Thursday, March 31, 2011

Libya, imperialism and ALBA

By Barry Sheppard
March 27, 2011

I usually have disagreements with Barry Sheppard. He is insightful on Libya and the Arab Revolution.

A Libyan rebel walks past a military position decorated with the rebellion flag at the southern entrance to Benghazi. Photograph: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images.

The struggle in Libya cannot be analysed except in the context of world and especially US imperialism, as I am sure all will agree. But its also cannot be analysed solely in terms of Libya itself in conjunction with the role of imperialism in that single country.

What is the context in which Libya must be placed? Or to put the question another way, could the civil war in Libya and the US military assault have happened four months ago? Of course not. Neither were even remote possibilities in anyone’s mind four months ago.

Read the rest here


Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Radical Critique of the “Green” Environmental Movement

  • Communist Party International Emblem, 1919
  • “Go Green” Emblem, 2010

    A part of the bourgeoisie wants to redress social grievances in order to assure the maintenance of bourgeois society.

    Included in it are economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, do-gooders for the working classes, charity organisers, animal welfare enthusiasts, temperance union workers, two-a-penny reformers of multifarious kinds.

    — Marx and Engels, Manifesto of the Communist Party

    Surveying the various constituencies that make up the present-day Green movement, a number of distinct tendencies can be observed. These each have their own peculiarities and distinguishing features, and are sometimes even at odds with one another. But there do exist overarching themes that hold this jumbled mass of ideological fragments together. One trend held in common by most of them, for example, is a shared opposition to “big business” and “corporate greed.” It is on this basis that many of them fancy themselves to hold a generally anti-capitalist worldview.


    But on closer inspection, it can be seen in most cases that these activists don’t really want to overturn capitalism. They merely want to turn back the clock to what they perceive as a kinder, gentler capitalism, in which the “little guy” wasn’t stomped on so severely by all the corporate giants. They want the family-run local shops down the block where everybody knows each other’s first name. They miss the nearby farms that were owned by honest, hardworking families who brought their fresh produce into market every day. They want to get rid of all the corporate suits who come into town and vampirically leach off the hard labor of others and put these local stores and farms out of business by importing cheap goods made by foreign labor and selling produce enhanced by synthetic additives. (The völkisch and vaguely crypto-fascist/anti-Semitic overtones of this perspective should be obvious). Instead, these activists advocate to “buy local” and “go organic,” since they imagine that a world built on these principles is more “natural” than the one in which we live today. The pro-organic and “locavore” movements are based on precisely this belief, which they consider to be more “eco-friendly.”

    This world is, of course, a fiction. But that doesn’t stop activists from calling for a return to this paradise that Marx and Engels called “the idiocy of rural life.” Indeed, many leftish urbanites and self-proclaimed radical students have developed a bad conscience out of their sense of distance from the more natural and “authentic” world of organic farming. In fact, this has driven many such greenophiles out of their urban lofts or student housing in some vain hope of achieving a “return to the land.” They buy some land out on the outskirts and set up farms where they can grow their own food. This gives them an overweening sense of self-satisfaction; they experience the thrill of producing homemade, holistic goods, which they can consume or perhaps sell at the local co-op back in town. The maintenance of such small-scale organic farms, however, is a luxury available only to those who are wealthy enough to afford selling their produce at a loss, or those who find clientele wealthy enough to afford paying much higher prices for local organic products rather than their mass-produced synthetic equivalents. It is thus an elitist phenomenon not only in the smug sense of ethical virtue that comes with buying organic or local, but also in a very real, economic sense.

    There are those, however, who have not even had to look beyond the city limits for a place to reunite with nature. Though parks and public gardens have been a feature of most major urban centers since the nineteenth century, the movement toward urban-agriculturalism is a relatively recent phenomenon, and is associated with the whole ideology of Green. Many urban-agriculturalists are simply private individuals buy their own plots at outrageous prices inside the greater urban municipality, where the retail-value for the same acreage bought on the countryside would be dwarfed. So it goes without saying that those who can stand to keep up such an expensive hobby must be extraordinarily rich. But what they’re buying is almost certainly not the crops they will grown on it, or the relaxation brought from the hobby, but rather the knowledge that they, city-dweller though they may be, are eco-friendlier than thou.

    Read the rest here


    Thursday, March 24, 2011

    Yemen Revolution: Saleh Regime on the Verge of Collapse

    Written by Frederik Ohsten
    Thursday, 24 March 2011

    Al Jazeera Mar. 01

    Following the regime’s brutal massacre of protestors on Friday, March 18, the revolution has moved forward in Yemen. The state apparatus has split, and most of the army has turned against President Saleh. After the repression failed to achieve its objectives, the ruling elite and the imperialist powers are desperately trying to find a “safe” alternative. But that will not stop the revolution.

    Read the rest here


    Monday, March 21, 2011

    The Right Wing and Culture

    By Larry Gambone
    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    green beret movie Pictures, Images and Photos

    The right both promotes and despises corporate culture. They promote it for obvious reasons – profitability and social control, but their more literate members despise it because they think they are above it. They idolize a “high culture”, but have little understanding of it.

    I will use culture with a capital “C” to separate what could be called “high culture”, “serious culture” or “folk culture” from the mass of corporatist mind control twaddle.

    To be a consistent reactionary, one must reject the whole of Modernity, for Culture after the late 19th Century is hostile to bourgeois society in both its traditional and managerial forms. The writers and artists are all rebels in one manner or another, even if they espouse no overt politics. How unfortunate for the racists that jazz is Black music!

    How can any winger honestly claim to love Neruda, Picasso, Bob Dylan, or Miles Davis?

    Ayn Rand (1) and Adolph Hitler were consistent cultural reactionaries. Both rejected 20th Century Culture in its entirety and saw it as some kind of nefarious plot to undermine white capitalist society.)

    The right winger is forced to be a philistine or live in a state of denial. For if you examine the great cultural figures too closely, they were all opposed to the reactionaries of their day. Rightists who claim to appreciate contemporary Culture, love what they ought to hate and do so by pretending it isn't what it is. Or they live in complete and unrecognized contradiction like Eva Braun dancing to swing music.

    Thus to be a reactionary is to be tormented by Culture. One's self-image is one of superiority over the bohemians, leftists, and people of color, but these are the very people who made that Culture. If the philistine option is chosen, one cannot help but feel culturally inferior, no matter how much the “intelektuls” and “crazy artists” are sneered at.

    Artists are both the shamans and mine canaries of our society. Creating something new means going beyond the old, means breaking barriers. Creation is thus an act of rebellion and thus in its very essence is in stark contradiction to the reactionary who wishes to turn the clock back. Artists are society's mine canaries in that they warn, often decades in advance, of serious problems within the system.

    1. Early in the twentieth century... works purporting to be art were created that were not, in fact, art at all... In many respects, it was more akin to madness, or to fraud, than to art.


    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Why Has the Revolution Stalled in Libya

    Written by Fred Weston
    Thursday, 17 March 2011

    23 February, Benghazi. Photo: EndTyranny01

    After taking one town after another in the early days of the Libyan revolution, now the insurgents are having to come to terms with the fact that Gaddafi has managed to hold together a significant section of his special security forces and is hitting back. How does one explain this dramatic turnaround?

    Read the rest here


    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Nepal: Which Way Forward?

    Written by Adam Pal in Lahore, Pakistan
    Friday, 11 March 2011

    In Nepal the stalemate in power is continuing while the ideological battle inside the communist movement intensifies. The struggle for power through constitutional means by the largest party in parliament UCPN (M) faced another defeat when on November 1st parliament failed to elect a new Prime Minister for the 16th time.

    Read the rest here


    Tuesday, March 08, 2011

    What Is Bonapartism?

    The Arab Revolution brings out the question of the nature of the authoritarian regimes in the Middle East. Marxists have long talked about bourgeois Bonapartism, Leon Trotsky and Ted Grant added to Marxism, the the concept of proletarian Bonapartism. This definition is helpful to understand some of the so called socialist regimes. The Chinese Revolution was based on where the Russian Revolution ended 1949 Russia. Mao vigorously defended private property, and based the revolution not on workers, but peasants. Mao only nationalized industry, because capitalists fled to Taiwan. Just about every colonial revolution followed the Chinese model.

    A transitional form of government between the regimes of parliamentary democracy and fascism, based on dictatorship and military force during a period when class rule is not secure. A strong government which appears to stand 'above parties' and 'above classes' due to relative equilibrium between the working class and the bourgeoisie. It is based on the military, police, and state bureaucracy rather than on parliamentary parties or a mass movement. So called after Napoleon Bonaparte, the classic example of Bourgeois Bonapartism. Stalin's totalitarian regime and others like it are classified as Proletarian Bonapartism.


    Friday, March 04, 2011

    Venezuela and Libya: It Is Not An April 11 Coup, It Is A February 27 Caracazo

    Written by Jorge Martín
    Friday, 04 March 2011

    There has been a lot of discussion in Latin America about the events unfolding in Libya. This article explains the position of the IMT, which is one of support for the uprising of the Libyan people, while at the same time condemns any imperialist intervention. We also critically examine the position adopted by Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

    Read the rest here