprofit industrial complex are continuing with the smears, they don't care about the facts, as demonstrated by the email above. It is just like the Karl Rove swift-boat attacks, which didn't need to prove that Kerry didn't serve in Vietnam or whatever bullshit, but just created the question about whether or not he did. Or how the fossil fuel industry has fed questions about climate change in the face of incontrovertible evidence that climate change is very much real, not with the goal of proving that climate change is a hoax, but with the goal of making the incontrovertible evidence seem weak, to delay any regulatory actions on fossil fuels for as long as possible.

What's the best way to fight back? Donate $27 to the Jill Stein campaign. That's what I just did.

July 23, 2016

Musicians Are Not Capitalists, So Stop Shitting on Kathleen Hanna (Or Any Other Musician) For Selling Their Labor

I just saw The Julie Ruin in Portsmouth NH, and it was amazing. This is the first time I've ever seen Kathleen and crew live in person, and it was the closest thing to a religious experience I've had in a long time. Kathleen has been a huge inspiration for me politically and musically since I was in high school 17 years ago.

One thing that struck me though, was that Kathleen was saying that she'd been getting shit from people for making money selling her music and saying she's a capitalist and therefore "out of the feminist club."

That's really shitty that people are sniping her for paying her bills, and really shitty politics.

Kathleen was like, "well guess what, we live in a capitalist country" and went on to talk about how she is justified to make money creating and selling music.

Every musician who makes a living performing and recording is totally is justified in making money, but making money and being able to pay your bills doesn't make you a capitalist. There is no contradiction between being anti-capitalist and selling your labor to survive. In fact, the two go together quite often.

Capitalists are capitalists because they don't make their money through their own labor.
They make their money by owning and controlling and exploiting the labor of other people.

Musicians are directly involved with the creation of their art, and their labor is the thing they sell when they get on stage, just like every other working class person, just like people who sell their labor working for minimum wage at McDonalds. When musicians make money doing their craft, that's not making money exploiting the labor of another person, they are laborers. It's not being a capitalist, it's being a worker.

Now hardcore marxists might to say that musicians aren't really working class, because they aren't really exploited by the ruling class capitalists in the same way as factory workers or service workers are, and that because musicians are full owners of their own labor, they are more like artisans or petite bourgeois. I think that confuses the issue for no good purpose. They are laborers. To me, they are in the working class.

Those who trash talk Kathleen for surviving under capitalism (and spreading her ideas while she's at it) don't even understand what capitalism is. To say that a person is "selling out" for making money is totally messed up and moralistic-- as though a single mother working at McDonald's to support herself and her child is somehow immoral because she's working for an evil corporation to survive a system that would readily put her on the street without batting an eye?

Nope. That's bullshit. There is no such thing as "ethical capitalism," and people absolutely have a right to make money to survive --by any means necessary, until capitalism is overthrown and things like food and housing are human rights. Moralizing people for the way they choose to survive their way through capitalism is just totally backwards and destructive to working class solidarity. We need to lift one another up, and recognize our shared solidarity as workers, not tear one another down.

It's only when people don't do any of the work and survive entirely by exploiting the labor of other people that they become capitalists.

So rock on. And if you happen to pay your rent while doing so, more power to you. It doesn't make you a capitalist or anti-feminist.