May 31, 2012

The corporate approach to school "reform"

Meet the Hungerford family

The corporate approach to school "reform" has reduced teachers to another line item to be slashed in the drive to balance the budget, explains Nicole Bowmer.
Striking teachers picket outside Eagle Point High School 
Striking teachers picket outside Eagle Point High School
 
There's a common denominator among the recent strikes by teachers' unions in Oregon, but before I continue, it's worth noting that I learned the term "common denominator" in a public school classroom that did not have 40 desks crammed into a space that was built to hold only 25.

Plus, it's worth getting some use out of the term before corporate-funded textbooks decide it's no longer needed in our global economy.

To connect many of the strike dots in Oregon, we need only to follow the Willamette River 13 miles south, from Portland to Oregon City. Known as "the end of the Oregon Trail," Oregon City is the destination of many school field trips. This makes it all the more ironic that it's also the home of the Hungerford Law Firm.

Nancy Hungerford, the matriarch of this family firm, has, along with daughter Andrea and son Brian, provided legal counsel to various school districts around the state, including three of the districts that recently faced strikes by teachers' unions.

At the 2009 winter conference of the Confederation of School Administrators, Nancy Hungerford offered an ominous presentation to administrators and potential clients. In a 12-page paper entitled "School district options in time of financial crisis," Hungerford outlined a number of initiatives by now all too familiar to teachers throughout the state and across the country:
-- Cut hours of current employees
-- Bargain collective bargaining agreements with little or no increase in salary and insurance contributions
-- Lay off staff
-- Contract out services currently provided by district employees
-- Change staffing schedules so that guaranteed minutes of prep time are placed outside the student day
Perhaps the most telling section of the document comes at the end with what Hungerford considers to be the guiding question for all of her recommendations. Since school districts don't exist without schools, and schools don't exist without teachers or students, it seems reasonable to think that this question would be something along the lines of: "How will these recommendations impact the ability of teachers to help students reach their full potential?" No such luck.

.........READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE ON THE SOCIALIST WORKER.

Greece at a Crossroads

Greece at a Crossroads:
Crisis and Radicalization in the Southern European Semi-periphery


by Christos Papatheodorou, Spyros Sakellaropoulos, and Paris Yeros

Introduction
The Greek crisis represents the deepening of a long systemic contradiction whose origins lie in the 1960s, in the stagnation of monopoly capitalism and the emergence of the South.  The industrial centers of the world economy were struck by a crisis of profitability, which was displaced outward in space and forward in time by the financialization of monopoly capital, technological innovations in robotics and information systems, and shifts of industrial production to selected countries in the South, especially East Asia.  These shifts and transformations inaugurated a new dynamic of accumulation, which has been driven by predatory financial institutions, a new international division of labor, and, upon the collapse of the Eastern bloc, a security system dominated by the unparalleled firepower of NATO (Amin 2003, Foster 2010, Foster et al. 2011).

Greece is the latest in a long string of countries that have fallen victim to these shifts and transformations.  Initially, in the 1980s, the burden of adjustment to global disequilibria was, by and large, borne by the peripheries and semi-peripheries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, which under IMF instruction undertook a unilateral opening to the world economy (Moyo and Yeros 2011).  In the 1990s, it was the turn of the Eastern bloc, which was radically reintegrated into the world economy via the same, if not more tumultuous, 'shock therapy' measures.  The welfare-state systems in the West also began to come under attack at this time, while the world economy as a whole entered a period of slower growth, punctuated by the serial bursting of financial bubbles.  But, throughout this period, the centers of the system retained their capacity to evade a major meltdown of their own.  This all changed in 2008, when the biggest of all bubbles burst in the US housing market.

Greece is not the first country to be hit by the systemic crisis, but it is the first semi-peripheral country to undergo a sustained process of radicalization.  This is in itself a new and significant political fact, given the specific role that semi-peripheries fulfill as systemic 'shock absorbers' (Arrighi 1997).  Add to this Greece's participation in a major currency zone, a major regional market, and the planet's supreme military alliance, and we can see why the political turmoil in this small country can make stock markets tumble everywhere and threaten to set off global chain reactions.

Semi-peripheries in a Systemic Scissors Movement
An important dimension of this systemic transition has been the continuing differentiation among semi-peripheral states.  In the 1980s, the hitherto emerging semi-industrialized countries of Latin America were reconverted into export-oriented economies under the weight of debt, entering thereafter a path of slow industrial growth or de-industrialization, along with re-specialization in primary sectors and expansion of services (Marini 1992, Martins 2011).  Meanwhile, the Southern European semi-peripheries pinned their hopes on integration into the German-led European industrial and monetary sphere of influence, thus initiating a similar process of industrial stagnation and de-industrialization.  However, in the latter case, a hard landing was initially averted by eventual incorporation into a credit-induced growth model, intimately tied to German industrial exports and European and US financial institutions.  Both of these groups of semi-peripheries underwent deep financialization, but Southern Europe was spared severe demand compression.

New industrial growth centers also sprouted in Eastern Asia, with an export orientation, but these too would eventually stumble into the trap set by finance capital, which mounted a new assault in 1997-98.  The main country that resisted the assault in this case was China, only to emerge as the game changer in global industrial production.  Its controlled but sustained opening to foreign capital, and its internal re-organization, went on to push another half a billion workers onto the global assembly line, putting downward pressure on wages in industrial production all around (Minqi 2008).

...READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

May 30, 2012

To progressive Irish people from Communist Organization of Greece (KOE)

Statement of KOE:

To the progressive Irish People
To the republican socialist movement campaigning for NO on May 31st

Brothers and Sisters!

You find yourselves just a day before a most critical vote in the referendum about the so called “Stability Treaty”. Your vote is critical, first of all, for the very future of Ireland, for the very future of each one of you and of your children. The camp of the “yes-men”, composed by all the obedient and guilty servants of a repeatedly failed policy and of a system that has times and again proved to be destructive and corrupted to the core, are trying to terrorize you. According to them, “the Apocalypse will fall on your heads” in case you dare to prove, once again, that you put above all the future of your children and the dignity of a sovereign Ireland. The truth is that a NO vote shall oblige them to think twice before they further advance their program of total annihilation of the Irish People’s social, democratic and national rights. Moreover, a NO vote will have an immediate repercussion on the further development of the struggles all over Europe, where the peoples are courageously fighting to overthrow the yoke imposed by a handful of profiteers and their political personnel.

Brothers and Sisters!

You are not alone! Among others, the Greek People is fighting by your side against our common enemies. Just think of the power we, the Peoples of Europe, have in our hands: less than a month ago, the relative victory of the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the huge defeat of the once mighty pro-troika parties in the Greek national elections, have spread the fear among the enemy camp. Now, many of those who were intransigent on the imposition of a socially destructive policy on the Greek people, are “softening” their tactics and promise us a carrot in order that their political lackeys avoid a total defeat in the new national elections coming on June 17. However, and despite their new mixture of threats and promises, the Greek People shall give them a resounding answer. All those arrogant and failed politicians and their filthy rich masters shall be obliged to face the reality: the Peoples of Europe are no more disposed to accept a continuously worsening life without dignity for the sake of a criminal oligarchy.

Proud People of Ireland, stand up for your rights!  

For a better future for us all, and for the generations to come, vote NO!

Athens, May 30, 2012
 
Communist Organization of Greece (KOE), member of the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA)

Urgent appeal from Turkish aviation workers

In the last few hours we've gotten an urgent appeal for help from the Turkish aviation workers union.

The government is proposing a change to labour laws that would bar strikes in their industry.

Workers have already begun a mass sick-leave and wildcat strikes and need us all to simply send off protest messages to the government in Ankara.

Please do so now:

http://www.labourstartcampaigns.net/show_campaign.cgi?c=1402&src=lsmm

Please forward on this message to your fellow trade unionists.

Labor Law and Occupy

Occupy Labor Law!
By Ursula Levelt
Newsletter of the Labor & Employment Committee
The National Lawyers Guild
May 2012


General strike in Madison!
Don’t cross the picket line to evict Occupy protestors in Maryland! General strike in Oakland!


It has been a long time since we have heard these calls in the mainstream media.

The collaboration between labor and the Occupy Wall Street movement over the past six months has seen the revival of what were once the basic tools of the labor movement—strikes, picketing and other appeals to solidarity. Our experience of the last six months also reminds us, however, that labor unions have weaker First Amendment rights than any other organization in this country, with their most powerful weapons subject to more state repression than the very similar methods, such as protest rallies, consumer boycotts, and civil disobedience, that other organizations use.

Occupy activists discovered this as they saw their labor allies reluctant to go as far as they would go.  They got an object lesson of the strength of these limitations in the case of Longview, where they tried to pick up where unions could or would not go.

It is as if last year labor woke up, stirred, and then felt again the chains of decades of bad labor law.  Will this be the occasion to finally break these chains?  This was the challenge the organizers of the recent “Occupy Labor Law!” panel in New York City set themselves.

...TO READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE CLICK HERE

May 29, 2012

Threatening Greece And Argentina

The threats against Greece by international capital and its allies are growing more shrill and more determined as the elections draw near and as it appears more likely that the leftist SYRIZA will either win or come in second. Never mind that SYRIZA does not want to leave the euro, dump the negotiated bailout entirely or cancel the debts the previous government negotiated with a gun pointed at its head. And never mind that not all members of the European Union use the euro or participate fully and on equal terms in the European Union.

The possibility that the Greek people will vote SYRIZA in or give it the votes it needs to form a coalition government and then push SYRIZA to the left are enough to frighten the capitalists and their friends into withdrawing their cash and other liquid assets from Greece daily. Vodafone, GlaxoSmithKline, financial institutions and hedge funds are all pulling out and are doing so publicly and in ways which send a clear message to the Greek people---vote independently, vote left, and you will have nothing.

This pullout comes after the German government's "suggestion"---read demand---that a referendum be held with the election on the matter of euro zone membership. An affirmative vote, which the German government expects or demands, might hedge SYRIZA and other left forces in by tying their hands. A negative vote could have undetermined consequences for both the Greek people and the euro zone, possibly strengthening both the left and the right and hastening a political and social confrontation. Be that as it may, we must insist that it is no one's right to demand of another country that it hold a particular referendum in order to make way for multinational capital.

The German government heard this message, at least in part, and appeared to step away from the suggestion or demand on the referendum. The issue was then taken up by leading German Social Democrats who used their political connections and will to try and accomplish what the blundering German conservatives could not do. We now see leading Greek social democrats advancing the idea of a referendum as if it were their own concept. When they do this they act as the servants of foreign and multinational capital, as architects or allies of austerity, and they prove once again that social democracy has its limits. Their recent posturing on behalf of the referendum perhaps makes them junior partners in managing austerity, or potentially does so, but it also aligns them with those forces who are threatening the Greek people and their political independence. If the Greek social democrats see in this situation a path to power they need to think again.

The working class and its allies in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland to differing degrees represent the fightback against globalization, multinational capital and austerity in Europe. They can do so because these countries are also the weakest links set among the imperialist and formerly imperialist powers in Europe. Leftists can take away from this situation the idea that the weakest links among the capitalist powers will give way first and that the periphery is being redefined constantly so that revolutionary possibilities arise where we may not be looking for them. Who thought five years ago that Greek workers would be in the vanguard of such a broad social struggle?

The imperialists respond to this with economic and political blackmail and may indeed back a coup in Greece if SYRIZA and other left forces succeed in the elections in any great measure. I am not the first person to suggest this possibility in recent days or to expect it. In light of this, we should see the recent wins by some German unions as bribes paid by the imperialists to the workers and the unions to silence them and seperate them from the continent-wide movement against austerity.

In April the Argentine government seized through buyout the YPF unit of the Spanish company Repsol, giving Argentina some measure of control over some of its natural resources. This was a smart move by the government for many reasons, not least of which was that the Repsol seizure or buyout is not covered under WTO rules. The Argentine government accomplished a great deal at little cost with the seizure or buyout and perhaps showed other countries in the region one relatively low-cost path to state ownership or even nationalization. International capital---the same forces squeezing the Greek workers and the people of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland---is striking back by challenging Argentina's allegedly "protectionist" import restrictions before the WTO. Leading the charge against Argentina are the European Union, the United States, Mexico, Japan and Israel. Repsol is taking legal action against Argentina in US courts.

The media is highlighting Argentina's restrictions on imported cars, car parts, food products and mobile phones, but I sense from the news articles that the real issue at hand is Repsol and the seizure or buyout of the YPF unit. International capital and imperialism knows well that this move set an example for people across Latin America and sees in Argentina's social democrats and left nationalists the same, or a similar, threat as represented by SYRIZA in Greece. They may not be much mistaken in their fears. And I think they will find that even Argentina's social democrats are a tougher lot than those they are used to dealing with in Germany and Greece.

No businessmen can honestly or hopefully believe that the Greek courts will find in their favor if push comes to shove in Greece and a new Greek government does indeed leave the euro and/or decide that it cannot pay the negotiated debts on schedule. The Europen Union will move slowly in deciding what to do in that case and its final decisions may not be to international capital's full tastes. The WTO and the US courts, on the other hand, will decide against Argentina with relative speed. Those rulings will test the Argentine government and the will and solidarity of the people of Latin America.

For our part, we should be upholding the historic principles of internationalism and solidarity. The European Union and the US, led by multinational capital, have made themselves the practical enemies of workers in Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Argentina by interfering in each country's political process and by demanding the terms of austerity and surrender. There is one enemy to point at---imperialism---operating with particular avarice on two continents simultaneously and with the same or similar motivations in both spheres. In the case of Israel, of course, we must also point out the settler-colonialist basis of its very existence. Given these realities, then, we want one international fightback against imperialism, colonialism and multinational capital and we should expect this to take hold first and most strongly in those countries most disadvantaged by the imperialist and formerly imperialist powers.

CBTU Stands Up for Trayvon Martin's Parents


Dwight Kirk sent us this from the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) convention in St. Louis. With more than 50 CBTU chapters across the United States and Canada, CBTU includes 2.1 million black workers represented by unions.

The parents of slain Trayvon Martin got a big union hug and a standing ovation yesterday in a ballroom packed with members of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, who attended the opening session of CBTU’s 41st international convention in St. Louis. The 17-year-old Trayvon was killed during an encounter with George Zimmerman, who apparently followed the teenager just because he fit a negative racial profile.

Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin, came to the CBTU convention to thank black workers and urge them to continue supporting the fight for justice for their son, whose killer, George Zimmerman, has been charged with murder. Fulton, who was a member of AFSCME in Florida, told CBTU members:

I know how important unions are. So keep it going.

She talked about the pain of Trayvon’s shooting and attempts to “blame the victim.”
It’s been a struggle keeping up the fight. But we believe justice will be done.
The parents asked CBTU delegates to support the Justice for Trayvon Foundation (www.justicetm.org).

Tracy Martin, a native of east St. Louis, said racial profiling issues distressed him.
Sometimes I think the murders of our children don’t matter to America.

He saluted CBTU President William Lucy for his leadership over the four decades. “It’s mentors like you,” he told Lucy, “that we need to let our kids know about.”

Martin and his ex-wife, Sybrina, took part in a Stop the Violence Rally this afternoon in east St. Louis.

Free the Cuban Five: Send birthday greetings to Gerardo and Ramon!

Send a birthday greeting to:
Gerardo Hernández and Ramón Labañino!


2009 Ramon, Gerardo gradient
Gerardo and Ramón have birthdays in June.


Be sure to send them a birthday greeting!


You can write to them directly at the prison, (address below) and also transmit a greeting to our email address below. We will then mail Ramón and Gerardo your greeting which you e-mail us.


Gerardo Hernández was born June 4, 1965.
His address is:
Gerardo Hernández, #58739-004
U.S.P. Victorville
P.O. Box 5300
Adelanto, CA 92301
Ramón Labañino was born June 9, 1963.
He is registered in prison as Luis Medina, so you
have to address the envelope as:
Luis Medina, #58734-004
F.C.I. Jesup
2680 301 South
Jesup, GA 31599
Then inside the cards and letters, you can write to him as Ramón.

Free the Five website
Contact Us
phone: 415-821-6545

May 27, 2012

Doug Henley: Bain Capital Loves Democrats


Doug Henley reports on economics and politics for KPFA in Berkeley, CA
All good Democrats are busily hating on Bain Capital right now. What they’re forgetting is how many Bain-affiliated political contributions have gone to Democrats.
Plug the words “Bain Capital” into an OpenSecrets.org search and you learn that while Bain people have lovingly contributed to their former CEO’s presidential campaign, almost 3/4 of their contributions to other candidates, 72% to be precise, have gone to Democrats. That’s a higher percentage to Dems than the AFL-CIO!
And among the top recipients are Dem headliners like Al Franken, Claire McCaskill, John Kerry, Mark Udall, Nancy Pelosi, and Sherrod Brown. They were also major contributors to the Democratic National Committee and the national Democratic party. There are very few Republican candidates on the OpenSecrets list, and no major gifts to the GOP itself.
So Cory Booker’s defense of private equity (PE) against attacks by the Obama campaign has a very materialist explanation: PE titans like Bain have been funding Dems for ages—including Booker himself (e.g., “Cory Booker’s Bain Capital money”). It was just a few years ago that hedge fund (HF) hotshot Paul Tudor Jones held a 500-guest fundraiser for Obama, back when “the whole of Greenwich” (an epicenter of the industry) was behind him (“Another top hedge fund chief backs Obama”). Then he hurt their feelings with one intemperate use of the term “fatcats.” But it’s not like Obama is about to expropriate the PE and HF types.

May 26, 2012

SF Chronicle: Cuba's Mariela Castro Cheered in SF Visit


Thursday, May 24, 2012
Cuban President Raul Castro's daughter, whose visa approval to the United States sparked a political outcry that reached the presidential campaign this week, heard nothing but applause Wednesday as she made her first public appearance in San Francisco.
Mariela Castro, 50, the niece of retired President Fidel Castro, received a pair of standing ovations as she took part in a panel at San Francisco General Hospital on health care for transgender patients.
Although her hour-long talk focused on medical issues, she ventured into politics by condemning the U.S. embargo on Cuba and calling supporters of it in this country "a tiny mafia" who have "no scruples."
Speaking through a translator, Castro said she had successfully lobbied the Communist Party in Cuba to repudiate "all forms of discrimination in our society," particularly bias against gays and transgender people.
"If we don't change our patriarchal and homophobic culture that brings stigma," Castro said, "we cannot advance to a new society. That is what we want - the power of emancipation through socialism."
There were no anti-Castro protesters at the event, but the Cuban first daughter's visit has caused a stir nationally.
Among those criticizing the Obama administration's decision to grant Castro a visa was a member of the president's party, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, who called her "a vociferous advocate of the regime and an opponent of democracy."
On the eve of Castro's arrival Monday, presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney chided the administration for "welcoming the daughter of a dictator" and said, "We shouldn't be extending an open hand to a regime engaged in the systematic and flagrant denial of basic human rights."
Attendees in San Francisco, however, greeted Castro warmly, laughing at one point when she mentioned landowners who resisted post-revolution changes in Cuba. "They were getting help ... abroad, and I won't say any more."
Felix Kury, a lecturer in the Latina/Latino studies department at San Francisco State University, said the protests elsewhere over Castro's visit amounted to political theater.


May 25, 2012

WFTU: SOLIDARITY MESSAGE WITH THE STRUGGLE OF STUDENTS IN CANADA

WORLD FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS

Athens May 24, 2012

SOLIDARITY MESSAGE WITH THE STRUGGLE OF STUDENTS IN CANADA

The World Federation of Trade Unions W.F.T.U expresses full support and solidarity with the struggle of students in Canada and the more that 100 days of mobilization against the raise of 75% in university fees.

Thousands of students are demonstrated in the streets of Montreal with a hard confrontation with police forces. This demonstration does not only represent the interests of the Canadian students only but of the students Chile, in Spain and in all capitalist countries suffering the anti-popular policies and cuts in education and social spending. Especially in times of crisis, education is utilized as a new sector of profits for the multinationals, it is privatized, commercialized, its content is further downgraded.

We, the members and friends of WFTU are fighting for a public and free education for all.

Dear colleagues,

The WFTU, on behalf of its 82 million members in 120 countries of the world, we unite our voice with your voice, we unite our voice with all students who fight for their right to free and quality education, against the anti-popular policies of the capitalist countries.
With militant greetings

THE WFTU SECRETARIAT
40, Zan Moreas street, Athens 11745 GREECE
Tel. +302109214417, +302109236700, Fax +30210 9214517

www.wftucentral.org E-mails: info@wftucentral.org, international@wftucentral.org

From 1968, A Long View on Movement Building

by Curtis Black
Newstips

Community Media Workshop

May 23, 2012

http://www.newstips.org/2012/05/from-1968-a-long-view-on-movement-building/

After demonstrators were arrested and roughed up in an unsuccessful attempt to march to McCormick Place on Sunday, I thought it would be interesting to check in with Mel Rothenberg. He has the distinction of leading the only demonstration that succeeded in marching to the International Ampitheatre, where the Democratic National Convention was being held, in 1968.

Now a retired professor, Rothenberg has been politically active through the intervening decades, most recently with Chicago Jobs With Justice and the Chicago Political Economy
Group. This gives him a long view on movement building and social change. (He and I worked together on the Chicago bureau of the Guardian, the independent radical newsweekly  published in New York, in the 1980s.)

Chicago 1968 "was very different," he says. "It was a shock. Everybody, the demonstrators and cops, were uncertain about what would happen." At last weekend's NATO protest, "both the
authorities and the demonstration organizers had much more control of the street action, and the media had already orchestrated its coverage ahead of time."

Big differences

"In 1968 the mayor was completely unprepared and the city was completely on edge," he says. In contrast to media pre-coverage this time - featuring scary headlines which almost surely depressed turnout - in 1968 "the media was trying to keep things calm, pretending nothing was going to happen."

Also different was the police department: "In '68 there was a
lot of overt racism in the department - the Klan was operating
openly; there were conflicts within the police department."
There had been major riots in Watts, Detroit, Newark. "The
authorities were in a panic. There were National Guard and
state police, and it looked like for a while that the city
would be put under martial law."

Rothenberg helped organize the Bourbaki Brigade, a contingent of mathematicians, who marched about 100-strong through Bridgeport to the Ampitheatre at 42nd and Halsted. "It was
very tense," he recalls. "There were neighborhood thugs threatening us, and the police in  between, both protecting us and threatening us."

The police "were making decisions on the spur of the moment - they didn't know what was happening either - and they decided to let us through; we were a small group and not very
threatening, mathematicians, college professors."

The next day was supposed to be the big march to the convention site. "It was supposed to be peaceful. We brought our kids." A huge crowd gathered in the park across from the Conrad Hilton, and someone (later revealed to be a police infiltrator) climbed the flagpole and took down the American flag. "That was the signal, they attacked us, there was tear gas, there was chaos."

A big flop

This year, he says, "I don't think Obama or NATO came out very well. All the attention was on the demonstrators. The summit was a big flop."

"There was no popular support in Chicago for NATO, no outpouring of sentiment to support NATO." And "no one except city officials and p.r. people thought it was going to help the city. It was a bust from the point of view of helping the local economy or getting favorable international attention to Chicago."

"About the only thing they accomplished was to avoid a disaster," Rothenberg said.

As for the protests, they turned out thousands of people - certainly far more than the 2,000 reported by the police - and wove together a range of social concerns with the issues of
war and militarization.

But Rothenberg says there needs to be more attention to building a sustainable movement that goes beyond occasional demonstrations to actually challenging and changing policies.

Much of the weekend's youthful energy came from the Occupy movement, but that's "very loose and not really coherent" - not so much due to a lack of clear demands as of "a clear strategy for bringing and keeping people together," Rothenberg said. "So they latch on to what's happening."

That can be been positive, connecting them to community issues. But "before they can become the core of a sustained social movement they have to confront more clearly the basic issues of class, race, gender and militarism which drive American political conflict."

Sustainability

He calls the Mental Health Movement, which led a huge march Saturday to Mayor Emanuel's home in Ravenswood, "inspiring."

"It has done so much" - mounting a vigorous, year-long fight against Mayor Emanuel's attempt to close clinics - "with a very dedicated multi-racial group of mental patients and very little money. But it's going to be hard to sustain the energy unless there are some victories fairly soon." (His wife, Marcia Rothenberg, a retired nurse, has been active in the campaign.)

He contrasts the Tea Party movement - heavily backed by corporations and millionaires, and in control of the Republican Party and the House of Representatives - with progressive issue-oriented activist groups, which get "only meager support from labor unions"; meanwhile "labor donates millions of dollars to politicians who do little to advance progressive programs."

The Tea Party "has organization and money. The left has probably more of people's sentiment behind it and more idealistic youth, but it doesn't have organization," he said.

The "black bloc" is one group that tries to step into that vacuum.

Black bloc

"I don't think they're that strong," said Rothenberg. "There may have had a couple hundred in the anti-NATO demonstration who are really committed, and there's a fringe they hope can
be moved on the spot to join them.

"They're small but they are able to act together because they have an agenda, a strategy," he says. "It's an agenda with which I disagree.

"They believe that you can end oppression and injustice simply by denying the legitimacy of the state, refusing to follow the orders of the authorities. I wish it were that simple, but it's not.

"Until you have the majority of people behind you, denying the authority of the state simply makes you an outlaw. People might romanticize outlaws but most people don't trust them,
and they're not about to join them."

They "probably feel they accomplished their agenda" when news coverage focused on clashes with police. "They wanted attention and they got it." But "they don't have much of a strategy beyond that."

"They feel like people are going to be fed up with peaceful mobilizations that don't accomplish anything," he said. "They think that will somehow kick off something bigger."

Instead "the left gets hurt and loses support." The images of violence are something the media "can exploit very effectively to discredit the left and any social movement."

Still, "there is a problem with having the same old marches over and over that don't accomplish anything."

It is clear that the Democrat Party doesn't provide any kind of alternative - and the Democrats of Illinois are a stark example, Rothenberg said. They control the governorship, both houses of the legislature, and mayor's offices in major cities, and "they have no solution to the problems of the economic crisis at all."

"The deal they cut with the Chicago Mercantile Exchange to give them a tax break worth $100 million a year when the state is going through a financial crises is simply outrageous,"
Rothenberg said. "They should be driven from office for that alone. They do what the Republicans do but with another kind of rhetoric.

"My feeling is if you can bring in numbers of Occupy people. progressive activists and community groups like the Mental Health Movement, and bring in substantial support from labor, you would have the basis of a movement that could sustain itself." Without that, "it'll be touch and go."

Cory Booker surrenders

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., in his appearance on last Sunday's  "Meet the Press," said he was nauseated by the attacks on private capital. He said Mitt Romney's firm, Bain Capital, "has done a lot of good." He added that he was sick of all the political attacks, "Stop the attacks on Jeremiah Wright and stop attacking Bain Capital," he demanded.
Frankly that comparison made me sick.

Everybody knows that the Republicans used Rev. Wright to stoke the fires of racism and division in order to try to defeat Obama in 2008. They are planning to open up a new attack campaign using the Wright issue for this year's election. I agree this racist manipulation of the voters should be stopped.

On the other hand, Booker knows that Romney is playing the race and class card when he says that because of his experience in the private sector he knows how to create jobs and Obama doesn't. This is Romney's core argument. This is why he thinks he should be president.  The fact is that his company destroyed a whole lot of jobs too and what it mainly created was huge profits and great personal wealth for him. Which is what firms like Bain Capital do. If the Democrats can't criticize what Romney did at Bain it will be very difficult to defeat him.  They have to take on and defeat Romney's core argument if they are to win.

Booker was so openly critical of Obama on "Meet the Press" that David Gregory, the show's host, had to assure his viewers that Booker was a supporter of the president.

The Republicans immediately took Booker's remarks and turned them into an ad for Romney. There was a huge outcry against Booker who then tried to backtrack on his statement.  
Obama refused to retreat from his criticism of Bain, in fact, and made the point that Romney's  ability to make maximum profits in the private sector does not qualify him to be president. Obama pointed out that the president has to take into account the general welfare of all the people. Romney's profits-before-people approach is what has brought on the severe crisis we are now experiencing.

You can't blame the biggest economic crisis since the 1930s on Rev. Wright. A lot of people understand that the 1percent got rich from exporting our jobs, from war and from manipulating the financial markets. That's why a majority want to curb the power  and increase the taxes of the super-rich.

Mayor Booker may have burned a very big bridge this time. He is in effect waving the flag of surrender in the face of the Republicans, who are using this election to qualitatively set back the democratic rights and economic well being of the working class and racial minorities.
Why is Booker doing this?  Why does he continually bow at the feet New Jersey's   Republican blowhard Gov. Chris Christie every chance he gets?  Many good-thinking people know that Booker has the possibility of running for the U.S. Senate and they believe he wants to assure the Wall Street big bucks folks that he's their guy.  Booker is a good showman and he loves to play the one who's above it all, whose politics are neither left or right. For the mayor of Newark - a city going through particularly hard times - to surrender to the party of austerity for the workers and prosperity for the rich is shameful.

This time his fake neutrality may have cooked his goose politically.

This is not a time to make nice with the Republican menace. The unemployed, the dispossessed and evicted, the homeless and the bankrupt, the criminalized immigrants, the African American and Latino families that have lost virtually all of their hard-earned assets and are hungry and impoverished, the millions of vulnerable working families - all demand that politicians  who say they are on their side show that they are by their actions.

Sam Webb, in a recent People's World article commenting on the huge $2 billion lost at JPMorgan Chase, made an important basic point that applies to the capitulation and vulnerablity of capitalist politicians. He wrote:

"... the struggle for minor and major financial/regulatory reform - not to mention turning Wall Street into a public democratically run utility - cannot be left to the politicians - even the best of them. It must become the business of an aroused people."

This election year and beyond, let the people continue to be aroused...

We must go forward.

Photo: Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker. Anne White CC 2.0

Adrienne Rich Memorial & Celebration, Portland, May 31, 2012

Adrienne Rich: 
Poet, feminist, activist, social critic, teacher, catalyst
1929 - 2012

ADRIENNE RICH CELEBRATION & Memorial Reading
THURSDAY, MAY 31st   7-9 pm
Buchan Reception Room
First Unitarian Church
SW 12th & Main  Portland,
doors open at 6:30 / reading begins at 7pm
Free and open to All

Please join members of Portland’s vibrant literary community in a celebratory reading from the life & work of one of the 20th century’s greatest poets and thinkers, Adrienne Rich, who passed away in March of this year. There will be short testimonials and readings from some of Adrienne’s Portland friends interspersed with readings from those gathered, so please bring your favorite poem, paragraph or fragment to share, time permitting. If you are not familiar with Adrienne Rich, this gathering will be a wonderful introduction.Please join us.

Trial of Carlos Montes starts June 20, 2012 – Pack the courtroom

Demand the L.A. DA "Drop the charges now!"

We are at a critical time. The trial for Carlos Montes will start June 20, and run for a week. We need you to pack the courtroom. Your presence during his trial will make the difference between his freedom and prison time!
 
  • If you are in the Los Angeles area, join us at his trial. Sign up to attend for one, two or more days!
  • No matter where you are, call the DA’s office: Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley at 213-974-3512 and demand the charges against Carlos Montes be dropped.
  • Also sign the petition that goes directly to the D.A.’s office.

Carlos Montes is facing 4 felony charges because the L.A. Sheriff/FBI claims he is a felon and could not legally buy a gun at the local store. The sheriff's claim stems from a 1969 student strike for Chicano, Black and Women’s studies at East L.A. College, where sheriffs came on campus and beat and arrested demonstrators. Montes was arrested later on his way home from the protest and charged with assault on a peace officer during the protest. This was a frame up, as Carlos was a well known leader of the Brown Berets and East L.A. walkouts. This charge ended up as a misdemeanor. Using this 42-year-old arrest is political repression – attacking Carlos because of his current activism and anti-war and solidarity work.

“In the weeks ahead we need to build a nationwide movement that puts pressure on the District Attorney to drop the charges,” says Mick Kelly of the Committee to Stop FBI Repression. “The prosecution of Carlos Montes is part of a broader attack by the FBI and local police on anti-war and international solidarity activists. We need to do everything in our power to push back and see that justice is done.”

“With your help we will win this case. The repression against me is an attack on all of our movements. Thank you all for your solidarity! Together we will win!” states Carlos Montes.

Sign up for Court Support
Contact us at 626-532-7164 or visit the stopfbila.net website to sign up for court support.

The Eurozone Crisis - An Opportunity For the Left?


Robin Hahnel is Professor of Economics at Portland State University. His most recent book is Economic Justice and Democracy and he is co-author with Michael Albert of The Political Economy of Participatory Economics. He spoke to NLP's Alex Doherty on the continuing crisis in the Eurozone. 
The election of Francois Hollande and the strong showing of the left in the recent elections in Greece has led to hope that a shift away from austerity policies may become politically possible. What is your view?

Austerity policies are not only terribly unfair, they aggravate the problem they are supposed to solve by shrinking economies which only makes it harder to pay off debts. Left, progressive, and competent macroeconomists have been pointing this out to no avail for over three years. Financial markets are now clearly of the same opinion. Lenders are now raising risk premiums for all countries whose economies are being shrunk by austerity policies irrespective of whether or not their governments are “behaving,” i.e. fulfilling all austerity obligations to the letter no matter how onerous, or “misbehaving” i.e. failing to enforce every last austerity measure negotiated. Unfortunately, those in charge of the European Commission and the European Central Bank have paid no attention to those speaking out against austerity, and instead have insisted on repeated the same mistake Herbert Hoover made eighty years ago.

As the human, social, and economic toll from austerity has increased, as the futility of the measures has become more apparent, and most importantly, as anti-austerity forces have become better organized, opposition has gradually increased. Like any popular movement, the strength of the anti-austerity movement ebbs and flows, and is sometimes stronger in one place than another. But the trajectory is clear: The movement opposing austerity is in ascendancy throughout Europe, and it is becoming ever harder for those imposing austerity to “stay the course.” We have now entered the phase where some among Europe’s ruling elite are changing their rhetoric. Whether this leads to a real shift away from austerity policies remains to be seen.

Continue Here: http://www.newleftproject.org/index.php/site/article_comments/the_eurozone_crisis_an_opportunity_for_the_left

May 23, 2012

Invitation for the 5th Resistance Festival - Athens, Greece

Dear friends from all over the world,

We are glad to announce you that the Resistance Festival will take place for the fifth consecutive year in Athens on June 29, 30 and July 1. The draft program will be available shortly. In the meantime… reserve the above dates in your plans! In case you need a Schengen visa of entry in Greece, contact us as soon as possible (phone +30 210 6441745, email laokratia@yahoo.com). 

[...] A few weeks ago, on May 6, the Greek people dealt a severe blow on their enemies, foreign and local. The dramatic reduction of the once mighty political parties’ influence (the two biggest bourgeois parties fell from a total of 77% in 2009 to 32% now!) has spread the panic in the reactionary camp. Furthermore, the electoral results prevented the parties that support the IMF-EU-ECB troika to form a government. After this first victory of the popular masses, which found expression in the electoral field as well, in direct continuation of the General Strikes and of the Squares’ Movement, we are heading towards new elections on June 17. Gods and Demons have now been united against our people, trying to terrorize the Greeks with the coming of the Apocalypse in case they continue their support to the Coalition of Radical Left (SYRIZA). Frau Merkel and her local lackeys are threatening us with the End of the World in case we dare to say “Enough is enough with your bankrupt political system!” The modern Un-Holy Alliance of the Bankers and of the “Markets” blackmails us with the ghosts of Hunger and Death if we decide that our priority is the salvation of the people and not their profits. And yet! The people of Greece hold firmly! The barrage of the enemy cannot eliminate the realistic possibility of an even more decisive popular victory on June 17, through the further reinforcement of SYRIZA.

It is in this critical context that the Organizing Committee of our Festival has taken the “risky” decision to prepare the 5th edition of the Resistance Festival, considering among others the huge interest of our international friends to take part in it. Thus, we will try to organize the Resistance Festival as a tool for us and for all the foreign delegations to meet, to interact, to deepen our bonds of mutual solidarity and to coordinate in the best possible way our struggles. The Resistance Festival shall take place just two weeks after the elections of June 17. We hope that we welcome you all in a Greece that starts marching on a radically different path: the path of the broad popular front, fighting for Real Democracy, National Independence and Reconstruction of our country. Thanks to the courageous struggle of our people’s movement, and thanks to the international solidarity, we believe that we do not exaggerate when we assert that … THE FUTURE IS NOW!

The strike continues! Reynolds High School

The strike continues! It was very inspiring being out at the gathering/rally today as mediation continues. Thank you to everyone who came out--the teachers really appreciate all the support. Continue to call the school board members and tell them to do the right thing and settle a fair contract now. (see below for numbers for the Board members).

If a settlement is not reached today, our support is even more critical tomorrow. The union has asked that we support the picketlines at Reynolds High School, 1698 SW Cherry Park Rd, Troutdale, and at the Middle School/District office complex, 1200 NE 201st, Fairview, at 7 am. 93% of the teachers are walking the picketline and they are united and determined to only come back to work with a fair settlement that respects the work they do and the sacrifices they have made. Community support can be a critical ingredient. Let's make sure that the school board sees that support from us on the picketline tomorrow and hears from us on the phones. Thank you!!!

School Board members and phones:

Robert E Lee, 503-969-8447
Valerie Tewksbury, 503-804-7010
Theresa Delaney Davis, 503-489-5316
Joe Teeny, 503-667-6630
Tamara Schaffner, 503-805-8687
Dane Nickerson, 503-255-3879
Bruce McCain, 503-257-8472

"Occupy" is Dead: Long Live "Occupy"!

Within progressive and left political circles there's still a lot of talk about "Occupy" as if it is a movement that remains highly active, with mass participation and influence still growing, and the movement increasingly relevant in the day to day American political scene. Is this really the case?

If one surveys the scene right now, one might notice that there really are no "Occupy" actions happening. There are no parks or public spaces being occupied. The kind of town hall dialogue within public space that went on last autumn isn't happening either. Confrontations with police and local government where they are happening are based on attempts to re-occupy this public space (literally and figuratively) by activists, almost immediately met with overwhelming police force. Given the high level of local government and police resistance to attempts to re-occupy, "Occupy" has lost the kind of magnetic effect which brought millions of otherwise "non-political" people into "Occupy" actions and its wider dialogue.

So, that's it, American resistance to capitalism and the 1% is over...

God, I hope not!

While "Occupy" as an active movement winds down, other forms of resistance continue, and some of these have been pretty successful. Here in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest the ILWU (International Longshore Workers Union) has once again successfully defeated an attempt to break the union's job control of the West Coast ports. It should be noted too that the attempt to break the union's control of the ports was very much a combined effort uniting capital (grain shippers primarily) and local and State governments; and they failed...

Another example: Northwest Oregon has also seen a flurry of teachers strikes across a number of rural and suburban school districts. Teachers are currently striking the Reynolds Educational District. Earlier this spring Eagle Point Educational District staff struck for eight days, although finally capitulated to the District's demands.

Likewise, last weekend saw a determined protest of NATO in Chicago. Determined in that demonstrators continued to plan and hold demonstrations in spite of every legal obstruction available thrown in their path, with demonstrators hit with the kind of police violence that Chicago and its Police Department are so famous for. Yet these actions involved thousands.

And it should be mentioned too that resistance continues on university campuses, around local events (Trayvon Martin for instance), and so on. In this sense, "Occupy" might be dead, but resistance continues.

A natural history of movements:

"Occupy" accomplished much. Indeed a lot of the resistance going on now (not to mention further resistance) wouldn't be happening without "Occupy".

The above is a bit simplistic, but "Occupy's" significance and importance comes down to a couple of accomplishments. First, "Occupy" broke the official political apparatus (government, Republican and Democrat politics) and the media's monopoly control of political discourse. Second, "Occupy" directly contradicted the phony 1%'s (or more accurately to .1 %) limited and twisted portrayal of reality.

Yet that which contributed to "Occupy"'s success also contained some serious limitations to the further development of a viable resistance movement.

For instance, "Occupy"'s town hall type general councils, with their emphasis on direct participation and consensus decision making made it possible to bring forward a thousand points of view in a public and political setting (and was basically adequate in running camp affairs), its fluid and anarchic structure made a definition of objectives and supporting actions impossible.

"Occupy"'s insistence on total consensus and its belief in the equality of all ideas also meant that no ideas were subject to evaluation and tests of validity. While educational events covered just about any angle one could think of, the movement itself was unwilling to to criticize or adopt any definition. Here in Salem for instance, the "Occupy" movement displayed a great reluctance to define itself in opposition to the "Tea Party".

As a movement, "Occupy"'s insistence on defining itself around an action, that is camping out in public places; and its style of process, that is open consensus, became too much to bare. "Occupy" as "Occupy" progressively fell apart as police repression and winter set in.

Here's the big question though:

Is "Occupy" the movement? Or is "Occupy" a phase in the development of a wider resistance movement?

If "Occupy" itself is the movement, then we are already dead. This is because there is no "occupying" going on now, and because those who participated will be looking backward trying to re-create, rather than widening and developing as events unfold. Finally an insistence on the equality of all ideas hiding behind consensus would mean perpetrating "Occupy"'s worst internal defect, that is its tendency to devolve into a "Tower of Babel".

On the other hand, if "Occupy" is a phase in a wider development, it leaves us in the position of learning a great deal about how and what to resist.

Last autumn's "Occupy" actions firmly placed capitalism's dirty under belly in the national and international spotlight. The mass nature of  "Occupy" meant too that American capitalism's unquestioning mouthpiece, the media, could not stuff this one back into the closet.

The value of the above two factors cannot be minimized. Yet if we stop here, all of last autumn's actions will eventually be forgotten and "Occupy" will cease to be a historical force as it is instead transformed into meaningless nostalgia.

So, I honor "Occupy" as I bury it. Yet bury it we must if the spirit created is to continue and take form.

P.S. Please comment, this is meant as a sort of dialogue                  

BLACK AGENDA REPORT: EXPOSES UNDERCOVER COPS IN CHICAGO


A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
Fascist-minded state policies are often executed by likeable, sociable operatives. Chicago police officers “Mo” and “Gloves” appear to have made friends in anti-war circles all over Chicago – with disastrous consequences to some activists. “The two undercovers were clearly among the most gregarious couples in town for the NATO summit meeting.”

Mo” and “Gloves” Run Amok in Chicago
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The dynamic duo are expected to testify the defendants confided that they wanted to burn and bomb things.”
White middle class Americans grow up imbibing Hollywood stereotypes of police states in which the villains have exotic names and accents and are very definitely not the kind of people you’d want to drink beer or smoke a joint with. But five young people who went to Chicago to oppose U.S. wars had the misfortune to meet some secret police who seemed to fit in quite well with their peer group. Known only as “Mo” and “Gloves,” the undercover police officers were among the eleven people originally seized at an apartment in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago’s South Side. Then, suddenly, they were gone, but three of their erstwhile anti-war friends would face charges of manufacturing Molotov cocktails and conspiring to mount an attack on President Obama’s campaign headquarters. Apparently, Mo and Gloves will testify to that effect. However, attorneys at the National Lawyers Guild say there were no Molotov cocktails found at the scene, just some equipment to home brew beer.
Mo and Gloves were also apparently behind the arrest of two other activists, both from Chicago, charged with making terrorist threats and attempted possession of explosives or incendiary devices. The dynamic duo Mo and Gloves are expected to testify that the defendants confided that they wanted to burn and bomb things. One of the guys supposedly bragged that he could blow up a bridge in downtown Chicago. The other man allegedly wanted to build a pipe bomb. They are guilty, you see, of felonious and wishful thinking.
The two undercovers were clearly among the most gregarious couples in town for the NATO summit meeting. A defense attorney said lots activists told her they had met Mo and Gloves – and were, understandably, worried.
The informant Azir accomplished this feat of mass manipulation through the dispensing of vast quantities of beer.”
In Cleveland, a 39-year-old police informant named Shaquille Azir appears to have lured five young guys who were associated with the Occupy movement and called themselves anarchists into a possible lifetime in prison. According to an excellent Counterpunch article by Jake Olzen, Azir talked himself into the men’s lives, encouraged them to separate from Occupy to form a People’s Liberation Army, and finally, got them to try to blow up a bridge with an inert bomb built with materials provided by the FBI. The informant Azir accomplished this feat of mass manipulation through the dispensing of vast quantities of beer. Every morning, he gave his victims a case of beer, and each evening he showed up with marijuana and another case of beer. It is, therefore logical to conclude that American capitalism is threatened, not so much by implacable opponents or internal contradictions, but by beer.
When I was a very young child, there was a television show called “I Led Three Lives.” The hero was an undercover informant who infiltrated American communist cells to expose their violent plans. The communists were all played by character actors from gangster films. The result was pure fiction, but it did hang together as a typical TV melodrama of the time. However, I think there will never be a movie about the undercover cops Mo and Gloves, who flitted around Chicago making up conversations in order to put people they had never met in prison for life. There oughta be a movie like that, but there won’t. Even the cops would be shamed.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Respecting a worker means paying them for all their work

 From We Are Oregon:

WFTU Statement on ILO Director election

 WORLD FEDERATION OF TRADE UNIONS

Athens, May 17th 2012

WFTU Statement on the occasion of the election for Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO)

May 28th is the date for the elections at the International Labour Organization (ILO) to elect a new Director General to replace the Chilean Juan Somavia.

The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU), representing 82 million workers and affiliates in 120 countries, considers that instead of referring to the characteristics of each of the  candidates, the most important aspects to take into account are the following:

1. If we ask to millions of employees and unemployed workers of the bases in every country on the five continents about their views on the impact of the ILO in their countries and the benefits for workers, the answer is almost unanimous: it is useless for them. In the last decades the rights and conquests of workers have been cut and fundamental ILO conventions are blatantly violated. What will the new Director General of the ILO do to reverse this situation? 

2. In the Governing Body of the ILO there are representatives of governments and employers that have imposed neoliberal policies and adjustment plans in their respective countries, undermining the rights of workers and violating the international labor standards (ILS). For this reason, the ILO is not reflected as an organization in defense of workers. What is the position of the new Director-General on these issues? 

3. The current situation of quandary for workers requires a Director General free of the  influence and pressure from such governments and employers that undermine the ILS, acting against the values of the ILO. Does the new Director General intend to take a truly independent attitude? 

4. Under the current structure of the ILO, in the decision-making bodies and the Governing Body, there is a monopoly of a single trend of interests of neoliberal governments, employers and the leaderships of one part of the workers representation. Would the new Director General be willing to drive the changes needed to break the monopoly and allow plural participation in the Governing Body with proportional representation of the other group of opinion in the workers group? 

5. The WFTU considers it necessary to modify the structure and regulations of the ILO to adapt them to the current conditions in order to be an efficient instrument to guarantee unconditional respect for the conventions and fundamental rights of workers. Does the new Director General intend to promote such changes? 

6. The ILO at central and regional level as well as the new Director General must respect the autonomy and self determination of the unions. They must respect the decisions, the foundations and the democratic functioning of trade unions. Unfortunately, lately these principles are being violated and the management and administration services of the ILO intervene in the internal affairs of unions, trying to support some of them over the others, promoting some unions and unfairly blaming others, etc. This phenomenon is against the founding objectives of the ILO. The WFTU condemns such phenomenon and it will continue the struggle for equality among all unions, equality irrespective of ideological, political and trade union differences. 

7. Just as the peoples of the planet demand the democratization of the Organization of the United Nations (UN), all of us who form the WFTU demand the democratization of the ILO. Would the new Director General be willing to promote a true democratization of the ILO? 

8. The WFTU considers that under the conditions of deep crisis of the capitalist system and the increase of imperialist aggression, the ILO should support the struggles of workers, pensioners, unemployed workers, poor people and immigrants; it should defend trade union rights, democratic and trade union freedoms and free collective bargaining. The challenges for the ILO, its cadres and its new Director General are enormous. 

9. The geographical composition represented by the General Directors of the ILO throughout history, shows that for 78 years, 8 General Directors were from developed capitalist countries (2 from United States, Britain and France) (1 from Belgium and Ireland). The first Latin  American Director-General was the Chilean Juan Somavia, elected in 1999 to the present.

The WFTU and its affiliates are willing to work with the ILO in order to clear our concerns and questions; to implement these aspirations, guided by the Athens Pact, the central document  adopted at the XVI World Trade Union Congress.

THE SECRETARIAT
40, ZAN MOREAS STREET, ATHENS 11745 GREECE

Tel. +302109214417, +302109236700, Fax +30210 9214517

www.wftucentral.org E-mails: info@wftucentral.org, international@wftucentral.org






May 22, 2012

World Peace Council delegate: How the 1% Enlists the Military and NATO to Enrich Itself

World Peace Council delegate joins anti-NATO meetings in Chicago

By Iraklis Tsavdaridis, Executive Secretary WPC

"Humanitarian Imperialism or How the 1% Enlists the Military and NATO to Enrich Itself

Dear friends and comrades:

Allow me to thank the US Peace Council for the invitation to be here with you in Chicago, a city which marked the history of the workers’ movement in the history. We salute the millions of peace loving people in the USA, the working people and all poor and oppressed in this centre of imperialism.

On the occasion of the NATO summit in Chicago the WPC would like to denounce once more the biggest war machinery in history of mankind, which is responsible for crimes against humanity from its foundation in 1949 till today.

NATO was never a defensive structure, not in 1952 when Greece and Turkey joined the “alliance” together and not during the existence of the Warsaw Pact, which was founded later than NATO and which was dissolved in 1991.

NATO was friendly related to all bloody and reactionary regimes and counterrevolutionary movements in the world, its governments and leaders were rolling red carpets to Pinochet and the Apartheid leaders, they were behind coups de’ Etat and military dictatorships in Latin America and Europe.

Especially after 1991 the peoples of the world faced the further growing of the aggressiveness of imperialism and of NATO, with its military interventions in the former Yugoslavia which culminated in the 78 days bombing of 1999. This was the first time NATO neglected openly not only the UN and international law, but also its own statures establishing the new doctrine which was approved at its summit of Washington celebrating then its 50th anniversary.

In the midst of the global economic crisis of capitalism, when millions of new people are getting impoverished even in the EU, the profits of the war industries are well off. Last year the total military expenses reached the record high of 1,54 trillion USD, the half of it spent by the USA alone. The whatsoever military budget adjustments in some of the NATO member states are related to the economic crisis and to a better coordination of their efforts and have nothing to do with a peace oriented approach of the governments. It is about “better value for money” so that the war machinery can be more efficient in order to persuade its “smart defence”.

All governments of the member states share responsibility in NATO, regardless the leading role of the US administration. The whatsoever different approaches on some issues reflect particular views and rivalries but they always lead to the common aggressive confrontation with the peoples. Unfortunately there were illusions also about the current US administration in regards and in comparison to the previous one. Life has proved that the Obama administration has not changed the slightest its imperialist policy and attitude, not towards the American capital and monopolies and their drive for more and more profits and not towards its people and the peoples of the world. The aggression of the USA, France, the UK and NATO against Libya in 2011,this bloody massacre of the Libyan people in order to secure the oil reserves and the respective violent regime change, is absolute comparable with what the previous administrations did in Yugoslavia(Clinton), Afghanistan and Iraq(G.W.Bush). It is obvious that nothing has changed, on the contrary, the US administration is leading together with other powerful imperialist powers from Europe the plans for the “Greater Middle East”, having today Syria as its target and tomorrow Iran.

The WPC demands the unconditional and complete withdrawal of all US and NATO forces from Afghanistan, from Iraq and from the Serbian province of Kossovo. The “peace and prosperity” can not be granted through protectorates and limitation of the sovereignty of the peoples, especially not under occupation.

We demand to stop all kind of foreign interference in the domestic affairs of Syria and denounce the hypocritical concern of the imperialists towards the Syrian people. The WPC expresses its support to the people’s genuine demands for democratic social and economic changes in Syria and their desire for peace and stability. The desire and aspirations of the Syrian people have nothing to do with the armed mercenary groups sponsored, trained and instructed by Turkey, Qatar or Saudi Arabia, who are pushing Syria into a civil war. At the same time more and more sanctions are being imposed on Syria, which is leading to the suffering of its people. We saw the situation on the ground during our recent visit to Syria. The people in Syria might be critical to many things in the political system and for sure they have social-economic complaints and demands, but in no way do they accept foreign interference or military invasion to their country. The Syrian people don’t want another Libya, where after the NATO massacre of last year, the country has been split off in parts and the tribes are killing each other.

And who has the moral and courage to teach and export democracy to Syria by the way? Is it the Gulf monarchies? Why is nobody speaking in the NATO all this period about the Saudi invasion to Bahrain? Who is able to teach the Arab peoples how to build democratic states, is it maybe the Greek governments who have by the way participated in all previous aggressions with the US and NATO military bases on Greek soil, while the Greek people are getting impoverished by the common attack of the ruling forces, the capital and the EU and the IMF?

Dear friends, fellow fighters for peace

Two years ago (November 2010) NATO adopted its new military doctrine in Lisbon, making this military wing of imperialism more “effective” in dealing with its new plans and the so-called asymmetric threats. What they meant were energy security (which reads how to get cheap oil and gas and control the pipelines), or the piracy (how to secure the global capitalist commerce and transport of oil and gas), and of course the threats to democracy and stability in the societies (which means to build up authoritarian mechanisms of suppression against peoples’ uprising and protests). Hand in hand with the EU, NATO developed its war drive policies and we had last year the comprehensive expression of the above with the military operations and bombings of Libya by NATO. NATO is expanding more and more its radius of operations, it has many forms of bilateral and multilateral cooperation, it is steadily involving partners into its plans.

The G8 are safeguarding the interests of the big capital and of the monopolies of their countries. Of course there are contradictions and fierce competitions. They are being carried out in the economic and political field all over the year, for the share of the pie everybody of them will take. But when it comes to the annual summit the G8 has a common ground which goes clearly against the interests of the peoples, of the workers and peasants, of the vast majority of our societies. The decisions of what the IMF and the World Bank will do are being consulted in the G8, the balance between the different powerful imperialist forces are being dealt with in the G8. All G8 states, except Russia and Japan are in the NATO. Japan had troops in Iraq and is participating in the US military plans in the Far East Asia. And Russia did not raise any veto last year when at the UN SC when the bombing against Libya was to start.

Dear friends

The WPC organized two years agon with its partners in Lisbon (Yes to peace-No to NATO) a conference like the one here today and a huge rally and demonstration with more than 30.000 people in the streets of Lisbon. Our slogan was: “NATO is the enemy of peace and of the peoples- DISMANTLE IT!”

We are participating here in Chicago in continuation of the Lisbon people’s counter summit to NATO, conveying our solidarity and our appreciation to the peace movement in the USA, which is struggling in difficult conditions against the same enemy. The 41 millions USD which are being spent by the city of Chicago and the US government for the NATO summit are being cut directly from social services from the American people.

NATO is meeting these days with its allies, more than 60 heads of state and governments will be in Chicago, converting this city into a fortress. NATO is going to discuss and concretize the doctrine approved in Lisbon and already tested in Libya in order to face its “new challenges”. They are speaking about “asymmetric threats” and establishing flexible NATO Response Forces (NRF) in order to intervene rapidly in any place where the interests of the capital and the monopolies will be at stake. NATO is moving forward for its Missile Defense Shield, while they don’t refrain from a first strike option.

NATO is preparing and exercising for possible interventions inside its member states, since the discontent and anger of the peoples are growing especially with the consequences of the capitalist crisis. When NATO speaks about safeguarding peace and security it means it is preparing new aggressions and wars against peoples and nations.
NATO is making new reactionary plans hand in hand with the EU, which has established the European Army and its battle groups. All actions are well coordinated in order to suppress any protests and uprisings of the peoples, in order protect the flow of oil and the respective profits of the Multinational corporations.

They are speaking about new threats and dangers, non military ones, like the climate change, the “cyberspace war”, the energy security, demarcating the whole planet as their vital space of action. This includes Afghanistan, Somalia, the Kosovo, the South China Sea or Australia and New Zealand. It includes the Middle East where plans are in full scale being developed. NATO’s aim is to become “more flexible, more effective and efficient” which means more murderous. The title of the NATO summit in Chicago “Peace and Stability in the Euro Atlantic area” is hypocritical, since NATO is already acting as world police sheriff since many years.

NATO is preparing its new Alliance Ground Surveillance (AGS) system with unmanned high sophisticated air planes for the surveillance of the Mediterranean Sea, which proves that the preparations for new aggressions are on their way.

Under the title “Smart defence” NATO is trying to unify the military command structure of the member states, to set common priorities and safe resources and expenses. NATO is demanding from its members to unify infrastructure and share responsibilities in multinational operations. All this goes also under the light of the budgetary problems the governments have during the capitalist economic crisis.

Dear friends,

There cannot be any peace and justice as long as imperialism will be dominating in the world. We call upon the peoples of the world to strengthen the struggle against imperialism in every country, to unite our voices and efforts for the dissolution of NATO and for the disengagement of our countries who are members of it. The global peace movement has to unite forces against the united effort of the capital and the monopolies, expressed for example by the G8.

Imperialism is not all-powerful and for sure it is not invincible!