Monday, December 28, 2009

Iran: Power Slipping to Streets

Written by Babak Kasrayi
Monday, 28 December 2009

Over the last few days, mass demonstrations have erupted again in Iran. Millions are on the streets and there are reports of the people taking control of the streets, burning down police stations and even of police refusing to fire on demonstrators. These could be the last days of the hated IRI regime. If a revolutionary leadership were present, the hours of the Islamic Republic would be counted. We publish this article with lots of eyewitness reports from the ground.

Read the rest here

PersianToEnglish Blog for updates.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Foundations of Christianity

This post is not for or against Christianity or religion. It is a historical and dialectical materialist analysis of the class forces that caused its creation.

Written by John Pickard
Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Many of us know that the origins of Christianity have nothing to do with silent nights or wise men. So what are its true origins? John Pickard looks at the reality of how this religion came about - from the standpoint of class forces and the material developments of society, rather than by the pious fictions fed from church pulpits.

Read the rest here

Holiday Greetings


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Me And Orsen Welles ***1/2

Based in real theatrical history, ME AND ORSON WELLES is a romantic coming-of-age story about a teenage actor (Zac Efron) who lucks into a role in Julius Caesar as its being re-imagined by a brilliant, impetuous young director named Orson Welles at his newly-founded Mercury Theater in NYC, 1937.

The rollercoaster week leading up to opening night has the charismatic-but-sometimes-crue l Welles (impressive newcomer Christian McKay) staking his career on this risky production while Richard (Zac Efron) mixes with everyone from starlets to stagehands in behind-the-scenes adventures bound to change him.

This is an entertaining ensemble movie. Virtually unknown Christian McKay transformed into Orsen Welles's body and soul. His performance is uncanny. Zac Efron shows he's not just a teen heart throb. He can act. Clair Danes is the ambitious assistant to Welles.

See this movie when it opens.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The If You Could Ask One Question Series

In another post I asked bloggers to select one question, you would ask your political opposition. In exchange for allowing me to use that question, for a post, I will plug your blog. I will continue posting randomly the questions asked in no particular order. Some will be edited, to make for a sharper discussion.

I'm starting with my own question, for the right.

The American Revolution was more than a military operation, it was also a social revolution. According to an article by Harry Braverman: What kind of a transformation was it? The colonies never had a broadly seated feudalism to contend with, but in its place they did have a collection of feudal privileges and monarchical practices that were a substantial barrier to the establishment of an unfettered capitalism, particularly in the field of agriculture. In the first place, large estates monopolized great tracts of land, in some places, as in the Hudson Valley, operated with a manorial tenantry; in others settlement was either prohibited or where permitted quit rents and other feudal dues were demanded and, surprisingly, often collected. Then, the great land area between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi, as well as big tracts on the near side of the mountains, were reserved as crown lands, a restraint which effectively held back westward expansion.

The revolutionary period saw a great wave of land expropriations. Manorial estates in New York aggregating over 2½ million acres were confiscated, including the Van Rennsalaer manor, which alone was 2/3 the size of Rhode Island. The estate of Lord Granville in North Carolina, at least 1/3 of the colony, was taken away. New Hampshire alone confiscated 29 estates, including that of its governor, Sir John Wentworth. In New York, all lands and rents of the crown were confiscated, as well as the estates of 59 named persons, including most of the richest of the province. The 300 square miles of the Phillipse estate, and the lands of James Delancey Roger Morris, John T. Kemp, Beverly Robinson, were among those caught up in the net. In Pennsylvania, the estates of 490 persons were seized, including the ungranted lands of the Penn family. Nor were all the confiscations directed against the Tories. The Fairfax estate consisted of some six million acres in Virginia, or close to one-fifth the present size of that state. Lord Fairfax was not a loyalist, and was not molested during the Revolution; his estate was taken in 1781, however, because of what one historian calls “revolutionary opposition to feudal survivals.”

The American Revolution had more expropriated without compensation properties, than any other revolution in that period. Would you condemn that????????


Thursday, December 03, 2009

If You Could Only Ask One Question

I thought of a question, that if I could ask a rightist to answer, I think it would be difficult for them. In the next post, I'll ask rightists to respond to my question.

In this post I'll ask bloggers to come up with a question to ask your political opposite. It can only be one question. Keep the question serious. It is a chance to challenge your opposition in a focused manner.

If you come up with one good question, I'll eventually publish it, and plug your blog. This will be ongoing.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Honduras “election”: Repression, Boycott and Resistance

Written by Jorge Martín
Monday, 30 November 2009

The elections called by the Honduran coup regime on November 29 saw a significant increase in abstention, despite the harsh repression by the military and the police. But the regime has not been able to crush the movement of workers, peasants and youth. On the contrary, they are now more politically aware, better organised and ready to struggle against the oligarchy.

Read the rest



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Education ***1/2

According to IMDB: A coming-of-age story about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.

Good performances from the star, 22 year old Carey Mulligan playing 16 year old Jenny. Peter Sarsgaard was great as the playboy.

Trivia Alert Rosamund Pike who played the nonacademic blond girlfriend, is the only authentic Oxford graduate in the main cast. The plot dealt with getting accepted into Oxford.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Iran: November 4 - Once More a Step Forward!

Written by Babak Kasrayi
Thursday, 12 November 2009

On November 4 Iran was once again shaken by mass demonstrations. Normally this day is used by the regime to celebrate the anniversary of the occupation of the US embassy in Iran. The masses used it to mobilize against the regime, shouting slogans such as “Death to the Dictator”, revealing a deep-felt desire to see an end to this regime.

Read the rest here


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Class Struggle In Mexico

Written by Alan Woods
Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Demonstration in defence of the SME workers. Photo by Frecuencias Populares

“Poor Mexico! So far from God, so near to the United States.” The famous words of Porfiro Díaz are truer today than at any time in the tempestuous history of this country. The crisis of world capitalism has hit Mexico hard. And its extreme dependence on the USA, which previously was presented as something beneficial to the Mexican economy, has turned out to be a colossal problem.

Read the rest here


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The fall of the Berlin Wall: 20 Years Later

Written by Alan Woods
Monday, 09 November 2009

Twenty years ago as the Berlin Wall came tumbling down the bourgeoisie in the west was euphoric, rejoicing at the “fall of communism”. Twenty years later things look very different as capitalism has entered its most severe crisis since 1929. Now a majority in former East Germany votes for the left and harks back to what was positive about the planned economy. After rejecting Stalinism, they have now had a taste of capitalism, and the conclusion drawn is that socialism is better than capitalism.

Read the rest here


Friday, November 06, 2009

Open Thread

This is the thread for the miscellaneous. Do you have blog issues you want to discuss? Music? Movies?

I need recipes for my Food and Blogging series. If you have a simple,interesting recipe, I'll post it and plug your blog. I can't say when I'll post your recipe. Some I posted two years after I received them. Send them to the email at my profile.

I'm not sure how hot the Honduras issue is playing out? People are told in the media, everything is solved. At the same time President Zalaya, is still in the Brazilian embassy.

The Iranian protesters had anti-Obama slogans for the first time at the demonstrations this week.

The new Facebook format drives me nuts. My addiction Mafia Wars is untouched. I admit Farmville's niceness, makes me feel guilty at times


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Honduras: Agreement or Farce?

Written by Jorge Martín
Wednesday, 04 November 2009

A lot of noise had been made about the so-called “reinstatement of Zelaya”, but is that what is really happening. So far a lot of wheeling and dealing has taken place, but no concrete steps to put Zelaya back as the legitimate president. We will see in the coming days how real this agreement is.

Jorge's arrticle is the most comprehensive analysis of the Honduran situation available.

Read the rest here


Monday, November 02, 2009

The Real Winner in Honduras: The United States?

This is from Minneapolitan Joe Shansky on the ground.

Written by Joseph Shansky
Sunday, 01 November 2009

Never underestimate the capabilities of the slightest American muscle-flexing.

After deliberately failing to use its massive economic and diplomatic influence in the tiny Central American country, the US has reportedly given the international community reason to breathe a sigh of relief in what Hillary Clinton is calling an “historic agreement”. According to the US, the Honduran governmental power struggle has been resolved, and an agreement for President Manuel Zelaya to be reinstated has been reached.

All thanks to a breezy State Department intervention that could have come four months, twenty-six lives, hundreds of disappearances, and thousands of random detentions earlier for Honduran citizens. Instead they let it play out like an internal civil disagreement while watching from above until the time was politically opportune to step in.

In other words, the two children who were bickering in what Henry Kissinger famously dubbed “our backyard” have been rightfully scolded, and forced by Uncle Sam to make nice.

But the details of what is now being called the Guaymuras Accords are messy. They involve a series of conditions and fine print designed to continue the regime’s now-familiar tactic of delaying real progress through semantics and by creating more legal headaches. At the same time, any pressure on the US to fight for a constructive return of Zelaya’s presidential powers is now gone.

Despite coup leader Roberto Micheletti’s claim that his de-facto government has made “significant concessions” in the accords, the real concessions have come from the other side. All one needs to do is imagine how Zelaya’s supporters and coup opponents would have reacted soon after the coup to the type of “power-sharing” agreement that is currently being celebrated. It would have been considered laughable.

These are the basic terms both sides have agreed to::

- Creation of a government of national reconciliation that includes cabinet members from both sides

- Suspension of any possible vote on holding a Constitutional Assembly until after Jan. 27, when Zelaya's term ends

- A general amnesty for political crimes was rejected by both sides

- Command of the Armed Forces to be placed under the Electoral Tribunal during the month prior to the elections.

- Restitution of Zelaya to the presidency following a non-binding opinion from the Supreme Court and approval of Congress

- Creation of a Verification Commission to follow up on the accords, consisting of two members of the Organization of American States (OAS), and one member each from the constitutional government and the coup regime.

- Creation of a Truth Commission to begin work in 2010

- Revoke international sanctions against Honduras following the accords

The accords give President Zelaya some of his original rights as the democratically-elected president of Honduras. But who knows when? As of October 31, there have already been several contradictory statements coming out from Micheletti’s team. One of his negotiators said that since Congress would not be in session before the elections, it is now unlikely that Zelaya would be returned to any kind of power before that date.

If he is, it hinges on approval by the same Congress that approved his seizure and relinquishes his executive power over the armed forces. In the “power-sharing” agreement, the coup government would retain control over the military, a critical advantage.

It also dismisses amnesty for political crimes on both sides, but at the moment Zelaya is the one facing a mountain of trumped-up charges, thanks to a summer of legal proceedings which took place under an illegitimate government and a shady judicial system.

Another obstacle to a rightful reinstatement may be the Honduran Supreme Court, which has consistently interpreted constitutional law at its leisure throughout the coup. For example, from Sept. 22 through Oct. 19, five constitutional rights were suspended under a decree by the coup government. These included personal liberty, freedom of expression, freedom of movement, habeas corpus, and freedom of association. This was based on a clause in the 1982 Constitution which allowed for such restrictions in states of emergency, and is a perfect example of why Hondurans are demanding a new Constitution.

The Honduran Supreme Court, which has been described by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs as “one of the most corrupt institutions in Latin America”, can give a non-binding opinion regarding Zelaya’s return which Congress can then take or leave. However, this process takes time, again indicating stalling on the part of the coup regime.

Perhaps most importantly, the push for a popular Constituent Assembly during his term has also been dropped by Zelaya and his negotiating team. The Constituent Assembly would have created a body to rewrite the 1982 Honduran Constitution in newly democratic terms. On June 28, the day that Zelaya was forcibly removed from power and ejected from the country, Hondurans were scheduled to vote on a non-binding referendum for a Constituent Assembly. The outcome was to determine whether or not to then have a later vote to rewrite the outdated 1982 Constitution, which caused much debate on the coup in the first place. Subsequent polls have indicated a majority of Hondurans support this reform. In the big picture, this is the real change for the future which thousands of Hondurans have been fighting for in the streets.

Now, what the Guaymuras Accords actually do most is create a space for the United States to recognize the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential elections, scheduled for November 29. With National Party front-runner Pepe Lobo likely to win (thanks to a campaign season in which any independent voices were sharply silenced by media censorship), the US also likely secures another puppet in the region who will be opposed to the progressive social, economic and political reforms being articulated and demanded by the country’s social movements. This also serves to counter the region’s growing independence from Washington’s political and economic influence.

Furthermore, throughout the entirety of the coup, neither Secretary of State Clinton nor President Obama (surely occupied with political concessions of his own at home) have acknowledged the repression and violence perpetrated by the Micheletti government and Honduran military in its wake. And they still refuse to do so.

So the actual power returned to Zelaya may be symbolic at best. But it’s extremely important for another group involved- the Resistance movement all around the country. Since the announcement on October 30 of Zelaya’s pending reinstatement, people here have triumphantly taken to the streets in a manner unseen since…actually, two weeks ago when Honduras qualified for the 2010 World Cup.

The unity of the Resistance has put continual pressure on the coup government. Its mobilization constantly put Honduras into the world spotlight, and highlighted the violent reaction of a surprised regime. Undoubtedly the prospect of Zelaya’s return would never have occured without the leadership of the Resistance. The psychological effects of bringing their President back in any way after more than 125 days in the streets mark a clear victory for the movement.

And of course there are enormous differences between the (relatively) bloodless Honduran coup and the devastating Kissinger days of the 1970s, which led to tens of thousands of CIA-sponsored murders and disappearances in countries like Chile and Argentina.

Still, the bottom line remains the same. Military coups in Latin America are not a thing of the past yet, and their outcome can be strongly influenced, in fact practically determined, by the US. Time will tell if the events in Honduras were an isolated affair, or if they indicate the type of reaction we will be seeing to the new age of leftist revolutions and social movements in Latin America.

What is clear now is that after months of refusing to take real diplomatic action, the State Department has found a way to not only save face internationally, but to manipulate the outcome to make it appear to be a foreign policy win for the US.

Though it’s still early in the proceedings, a clear victor has already emerged in the Honduran stand-off.

Joseph Shansky works with Democracy Now! En Español and has been reporting from Tegucigalpa. He can be reached at


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Jackson: This Is It ***1/2

This is really it for Michael Jackson.

I reluctantly attended a screening of This Is It, the new documentary about the rehearsal process for his, what would have been upcoming tour. With all of MJ's personal problems, and physical frailties, I expected literally the skelton of his past greatness. I enjoyed every song, and the production values that went into creating them.

Most interesting is MJ's artistic process. He doesn't think in terms of song only. He is one with music, dance, set design, the backup singers and dancers. All is part of the whole.

The concert if it went on the road, would be the musical event of this period.

You will not get insight into his scandals in this movie. So be it.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Defense of Theory-or Ignorance Never Yet Helped Anybody

Written by Alan Woods
Thursday, 15 October 2009

In 1846 Weitling complained that the “intellectuals” Marx and Engels wrote only about obscure matters of no interest to the workers. Marx angrily responded with the following words, “Ignorance never yet helped anybody.” Marx’s response is as valid today as it was then.

Read the rest of the post here.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Presenting Maria Tecce

I found Maria Tecce surfing Youtube. I think you'll like her.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Marxists Must Stand Firm Against Ahmadinejad

July 12th 2009, by Maziar Razi - London Progressive Journal

Open letter to the workers of Venezuela on Hugo Chávez's support for Ahmadinejad.

Honourable workers of Venezuela,

The Revolutionary Marxists of Iran are aware of your achievements as part of the Bolivarian Movement and have always supported this movement against the widespread lies and the open and covert interference of imperialism. In order to defend your invaluable movement and to confront the attacks and interference of US imperialism in Venezuela, labour and student activists in Iran have set up the ‘Hands Off Venezuela' campaign in Iran and during the past few years have stood together with you in confronting the imperialist attacks. It is obvious that your achievements were gained under the leadership of Hugo Chávez and, for this reason, you reserve deep respect for him.

In terms of his foreign policy, however, Chávez has made a mistake. With his support for Ahmadinejad he has ignored the solidarity of the workers and students of Iran with your revolution, and in a word, made it look worthless. Most are aware that two weeks ago Ahmadinejad, with the direct support of Khamenei, committed the biggest fraud in the history of presidential elections in Iran and then, with great ferocity, spilt the blood of those protesting against this fraud. You just have to take notice of the international media reports to be aware of the depths of this tragedy. All over the world millions of workers and students, and also those of Marxist and revolutionary tendencies (which mostly are the supporters of the Bolivarian revolution), protested against these attacks.

In of spite this, Chávez was one of the first people to support Ahmadinejad. In his weekly TV speech he said: "Ahmadinejad's triumph is a total victory. They're trying to stain Ahmadinejad's victory, and by doing so they aim to weaken the government and the Islamic revolution. I know they won't be able to do it." And that "We ask the world for respect." These rash and baseless remarks from your President are a great and direct insult to the millions of youth who in recent days rose up against tyranny. Some of them even lost their lives. Many of these youths came out on the streets spontaneously and without becoming infected with the regime's internal disputes, or becoming aligned with the policy that US imperialism is following for taking over the movement. In addition, the remarks of your President are an insult to millions of workers in Iran. Workers whose leaders are today being tortured in the prisons of the Ahmadinejad government and some of them are even believed to be being punished with flogging. Workers who were brutally repressed by the mercenaries of the Ahmadinejad government for commemorating May Day in Tehran this year are still in prison.

So far Chávez has travelled to Iran seven times and each time he has hugged one of the most hated people in this country and called him his "brother". He does not realise that the economic, social and political situations of Venezuela and Iran are going in opposite directions. Although both countries have seen a similarly significant boost to their oil (and gas) revenues the contrast between the ways in which this extra money has been used by the two governments could not be more marked. In Venezuela this income is used for building hospitals, schools, universities and other infrastructure of the country, but in Iran it is used for lining the pockets of just a few parasitic capitalists.

On the one hand, in Venezuela, we have seen the nationalisation of an increasing number of companies and factories, the free provision of healthcare, education, civil liberties and so on. By contrast in Iran privatisation is on the government's agenda, even at the cost of trampling on Article 44 of the Constitution of the country and using the excuse of inefficiency and low productivity of state companies and factories. All these advances of the workers and the poor in Venezuela have given them greater control over the way they work and the way they live. Most importantly, the expropriation of factories and the encouragement of workers' control and participation have transformed the character of the workers' movement in Venezuela, advancing it by many stages. The Bolivarian movement and the policies of the government have brought about a huge shift in the balance of class forces in Venezuela in favour of the working class. Not only has the government encouraged the Venezuelan workers to build the Unión Nacional de los Trabajadores as an alternative to the Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela (CTV), but the workers have become involved in running and managing factories and other enterprises. The whole world knows that your government has even drawn up a list of 1,149 closed-down factories and given their owners an ultimatum: re-open them under workers' control or the government will expropriate them.

In Iran, on the other hand, on top of the lack of many basic democratic rights, the workers are also without any independent trade union rights. Today the workers of Iran do not even have a confederation like the Confederación de Trabajadores de Venezuela. All they have are the Labour House, the Islamic Labour Councils and other anti-working class bodies tied to the state.

But this has not always been so: the overthrow of the Shah brought about many freedoms for workers including, in some cases, control over production and even distribution. Then, however, through repression the Islamic hierarchy managed to take back all the workers' gains. The leaders that your President hugs killed thousands of workers, destroyed the workers' movement and pushed it back by several decades. In Iranian society even the ‘yellow' pro-boss unions - that the Shah had tolerated - became and remain illegal. Even a CTV-style trade union confederation is illegal in Iran.

In Iran the official (and underestimated) unemployment rate stands at 10.85 per cent, with unemployment among the youth (15-24 year-olds) standing at 22.35 per cent. Even when workers are employed they are often not paid - in many cases for more than a year. Even those who get their wages face an impossible task in paying for the basic necessities of life, because their wage is not enough for living costs. For example, with the rent for a two-bedroom flat at $422 a month, a civil servant on $120 wages, or a teacher on $180, or even a doctor on $600 a month struggle to survive. It is no wonder that some 90 per cent of the population live below the poverty line.

The capitalist government of Iran has no fundamental disagreements or contradictions with US imperialism. It is in a ‘cold war' with America and when it receives enough concessions, it will quickly enter into political dealings with the US and will turn its back on you. Indeed, the Iran regime has already helped the Americans in their military invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq - and installing the puppet regimes of Karzai and Maliki through significant trade, security and other deals. The capitalist government of Iran, despite the current apparent differences, is busy in close negotiations with the Obama government on resolving the problems of Afghanistan. This government, despite the "anti-imperialist" rhetoric, is heading towards re-establishing old links with the US. Ahmadinejad's selection demonstrates the final turn of the regime towards resolving its problems with imperialism. Despite all the "enmity" and "anti-imperialist" gestures the regime is ready to resolve all its differences with America. The government of Iran wants to turn Iran into a society like Colombia (in Colombia thousands of trade unionists have been killed so that multinational companies can exploit workers and plunder the country's natural resources without any obstacles). It is not without reason that the Iranian government has been implementing the bankrupt neo-liberal prescriptions of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund and counting the minutes until it joins the World Trade Organisation.

The close and regular links of your leader, Chávez, with the leaders of this regime will eventually make the Iranian masses turn their back on the great lessons of the revolutionary process in Venezuela. Winning the hearts and minds of the masses in Iran and similar countries is the best long-term solution to breaking Washington's stranglehold on Latin America. Your leader's closeness with the capitalist government of Iran, a government that has the blood of thousands of workers and youth on its hands, shows that his anti-imperialist foreign policy has a major flaw. Being close to reactionary regimes will never be able to bring the anti-imperialist foreign policy to a successful conclusion. Only the unity of the real representatives of the workers and toilers can confront imperialism.

Stand together with the Iranian workers and condemn the foreign policy of your leaders. Support for Ahmadinejad means support for the repression of Iranian workers and youth. Challenge the flawed positions of Chávez and reject them. Support for the government of Ahmadinejad, especially after the recent events, is at worst an open betrayal of the toilers of Iran and at best a political blunder in foreign policy.

London Progressive Journal


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Ralph Nader Throws his Hope in with Enlightened Billionaires

By Matthew Rothschild, September 28, 2009

I saw Ralph Nader yesterday, indefatigable as ever.

He was on tour for his new book, and his first work of
fiction, "Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us."

The plot is about how seventeen famous billionaires,
like Warren Buffett and Ted Turner, all of a sudden
come to their conscience and spend some of their money
to bring about the anti-corporate and pro-democracy
changes that Ralph Nader has spent his life campaigning

This is a Hail Mary pass for progressive change, and it
is an expression of Nader's frustration-even
desperation-at our inability to tackle what he rightly
calls "the permanent corporate government" in

His approach, in the book, is about as top-down as you
can get, though he says it's top-down, bottom-up-the
billionaires spend the money so that people at the
grassroots can effectively organize.

He seems to have lost hope in the labor movement and
the environmental movement and the citizen's movement
and the broad civil rights movement getting together or
a new progressive movement rising up organically.

Throughout most of his career, Nader acted on a theory
of social change that centered around establishing
citizen groups in Washington and across the country
that could act as a counterforce to the corporate

Then, when that didn't succeed, and when the Democratic
Party became increasingly corporatized, Nader ventured
into third party presidential politics.

In 2000, he ran as a Green, and talked of establishing
that as a durable third party that could act as
centrifugal force against the Democratic Party moving
ever rightward. But Nader became disenchanted with the
Greens, and decided to go it alone the last two times.

And in a sense, he's going it alone this time in this

Rather than rely on the citizen's movement, rather than
rely on the labor movement, or a unified progressive
movement, Nader is relying on the George Soroses of
this world to save us, as the title says.

"The progressive movement is good at documenting
corporate power," he said in his talk in Madison,
Wisconsin. "It's good at diagnosing. It's good at
coming up with proposals. But that's the end."

The problem, he says, is one of resources. "You cannot
fight trillions of dollars in big business money with a
few millions and expect to win."

The citizen movement, he said, is "totally amateurish"
compared with how well organized and funded the
corporations are. "This mismatch is a disaster," he
said. "The progressive movement is going nowhere if it
does not address the problem of resources."

Nor does he have hope in a new youth movement.

Nader was addressing a couple of hundred people in a
classroom at the University of Wisconsin, but there
weren't many students there. Maybe that was a good
thing, since he was harshing on them.

"If people are too busy updating their personal
profiles on their facebook page," they won't engage in
civic action, he said.

"The screen is the opium of the masses," he said. He
added that we have a whole generation living a virtual
existence, and we haven't come to grips with the
negative consequences of that.

He also criticized today's students for their weak
grasp of U.S. history. For them, "The Vietnam War is
like the Peloponnesian Wars."

Nader had some sharp criticism for Barack Obama, too.
"It's very sad to see the continuity between Obama and
Bush," he said, rattling off "Afghanistan, renditions,
No Child Left Behind, and the faith-based initiative."
But he's not surprised that Obama is doing the bidding
of the corporate establishment. "In 100 ways, he
signaled he was their man" during the campaign, Nader
said. "Did ever talk about corporate crime, even when
Wall Street was collapsing?"

Nader said Obama "learned too much from Bill Clinton"
about the need to compromise with corporate power. And
he said that Obama's personality is not right for the
times. Unlike FDR, Obama "does not like conflict," he
said. Instead, he wants to please.

There is a poignance in listening to Ralph Nader these
days. Here is a man who, for the last 45 years, has
hurled his body at the engine of corporate power. He's
dented it more than anyone else in America. But he
knows it's still chugging, even more strongly than

Nader understands that he's losing. He understands that
we're losing-we who believe in democracy, we who care
about justice.

But if our only hope is with a handful of billionaires,
we're in a lot worse shape than I thought.



Tuesday, October 06, 2009

India: Where is it going?

Written by Umar Shahid in Sialkot,
Pakistan Monday, 05 October 2009

History never repeats itself in exactly the same manner. Whenever it does repeat, it always does so on a higher plane. Ever since the fall of the Berlin Wall, they have been manufacturing a new history, fabricating it on a colossal scale. The media and the dominant intelligentsia wish to impose on the psychology of the masses the idea that this system is the final destiny of humankind, or as Francis Fukuyama put it, this is the "end of history". This idea has been propagated by the bourgeois means of communication and a so-called "public opinion" has been created around it by the ruling elites.

Indian Social Conditions and the Myth of “Progress”

Views about the progress of India range from the pollyannaish "India Shining" to the messianically-distorted view of India's Maoists who continue to see India as a "semi-feudal, semi-colonial" nation. The past neo-liberal policies of the Congress-led UPA alliance have only benefitted the upper classes of Indian society.

A large number of Indians live in appalling conditions, like in this slum in Bombay near a dump yard. Photo by mckaysavage on flickr.

The widening gap between rich and poor is growing at an alarming high rate. The 'State of World Population 2008' report, prepared by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), shows that India lags behind its neighbours also in terms of life expectancy. Indian males have a life expectancy of 63.3 years and women of 66.6 years. More than half of India’s women are classed as anaemic, which means that capitalism is daily damaging their very bodies.

As India “progresses”, more people fall into vicious circle of poverty. 230 million people are undernourished and 40 per cent of children under three years of age are underweight. The slums are increasing at a drastic rate on outskirts of Mumbai, Bangalore and other cities otherwise considered as “modern”.

For the past four decades, the child male to female sex ratio statistics in the 0-6 age group reveals a continuous decline. The census figures illustrate that it is in some of the richer states of the country where the problem is most acute and these states include the Punjab which had only 798 girls (per 1,000 boys), Haryana 819, Delhi 868 and Gujarat 883 girls per 1,000 boys in the 2001 Census. Similarly according to a United Nations survey conducted in 2007, an estimated 2,000 unborn girls are illegally aborted every day in India.

There is always money to be made out of poverty; and the capitalists are so cruel that they are now selling poverty in order to maximize their profits. Recently, the Oscar winner movie “Slumdog Millionaire” broke box-office records by propagating the slum poverty and projecting it to world. It was a farce with the suffering, pain and miseries of the poor on display.

The promises of the ruling politicians and their policies have brought nothing but increasing despair among the poor and more people are falling into the death trap of poverty. Now about 78 % of the population spends less than Rs. 20 a day, while the wage rate of workers in the organized industrial sector is among the lowest in the world.

There was a projection of high growth rate of the Indian economy in the past, but 40 percent of its people continue to merely subsist on less than a dollar a day and children are denied basic education. The number of Indians with a higher education is a mere seven percent. But this only one side of the picture: now a large part of the rich in the world are from India. People like Laxmi Mittal, Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, etc., are from India. Mukesh Ambai who lost $28.2 billion gambling on the Stock Exchange is still India’s richest person with $20.8 billion.

Now that economic turmoil has hit the world, the rich continue to enjoy a life of luxury while the masses suffer even more. The bailouts at the expense of public money are being carried out to maintain the status quo of the rich and protecting them from falling into the mass of poor. From the owners of multinational companies to bureaucrats, they are all enjoying the luxuries during the downturn at the expense of taxpayers’ money.

And as the suffering of the masses gets worse, the luxuries of the rich are ever growing. Recently, an airship “Air Force One”, worth Rs 2450 million, was purchased and included in the Indian Air Force. Yes, there is money for such luxuries, bailouts and the buying of weapons, but there is no money for the ordinary public.

For the 2009-10 fiscal budget India's defence expenditure increased by 10 %, which adds up to Rs.1,056 billion ($26.5 billion) for buying military hardware in order to kill people. Also Rs.33 billion have been allocated to the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) in order to find new ways of spreading destruction and killing people. However, for the Social Services, such as Health, Education and the broadcasting services, only Rs. 302730 Millions have been allocated.

The agrarian question has not yet been solved and farmers continue to commit suicide and woman sell their bodies, children and even parts of their bodies, just to be able to eat bread & butter twice a day. According to a report by the National Crime Records Bureau, as many as 16,632 farmers, including 2,369 women, killed themselves in the year2007, constituting 14.4% of the total number of suicides in the country. That means an average of 46 farmers commit suicide every day in India and if we take data for the past decade, the farmer suicides in the country since 1997 now total 182,936. This is what we find in the annual report of the NCRB, although the actual figures may be even higher.

A country rich in natural resources, skilled manpower and with huge potential for growth is condemned by this horny capitalism to be a failed society, a failed state. It is a tragedy created by the system, which has one motive, to increase their rate of profits at the cost of human life.

India, the world’s largest food grain producer, also has the world’s largest hungry population -- over 200 million. It ranks a poor 66th among 88 developing and transitional countries according to the 2008 Global Hunger Index (GHI-2008) report released by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Recently, in some parts of India people faced drought-like conditions on the basis that there were no food grains available for them. Three crore [30 million] tonnes of food grains lie in the godowns [Indian warehouses] but the suppliers are not releasing enough onto the market in order to maintain a profitable price. They have created an artificial shortage so that supply is reduced and thus prices go up.

Uneven and Combined Development

The current crisis of India is also rooted in the peculiar development of its capitalism. The dream of capitalism on a classical basis in India is still a dream. But now this dream is more painful for the masses because they are now suffering even more. Capitalism has failed to fulfil any of its historical duties, such as solving the national question, the separation of religion from state, etc. Hence, what we see is that the two different “phases” are combined into one.

Throughout its history, capitalism has absorbed one country after another into its orbit; and in doing so it increased their dependence upon one another. But during this process of interdependence it does not mean that they have followed the same paths; in each part of world the evolution of capitalism has separate characteristics. In this process they drew countries closer together economically and yet with profound differences among them. Their national development in many respects did not proceed along parallel lines, but at angles to each other, and sometimes even at right angles.

Historically, the Indian bourgeoisie came late into the world capitalism. The period after the Second World War was one when capitalism had already entered its highest stage of “Imperialism”. Hence, the development of Indian capitalism came about under the law of “uneven and combined development”. The law of uneven and combined development asserts that once the world market has swallowed up all countries in the world, these come under the direct domination of finance capital.

Thus, now the world has already been divided into major imperialist blocks, and it is impossible for any backward nation to follow the “evolutionary” path. Once imperialism has been shaped, the wealth and power of the great powers is maintained only by the continued exploitation and misery of the former colonies. The dominance of international financial capital has added fuel to the strength of the monopolies of developed nation. And in their search for sources of cheap labour and raw materials, the imperialist powers distort and stunt the development of culture in the former colonies. The misery of these backward nations is on the other hand a source of advancement for the developed nations.

In India we see the same phenomenon. Indian capitalism is so weak that it has to rely on the financial capital of imperialism. And now that finance capital has penetrated even more into the backward nations, the Indian bourgeois are the slaves of imperialism and thus they cannot wage any independent anti-imperialist struggle.

In Trotsky's words:

“Unevenness, the most general law of the historic process, reveals itself most sharply and complexly in the destiny of the backward countries. Under the whip of external necessity their backward culture is compelled to make leaps. From the universal law of unevenness thus derives another law which, for the lack of a better name, we may call the law of combined development – by which we mean a drawing together of the different stages of the journey, a combining of the separate steps, an amalgam of archaic with more contemporary forms. Without this law, to be taken of course, in its whole material content, it is impossible to understand the history of Russia, and indeed of any country of the second, third or tenth cultural class.” (Trotsky, The History of the Russian Revolution, volume 1, chapter I, Peculiarities of Russia’s Development.)

Crisis of Leadership

In India all the parties ‑ with different labels of left, right, nationalist or centrist ‑ have the same economic programme. Their programme is based on the idea of building a strong national state through foreign direct investment. The Indian market, as a source of cheap labour and favourable conditions for the capitalists, has attracted the multinationals who seek a greater degree of exploitation and thus greater profits.

Now, however, we see that capitalism is a “failed system” for the whole of humankind, as it has entered into a blind alley. It cannot deliver anything other than destruction, pain and misery to the billions of ordinary people worldwide.

Unfortunately, even the Communist Parties have adopted an outlook based on the idea that the market dominates. Photo by souravdas on flickr.

Unfortunately, even the Communist Parties have adopted an outlook based on the idea that the market dominates. They in fact abandoned the genuine ideas of Marxism long ago, preferring to adopt the “two-stage” policy. This outdated theory, which was pursued by the Russian bureaucracy in order to save its own privileges, led to the defeat of many revolutions around the world. The bureaucracy choked the essence of what is a revolutionary organization, and at the same time wasted the revolutionary potential of workers, leading to many bloody defeats. These bloody defeats of the workers’ movements ushered in counter-revolutionary movements from that of Hitler to that of Suharto. Generations have had to pay for the crimes of the Stalinist leaders.

In the recent elections in India we saw how the communist parties paid for their past policies. They have attempted to carry out policies within the confines of capitalism. This means they have not been able to carry out policies in the interests of the workers and peasants. The Indian bourgeois media presented the election results as representing a move away from the left. In reality, the reason for their defeat is to be found in the fact that the leaders of the communist parties did not present a programme in any way fundamentally different from that of Congress. Indeed, the only real difference was on the labels. But this should not surprise us, as under the capitalism there is no real freedom, no genuine democracy and no welfare for the overwhelming majority of the people. As Lenin in his speech to the First Congress of the Communist International put it, “The workers know perfectly well, too, that even in the most democratic bourgeois republic 'freedom of assembly' is a hollow phrase, for the rich have the best public and private buildings at their disposal, and enough leisure to assemble at meetings, which are protected by the bourgeois machine of power. The rural and urban workers and the small peasants – the overwhelming majority of the population – are denied all these things. As long as that state of affairs prevails, 'equality', i.e., 'pure democracy', is a fraud.” (Theses on bourgeois democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat,, 4 March 1919)

What Next?

In the recent past, the boom benefited only a small minority. Now, when we are in recession and facing economical turmoil, the rich continue to enjoy the luxuries of life while the poor have to labour to guarantee the rich their luxuries. The coming period will be characterised by dramatic and sudden turns.

Marx once remarked “Revolutions are the locomotives of history”, and the present conditions in India are preparing the revolution of the future. Sooner or later Congress will stand exposed in the eyes of the masses and more avenues will open for the Marxists of India. Trotsky is now being read in India and people are looking for a solution. The penetration of Trotskyist ideas in Indian society is a symptom that the people and even genuine rank and file workers in the Communist parties are looking for a way out. They have experienced the Communist parties in government, and from this they are beginning to draw conclusions. They seek a way out on the left and that can only be found in the ideas of Trotsky. However, as internationalists we understand that the destiny of the Indian proletariat is inextricably tied up with that of the proletariat in the neighbouring countries, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The whole South Asian subcontinent is burning and from Islamabad to Dhaka, Calcutta to Katmandu, everywhere frustration and anger are palpable. The only way forward in such conditions is the Socialist Revolution! Only through such a revolution can the scourge of poverty be removed. The wealth is there, but it is in the wrong hands. Forward to a Socialist Federation of South Asia!


Friday, October 02, 2009

Michael Moore Presents Capitalism: A Love Story ***1/2

Written by Socialist Appeal
Thursday, 01 October 2009

A year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a financial avalanche, the US economy remains in a mess. Official unemployment is steadily creeping toward 10%, as forty-two states lost even more jobs in the last month, bringing the total losses since the recession began two years ago to nearly 7 million. The number of people forced to work part-time jobs due to not being able to find full-time work has risen by over 50% in the past year to 8.8 million. In just one month, 25,000 more manufacturing jobs were lost in Michigan alone. The state now has an unemployment rate of 15.2%.

Health care remains the number one issue facing working Americans, as the average premium for family health insurance offered through an employer surpassed the $13,000 mark this year, far outpacing increases in wages and inflation. Fewer employers offer coverage and those that do are passing greater costs along to their workers. And those are the lucky ones. If you lose your job, forget about it.

The National Academy of Science has developed a new formula to more accurately classify poverty, and found that 15.3% of all Americans live in poverty, up from the 12.5% estimated under the old guidelines. That’s 45.7 million people -- the equivalent of the entire population of Spain. Among the most affected are the 6.8 million elderly Americans who live below the poverty line -- so much for the “Golden Years!”

But for a handful of Americans, it is the “Golden Years” -- Goldman Sachs, that is. This monster financial powerhouse, whose former executives hold key positions at the Department of the Treasury (including Obama-appointed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner), recently set aside $11.3 billion to hand out in bonuses -- just months after receiving $10 billion in taxpayer bailout money. No wonder ordinary Americans who have never really doubted the system are starting to ask some questions!

Mark Benson, a 39-year old restaurant manager from Chicago, was recently quoted by Reuters: “I guess I ended up in the wrong career. It must be nice to work on Wall Street, when you profit you get a bonus, when your company fails you get a government bailout then a bonus. I’m all for free enterprise, it’s what built America. But when Wall Street screws up so badly that the government has to print money to bail them out, I confess the bonuses they’re still paying themselves make me feel sick.”

Annie Phillips, a 48-year-old housewife from Nashville had this to say: “Out here in the real world, people are unemployed and hungry and those bankers and the other big shots don’t give a damn.”

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke says that the worst of the recession is almost certainly over, and if you look only at corporate profits and overall economic growth, there may be a grain of truth to it. But this slight improvement is the result of massive deficit financing by the government and fewer workers doing more work while millions of others rot away on the unemployment line. Wall Street may be back “in the money,” but ask any ordinary worker, and you will get a different answer. In fact, a recent poll by the Associated Press found that 80% think the economy is doing badly and worry about whether or not they can make ends meet. 70% of Americans lack confidence in the ability of the government to prevent another financial industry meltdown. Just 17% believe the government stimulus package has done anything to improve the economy.

Judy Purkey, a 57-year-old grandmother from Morristown, TN was quoted as saying: “I know a lot of people who don’t have health care and really can’t afford it. The economy is so bad. You’ve heard the expression getting blood out of a turnip? -- Well, that’s what’s going on.”

As for who’s to blame for the mess, Americans are still giving President Obama the benefit of the doubt, with just one in five condemning him for this situation. Not surprisingly, over 50% blame former President Bush. Congress gets its fair share of the blame as well. But perhaps most revealing is the fact that that 79% of those polled blame the banks and lenders -- i.e., the capitalists.

It is against this volatile background that Michael Moore premieres his latest film, Capitalism: A Love Story. The fact that a film with such broad distribution even openly calls out the system by name is a tremendous step forward, a reflection of how far Americans’ consciousness has come since the dark days of September 2001. The film is a remarkable exposition of the realities of the system we live under. He exposes capitalism for what it is: a system based on the ruthless exploitation of the many by the few, who shamelessly loot millions of people’s lifelong savings, the public treasury, and kick millions out of their homes. By the end of the film, capitalism stands roundly condemned, and the viewer inevitably has to ask: why is it that in the richest country on earth we cannot provide jobs, health care, housing, and education for all. Moore effectively combines humor, heart-wrenching tragedy suffered by working people, irony, music, and reams of clearly presented facts and figures to provide an answer: capitalism is the problem.

Although Moore has long been a champion of working people and a “liberal” in the broadest sense of the word, his new film is definitely his most politically audacious yet. Not only the film, but his publicly stated views have become increasingly radicalized, as he has become emboldened by the rising anger against the excesses of the system. As he said in a recent interview:

“It’s been a year [since the collapse on Wall Street], and I haven’t seen a single talk show or single edition of ‘Meet the Press’ or an op-ed in the New York Times where they’ve allowed a voice to state the following: ‘The real capitalism itself.’ It’s an economic system that doesn’t work. It’s not fair, it’s not democratic, it’s not just and it’s got to go. I know I’m not the only person who feels that way, so why haven’t I heard it, why haven’t I read it, why is that part of the debate removed from the discourse? Capitalism is a beast. It will never stop. It has an insatiable desire to make money. You can put as many strings or ropes around it as you want but it will break through. There’s no such thing as enough with capitalism.”

This is incredibly bold and refreshing stuff. However, Moore is less clear as to what he is actually for. He clearly understands that the system can’t be reformed, that it must be replaced. Or, as one of the priests interviewed in the film puts it, “capitalism is evil, and you cannot regulate evil; you have to eliminate it.” However, it seems that Moore is still unwilling to draw the necessary conclusions -- or at least he is unwilling to state this openly.

The Workers International League thinks it is important to state what is: capitalism is the problem, and socialism is the solution. Socialism isn’t a dirty word and revolution isn’t a shadowy conspiracy carried out by a minority. The socialist revolution means nothing more nor less than bringing about a fundamental change in how society is structured and administered, through the direct, democratic, and conscious participation of the vast majority of society.

Moore, on the other hand, prefers to call for “democracy,” and draws on recently discovered film footage in which FDR -- the savior of capitalism during the Great Depression -- calls for a “Second Bill of Rights.” In this speech, FDR calls for the right to a good job, universal education and health care, and an end to racism. Now, whether he raised these points purely demagogically in order to rally the flagging spirits of the country behind the war effort, or whether he truly thought such reforms could come about within the limits of capitalism, we cannot know. But the fact is, capitalism has not been able to guarantee any of this to the entire population.

So we must ask ourselves: if it was unable to provide these basic demands during the long post-war boom or the recent capitalist bonanza, how can it possibly give us even a tenth of this during the current crisis? The Marxists are in favor of all of these things, however, we believe that they can only become a reality by fighting for socialism. Not the totalitarian caricature of Stalinism and Maoism, but democratic socialism, in which the workers democratically control the means of production, distribution and exchange, in harmony with the environment.

And although Moore skewers and exposes the Democrats throughout the movie, he gives Obama himself a pass. He presents the Obama election as a kind of rapture for suffering humanity. It is clear that Obama’s ascent to power was propelled by the heartfelt aspirations of millions of ordinary men and women, especially Blacks and other minorities. However, as a supporter of the effort to form a Labor Party in the late 1990s, Moore should know better: just as capitalism cannot be reformed, neither can the Democratic Party be reformed. Unfortunately, when Socialist Appeal asked Moore at a preview screening of the film whether or not he thought it was time for the unions and workers generally to break with the Democrats, he said that while he supports third party efforts, his advice was that it would be easier to reform the Democrats from within. This is akin to asking a lamb to go tidy up a wolves’ den!

Nonetheless, from his expose on how major corporations make millions by taking out life insurance policies on their employees (referred to as “Dead Peasant Insurance” in internal memos), to the footage from inside the factory occupation at Republic Windows and Doors, Moore relentlessly hammers the capitalist system and draws attention to the power of ordinary people if they organize.

The profound hope for change that swept the country after Obama’s election contains within it the embryo of a real force for change -- the working class majority itself. After a roller coaster of images and emotions, Moore calls on the viewing audience (which will number in the millions) to get organized and mobilize to bring about real change. The film then ends with a swing jazz version of the “Internationale.” Is Moore’s reluctance to call openly for socialism a calculated move to avoid being red-baited, demonized and discredited by the rabid right? Or is it because he is still unclear and unwilling to truly make a break with the system? Either way, Capitalism: A Love Story will open the eyes of millions in a way never before seen in a film with such a broad audience. Whether he calls it “socialism” or “democracy,” Moore seems sincere about wanting to end this system and replace it with something better. With the AFL-CIO now calling for single-payer health care and Moore’s new movie sure to inspire thousands to get organized and fight back against the attacks of the capitalists, there has never been a better time to fight for a mass party of labor and learn more about the ideas of revolutionary socialism and Marxism.

Louis Proyect's Review

Michael Moore's Website


Thursday, October 01, 2009

Jonathan Cook: Gaza peace protester is prisoner in own home

Taken from here

Lawyers denounce Israeli police crackdown

(Nazareth) -- Nine months after he helped to organize protests against Israel's attack on Gaza, Samih Jabareen is a prisoner in his home in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, an electronic bracelet around his ankle to alert the police should he step outside his front door.

The 40-year-old actor and theatre director is one of dozens of Arab political activists in Israel who have faced long-term detention during and since Israel's winter assault on Gaza in what human rights groups are calling political intimidation and repression of free speech by the Israeli police and courts.

A report published last week by Adalah, an Arab legal rights group in Israel, said 830 Israeli demonstrators, the overwhelming majority of them Arab citizens, were arrested for participating in mostly peaceful demonstrations during the 23 days of the Gaza operation.

According to the report, the police broke up protests using physical violence; most protesters were refused bail during legal proceedings, despite the minor charges; the courts treated children no differently from adults, in violation of international law; and Arab leaders were interrogated and threatened by the secret police in a bid to end their political activity.

This month's report by the UN inquiry into Gaza, led by Judge Richard Goldstone, dedicated a chapter to events inside Israel, concluding similarly that there was wide-scale repression of political activists, non-governmental organizations and journalists in Israel.

The goal, the committee said, was "to minimize public scrutiny of [Israel's] conduct both during its military operations in Gaza and the consequences that these operations have had for the residents of Gaza".

Abir Baker, a lawyer with Adalah, said the police and legal system had resorted to mass arrests and a declared policy of "zero tolerance" as the most effective way to suppress peaceful protests.

According to Adalah's statistics, a third of all those arrested were people under the age of 18, and, in a break with normal legal procedure, 80 per cent were refused bail for the entire period of legal proceedings. Detention is usually reserved for people considered a danger to the public. Most charges related to participation in a prohibited gathering, disturbing the peace or assaulting a police officer. Some children were charged with stone-throwing.

Ms Baker said it was telling that all the detainees in northern Israel, where most of Israel's 1.3 million Arab citizens live, were kept in detention throughout proceedings, while in Tel Aviv, where joint Arab-Jewish protests were held, all those arrested were quickly released.

She said: "The police used the power of arrest not to punish criminal behavior, but as a weapon to deter the Arab population from staging entirely lawful demonstrations. This is a tactic we have seen used before in Israel, particularly in the first and second intifadas."

She noted that there were echoes of events in October 2000, at the start of the second intifada, when Arab citizens held demonstrations in solidarity with Palestinians in the occupied territories. Thirteen unarmed Arab demonstrators were shot dead and hundreds were beaten and arrested.

A later state inquiry castigated the police for treating the Arab minority, a fifth of Israel's population, as an "enemy". Unlike in 2000, however, police commanders on this occasion did not resort to rubber bullets or live ammunition.

Mr Jabareen, a prominent political figure in Jaffa, said that during the Gaza assault he had been put under a three-day house arrest and faced a series of interrogations where he was warned he would be jailed.

Three weeks after the Gaza assault ended, at a small demonstration in northern Israel, he said the police set a "trap" for him. "When I arrived, the police commander clearly knew who I was. He immediately had seven officers surround me. I was soon on the ground and they were beating, hitting and kicking me."

Mr Jabareen was jailed for three weeks and has been under house arrest ever since.

Ms Baker said of his case: "The police commander accused him of assaulting him and yet they have produced no video footage, even though they filmed the entire demonstration, and no medical evidence that the commander was ever harmed."

Mr Jabareen said his treatment contrasted with that of the ultra-Orthodox in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem who have been clashing with police for months to prevent the opening of a car park on the Sabbath.988888

"They are shown on TV throwing punches at the police and hurling stones at them. A few arrests have been made, but despite the high levels of violence, they are almost always released the same or next day. How can I still be under house arrest for eight months? It is clear that different legal standards are being applied."

Ms Baker said the police had created new offences during the Gaza operation, such as "protests detrimental to public morale".

Adalah found that a new directive was issued to police commanders about how to handle the protests, though the police have refused to divulge its contents. Ms Baker said she would petition the attorney general for the information.

The Goldstone Committee noted widespread intimidation and humiliation of community leaders. Saleh Bakri, a public figure who participated in a silent candle-light vigil on January 1 in Haifa, was arrested and forced to stand motionless facing the Israeli flag for half an hour as police officers filmed him.

The committee also recorded that at least 20 Arab leaders were forced to attend illegal interrogations by the Shin Bet where they were asked about their political activities. Student activists were asked to collaborate with the authorities and threatened with arrest or harm to their studies if they refused.

Police demanded Amir Makhoul, the head of the Ittijah co-ordinating body for Arab organizations in Israel, attend an interrogation following a speech he gave on December 29 in Haifa. After he refused, he was forcibly escorted to a police station where he was interviewed for four hours.

"They told me I would be thrown in jail if I continued my political work and that they could arrange for me to be dumped in Gaza. Their main concern seemed to be that I was urging the younger generation to be more politically active," he said.

The Arab minority is staging a general strike on Thursday to protest the increasingly harsh climate and to mark the failure to prosecute any of the policemen responsible for the 13 deaths in 2000.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is

A version of this article originally appeared in The National (, published in Abu Dhabi

Marxist from Lebanon

Monday, September 28, 2009

Capitalism in Crisis: Iran

This post is a segment of essays by Alan Woods called The Crisis of Capitalism And The Tasks of Marxist. This is the section on Iran

By Alan Woods
Monday September 28, 2009

What happened in Iran took most people by surprise. It appeared to fall like a thunderbolt from a clear blue sky. But sudden and sharp changes of this sort are implicit in the situation. As a matter of fact these events were predicted in advance by this International, not now, but ten years ago, at the time of the first movement of the students.

At that time I wrote an article called The First Shots of the Iranian Revolution. And now we see the second chapter. Comrades, what a marvellous movement this was! It was an inspiration. After thirty years of the most savage and brutal dictatorship, a monstrous regime, based on a combination of extreme reaction and religious fanaticism, using extreme repression, murder, kidnapping, torture, we saw the explosive entry of the masses on the scene of history.

This is the final answer to all the cowards and sceptics, the cynics, the ex-Marxists, the ex-communists, and all the others who questioned the possibility of revolutionary movements in the present epoch. Despite all the terrible repression there were one million people on the streets of Tehran, maybe two million. It was an astounding revolutionary movement. And yet you have so-called left wingers, so-called Marxists, like James Petras, who have just made a very small error: they’re not capable of seeing the difference between revolution and counterrevolution.

Lenin explained the four conditions for a revolution. We’ve mentioned them before but we’ll mention them again. The first condition is a split at the top, a split in the ruling class: that the ruling class will not be able to rule with the methods they’ve used in the past. For 30 years the people of Iran have languished under this vicious rule, which is oppressive down to the smallest detail of people’s lives. The Mullahs try to control how people think, how people live, what people do, what people wear. Iran is a very young country, and it’s a very big country and 70% of the population are under thirty years of age, they have never known any other regime than this. And after thirty years, the masses are fed up with the Mullahs.

The Ayatollah Khomeini presented the image of Mr. Clean, as against the ghastly corruption of the Shah and his pro-imperialist gang. By the way, what stinking, disgusting, hypocrites the so-called democrats of the West are. In 1953, when there was a bourgeois democratic government, the only time in the history of Iran when there was such a government, led by a liberal called Mosaddeq, these imperialist gangsters wanted to take control of the oil wealth of the country. The British, the Americans, the CIA overthrew Mosaddeq and imposed a brutal dictatorship of the Shah, which was one of the bloodiest dictatorships known in the whole of the 20th century.

The regime of the Shah was disgustingly corrupt. People in this oil rich country were hungry, and the Shah engaged in public spectacles of the most obscene luxury. The Shah had a huge repressive apparatus, one of the biggest armies of the world, the secret police was known as the Savak, which had control over every aspect of life, they were very efficient, like the Gestapo. They had very pleasant little customs like roasting people to death with an electric fire. That was the regime that was put into power by the British and the Americans and supported until the end by the British and the Americans.

That ended in a revolution in 1979, in which the Iranian workers played a key role. They confronted the repressive apparatus in the streets. They armed themselves, because the soldiers deserted en masse, handing their weapons over to the people. It is not generally know that the Iranian workers set up soviets, known as the shoras. Power was within the reach of the working class. Unfortunately the Iranian Communist Party didn’t want to take power. They helped the gangster Khomeini to take power. And Khomeini said, thank you very much and illegalized the Communists and put them in jail.

The price paid by the Iranian people was this monstrous, fundamentalist dictatorship for thirty years. But now this regime is finished. The only thing that maintains it is fear, and as you see the fear is disappearing. Now there’s always a comical side to politics, politics has got an amusing side. And you see this here; it’s quite amusing to see what happened. Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, was so confident that he allowed a relatively free election campaign. He was confident because he was going to rig the elections. The top Mullahs vetted all the candidates, and they eliminated 400 candidates, and since the four candidates who were left were all men of the regime, there was not a problem. Or so it appeared…

But then a strange thing occurred. Hegel said, and Lenin often repeated it, necessity expresses itself through accident. This Mousavi was an accidental figure; he was part of the regime. He was the prime minister during the war with Iraq. But then they had some debates on television and the question of the economy was raised, and this is at the basis of the situation of Iran, as oil prices have fallen. So there was a lot of discontent and a lot of interest in these debates.

By the way, it is true that Ahmadinejad did give some reforms. He could afford it, as he had the money from the oil. He gave subsidies, particularly to the poor peasants in the villages, so he has a certain support among these sections. But that support is increasingly being eroded, the conditions of the masses are getting worse and there has been a wave of strikes in Iran. Therefore, a strange thing happened in this election campaign. In the past people were not interested in the elections, mostly they didn’t bother to vote. But in these elections there were huge rallies in Tehran. This fact already indicated a change in the mood of the masses.

Although Mousavi didn’t represent any real opposition, he was seen by the masses as the opposition candidate and therefore it was seen as an opportunity to give the regime a kick. Most observers were convinced that Mousavi was going to win the election. It is impossible to say what the figures were, we will never know, but here the regime made a mistake. Ahmadinejad immediately came on television and announced he’d won by a huge majority. Even in an advanced capitalist country it takes some time before the final results are announced. Iran is a very big country with quite a primitive infrastructure in the rural areas. So how could he make this announcement immediately?

If he had said, “I won by a small difference” maybe some people would have believed it. But instead, they announced a huge victory, and people didn’t believe it. There was an immediate reaction. People came on the streets: students (it was mainly students in the beginning), also middle class people, and teachers – people who in the past would have supported the regime. The women played a huge role, since the women are some of the main victims of this regime.

Let’s remind ourselves of the conditions Lenin put forth, the four conditions for revolution:

The regime is split; there is a crisis in the regime.

The middle class is wavering between the revolutionary forces and the ruling class.

The working class is ready to fight and make the greatest sacrifices.

The existence of a revolutionary party and leadership.

The regime in Iran is split from top to bottom. This always happens at the beginning of any revolution all throughout history. It happened in France in 1789 and in Russia in February 1917. When a regime enters into an impasse, it is reflected in two factions at the top. One faction says we must reform from the top to prevent a revolution from below. And the other faction says no, if we start reforming from the top there’ll be a revolution from below, keep things as they are. And both of them are right.

As for the second point, the middle class was not wavering, but actually took the side of the revolution. There was some participation of the workers, like the Teheran bus drivers. There was even talk of a general strike, but this failed to materialize, precisely because of the absence of the last factor: a revolutionary party and leadership.

These were the biggest movements of the masses since 1979. They took the regime by surprise. They took Mousavi by surprise. They took the Americans by surprise. The argument that the CIA is responsible for this movement is a monstrous invention. Mousavi did everything in his power to block this movement. Every day he would say: “don’t go on the streets, you’re going to be killed, I want to save your life.” Every day he said this and every day more people came onto the streets. Not just students and middle class people.

The Economist described the people that were on these demonstrations: there was a mixture, students, middle class people, women, a lot of women, but also poor people from the poor districts of Tehran, women dressed in the head covering and poor people, and even mullahs. This was a colossal movement. It’s the kind of movement you’d expect at the beginning of every genuine revolution which stirs up society to the depths. The authorities tried repression; people were beaten up by the Basiji. They were beaten up, imprisoned, and some people were killed. But nothing could stop it. At one point, there were even indications that cracks were opening up within the police.

These demonstrators were extraordinary because nobody organized them. I suppose if ever there was an argument for anarchism, this would be it. It was spontaneous, by word of mouth. The youth used mobile phones and all the other modern technology which is now available.

The regime tried to block the internet and block mobile phone transmission, and still they found ways around it. How do you stop a movement when there’s no leadership, there’s no one to arrest? That’s why they couldn’t stop this movement. The anarchists are doubtless delighted by all this. But we must point out to the anarchists that while the lack of leadership was, in one sense, a strong point, it was also a weak point.

In the end the movement failed in its objectives. We must ask why. There were two fatal weaknesses in this movement. In the first place, it was precisely the weakness of spontaneity. There was no leadership, no plan, and no strategy. It is impossible to keep masses of people on the streets without such a plan. Eventually, the movement will dissipate, just as steam dissipates in the air unless it is concentrated in a piston-box.

Above all there was no participation by the organized workers. That was the second and decisive weakness. This again shows the limitations of the workers’ leaders in Iran. There have been many strikes in Iran in the last period, but in the decisive moment, where was the leadership? Unfortunately, the so-called workers’ vanguard failed to support the movement and did not call on the workers to join it.

I have the impression that these so-called vanguard workers are either ex-Stalinists, or demoralized elements of the older generation who are under the influence of Stalinist ideas. Whatever they are, they behaved very badly. There’s a marvellous article by Trotsky written in 1930, which has got a direct reference to what is happening in Iran. It is called The Spanish Revolution and the Tasks of the Communists. At that time there were big student demonstrations, and Trotsky insisted that the Spanish workers and the Spanish Communists must support these demonstrations and put forth revolutionary democratic demands.

Unfortunately in Iran the workers’ leaders boycotted the election and boycotted this movement, which is a very bad way to behave. An indefinite general strike would have finished this regime, especially if it was accompanied by the setting up of soviets, or shoras, to use the Farsi word. The idea of a general strike was floating in the air, and even Mousavi made some vague references to it. All that was required was to name a day, and that would have been enough. But this demand never came forward.

We pointed out in the articles on the website, that you cannot have a situation where you’re calling people out on the streets saying, demonstrate, demonstrate, demonstrate, without any perspective. People are going out on the streets every day and getting their heads cracked, and there’s no perspective. And therefore what happened was inevitable. I said in my first article: if it carries on like this it will go down. And that is what happened.

On the surface it seems that the regime has regained control but that is not the case. Nothing is solved and the splits in the regime now are wide open. There have been splits on the left (if you can call the reformists the left).and splits on the right also. Particularly interesting is the conduct of Rafsanjani, who is one of the main gangsters in the regime - a very rich gangster, and a very clever gangster. Now he has gone over to the opposition.

Rafsanjani held a Friday prayer meeting about ten days ago, a Friday prayer meeting in one of the main Mosques in Tehran. This is not a new thing; the leaders do this quite often. Ahmadinejad did it quite recently. But at the most in a big rally (for that is what it is), you woud get no more than 50,000 people. How many went to this prayer meeting with Rafsanjani? One million people! Now it may be that one million people suddenly developed a burning interest in praying to Allah. It’s possible, but I don’t think so. This was a mass political demonstration. And this same gangster, this Rafsanjani, gave a very militant speech in the Mosque.

I don’t think he said a lot about Allah, what he did say was to call for democracy, he said that the elections were rigged, he said it was impermissible to use violence against the people of Iran and he called for the release of everyone who had been arrested. This is astonishing. And even more interestingly he was supported by leading clerics from the city of Qom which is the main religious centre in Iran. I think at least four or five Grand Ayatollahs came out in support of Rafsanjani. This means there is an open split and it seems Khamenei is losing control.

Khamenei is the Supreme Leader, not only of the religious questions, he’s the Supreme Leader of the state, he controls the army, the police, the judiciary, and he’s been publicly challenged by Rafsanjani. Even more significant, the night before that meeting, on Thursday night, 24 top army officers were arrested. Two of them were generals. Why were they arrested? They went to this prayer meeting with their uniforms, and this was a serious act of rebellion.

Therefore, all the conditions Lenin put forth for a revolution are present in Iran except one, or to be more accurate, one and a half, because the proletariat, again through the fault of the leadership, has not played the leading role that it should play. Lenin wrote in 1905 that in a situation like that, the proletariat must put itself at the head of the nation. The proletariat and its Party must fight for the most advanced revolutionary democratic demands, which can appeal not just to the workers but to the middle class, the students, the youth, and the women.

These democratic demands must be summed up with one slogan, for a nationwide general strike and soviets (shoras). If they did that, this regime would be finished. Now just think what that means. Just imagine the effect of a revolution in Iran. Imagine the effect it would have on all the countries in that area, regimes like Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, they would fall, one after the other. Why do you think the imperialists have been so quiet around this business in Iran?

You ask me what form the new government would take. I answer: if there was a Bolshevik Party (even a party of 8000, as the Bolsheviks were in February 1917), you’d be talking about a classical proletarian revolution in Iran. But there is no such party. Therefore it’s almost certain that the Iranian revolution will have to pass through a phase of a bourgeois parliamentary regime of some sort, as happened in Spain after 1931. But under conditions of economic crisis, that will not be a recipe for peace any more than it was in 1931 Spain.

The overthrow of the regime has only been postponed till the next crisis, which may be in six months, twelve months or a couple of years. But it is inevitable. And it will open up a very stormy period in Iran. We can’t be precise about the nature of the regime that will emerge. But I will tell you what it will not be: there cannot be anther fundamentalist Islamic regime in Iran, not after the last 30 years. That’s finished. And therefore the Iranian revolution, for the first time, will cut across all this madness of fundamentalism that exists in the Middle East.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Food and Blogging: Watergate Summer Edition

I asked several bloggers, to send me recipes; preferably easy to prepare, common ingredients, ethnic etc. In addition if I print the recipe, I'll plug your blog. Send recipes to me at the email address at my profile. I was going to print them all in one post, but I acquired too many. Political agreement doesn't matter. Atleast every month I'll continue this series. Leave comments about food, the blog, restaraunts etc. Everyone who sent recipes, will eventually have them published. I'm going in random order.

It's been two years since I've received this recipe. I do publish eventually what I receive. Our recipe today comes from blogger Enigma4ever, who is that. I've always liked her blog Watergate Summer. My political views differ with hers, mostly about the Democratic Party, still her views are consistent and principled. When its election time or a big event, the open threads at her blog, are a good source for info. Enigma describes her blog; I am a wandering refugee intuitive truthseeking scorched whistleblower mom nurse. I am a newsjunkie,research fiend.Most of my heroes are gone- MLK,Robert Kennedy,Ghandi, Marley,Lennon and Peter Jennings, and George Carlin.Change has come to America,let's see where we can take this Country Now.

Get to the food:

Jiffy Cornbread Mix

1 can creamed corn
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 tablespoon Coca Cola
1 tsp. Baking soda
2 Tablespoons Vanilla Coffee Creamer
1 half stick butter
sprinkle in pumpkin pie spice,cinnamon,nutmeg
mix until smooth
put in greased loaf pan

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.


Chicken ( which goes great with the cornbread)

Chicken Legs&thighs
Mix Ingredients:
One Quarter Cup Ketchup
Catalina Salad Dressing-half cup
1 Half cup Coca Cola
1 cup water with Chicken Boullion
French Mustard Squirt on the chicken
Maple syrup ( half cup)
spring onions -cut small
one yellow onion- cut small bits
sautee the onion in boullion on the stove,
and add 2 tablespoons of garlic paste ( comes in a tube)
( OR you can chop fine 5 small garlic cloves)
Pour the mixture of liquids on over the Chicken...
with the onions and garlic-
When the Chicken is lying in the pan with all
liquids bathing it-
Sprinkle MrsDash, and Old Bay seasonging across, with
some ground pepper.

Put Foil over and bake at 350 degrees for about 50-60 minutes.

( I also serve with Orange/Onion/Rommaine Salad with raspbery vinegrette dressing and
with Raspberry Mint Sun Tea.....and I make Lemon Strawberry Cheesecake for dessert....)

Bon Appetite....( Southern Women put Coca Cola in Everything....and sometimes

Watergate Summer.

Keep sending recipes


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mel Zelaya Back in Honduras! Now Mass Action Needed to Overthrow the Coup!

Written by Jorge Martín Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Yesterday morning it was confirmed that Mel Zelaya was in the capital Tegucigalpa. He made an appeal to the people to come out to protect him. The masses responded by the tens of thousands. The next few hours will be decisive. The balance of forces is on the side of the masses. They can deal the last blow to the coup regime and start the building of a new political regime based on the organisation of the masses.

On Monday morning, September 21, at 11am it was confirmed that Mel Zelaya, the legitimate president of Honduras, was in the capital Tegucigalpa, hosted by the Brazilian embassy. President Zelaya made an appeal to the people to come out to protect him, and they responded by the tens of thousands. He had been overthrown by a military coup carried out by the oligarchy on June 28 and for 86 days the workers, peasants and youth, the people of Honduras, had maintained an heroic struggle against the coup facing repression, selective assassinations, mass arrests and a media blockade. It was only the resistance of the masses, led by the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup, which made possible Zelaya's return to the country on September 21. It was neither the diplomatic manoeuvres, nor the pressure of the different international bodies (which was at best very mild) on the regime.

Zelaya's return took the regime completely by surprise. First they denied reports that the president was back in the country. But pictures of him at the Brazilian embassy had already been published by the world's media. Thousands were already gathering outside the Brazilian embassy and Zelaya had addressed the crowd with the battle cry of "Motherland, Restitution or Death!" For more than five hours there was no official response from the Micheletti regime. At 5pm local time Micheletti came out in a press conference, surrounded by representatives from the capitalist class and demanded that Brazil hand over Zelaya to face trial. He had already announced that a curfew would be imposed from 4pm until 6am the following morning (which he then extended to 6pm Tuesday). This provoked panic as workers in the public and private sector left their jobs and rushed home.

The regime is clearly attempting to use repression to stop the movement. The Armed Forces in a separate statement announced that they would defend "constitutional order" (that is, the illegitimate coup), "even if it means the loss of life". Mobile phone networks were cut off, opposition radio stations had power cut off and had to be taken off the air, and the army took over the country's four airports and closed them down.

But the enthusiasm created by Zelaya's return after 86 days of mass resistance cannot be stopped by repression. We are likely to be witnessing the last days of the coup. By the end of the evening a massive crowd estimated at 50,000 people, defying the curfew, were already gathering around the Brazilian embassy and Zelaya was meeting with the leaders of the resistance. The mood was jubilant and the streets were full of laughter, joy and celebration. In the working class neighbourhood of Kennedy, three thousand people also defied the curfew, marching until midnight. Similar scenes were repeated all over the country.

However, a word of warning must be said. The struggle is not yet over. The coup plotters are still in power and control the state apparatus (including the Army and the Police). If the coup is overthrown by a popular insurrection they have a lot to lose and therefore they could resort to desperate measures to stay in power.

On the other hand, sections of the oligarchy and above all US imperialism will be keen to try to reach a negotiated settlement, to save whatever they can. Washington has already insisted that the way forward is the San José "Accord", which as we have already explained, would tie Zelaya hand and foot and give the oligarchy what they wanted to achieve through the coup. This must be rejected! There should be no amnesty for the coup plotters. The will of the people must be expressed democratically in free and democratic elections to a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly, not the rigged elections the coup plotters are preparing for November 29.

Already at the OAS emergency meeting called to discuss the events, a resolution was passed reaffirming the San José Accord. However both Nicaragua and Venezuela voted against and registered their protest. The Nicaraguan ambassador said that he had talked to Zelaya and that Zelaya was also rejecting the San José agreement, which he had previously accepted. This is correct and should be applauded. Other Latin American governments should be put under pressure to follow the same line (starting with Bolivia, El Salvador and Ecuador).

In the next few hours we can expect to see frantic negotiations to save capitalist legality and the heads of the most prominent coup plotters and their supporters in the capitalist class, combined by attempts to put the movement down with repression.

The masses have to deal the last blow to the regime. The National Front has made an appeal for a national march on the capital which could be even larger than the historic march in early July when Zelaya attempted to return by plane. This should be accompanied by a general strike with workplace occupations. The workers must become the masters of the situation. If the regime cuts off power from radio stations, the workers must reconnect them. If the regime cuts off mobile phone coverage, the telecommunication workers must restore it. The teachers unions have already called for an all out strike starting on Tuesday morning. The neighbourhood, local and regional committees of the Front should take control of the situation and coordinate their actions through democratically elected representatives, so that an alternative power can be set up to that of the illegitimate coup regime.

There should also be a clear appeal to the ranks of the Army and the police not to follow orders. Zelaya has already called them to turn their weapons against their officers. This must be backed up by the mass pressure on the streets and outside the military barracks. At the same time the movement must defend itself against provocations and repression. Barricades have already been erected outside the Brazilian embassy. Armed defence squads should be organised as well.

The next few hours will be decisive. The balance of forces is on the side of the masses. They can deal the last blow to the coup regime and start the building of a new political regime based on the organisation of the masses. A revolutionary constituent assembly called under the authority of the National Front of Resistance is the way forward that can satisfy the aspirations of the masses.

Down with the coup!
General strike, march on Tegucigalpa and peoples' insurrection!
For a Revolutionary Constituent Assembly!