Tuesday, December 12, 2006

THE DARK SIDE OF AMERICAN HISTORY

A THUMBNAIL HISTORY OF AMERICA’S DARK SIDE
The War of Independence. From the earliest days of the Republic, Revolutionary fighters were put in prison for debt. Congress suppressed uprisings by force. Slave states, like Missouri, remained. Explorations were made for conquest. Killing of Indians continued unabated. The colonization of Texas was part of the westward movement of empire. The idea of "Manifest Destiny" was used by American expansionists to justify U.S. annexation of Texas, Oregon, New Mexico and California, and later U.S. involvement in Alaska, Hawaii, and the Philippines. The U.S. was also bent on acquiring Cuba, and drew up the manifesto saying that if Spain refused to sell Cuba, the United States would be justified in taking it by force. At the same time, massive anti-Irish, and antiimmigrant sentiment ocurred in the wake of Irish immigration into the country. William Walker, with a small army, invaded Nicaragua, legalizing slavery. The westward movement fueled the desire for land, leading to a long series of evictions of Plains Indians from their lands onto less desirable reservations. Mining rushes elsewhere in the years of the war resulted in the forcible takeover of the territories of Arizona (1863), Idaho (1863), and Montana (1864) and Wyoming.
The economy. Robber barons used deception, violence, kidnappings and extraordinary dishonesty to gain economic power and industrial supremacy. Their capitalist heart only beat when the market went up or down’ otherwise they were indifferent to human suffering. In the same way when capitalists spoke of discipline or "being responsible," they meant coercion, which is lacking in moral content. The most rapacious of the money makers, who are prepared to indulge in any roguery, deception and crime, amassed enormous fortunes. At the same time there is a depression and numerous wage reductions. Lack of safety in the workplace was illustrated in the shirt factory fire when forty-seven young women, mostly immigrants, leaped to their deaths, while another 99 died in the flames. To keep working people under control, Jim Crow laws were introduced, leading to a segregated society. This inspired record lynchings of African Americans.
In Bisbee, Arizona, local officials rounded up over 1,000 striking miners, one-third of them Mexican Americans, and about 50 recent members of the Industrial Workers of the World, and shipped them into the desert of New Mexico without food or water. Sacco and Vanzetti were falsely accused of robbery in Braintree, Massachusetts. The trial lasted seven years and represented the culmination of widespread attacks on persons of foreign birth.
Expansion outside the U.S. 1898, the U.S.S. Maine was blown up by Hearst in Habana harbor, to create a strong feeling against Spain in the United States. In 1916 the U.S. began its occupation. U.S. military rule encouraged the dislodging of small landowners and favored the interests of large corporations. The CIA launched "Operation Success" to overthrow the Arbenz government in Guatemala. The U.S. Navy bombarded San Juan de Puerto Rico and invaded the island. U.S. troops entered Panama City to put down striking workers who were calling for lower rents. Numerous workers were killed in the incident. U.S. Marines are landed in Honduras. Somoza, under U.S. instructions ordered Sandino's execution. In the following weeks scores of Sandino's followers were rounded up and executed. The U.S. gained control of customs in El Salvador, in in the event of default on loans, and accelerated its emergence as the dominant investor. The U.S. Marines occupied Haiti seized $500,000 in gold coin from the National Bankand took over banks and customs houses and broke up small-scale peasant holdings to protect and expand U.S.-owned enterprises. U.S. administrators devastate traditional landholders. Hostilities in the Phillipines broke out, and for the next three years an American army of 60,000 fought guerrilla warfare, with all its attendant horrors.
The Stock Market Crash was the culmination of the boom market and unrestrained speculation of the Coolidge era. It ushered in a prolonged depression that gradually settled upon the country with increasing unemployment, bank failures, and business disasters. The Taft-Hartley Act was passed to weaken the trade unions, restrict political rights of unions, outlaw the closed shop, and empower the president to defer strikes indefinitely. Unemployment and underemployment became an increasingly serious problem and was aggravated by the shift from high-wage manufacturing to lower-paying jobs in various service industries.
Assassinations. President Kennedy in Dallas, Tex., Martin Luther King was killed by an assassin. American cities become the scene of pitched battles between Blacks aroused by government terrorism and police reinforced by army units. Malcolm X, former Black Muslim leader, in New York City was assassinated. Students were shot at Kent state. Black Panther leader Fred Hampton was mudered in a Chicago police raid.
Further foreign adventures. The invasion of Korea was described as a "police action," The mercenary invasion of Cuba, coded "Operation Pluto", was made up of 1,500 men who landed at the Bay of Pigs. From Nicaragua, 8 B-26 bombers attacked 3 Cuban airports. The U.S. announced that its troops would join South Vietnamese forces in an invasion of Cambodia to destroy North Vietnamese and Viet Cong bases near the border of South Vietnam. In Chile, President Allende is overthrown in a U.S.-backed military coup.
National deterioration. A serious accident occurred at the Three Mile Island reactor in 1979 in Pennsylvania. The U.S. experienced the painful transition from a creditor to a debtor nation, with the world's largest foreign debt and a rising foreign trade deficit that peaked at $171 billion in 1987. The The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization union (PATCO) struck to protest a two-tier pay system and overly stressful working conditions. Pres. Reagan fired the more than 10,000 striking members of PATCO, about three-quarters of the nation's air traffic controllers. Reagan's get-tough policy began an era of business anti-unionism. The Reagan administration secretly sold arms to Iran, which was at war with Iraq, hoping to gain Iran's cooperation in freeing American hostages. The first of several mines in Nicaraguan harbors, planted by U.S. agents, was detonated. The nation's "thrifts," as the Savings &Loans are called, were deregulated in the early 1980s to allow them to invest in commercial real estate and business. However, the thrifts became unstable because many of their investments reflected the growth in the 1980s of high-risk "junk bonds," which were speculative or fraudulent. In 1987, the instability of these investments became apparent as stock prices plummeted and with them the solvency of the thrifts. The losses were great. Close to 12.8 percent of all Americans, about 31.5 million people, were classified as poor by federal standards; that is, they sustained an income of $12,675 or less for a family of four. The Persian Gulf War was led by the United States. Black motorist Rodney King is arrested and brutally beaten by members of the Los Angeles Police Department. A civilian video of the arrest and beating led to criminal charges against the A U.S. Department of Defense report revealed that at least 117 naval officers could face disciplinary action growing out of sexual assaults on some 90 people at a 1991 Las Vegas convention of the Tailhook aviators group.More than 300 Republican candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives met outside the Capitol building in Washington, DC, and signed what they called a "Contract with America," a 10-point plan of conservative reforms designed to reverse expenditures for social welfare, "get tough on crime," and add a balanced budget amendment to the constitution, among other objectives. Pres. Clinton signed NAFTA into law, creating unemployment and hunger in Latin American countries. A huge car bomb exploded in Oklahoma City killing more than two hundred people, including approximately 24 children. The government began to disclose information about radiation experiments it conducted from the 1940s through the 70s on people who has no knowledge of them. The U.S. launched missile attacks on Iraqi military sites.A U.S. House ethics subcommittee found that Speaker Newt Gingrich violated House ethics rules by accepting tax-exempt donations and using the funds for political purposes.The tobacco industry reached an agreement with dozens of claimants in lawsuits against the industry. Production rose while purchases stagnated, a sure sign of overproduction.The IMF slashed living standards, strongly resisted by Brazilian workers. U.S. unemployment rose, compounded by the reduction of anti-poverty measures and elimination of affirmative action. The invasion of Iraq cost that country more than 120 billion in oil revenues, left a million Iraqi children malnourished and 700,000 dead. The objective was to force privatization of Iraq’s oil reserves to benefit American oil giants. The U.S. destroyed a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Khartoum falsely accused of making chemical weapons. A retaliatory strike for U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the United States forces played a key role in NATO bombing missions against the Serb government in Yugoslavia.The Kansas Board of Education removed Darwin's Theory of Evolution from the state's science curriculum. The U.S. Senate rejected ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which would bar nuclear weapons testing in any form. Microsoft Corp. went on trial for two antitrust lawsuits. US.-bombed other countries like Iraq and Yugoslavia; tried to starve countries as in sanctioning Cuba and Iraq; aiding and abetting massacres in Timor and Turkey, and with increasing danger, Colombia; propelled IMF and World Bank income inequality and ecological devastation; advanced domestic police and prison violence that turned communities into occupied battle zones; imposed welfare havoc that further impoverished the already poor; facilitated generalized corporate rapaciousness that materially and socially diminished workers’ lives; legislated the collapse of health care that allowed people to drop dead instead of being cared for and restored; entrenched citizen and worker disempowerment from all sides of economic and political decision-making; abetted media madness that robed culture of content; enabled dis-education of the youth that they might fit awaiting social slots needing them to obey authority and endure boredom; partaking of the alienation of most sides of life by elevating profits over people; procuring weapons without limit; and battering and bashing the poor, the homeless, the gay, the female, the black or latino…with minimal outcry and reply. A whispering campaign of lies in the South Carolina Presidential Primary to destroy Republican John McCain.
The Bush regime saw the largest and most miserable failures of corporate accountability in modern history: Enron, Worldcom, and Fannie Mae. The 2004 budget set the record for the largest deficit in history: either $477 billion or $521 billion (CBO and OMB numbers, respectively). The value of the dollar collapsed 30% during his term. Bush fired anyone critical or objecting of his policies, while he rewarded those who spoke welcome lies. He held 660 prisoners in Guantanamo, Cuba for over two years without trial or formal charge. His prisoners, several of whom were between the ages of 13 and 16, were never formally charged. They were kept in steel cages, subjected to ongoing torture, and denied access to legal counsel in opposition to Supreme Court rulings (Rasul v. Bush). His Secretary of Defense was the first in US history to have acknowledged ordering an intentional violation of the Geneva Conventions, in which Abu Ghraib prisoners are held "off the books" and hidden from the Red Cross. The United States unilaterally delivered an ultimatum demanding that Saddam Hussein leave Iraq within 48 hours. Hans Blix compared the selling of the Iraq war to the selling of a refrigerator. The Bush administration falsely claimed that Iraq had ties to al Qaida, that it was building nuclear weapons. The invasion of Iraq was a violation of international law because it was not passed by the UN, giving rein to massive protests worldwide. US forces illegally used white phosphorous in Fallujah, burning women and children to death. Iraq rapidly hurtled to disintegration under the weight of Abu Ghraib torture and abuse, the Haditha muder of 24 women and children, the Ishaqi muder of civilians, the Hamadiyah incident, the kidnaping and murder of a civilian, the Malmudihay incident, the gang rape and murder of a 14 year old girl and her parents and sister, and Mukaradeeb, the bombing and killing of 42 civilians.
/wiki/United_Nations_Security_Council

WHAT IS GOVERNMENT FOR?

THE USES OF GOVERNMENT
There is a myth in the private sector that government does not create wealth, only the private sector does. The government, however, is the largest employer in the society.
It employs 18 million people. Besides that, it is charged with another kind of wealth which is equally important; supplying and administrating the public good. For example, is up to the government to provide parks, the post office, civilian defense, public safety, street signs, street lights fire departments, healthcare, education, housing, etc., because these things help give equal opportunity to a whole community. The question arises; are we all equal as citizens, or is full participation limited only to a small number of people?
The reason we all pay into the educational system is because it is not a private domain. It plays a role in our society of educating the next generation of Americans, who will, as educated people, be in a position to finance medical care and Social Security and the general standard of living for everyone. The role of government is to provide equal opportunity and create a level playing field for everyone. It is there to assure that one particular entity can’t become so powerful that it starts to write the rules of the system solely to supply its own interests and needs. The role of government is to regulate and then to redistribute.
The private sector talks about the miracle of the market, and how supply and demand regulate themselves, but the fact is that the market fails more often than it succeeds. The number of bankruptcies is legion. The private sector is unable to finance large risky projects, large-scale transportation networks, rail, highway systems, the safety of our water, of our food supply. For instance, high tech has been almost entirely funded through public funds or, indirectly, by tax credits and tax deductions for research and development. Agricultural productivity is also underwritten by the government.
The fact is that government does create wealth, commonwealth, and the private sector, if allowed to do so, comes along and appropriates that wealth for itself and begins to charge for its use. In these cases the private sector does not create wealth, but it is just transferring wealth from the public sector to itself. Overtime this wealth is concentrated among a smaller and smaller group of people.
Private sector propaganda declares that the only way something can be given value is for somebody to buy it. The airwaves have no value until so somebody buys and sells them. Minerals, vegetables and animals have no value until someone patents them (including their DNA or other properties) and puts them on the market.This is the mentality of the slave master. Markets are everything. Markets are the sole mediation of all human interaction, and private ownership is everything. Culture, economics and politics are all defined by the shopping mall.
The private sector is fond of saying that they deserve their wealth because they did it all by themselves. Yet the richest people don’t work, and a third were born into their wealth. In a régime controlled by the private sector, wealth is not taxed. In 2003, the US had a 200 billion-dollar deficit, which was equal to the Bush federal tax cut given to the wealthiest 1%. The private sector looks at the public sector and sees a tremendously lucrative markets of essential services with a guaranteed revenue stream. Its aim is to substitute markets for democratic institutions. It does this by outsourcing contracts, which makes them unaccountable to the people. Their goal is to develop a private army and private civilian services to take over the country and run it as they see fit.
When the public-sector is in private hands, these receive grants and subsidies which are another way of privatizing and transferring wealth. These entities obstensively provide social services at a profit. Those services, such as healthcare or education, that don’t show a profit are cut back. Businesses will then hire inexperiened people with no unions and low pay and who can be fired at will.
There is another aspect which is even more serious. When the police and the military, which are supposedly run by government, are in fact controlled by the private sector, citizens are spied on and propagandized into supporting wars for private profit of the rich minority. This spells the death of a democracy.
After a paper by Elaine Bernard.

POLITICAL ORGANIZING (Harnecker)

POLITICAL ORGANIZING
APATHY AND CONFUSION- The most active and powerful political party is the party of indifference. This represents a victory for the ruling party. In addition to this, the right wing has unscrupulously hijacked the language of the left, distorting words and phrases like "politically correct" sexual harassment" " hate speech" "feminism" to serve its own reactionary uses. There is always the danger that an elected left government limit itself to administrating the crisis and allowing the right to set the agenda even when it is out of power. FREEING THE SOCIAL FORCES- The left must work to create a new balance of power in the correlation of forces, using what is progressive, and strengthening that. It must include all people exploited by capital----permanent workers and temporary workers, contracted or subcontracted, union or non-union, along with all the other social sectors that have been damaged by the neoliberal system. This means building social force at the same time, not only against the economic exploitation of the workers, but also against the diverse forms of capitalist oppression and destruction of humans and nature. It is about the radical and transforming political potential that exists in all of these struggles, to articulate its practice into a single political project, at the same time generating spaces so that the different social problems can recognize each other’s needs. A social force is not a given, but rather has to be built, and the ruling class has strategies in place to prevent it from coming into being. There is a tendency to ignore the knowledge that is acquired in this manner by the dominated sectors. This winds up leaving the analysis of reality in a handful of intellectuals. DIVIDE AND CONQUER- A society divided into different minority groups is not capable of building itself into a majority that can challenge the hegemony of the ruling class, and that is the best formula for the reproduction of the system. THE VANGUARD- The "vanguard" considers politics as the only way of knowing the truth: The party is the conscious element, it holds the key to knowledge, and the masses are the backward sector. This leads to authoritarianism and verticalism. SPONTANEOUS ACTION- Where the poorest urban masses have risen up and under no particular direction and in spite of their massiveness and their combativeness, they did not manage to destroy the ruling system in power. SECTARIANISM- Each organization fights for the title of the most revolutionary, the most just etc.; What is important is the sect, the outward appearance, and not the movement. This leads to the tendency to pile up many leadership responsibilities on a few people to control everything from above instead of going through the process of patiently working with the base. What comes out are agitational politics and sloganeering, which do not contribute much to the popular social forces. There is no concrete analysis of the concrete situation, but a confusion between tactics and strategy. DEMOCRACY- Democracy has three basic aspects: 1.-The problem of representation and citizen’s rights. People go to the polls and vote2.- The problem of social equality. Promises may be kept, but can also be dismantled in the next election.3.- The role of people’s participation and the people as protagonists. The people control the politics and the economy. The people are the real protagonists in the building the new society; without trying to make them submit to the party or to the state. Popular participation must be welcomed, and the method of arriving with pre-established schemes must be abandoned. Our role is that of orientator and not a matter of taking over. We must learn to listen, synthesize that which can be unified and can generate action, and fight against pessimism and ideas of failure. At the same time, one must avoid falling into an ultra-democratic deviation, where more time is spent in discussion than in action. THE MAJORITY AND THE MINORITY- In order for a democratic political system to reflect the interests of the majority, the interests of those who are opposed to it have to be limited for the benefit of the people. The widest popular democracy holds the right to force the majority interest to be respected, if not, one would go against the very concept of democracy . Ruling class democracies are actually ruling class dictatorships, because they express the supremacy and dominion of the minority ruling class. However, the minority must not be crushed nor marginalized, it must be respected. The minority can be right, and attempts to crush them leave only one option: The formation of an opposition splinter group. Better results are gotten in general meetings where different ideas by quality presenters can be addressed, where they have profound debates in which they defend their ideas so that others can continue forming their own criteria. There is no democracy with people who are unequally informed. DIVERSIFICATION- You don’t always have to have for example, the same group of people who have the same position in terms of the role of the state in the economy, coupled with those who have the same position on the role of women in the economy. There can be many differences around many things, but there has to be a consensus on the program. There can be many tactics but only one strategy. There are forces that add and forces that subtract, and there are those that multiply. Ignoring this fact and demanding a uniform militancy is to limit and weaken the political organization. Trying to box in the members into a single form, the same for everyone, twenty-four hours a day in seven days a week, is to leave all the rest outside, and to ignore their potential. It is necessary to have a strategy that includes forces that operate in the great world power blocks, and to establish multilateral relationships with each one of them as a way of dislocating the political concentration of globalization. It is necessary to checkmate capitalism in all areas.INDIVIDUALISM- To fight against individualism does not mean to negate the individual needs of each human being. Individual interests are not contrary to social ones; they are complementary . POLITICAL CHANGE WITHIN EXISTING STRUCTURES- As the left grows in power and influence, it must be ready to face strong resistance by the groups most closely tied to financial capital, who will use legal and illegal means to prevent a program of democratic and popular transformations. It is absolutely expected that the rulers will turn from ideology to violence .The new morality must tend toward the disappearance of the contradictions between social values and individual values; it needs to try to build a world of cooperation, solidarity and love. Access to the local governments by the left is a positive thing. It’s not about diminishing the role of the state, but rather about de-privatizing it, that is, to democratize it. The left needs the parliament or congress to approve fundamental reforms that will allow them to govern, for example taxes, the budget, etc. The only way to find it is by having a correct policy of alliances, something which the most radical sectors of the left do not understand. SMEAR TACTICS- This means making it appear that the party supports a policy which it does not in fact support. The left government must demonstrate efficiency if it is to survive, and for that it needs to ration and modernize services without getting rid of the functionaries. City officials have to be respected without being authoritarian, and to combine this with respect for the autonomy that social movements must have. When one is concerned about working conditions in the life of public servants, and one values their contribution to society and allows them to recover the dignity, this in itself allows the worker to increase his/her self-esteem and this in turn has positive results on worker efficiency At the same time, when there is a better quality of services, workers feel more satisfied with themselves and are more apt to receive the appreciation of the population. The local government can find a population that is accustomed to populism, to political clients and cronyism, ignorant of politics, simply ready to ask for things. In the popular assemblies, petitions can be gathered that widely overshoot the capacity of the municipal government to comply. WORKING IN THE COMMUNITY-A serious problem for these governments when they try to make contact with the population is that they only meet activists who are politicized, but badly politicized, because they carry the vices and the fundamental defects of the traditional political system; populism, bossism, verticalism, corruption and manipulation of the popular movement. What defines the participatory budget is that in this case it is not just legislators or the governors behind closed doors who make decisions over the gathering of funds and public expenses, but it is the population, by means of debates and consultations, who assigns value to incomes and expenses, who decides where investments shall be made, what are going to be the priorities, and which public works have to be developed by the government. The lack of organized control by the people is what allows corruption and the channeling of resources against the collective interest Probably the most significant achievement is to motivate citizen participation in the government of the city. The neighbors know and decide public policy in a concrete form, and this allows them to grow as human beings, because they have a newly found dignity–they are no longer beggars. They become politicized in the widest sense of the word, it allows them to have an independent opinion. They begin to delve into areas that combine representative democracy with direct democracy in voluntary participation of spaces created by the administration: culture, health, citizenship, jobs, gangs, education, discrimination and racism. Local governments in the hands of the transforming left can be a weapon against neoliberalism, showing the world that the left is better. REFORMS-1.-If reforms are accompanied by a parallel effort to strengthen the popular movement so that greater numbers of people join the struggle2.-If learning takes place as a result of an action by the left . 3.-To show a different political practice, one that does not allow left activity to be confused with traditional politics. Some reformist deviations are: 1.- The tendency to moderate programs without giving a political alternative, being content with the argument that politics is the art of the possible 2.- Calling for "responsibility and maturity" from union leaders and the working-class movement, instead of investing forces and time in encouraging the spirit of struggle. 3.- The tendency to avoid conflict, to call for dialogue and peace, instead of calling for change, while managing the confrontation–agreement dialectic.4.- The tendency to passively occupy existing institutions without trying to change them, or to change the rules of the game. CARRERISM- One of these deformations is political careerism, the idea than one must always move up, that there is something degrading about going back to being a simple member at the base, to prefer being a player. COOPTATION. This great challenge is to not allow oneself to be co-opted by a system that has thousands of threads to trap the candidates in its net, a series of perks. Rather it is about governing in a different way, showing at the local level what the left could do at a national level. 1.- The tendency to see the job as an end in itself and not as a means to serve the project of social transformation. 2.- The connection with the popular movement only at elections and for electoral reasons. 3.- Individualism and the campaigns. Funds are gathered to support oneself and not for the party.4.- The ruling class over the media can constitute veritable wall of silence that prevents reaching these objectives, and that is very difficult to breach if the left has not managed to become a significant force. See Martha Harnecker, "Making Possible the Impossible"