January 31, 2011

Obama And The Left In The Present Moment

The left's response top the State of the Union speech seems to have been slow in coming but runs across a spectrum of opinions.

Riuchard Trumka, AFL-CIO President, focused on what he thought Obama should focus on. You can read his comments here.

The AFL-CIO and the US Chamber of Commerce issued a jopint statement in response to Obama's speech. You can read that dismal statement here.

Sam Webb of the Communist Party wrote his piece "State of the Union and openings for progress" and put a more positive spin on things. You can read that here.

Richard Flacks sought to sidestep the debates taking over the left in his piece. You can read that here and see links there to other social-democratic thoughts on Obama and the State of the Union speech.

The Socialist Worker did a rather ham-fisted piece that can be read here.

Zoltan Zigedy did a particularly good job of it. Read his article here.

Marxism-Leninism Today did a good overview back in December. You can read that here.

January 26, 2011

Japanese American Citizens League Day of Remembrance

Please save the date--February 20--for the annual Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) Day of Remembrance-as we remember EO 9066 and the injustice of incarcerating all persons of Japanese descent during WWII. But the mission of JACL is also to ensure the civil and human rights of all. This year we will be highlighting the challenges our LGBT community continues to face in their fight for equality. We will feature a panel discussion with representatives from Just Out and Basic Rights Oregon and special guest and keynote speaker, George Takei.

Sunday, February 20

1:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Hoffman Hall

Portland State University

January 23, 2011

Listening To Angela Davis In Salem

Angela Davis spoke at Willamette University on Friday evening. Many of us from Willamette Reds turned out to hear her talk. We have previously talked quite a bit on this blog about Angela Davis and her great and inspirational work on prison abolition.

Angela's talk this time took honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as her point of departure and rolled forward to the present day. She talked about prison abolition, of course, but she also talked about the complex international situation at the present moment, the Obama presidency, sustainability and some of her memories from the '60s and early '70s. I think that the point she made which will stick with most people who heard her lecture will be that we need to be to the left of the Democrats but living in creative tension--within the existing social contradiction now present in the US--with the Obama administration. She highlighted the philosophical feminist dimension or point that we need not provide ready-made answers to every problem, but that we must live and work within contradictions and contradictory realities.

The crowd was overwhelmingly young and anti-capitalist and Angela was not slow in naming the beast for what it is--capitalism and imperialism. She also made an effort to explain why she strives to be something much more than a "civil rights activist."

A comrade remarked that we are lucky to have Angela with us still because so many people must want her dead or out of the way. Without saying so in so many words, Angela did talk about the special role and responsibilities young people have today and some of her own experiences in the movement. She also briefly referred to the horrific situation in Arizona and helped put that in context for us. I thought that her recounting of King's most radical speeches was particularly useful and I will take her up on her challenge to reread these talks in light of the present political moment. It was also good that she included in her talk a full range of relevant social struggles and demands and that she includes animal welfare or rights in these.

If there were weaknesses in her talk they were that Angela did not project a socialist vision adequately enough or even use "the s word" once. Also, she opened a thought-provoking analysis of the Obama administration and the left's relationship to it without bringing her points to a fruitful conclusion. Whatever these weaknesses, I'm once more glad and grateful that we got to hear Angela Davis speak again.

January 22, 2011

The State Of The Union Address--From The Oregon AFL-CIO

A great statement from the Oregon AFL-CIO:

President Barack Obama will address the nation at 9:00pm on Tuesday. As we sit down to hear the 44th President of the United States we can assume that jobs and the economy will be at the heart of his address. And rightly so.

But it's time for the President to send a message to America that he might too easily miss: that our elected officials have our back.

President Obama has appealed to the wealthy through many of his policies, such as getting the banks and investors back on their feet and prolonging tax cuts for the wealthiest of Americans. The time has come for President Obama to appeal to those whose work keeps our nation running: the dwindling middle class. The time has come to assure the unemployed that jobs are around the corner. Retirees need assurance that their hard work was not in vain, and that Social Security is indeed secure.

And it's time to send a message to Congress and Federal agencies that their priority must be rebuilding the middle class via policies which protect high-wage jobs, a strong dependable safety net and an economy that values work and the workers.

We hope that on Tuesday President Obama remembers the people who work in the jobs companies create, and not just the companies that benefit from our hard work.

Some Random Thoughts On Tunisia

I want to add a few random thoughts to our discussion on events in Tunisia. This intervention should not be understood as a scientific or thorough response to the situation and what has been written about it, but something more along the lines of random observations.

First, there is something almost earth-shaking about this moment in Tunisia, across Northern Africa, the so-called "Middle East" and the Arab and Islamic-majority states. And it is possible that this earth-shaking moment, which consists of masses of people in open rebellion and united behind common programs for popular change and against the effects of globalization, could spread in unexpected ways throughout the region and into other regions as well. It is almost earth-shaking because it presents new examples and contradictions in the theory and practice of people or masses in motioon. A new historical moment may be in the offing.

Given the importance of this moment, then, our own insufficiencies here in the US as a movement for social change are shown up. We have no movement now capable of mobilizing concrete support for the people of Tunisia or even forcing the hand of the Obama administration to do the right thing in Haiti and let Aristede return. Our international solidarity and our opposition to imperialism have been largely subsumed into a relatively small antiwar movement. We lack resolute opposition to imperialism, or even the ability to call it what it is.

The events in Tunisia also stand out because the Palestinian revolution and the anti-occupation and anti-imperialist movements in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan seem to have stalled in their effectiveness and in their practical unity. The Tunisian revolution in its theory and its practice is offering a needed breakthrough, validating again the revolutionary dialectic.

The success of this revolution thus far is in part conditioned by the absence of NGOs in Tunisia. We have seen all over the world the "NGOization" of social struggles which has led to the isolation of the masses and the fracturing of the revolutionary opposition.

We are looking to Tunisia with high hopes conditioned in part by our versions of western and northern Marxism. This may be a mistake. We run the danger of putting philosophy ahead of real human activity and then discounting that activty or explaining its inevitable weaknesses with a dogmatic application of our thinking.

It may be that the questions of revolutionary power, political organization, the role of the trade unions and the role of women in the Tunisian revolution will be successfully resolved in ways which will surprise and enlighten us. If that turns out to be the case, our own theory and practice will have to change.

I recommend this article and this article as discussion pieces.

January 20, 2011

A Few Thoughts on Events in Tunisia

I hadn't been paying a whole lot of attention to events in Tunisia until this afternoon, while having a a talk with a friend who convinced me that events in Tunisia are very important.

I went home and did some studying. I read a few articles and watched a few more videos on the Tunisian revolution. After thinking about things, there are three points that strike me right now as important and worth serious attention.

First, the Tunisian revolution is a peoples' revolution. More accurately, events in Tunisia are like a peoples' revolt in progress. If you notice, there are no overarching revolutionary agendas. There is neither an ideology or dogma leading this revolt; although all opposition parties from the Left to the Islamic parties are deeply involved in the revolt. What's driving this revolt is pure and simply that the people are no longer willing to tolerate a regime that imposes nothing but poverty, starvation and repression. This is not a revolution leading towards a bright future; this is a revolt and rejection of the present reality.

A second point worth making is that the Tunisian revolution is a revolt against the Tunisian regime's neo-liberal economics. The grievances of the people are economic and social. The revolt against repression is a refusal to be silent no longer regarding these grievances.

A related point, those making the Tunisian revolution have a lot in common with many people of the Middle East, and Europe, and North America. All face a common set of circumstances in that the future promises little outside of increasing poverty, chronic unemployment, social marginalization, and hostile authoritarianism. It seems worth keeping in mind that Tunisia and southern Europe are separated only by a rather narrow Mediterranean Sea. It's pretty obvious that the Tunisian revolt scares the authoritarian regimes of the Middle East. It might not be quite so obvious, but I suspect events in Tunisia have some heads worrying in Europe too.

Third, I have a big complaint regarding Mr. David Kirkpatrick and the New York Times' coverage of Tunisia. Basically, Mr. Kirkpatrick's article, "Opposition in Tunisia Finds Chance for Rebirth" (1/20/11) is again a fine example of the willingness of the current mass media to violate and ignore all sorts of facts, statements and occurrences in the interests of fitting the event in question within an acceptable political paradigm. Here, Mr. Kirkpatrick suggests that the real and only opposition to the deposed Ben Ali regime is the Islamic opposition... Which seems to be, "yearned for by legions of working-class and rural Tunisians, viewed with just as much apprehension by the cosmopolitan coastal elite."

The only thing wrong with Mr. Kirkpatrick's assessment is that it has no support in fact and indeed is in direct contradiction to what's happening on the streets and what activist Tunisians are saying. So, instead and once again the material is skewed towards a narrow American understanding where all oppositions in the Middle East must by default be "Islamic" oppositions, and must by default be "anti-American". I'm figuring Mr. Kirkpatrick must be either a real bad journalist or a pretty good propagandist; only he would know.

Lastly, to me right now, it appears that the revolt and ouster of the past Ben-Ali regime is about finished; the Tunisian security forces are giving up in the face of popular revolt defended by the Tunisian Army. The work of the Tunisian revolution is however just beginning; things are very fluid. Of course, I'll be rooting for the people, democracy and justice in Tunisia, and if the people succeed in building a better society it will be a wonderful example for the rest of us.

Wyden Meets Free Trade Resistance In Southern Oregon

From Michael Munk and Wes Brain:

Wyden finds more KORUS FTA resistance in Southern Oregon



January 19, 2011


This is the best history and analysis I have seen of what is happening in Tunisia.

Statement by Socialist Action (U.S.) - January 17, 2011

The year 2011 has begun with the heroic ousting of the dictator Ben Ali by the Tunisian people. The recent Tunisian uprising against rising food prices, unemployment and political repression is not a new occurrence. The liberalization of economic policies in North Africa has had a devastating effect on living conditions of workers and peasants. As we know, the liberalization of the economy does not mean liberalized politics as was promoted by capitalist politicians such as Bill Clinton. In fact, it has meant more repression from Morocco to Jordan.

In the 1980's economic policies outlined by the IMF and the World Bank met with fierce resistance first in Tunisia in 1984, and then again in Algeria in 1988 as well as Jordan. The resistance saw itself in the image of the heroic struggles of the first Palestinian intifada. Although these movements were brutally crushed, there is no doubt that the continuity in militancy in North Africa and the Middle East goes back to the height of the struggles for Arab nationalism.

After heavy-handed defeats it can often take time for workers to recuperate and build up their confidence. In North Africa, we first saw the return of popular political opposition in Egypt in 2007/2008, when mass strikes were conducted in several major industries - textile being the most significant.

According to research done by the Arab League and the UN, since the 1980's there has been no decline in poverty in the Arab world. Tunisia was a place where investors felt relatively safe to invest and exploit workers for cheap labor. The world economic crisis has certainly taken its toll on exploited nations. In Tunisia the "official" unemployment rate for youth is 50%, leaving many well educated young Tunisians furious with their situation. It was the tragic suicide of Bou Azziz that ignited decades of pent-up rage against the repressive and corrupt Ben Ali regime. It was revealed in WikiLeaks that the Ben Ali regime was so corrupt that even U.S. diplomats made remarks in disgust!

Bou Aziz, like many young Tunisians, was a University graduate who, unable to find work, turned to selling produce as a street vendor. When police destroyed his produce cart for not having a proper permit, Aziz could no longer stand it, and in a gesture that expressed the frustrations of the Tunisian people, set himself ablaze. Protests erupted on Dec. 19 in the west central Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid and quickly spread to the capital of Tunis.

The main union, the UGTT, pushed by rank and file workers, joined the struggle and organized local and regional strikes. Word spread quickly via the internet and mobile devices but government firewalls were quickly erected to block information. The world has seen both the strengths and the limitations of internet organizing first in Iran and now in Tunisia. We should be careful not to make a fetish out of internet organizing. Media outlets who claim this was a "cyber revolution" wrongly characterize this struggle by leading their audience to believe that one does not have to mobilize on the streets to make change. Ben Ali was ousted precisely because Tunisians mobilized by the millions. We have especially seen in the recent WikiLeaks disclosures how the government can and will shut down the worldwide web if it is hurting their interests.

Throughout this struggle workers and peasants were treated brutally by the Ben Ali regime. Even with over 60 dead and many more injured the masses had shaken off their fear. They are no longer intimidated by the government thugs who fired tear gas and live ammunition on peaceful protests. It should be noted that Ben Ali's thugs were aided and directed by Sarkozy and French imperialism. It was reported that plainclothes police officers had organized a majority of the looting in an attempt to discredit the protesters.

Ben Ali was forced to take the troops off the streets because a section of the military had sided with the people and defended them from the police. When the mass demonstrations reached the presidential palace the people and the soldiers embraced.

Bt Friday, Jan. 14, the situation was clearly hopeless for Ben Ali, who was back-pedaling to make concessions to quiet the people. As Alan Woods noted (www.marxist.com), "It is easy to concede that which is no longer in one's power to preserve". Ben Ali dissolved the government and fled Tunisia for Saudi Arabia.

The Tunisian people have bravely overthrown the rotten Ben Ali regime. Undoubtedly, every effort will be made on the part of the international capitalist class, to demobilize the workers. The capitalists will try to quiet them with empty promises of democratic elections, job creation and lower food prices. This tactic is unfolding by way of the formation of a "unity" government. Heading this initiative is Interim Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, who is deeply entrenched in the old corrupt regime. The so-called unity government will consist of the old regime and weak reformist and opportunist opposition parties.
It is hardly a grouping that has the Tunisian workers' best interests in mind! It is clear that Tunisians need a government that works in the interest of their people before the interests of international capital. To achieve this end it will be necessary to form committees based in the masses and representing the interests of the workers and peasants and soldiers.

There is no doubt that whatever happens, this experience will have an immeasurable impact on the youth not just in Tunisia but of the entire Arab world. This is precisely why revolutionaries around the world need to pay attention to what's happening right now in North Africa. North Africa and the Middle East are vital to the strategic interests of the United States and the European Union. Shortly after events started heating up in Tunisia, protests broke out in Algeria, Jordan and Morocco. For the first time in a long time the imperialists are nervous about their free market set up in the post-colonial Arab world.

The French capitalists have been dealt a serious blow. Their ability to influence events in former colonies has noticeably dwindled since their inability to turn back the 44-day general strike on the islands of Guadalupe and Martinique - a struggle that won pay increases, education and job creation for the islands' youth. Most analysis on Tunisia has not taken into account all that has happened in resistance to the world economic crisis and how that may or may not have affected the workers in Tunisia - especially the resistance of Algerian and Tunisian communities in France.

This renewed struggle in North Africa can also have a significant impact on the situation in Palestine, as Gaza shares a border with Egypt. Egypt is a significant player in the struggle against Western imperialism. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak maintains a tight control by means of a massive security force and strong backing from President Obama. Last week, Egyptians in Cairo protested outside the Tunisian embassy, chanting, "Ben Ali, tell Mubarak, a plane is waiting for him too!"

The working class in Egypt is one of the strongest and most militant in North Africa despite heavy repression. A revolution in Egypt would threaten not only the capitalists' stronghold in North Africa but would also serve to embolden resistance movements in the Middle East. The failing Lebanese state and the upsurge of protests in Jordan are clear signs of a renewed workers' struggle in the Middle East. The most conscious Arab workers will draw lessons from all these events and put forward a revolutionary program that will determine the future success of the Arab revolution.

Revolutionary-minded people everywhere could not have asked for a more inspiring start to 2011. The events in North Africa seem to have taken the capitalists by surprise. Without a doubt, the U.S. capitalists are looking at this as an opportunity to exert more influence in Tunisia. The best response we can make now is to push forward and organize the largest opposition to U.S. wars and interventions abroad. The best support we can give to the world revolutionary movement is by putting a thorn in the side of U.S. imperialism. We can start by endorsing and building the call made by the United National Antiwar Committee (UNAC) for nationally coordinated bi-coastal mobilizations in New York City and San Francisco on April 9.

In solidarity with the heroic Tunisian people: end all U.S. wars and occupations, bring all U.S. troops home now - all out for April 9!

January 18, 2011

Labor for Palestine Event in Portland

Wednesday Jan 26, 6:30pm, Labor for Palestine Event Speaker event with Michael Letwin co-convener of NYC Labor against the war on the role of workers in the United States. at PSU Smith building Room 228.

Statewide Single Payer Conference

Saturday, January 29 9am-4:30pm Statewide Single Payer Conference, With Rep. John Conyers, Dr. Margaret Flowers, and more, First Unitarian Church, 1211 SW Main, http://www.jwjpdx.org/jwjevents/event-1291070835.3

January 13, 2011

From The Portugese Communist Party

The main capitalist powers – in particular the USA and the directorate of powers of the European Union – are embarking upon a militaristic and securitarian course, as can be seen in the intensification of the imperialist war, notably in Afghanistan, the proliferation of hotbeds of tension and the provocations throughout the world and, in a particularly serious way, in the conclusions of NATO's Lisbon Summit and the adoption of a new strategic concept by this aggressive military alliance. A course that shatters any illusions, regarding either the Nobel Prize-winning Obama, or the purported "independence" of the European Union vis a vis NATO, which is as false as it is impossible.

We are confronted with a dangerous leap in the dark of a system that is intent on bringing about a historic regression in the rights of the workers and peoples, in advancing even further with the concentration and centralization of capital and of political power and with containing the workers' and peoples' resistance – whether ideologically, by overwhelming consciousnesses with the theory of the "inevitabilities", or by force, through a new wave of repression and the attempts to criminalize the resistance.

A leap into the dark that is characterized by ever increasing onslaughts and attacks against democracy, and where the rehabilitation of fascism and anti-communism play an important role. A leap in the dark which, in economic terms, was clearly visible during the last G20 meeting, where, in the context of growing economic and monetary tensions, what emerged was the fact that, within the framework of capitalism, there are no real fundamental solutions for the current crisis and, on the other hand, the reaffirmation of policies that lie at very root of the crisis and which are in themselves, as has already been widely proved, the seeds of further crises.

This leap into the dark is taking place very quickly and with expressions in all regions of the world.

For the full text go here.


URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Arizona-style legislation introduced in the Oregon State Legislature

Oregon State Representative Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) has introduced legislation that will force our state and local government entities to act as federal agents. The proposed legislation threatens to create a divisive political environment.

We fear that the following list of bills would hurt Oregon's minority and immigrant communities. We are particularly concerned about proposed legislation that mirrors the extreme policies of Arizona's SB1070.

HB 2802 Prohibits restrictions on public body's ability to enforce immigration law to extent permitted by federal law. Authorizes legal resident to bring civil action against public body that violates prohibition.

HB 2803 Requires county to verify immigration status of person incarcerated in county correctional facility.

HB 2804 Requires evidence of citizenship for persons registering to vote for first time in this state.

HB 2805 Prohibits state agencies from providing employment, products, services or licenses to persons who are not lawfully present in United States.

HB 2806 Limits deductibility of expenses related to employment of workers hired on or after January 1, 2012 to workers whose eligibility for employment in United States has been verified through federal E-Verify employment verification system.

We must take immediate action to ensure that none of these extreme bills have a chance of becoming law. In addition to creating a divisive climate, they also represent an economic burden for our state and local governments, businesses, and local law enforcement agencies-something our state can't afford.

Please call our newly inaugurated Co-Speakers of the House, Senate President, and Governor at the phone numbers below.

Co-Speaker of the House Bruce Hanna - (R-Roseburg) 503-986-1200
Co-Speaker of the House Arnie Roblan - (D-Coos Bay) 503-986-1300
Senate President Peter Courtney- (D-Salem) 503-986-1600
Governor John Kitzhaber 503-378-4582

Tell them that Oregon is not Arizona. Let them know that we don't want Representative Kim Thatcher or others to create a divisive political climate in Oregon. Explain that we do not want our state officials to take the role of federal agents. We want common-sense solutions to our economic problems and not extremist legislation.

January 12, 2011

Vivian Raineri

I am sad to report that Vivian Raineri, longtime political activist in the San Francisco area, has passed away.

Vivian was born in Roseburg, OR to Henry and Muriel McGuckin. The family moved to Napa, California, where Vivian completed her schooling and began her career as a journalist and author. A longtime member of the Communist Party, she wrote for the Bay Area Bureau of the Peoples' World Newspaper. She was politically astute and active with the Women for Peace in Berkeley, CA, where she lived most of her life. Among her many achievements, Vivian authored the book "The Red Angel", a biography of Elaine Black Yoneda who, along with her husband Karl Yoneda, served time in an internment camp during World War II. Vivian was a founding member of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism.

Her son Ben remembers Vivian as follows:

"She was a wife, a mother, a reporter, an author. She was an office worker and she was Rosie the Riveter. She was a strong supporter, of causes dear to her, and most important to a son--she supported both of hers with all her soul. In that, she was there when her older one got arrested blocking the entrance to the Oakland Induction center, and she was there another day with the younger one who wanted to vent his rage at the injustice of that drafting of this country's youth. She will be remembered with love by all who knew her."

The familiy is planning a memorial service for her on April 2 at a place to be determined in the East Bay. They would like to see all those who knew her turn out to remember her and share those remembrances with all. I will post a message with the details when they are arranged. In the meantime, those wishing to leave memories and condolences may do so at www.allenmortuary.com.

Steve Willett
Berkeley. Ca.


This is an important article which can give us needed perspective about the recent events in Tucson. It is written by George Shriver:

TUCSON, Arizona ---- This state has become a symbol of hatred. intolerance, bigotry and violence -- especially after the signing of the Arizona Senate Bill SB 1070 last April which in effect authorized racial profiling. That law is now going through a lengthy process of court challenges and appeals.

Unfortunately, while the immigrant rights movement continues to organize and build the fightback against SB1070 it has not become sufficiently powerful. It has not acquired a mass base, nor a mobilized union movement. Most unions declined to back the call for a boycott against SB 1070. After the midterm elections of November 2010 it seemed that the racist forces had been strengthened.

Now in January 2011, the government-promoted atmosphere of hatred, violence and dehumanization (mainly against Mexicans and generally against people of color) has boomeranged

On January 8, Jared Lee Loughner, a mentally unbalanced and possibly drug addicted white 22 year old from a middle class suburb of Tucson lashed out and killed 6 people and wounded at least 13 in a deliberate assassination attempt aimed at a white politician, U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. She is a pro corporate "Blue Dog" Democrat recently re elected to the House of Representatives. Giffords was at a shopping mall to meet with constituents. The assassin brazenly ran up and opened fire - reportedly with a Glock 9mm semi automatic pistol with a high capacity magazine holding more than thirty bullets.

Without necessarily being aware of it, the assassin was acting out the messages of hatred and intolerance encouraged by the U.S. Federal and Arizona State governments. These policies have been pursued with heightened intensity since the introduction of NAFTA in the 1990's. At the same time that NAFTA was pushed through by the twin parties of the capitalist ruling class - both Democrat and Republican - they began a deliberate policy of militarization of the border.

This promoted the idea that the solution to problems is to take up the gun, use force and violence. i.e the military. The U.S. invasions and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan give the same message. If there is a problem, shoot! Or wipe people out with predator drones. In April 2010 the top official of the U.S. Government, Barack Obama, declared it was all right for the government to assassinate U.S. citizens. What an example to set from the highest office in the land. What Martin Luther King said in 1967 is truer than ever: "The U.S. Government is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world".

Interestingly, it was reported that Loughner had tried to join the military but was rejected because he failed a drug test.

But let's take a closer look at the impact of the government militarization policy on the Arizona border. Isabel Garcia, a leader of the immigrant rights movement in southern Arizona, pointed out that the assassination attempt and the killing of six people were directly related to the policy of border militarization: "These senseless deaths are a result of a border policy that has been building since 1994. This policy has propelled the growth of fear, hate and violence. Over 5,000 migrant deaths, shootings and continual violence are a direct result of this policy."

The militarization policy took the form of blocking off traditional crossing routes through populated urban areas in California and Texas. As a result they were funneled into the inhospitable and dangerous desert regions of Arizona.

These migrants are essentially "NAFTA refugees". An estimated six million peasant farmers in Mexico, growers of maiz, have been driven off the land, unable to compete against U.S. government subsidized corporate agribusiness, which under NAFTA was allowed to flood the Mexican market with cheap corn. The ruined farmers are forced to seek work where ever they can. Large numbers attempt to migrate north to the U.S. in search of jobs.

But the U.S. government dehumanizes these migrants, labels them "illegal aliens" Washington takes no responsibility for the social impact of its NAFTA policies or for having used militarization to funnel migrants into the deadly desert. Meanwhile the public in Arizona is made callous and hardened, inured to the ongoing cruelty. And many are frightened by the stream of impoverished migrants coming through the Arizona desert. They do not understand how and why they have been driven to make this desperate journey and have no compassion for them.

The government policy of ICE raids also suggests to the public that extreme and inhumane measures are necessary. A few years ago, self appointed vigilantes, inspired by hatred of Mexicans and under the impression that such actions were officially approved, invaded the home of a Mexican American family near the border south of Tucson. The family members were U.S. citizens living in the small town of Arivaca in full legality. The vigilantes killed the father of the family and the 9 year old daughter.

No great outpouring of rage greeted that action. No visit by a U.S. President to southern Arizona to protest the killings. The corporate owned media and capitalist establishment actually look with tolerance, even with favor on the vigilante types and encourage the hysteria and hatred voiced by these racists.

The Obama administration pursues equally dehumanizing , though less blatant, anti immigrant policies. Rather than denouncing and opposing the racist policies of the state legislature in Arizona, Obama and company act in a similar manner. The White House web site brags that an unprecedented 400,000 "illegal aliens" were deported in 2010. After the signing of SB1070 he sent thousands of National Guard troops to the U.S. - Mexico border, as if to say to the racists, "Yes, this unauthorized immigration is terrible and must be stopped by any and all means, including military violence." Obama even bragged that "we now have more boots on the ground on our southwest border than ever before in history".

In the background of this recent assassination attempt, building up for nearly two decades has been the U.S. Government promoted message of divisiveness, dehumanization and carte blanche for military-type violence.

January 11, 2011

Stalin Speaking To The Left In 1942

"Under capitalist conditions the Right deviation in communism is a tendency, an inclination, not yet formulated, it is true, and perhaps not yet consciously realized, but nevertheless a tendency on the part of a section of the Communists to depart from the revolutionary line of Marxism in the direction of Social-Democracy. When certain groups of Communists deny the expediency of the slogan 'class against class' in election campaigns (France), or are opposed to the Communist Party putting up independent candidates (Great Britain), or are disinclined to make a sharp issue of the fight against "Left" Social-Democracy (Germany), etc, etc, it shows that there are individuals in the Communist Parties who are striving to adapt Communism to Social-Democratism. A victory of the Right deviation in the Communist Parties in capitalist countries would mean the ideological collapse of the Communist Parties and an enormous accession of strength to Social-Democratism. And what does an enormous accession of strength to Social-Democratism mean? It means the strengthening and consolidation of capitalism, for Social-Democracy is the main prop of capitalism in the working class. Hence, a victory of the Right deviation in the Communist Parties in capitalist countries would add to the conditions necessary for the preservation of capitalism."

"Leninism, Selected Writings" by Joseph Stalin (NY: Intl. Publishers, 1942)

Nasser Abufarha To Speak In Portland

Nasser Abufarha, Palestinian-American scholar and social entrepreneur, is the founder of the Palestine Fair Trade Association and Canaan Fair Trade, which is bringing Palestinian olive oil and other traditional foods to mainstream American and European markets, while also improving economic conditions for more than 1700 farmers in the West Bank.

"Fair trade isn't just about the price," Abufarha says, though he acknowledges that the increase in income has been vital to many farmers in Palestine. "We have given farmers hope. An economic exchange that recognizes Palestinian famers' rights and respects the value of their connection to their land, after years of marginalization under Israeli occupation, is a major accomplishment". Canaan Fair Trade today is the largest exporter of certified fair trade and organic Palestinian olive oil to America and Europe. The company ships to over 15 countries. "Palestine may not be in the atlas," Abufarha says, "But we have put it on the shelves."

Come hear this Palestinian success story. Three events:

Wednesday, January 19, 7pm
George Fox University, Center for Peace and Justice, Room 105
Newberg, OR.
Contact: Melanie Newell, 503-554-2686

Thursday, Jan. 20, 5:00 - 6:00 pm, informal talk at 5:30pm:
Banyan Tree Portland
18 SW 1st Avenue, Portland, OR 97204
(in the Mercy Corps building, street parking)

Thursday, Jan. 20, 7:00 - 8:30 pm:
Equal Exchange Office
1033 SE Main, Portland, OR 97214
(park behind building at SE Salmon/11th or street)

Admission is free to all events.

Fair trade olive oil tasting and sales at events. Equal Exchange will provide fair trade coffee, tea and chocolate for the evening presentation.

Nasser will be on KBOO twice, on Friday, January 14 at around 9:30 am on Voices of the Middle East with host Goudarz Eghtedari speaking on fair trade in Palestine, and on Thursday, January 20 at 9:30 am on Fight the Empire with host Per Fagereng, talking about his recent book, The Making of a Human Bomb, which focuses on landscapes, the environment and violence.

Sponsors: Equal Exchange, Friends of Sabeel- North America, Banyan Tree Portland, First Unitarian Church, Lutherans for Justice in the Holy Land - a ministry of Central Lutheran Church, Global Exchange Portland

Information: 360-980-2580 or sales@canaanfairtrade.com

The Tucson Shootings

Right-wingers were quick to contact us after the shootings with disavowals, shrill name-calling and the accusation that the shooter was a leftist. The vitriol continues and apparently is an organized effort---well, as organized as a movement that believes in "leaderless resistance"and decentralization along the lines of the Tea Party can be---that is hitting other blogs as well.

Some of the best writing on the subject has come from the People's World. I highly recommend Sam Webb's insightful piece and the Communist Party statement on the shootings.

What has been especially aggravating for me is that the media is picking up without question the line that all political speech must be dialed down, as if the left and the right are equally guilty here. No one can truthfully show that the left has engaged in a level of violence or violent rhetoric that even approaches what the right has done over the past two years. We are not, after all, a strident movement with guns and a gun lobby working for us, and the general feelings on the left have been ones of division and common sense as we try to sort out the mechanics of the present-day reality. Under such conditions stridency and threats have no place, even if we dealt in those terms. And we didn't pull the trigger in Tucson.

It also troubles me that Americans are forgetting about the assassination of Mr. Salmaan Taseer, the governor of the Pakistani state of Punjab, just one week ago. This was also a victory for fanaticism, and one which will have long-term international consequences.

Let us assume for a moment that our detractors are correct and that the Tucson gunman acted alone and without politics, that he was merely a deranged young man oblivious to specific political influences. Even if that were to be proven, it begs the questions of why and how there have been so many recent armed actions by right-wingers and why a growing number of conservative Americans (or so it seems) are foresaking conversation and discussion for violent rhetoric and violence. Moreover, it misses the point that there are a seemingly large number of deranged people amongst us who seem especially susceptible to this right-wing violent imagery and that so many of these people have relatively easy access to firearms.

The right-wing is playing a clever game by distancing itself from the acts of supoposedly deranged individuals as society seems to be dissembling and speaking as if such derangement and social decomposition are unrelated to one another. Only the left has visions of social recomposition and the programs to get us there.

January 3, 2011


Join the National Day of Action on Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In December 2010, under the direction of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, the FBI delivered 9 new subpoenas in Chicago to anti-war and Palestine solidarity activists -- bringing the total number of subpoenaed activists to 23. Patrick Fitzgerald's office is ordering the 9 to appear at a Grand Jury in Chicago on January 25.

In response, we are calling for protests across the country and around the world to show our solidarity. Hundreds of organizations and thousands of people will be protesting at Federal Buildings, FBI offices, and other appropriate places, showing solidarity with the 9 newly subpoenaed activists and with all the activists whose homes were raided by the FBI.

Fitzgerald's expanding web of repression already includes the 14 subpoenaed when the FBI stormed into homes on September 24th, carting away phones, computers, notebooks, diaries and children's artwork. In October, all fourteen activists from Chicago, Minneapolis, and Michigan decided to not participate in the secret proceedings of Fitzgerald's Grand Jury. Each signed a letter invoking their Fifth Amendment rights. However, three women from Minneapolis -- Tracy Molm, Anh Pham and Sarah Martin -- are facing re-activated subpoenas. They are standing strong and we are asking you to stand with them -- and with the newly subpoenaed nine activists -- by protesting Patrick Fitzgerald and his use of the Grand Jury and FBI to repress anti-war and international solidarity activists.

Defend free speech! Defend the right to organize! Opposing war and occupation is not a crime!
**Tell Patrick Fitzgerald to call off the Grand Jury!
**Stop FBI raids and repression!

Please organize a local protest or picket in your city or on your campus and e-mail us at stopfbi@gmail.com to let us know what you have planned.

In Struggle,
--Tom Burke

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression
www.StopFBI.net - stopfbi@gmail.com - 612-379-3585
petition: http://www.stopfbi.net/petition

Nine Stories You May Have Missed

The Iraqi Communist Party speaks about the global crisis and occupation here.

Chris Hedges interviews Ralph Nader and talks about the left here.

Portland Human Rights Campaign is organizing a weekend for women. Get details here.

Palestinian strategy is shifting and the Israeli establishment is in crisis. Read one account here.

Federal raids against immigrants are increasing. Read about the politics and the human cost of the raids here.

Action Name: A Conversation on Israel, Peace and Human Rights

Date: 2011-01-12

Event Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Organization: J Street Eugene

Description: Who Speaks for the American Jewish Community?
For too long, the pro-Israel conversation in the American Jewish community has been dominated by those loudest voices who seek to limit the debate and discussion on Israel to "Israel right-or-wrong." A discussion of what it means to be pro-Israel now and how to put our values to work in advocating for bold American leadership to resolve this conflict.

Wednesday, January 12th 7pm
Temple Beth Israel
1175 E. 29th Ave. Eugene

Presenters are Carinne Luck, Vice President of Grassroots and Field Programs at J Street. She was one of the founding staff members of J Street and was the first Organizing Director at Brit Tzedek v'Shalom. Gordon Gladstone, J Street Local's Northern California/Northwest Regional Director, will also speak.

We hope to see you there!

A stunningly revolutionary interview with Gabor Mate is here. This will be especially relevent to parents.

A revolutionary view of Obama and the left is here. This article should circulate through the left.

A controversial (but landmark) speech by Raul Castro is here.