The Voice of the Anti-Imperialist Movement from

Under Lock & Key

Expand ULK. Send us $50 concealed cash with an address and we'll send you a stack of each issue for the next year. help out
[Police Brutality] [Oscar Grant] [California] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Oakland Stands Up

At night I see your light through my bedroom window
But I ain't got shit but the pad and pencil
I can't wait till I hear you say, " I'm going down, mayday, mayday"
I'm gonna clown 'cause every time that the pigs have got me
—from Ghetto Bird by Ice Cube

Oakland, California is not quite like Los Angeles. Having to fall asleep to the sound of helicopters overhead night after night is not routine. But in the last week that changed with three nights of uprisings and demonstrations in response to the murder of Oscar Grant, a 22 year old Black man who was shot in the back by a cop while face down on the ground.

Chemical warfare, tasers, armored vehicles with mounted guns and numerous helicopters were used by the city of Oakland against its residents the first night of the uprising. Over 100 people were arrested for various trumped up charges. Those who were not bailed out have already been given hearings where 21 of 24 people had their charges dismissed. One of the 3 remaining charges is a felony arson charge against JR, the Minister of Information for the Prisoners of Conscience Committee, indicating clear political motivations behind these arrests. Last night another couple dozen people were arrested. It took 2 weeks to arrest someone who shot a man in the back, but the OPD saw it as appropriate to jail over 130 people, most, if not all, of whom have no substantiated charges.

Just as they tried to do the night of the murder, Oakland pigs confiscated all cameras and cell phones from those arrested. Some who were arrested have not got their cameras back and others have gotten theirs back with the material erased from them. Numerous people videotaped the shooting of Oscar Grant on New Year's Eve, leading pigs to go around seizing peoples' cell phones in an attempt to destroy evidence.

JR is one of many who reported being rushed and tackled by police while merely standing on a downtown street during the demonstrations. In another instance, a group of pigs marched across the street towards a group of protestors when one of the thugs approached a Black youth and shoved him in the chest. The pigs waited for a response and then seized the kid, leading to a scuffle between the two groups followed by the youth running away.

After the roundups the first night, JR reported, "Behind enemy lines, the inmates at Santa Rita put their fists in the air, smiled, cheered and gave us dap when we told them that we were being held captive because we were in the streets during the rebellion. Mexicans were congratulating Blacks, Blacks were congratulating whites, Norteños (a Latino street organization) were congratulating Bloods (a Southern Cali street organization), who are their rivals, for their participation in fighting the police and the city for justice against police terrorism."(1) In our next issue of Under Lock & Key we will focus on the question of peace between lumpen organizations. Practice demonstrates that great injustice is often the only thing that can undo the work the pigs do to keep oppressed youth at each others' throats.

As many have pointed out, this case has gotten so much attention because it was so blatant and it was videotaped by numerous people. The sick part is that many people are still saying things like, "you don't know what you'd do in a high pressure situation like that" and that the cop "has already suffered enough." The guy shot an unarmed persyn in the back while he was on the ground!

The only way to do justice to Oscar Grant is to prevent incidents like this again in the future, which requires eliminating the biggest and deadliest gang plaguing the streets of cities across the united $tates - the pigs. While this was going on in Oakland, comrades in New York were organizing a demonstration for Justice for Imam Morales, who was killed by the NYPD on September 24th, 2008. Two other Black men were killed by the pigs on New Year's Eve, the night Oscar was shot in cold blood. We can keep adding to the list of names, or we can stop the perpetrators.

The movement for justice for Oscar Grant has demonstrated the pitfalls of coalition based organizing and the need for a vanguard organization to provide leadership.(2) There has been a lot of talk about the Panthers in the last couple weeks, and their presence is missed. Without the vanguard party, a coalition of interested parties have decided to work together. To do so requires reducing the coalition to the lowest common denominator, and in this country in this time, that's not very good. One of the leaders of the the coalition linked the recent murder charges brought against the cop who shot Oscar to the new hope that comes with a Black man in the white house. Such hopefulness ignores the real reason why the police exist, and why their presence is so strong in certain communities.

MIM(Prisons) joins in the demand for criminal prosecution of the pig who killed Oscar Grant. But we don't have to sit down with the state to make this demand. The city is clearly responding to the demonstrations in the street, first when it made a statement to quell the first uprising after a week of silence and then when it arrested the shooter the night before the last demonstration. Lesson 1: The people can exert power independent of the state.

Ain't shit changed cuz Obama in the house.
O P D had 15 murders, man
that's all we know about
cuz that's all that we heard of
all the peckerwoods better hide tonight,
cuz my city frustrated, they 'gon riot tonight.
I don't condone the riots
cuz we burnin' down our own shit.
But I ain't mad at them cop cars that they hit.
—from My Life, a tribute to Oscar Grant by Mistah F.A.B.

As all this goes down, there has been much debate in the streets about what is OK to smash and burn, if anything. The smashed windows and burning cars are only the expression of anger towards the pigs. It is out of fear and a sense of powerlessness that people cannot attack the object of their anger and lash out on inanimate objects instead. We don't condone random property destruction as a tactic for change, but if a real solution is to come of all this, it is not going to come from those who are working within the capitalist state. Anarchists want to expand the actions of the more radical sections of the demonstrations, while focusing on more "corporate" targets. But nights of Black youth roving the streets among groups of riot cops, being videotaped and snatched to prison cannot continue much longer. Lesson 2: The spontaneous youth must come together and exert their power in more meaningful ways, within the context of national liberation struggles and anti-imperialism.

They discover that the success of the struggle presupposes clear objectives, a definite methodology and above all the need for the mass of the people to realize that their unorganized efforts can only be a temporary dynamic... you'll never overthrow the terrible enemy machine, and you won't change human beings if you forget to raise the standard of consciousness of the rank-and-file. Neither stubborn courage nor fine slogans are enough.
—from Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

notes: (1) Oakland rebellion: Eyewitness report by POCC Minister of Information JR. http://www.sfbayview.com/2009/oakland-rebellion-eyewitness-report-by-pocc-minister-of-information-jr/, see sfbayview.com to donate to JR's legal defense
(2) see MIM Theory 14: United Front and What is MIM?

chain
[Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

ULK6 Intro: The Gender Issue

This issue of Under Lock and Key focuses on the topic of gender. Usually when people think about gender oppression they think in the black and white terms of wimmin being oppressed and men being in power. But the reality is a lot more complex. For instance, in prisons, which overwhelmingly house men, gender oppression takes on a special form where men experience gender oppression regularly at the hands of male and female guards and at the hands of other prisoners.

Gender oppression is one component of imperialism, and it is a particularly difficult topic for those living in the First World where the majority enjoy gender privilege but also experience gender oppression. Overall MIM(Prisons) sees First World wimmin and men as mainly oppressors, not oppressed, when it comes to gender. Globally we find gender privilege in the Amerikan men who buy wives/prostitutes in other countries. This leisure time privilege is connected to economics, with men’s greater access to jobs and positions of power around the world. With First World wimmin we see gender privilege in the form of contraceptive testing on Third World wimmin and nannies who allow First World wimmin to raise healthy children while experiencing great leisure time. In addition, gender and economics intersect creating the ho relationship where First World wimmin benefit from their access to rich men thanks to closed borders. Pornography that elevates the white womyn also allows, what we call the “gender aristocracy,” to benefit from leisure time financially through the entertainment industry. While it’s clear that First World men have more gender privilege and power than First World wimmin, overall both are oppressors on a global scale relative to Third World men and wimmin. As a group, the First World of all genders are more united than ever in their exploitation of the rest of the world.

Yet, even within the U.$., there are groups that fall closer to the gender oppressed including those without citizenship, children and prisoners. In prisons, guards use their power to gain sexual access to prisoners (both male and female). And among prisoners there are some, generally sanctioned by the guards, who also enjoy sexual access to other prisoners. This sex between prisoners comes with a significant power differential because of the nature of imprisonment. That’s not to say that sex outside of prison is free of power. MIM(Prisons) upholds the MIM position that no sex under the patriarchy can be fully consensual as long as there are power differentials between people. In other words, all sex is rape under patriarchy. There may be different types of coercion - the overt physical overpowering of someone is a very different kind of rape than the couple who both want to have sex. However, we can not downplay the importance of things like money, looks, education, political power, and other things which lead someone to “consent” to sex. Desire is fucked up under capitalism and we can’t pretend things are equal when they are not.

An article in Under Lock and Key #1 took an in depth look at gender and rape in prisons:
“To help sort out the gender status of biomale prisoners, a recent Department of Justice report gives us the surprising statistics that, “In State and Federal prisons, 65% of inmate victims of staff sexual misconduct and harassment were male, while 58% of staff perpetrators were female”. (Here we are discussing the 52% of reported sexual violence in prisons where the captor assaulted captive. The rest were inmate-on-inmate assaults, addressed more below.) (1) In the general population 97% of sexual violence reports are wimmin victims and the perpetrator is generally male (around 98%). The instance of female perpetrators is actually a higher rate in instances of assaults on males, estimated at around 14%. (2) Much higher than female assaults on wimmin, but nowhere near the 58% of assaults on prisoners of any biology.

“With 93% of the u.$. prison population being male, we would expect a much higher percentage of assaults to be against males than females, even if rates of assault for wimmin was higher. But assuming 97% of victimization is of bio-wimmin as it is on the street, you’d only get 29% of the absolute number of assaults being against men in prison. So we’re seeing a ratio of male to female victims on the order of 2 times the general population. In other words, if wimmin are five times as likely to be assaulted in prison than they are on the street, then men are 10 times as likely.

“Unfortunately, the study does not breakdown the statistics of female on male vs. female on female assaults. But even if we assume that all of the 35% of staff sexual assaults on wimmin in state and federal prisons are perpetrated by wimmin, that leaves another 23% of the perpetrators who are females attacking males (assuming one-to-one incidents, which was the vast majority). Even if you want to argue that no male guards ever sexually assault female prisoners, you see a significantly greater rate of bio-wimmin engaging in sexual violence against males in prison compared to the general population. Since female assaults on males in the general population are much higher than female assaults on females, we would be better off assuming the opposite. If we assume a proportional breakdown you’d be comparing 58% female perpetrators against bio-men in prison against the 14% on the street. If that weren’t bad enough, we must factor in that females are still only a minority of prison staff, accounting for 22% in the federal system. (3) So that 58% of assailants is coming from maybe a quarter of the staff that happen to be bio-wimmin. These are the statistics that back up our line on Lynndie England that it could have been any amerikkkan womyn sexually assaulting Iraqi bio-men. And if we acknowledge that Iraqis under occupation are much more powerless and oppressed than amerikan citizens, then these statistics speak even louder to say that amerikan bio-wimmin are the enemies of the oppressed.”

Just as the labor aristocracy usually outdoes the imperialists in its racist oppression, here we see an extreme example of the gender aristocracy outdoing men in gender oppression.

While discussing how to define gender that same article went on: “.....Prisoners (of both genders) and youth (of both genders) are reporting more sexual assaults than wimmin over all. If being young or incarcerated is really twice as risky as having female genitalia as the report rates suggest, then not only are there other considerations to determine someone’s gender status, but there are factors that are much more important than what genitalia a persyn is born with. Below we will see how age and incarceration intersect to create one of the most gender oppressed groups in the united $tates.

“MIM has established the basis for gender as purely gender in a persyn’s physical development, age and health status. Therefore, when nation and class are not major complicating factors, such as within the amerikan labor aristocracy, these are the basis for gender differences.

“However, the greatest differences in gender are found between the imperialist nations and the Third World people. Therefore when we talk about the spectrum of gender oppression we place most First Worlders on the male end of the spectrum, regardless of biology. We have demonstrated how First World bio-wimmin benefit by the patriarchy elsewhere. (4) The picture of bio-wimmin as sexual assailants in prisons above only adds to this argument....”

The fight against gender oppression must be waged directly in a battle against sexual assault and psycho-sexual warfare, and also as a part of the larger fight against imperialism because the patriarchy is intimately tied up with the capitalist system. In this issue we have an article about pornography in prison and why we oppose its censorship but at the same time we also oppose pornography in general. We take a global view comparing what some called the “feminism” of Sarah Palin with the real world slaughter of children in Gaza this month. We also have several responses to an article on psycho-sexual warfare in prisons that was printed in ULK4. That article inspired a lot of prisoners to write in about their experiences with the various ways that sex is used as an oppressive tool in the context of the prison system: guards paying for access to prisoners sexuality in various ways, guards manipulating prisoners by offering sex, guards using sex to pit prisoners against each other, and guards just using sex to straight up harass prisoners. Some of those stories appear in this issue.

The lumpen get a bad rap when it comes to gender for not fitting into pc-white cultural norms, which is exacerbated by white-owned entertainment companies that make their money selling images of the oppressed nations that exaggerate the negative to white consumers. The experiences of gender oppression faced by millions of oppressed nation men are an educational opportunity that we see far more potential in than a college course in so-called feminism or a “Take back the Night” rally. We welcome further responses and analysis on this topic and encourage our comrades who want to study this issue in depth to get a copy of the MIM Theory 2/3 on Gender and Revolutionary Feminism.

Notes:
(1) U.S. Department of Justice. Sexual Violence Reported by Correctional Authorities, 2006. August 2007. http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/svrca06.htm
(2) Whealin Ph.D., Julia M. National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Fact Sheet: Men and Sexual Trauma. http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/ncmain/ncdocs/fact_shts/fs_male_sexual_assault.html?opm=1&rr=rr88&srt=d&echorr=true
(3) http://www.bop.gov/news/quick.jsp
(4) How does the gender aristocracy benefit? http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/gender/garistocracybenefits.html

chain
[Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Prop 8 - gay marriage, gender oppression and political confusion

For communists, the gay marriage issue is a no brainer, but not really useful. Opposing oppression means we oppose restricting marriage and the rights that go along with it to certain groups of people. But it's not an issue communists will focus on to organize around as a reform for the petit-bourgeoisie. However, we do want to talk to people about this struggle because the pro-gay rights movement is not effectively attacking gender oppression, while the most oppressed have largely opposed the movement, often for the wrong reasons. A discussion is useful to win over those radicals who are in the gay-rights movement for the right reasons, while discouraging incorrect reactions by the oppressed.

Proposition 8, the ballot initiative in California that amended the state constitution to ban same sex marriage this year, is a fundamentally reactionary initiative that takes away rights from a group of people based on gender. While we can clearly say that Prop 8 is wrong, we did not spend time campaigning against it because our priorities right now are around fighting for rights for the oppressed, and as a group overall we do not count queer Amerikans as part of the world's oppressed. And the campaign against Prop 8 was so focused on what is necessary to rally a majority of Amerikan citizens against this proposition, they avoided useful education about gender oppression (because that is what was necessary to win over as many Amerikans as possible). We are pleased to see so many people without much previous political experience taking to the streets and the churches to protest passage of Proposition 8, as it is good to have people getting involved in political actions, speaking out against mis-education, and learning from this activism. As an exposure of religious anti-science and religious influence on politics, Prop 8 has been serving a good educational purpose for the public.

MIM has long talked about sexuality as a part of gender, and oppression against people based on sexual orientation as a part of gender oppression. But we are also clear that in imperialist countries, citizens enjoy gender privilege relative to the rest of the world. This is partly because gender is so tied up with class and nation privilege, and partly because of the gender strand of oppression that grants First World men and wimmin things like access to contraceptive devices tested on Third World men and wimmin, among other privileges. Further, marriage is not a matter of life or death for most people. The exception is for immigrants seeking legal residence in the U.$., ironically the one of only two rights associated with marriage that state-sanctioned civil unions can not offer (the other is the ability to file federal taxes jointly). Since marriage is not a question of economics or survival for most people, this is more about shuffling around rights within the labor aristocracy and petit-bourgeoisie.

The attention that Proposition 8 has received across the country relative to other propositions is telling. While marriage rights are not a matter of life and death, or even a significant quality of life question for most people, there were two ballot initiatives in California related to prisons that are far more immediate to the freedom and rights of the oppressed in the state. Proposition 5 would have provided expanded and improved drug treatment for people convicted of drug offenses, reducing the prison population and helping people with drug problems. It failed overwhelmingly. This proposition was demonstrably cheaper and healthier for people than prisons. But there has been no public outcry against its failure. Conversely, Proposition 9 passed, taking away prisoners rights to parole hearings and decreasing opportunities for early release. Again, an expensive proposition for the state, and demonstrably bad for the people as longer prison terms do not result in better citizens on the streets.

The prison initiatives have an impact on national oppression while the marriage ban impacts gender. It is important that we not ignore gender oppression when focusing on national oppression. But we do need to recognize that national oppression is the principal contradiction in the U.$. And the effects of this oppression are much more pressing than marriage. They relate to family livelihood, education, and fundamental freedom as more and more Blacks and Latinos are locked up in prison.

Our criticism of the No-on-8 campaign comes back to their goal. Right now the vast majority of Amerikans oppose gay marriage. So by focusing on this one reform within the imperialist system, the No-on-8 people had to pander to this majority by avoiding discussion of real issues of gender oppression or making any connections to national oppression. A campaign that provided people with more correct and useful educational material might have had an even lesser chance of winning, but at least it would have been a progressive use of the millions of dollars spent on this campaign.

Religion is anti-science

Prop 8 does give us the opportunity to point out clearly why it is not always good to be on the side of the majority. As with the case of the economic interests of Amerikan citizens, currently the gender interests of Amerikan citizens related to gay marriage are reactionary for the majority. In fact, California is unusually progressive on this issue - virtually every other state except Massachusetts would have passed this ballot initiative without a fight. And other states did pass even more restrictive bans on gay people without the public backlash now being seen in California. This means that we don't currently have the majority on the right side of this question. For an issue like this that is about rights within the petit-bourgeoisie we expect that in the long term it will be resolved correctly. But this issue does clearly demonstrate some problems with political education under imperialism, most notably the role played by religion in promoting mysticism and anti-science.

Religion plays a big role in why Amerikans care so much about gay marriage. The Mormon church convinced its members to donate millions of dollars to the campaign for Prop 8. Other churches joined the alliance for Prop 8 and also worked hard to get it passed. It is the irrationality of religion that pushes ridiculous political positions like teaching creationism in schools, condemning gay people to hell and denying them the ability to get married, and continuing assertions about the supremacy of white people, men, and just about any religion but Islam.

No one can really articulate a good reason why marriage should be reserved for only certain people. Some religious people try to tie it to procreation, but if that were really the case then we should have tests for fertility before allowing anyone to get married, and perhaps should require couples to get divorced if they don't produce children. We'd also have to deny adoptive parents access to marriage, even if they are straight. Some religious zealots claim that gay marriage will threaten their marriage, though no one seems to be able to point to any disasters for straight families in Massachusetts where gay couples have been marrying for a few years now. Fundamentally this debate about marriage is about religious people's feelings. They don't feel comfortable with gay marriage and they feel it would denigrate their marriage. Hopefully all those No-on-8 activists are seeing clearly why feelings should not be a part of politics.

It is one's subjective feelings that lead a gay amerikan to see Prop 8 as the most important issue. By putting this as their top priority, they are saying they are willing to do what it takes to win, like even go to war with a Third World country. And unfortunately, what is essentially a fight for equality, easily slides into a fight against the oppressed because of the context in which the battle is going on. While wimmins' rights has been a much more common cry of the anti-Islam movement, there are many examples of rabid pro-gay, pro-imperialist invasion propaganda.

The Mormon church is holding back progress with their mysticism, the Taliban is hacking away at imperialism with theirs and the difference is nationality. Really it is a scientific approach to organizing and military strategy that is behind the Taliban's success, but the mysticism is still there, and the gender aristocracy has been attacking it for a decade. This is why we call on the gay rights movement to take up dialectical materialism, before they do more to mobilize the already rabid anti-Islam movement in this country.

As we stated, the no-on-prop 8 movement not only got the national question wrong, but they messed up on gender too by pandering to gender aristocracy paternalism. The Prop 8 supporters ran a lot of TV ads claiming that kids were going to be taught about gay marriage in elementary school if gay marriage was not banned. This scare tactic apparently worked as polls showed public opinion shifted to support Prop 8 after the TV ads started running. Rather than counter this with ads that deny children will learn about gay marriage as the No-on-8 campaign did, we would say that it would not be a bad thing for kids to learn about gay marriage in school at least to the extent that they learn anything about marriage. Not only will the no-on-prop 8 movement sacrifice the oppressed nations in California or the Middle East, but they bolster the patriarchal systems of oppression against their own children in order to win this privilege for a small elite group.

Demographics of the majority

Another important aspect of Prop 8 and the institution of marriage is the position of President-elect Barack Obama and the Democratic Party. The Palin/Biden Vice Presidential debate saw the two candidates sharing a few moments of unity, the most notable around their shared conviction that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. In reality younger politicians like Barack Obama probably don't care about the definition of marriage, but mainstream political parties have to take positions on issues like this that a majority of Amerikans will support. And a vast majority of Amerikans oppose gay marriage.

This put a lot of Obama supporters in an awkward position when the Prop 8 campaign started robo-calling voters playing a recording of Obama stating that he believes marriage should be only between a man and a woman. Obama did come out against Prop 8 in the end, but for technical reasons, not because he supports gay marriage. All those California democrats who went for Obama clearly did not vote against Prop 8.

In fact exit poll results and studies on who voted for Proposition 8 show that some traditionally "progressive" (read: voting democrat) parts of the city of San Francisco voted for Prop 8 while some areas that are more traditionally "conservative" (read: voting republican) overwhelmingly opposed Prop 8. This should be no surprise when we realize that class and nation are far more important considerations in general in people's political views under imperialism today. Wealthy white people don't mind giving marriage rights to gay Amerikan citizens, but they are not going to let those Black drug users out of prison. The flip side of this is that oppressed nations in Amerika had a hard time seeing the importance of opposing Prop 8 and generally voted in favor of the marriage ban.

Many oppressed people even take a reactionary approach to the issue. "If rich white people are cool with this, it must just be another attempt by them to corrupt our youth." This negates the progressive character of this battle in our given context. So, while we must defend the right to marry for gays to counter this confusion among the oppressed, it is not a campaign that will make any serious blows against oppression at this time.

Gender oppression is part of imperialism

The anti-imperialist struggle involves fighting against class, nation and gender oppression. We have to pick our battles to have the greatest impact on ending oppression and avoid inadvertently promoting white nationalism or supporting causes just because they sound progressive. In the case of Proposition 8, greater gender equality under imperialism is generally a progressive goal. But it is not something that will get us closer to an end to all class, nation and gender oppression at this time.

When we fight for reforms within imperialism, like the battle to end censorship of mail we send to prisoners, we do so for two reasons: 1. Education by exposing the reactionary policies of the imperialists, and 2. gaining some room for the oppressed to survive and/or organize. Only the overthrow of imperialism and establishment of socialism under a dictatorship of the proletariat will move us significantly towards the end of class, nation and gender oppression.

chain
[Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Pornography and censorship

In general pornography is censored in prison as a means of exercising control over prisoners for no purpose other than the exercise of power. Porn certainly doesn’t lead to any security problems in prisons nor does it threaten the power structure in any way. And we know that prison guards of both male and female sex use gender and sexuality to oppress prisoners. In response to our article in ULK 4 on this topic we’ve received overwhelming response from prisoners describing many cases of guards using sexuality to control prisoners. But this doesn’t mean that porn serves any progressive purpose for prisoners.

We oppose pornography because it is all about reinforcing gender oppression. Pornography is part of the capitalist romance culture which conditions people to have sick gender relations. From MIM Theory 2/3 Gender and Revolutionary Feminism, “One of the ways that the sexuality of male supremacy is institutionalized is through pornography. Robin Morgan has said, ‘Pornography is the theory, rape is the practice.’ Pornography is the media of sexual objectification and violence against women. Its message is ‘a lie about women, that we exist to pleasure and service men and that our deepest pleasure lies in enslavement and subordination…’”

Also from MT 2/3, “The supporters of the right to pornography are the advocates of the right to degrade women and sell them as such. In other words, pornography has no value if it shows women doing empowering, important, meaningful things. Its value is tied to portraying a bitch ready to be raped. MC0 suggests that those who uphold this 'right' are the same people that argue prison is humane and rehabilitation works.”

Even if pornography is censored in prison, pornography will still be present outside of prison, perpetuating and reinforcing the gender oppression in our society. MIM(Prisons) opposes porn in society at large, but right now we oppose censorship even more than we oppose porn. Neither pornography nor political literature should be allowed to be censored by the prison staff, who are employed as arms of the state. For this reason we are willing to ally with porn manufacturers against censorship in prison while holding that pornography should not be protected by the First Amendment under a Dictatorship of the Proletariat where speech is protected to serve the interests of the majority of the world’s people. We are fighting against censorship in prison, not in favor of ensuring access to pornography.

chain
[Economics] [ULK Issue 5]
expand

Financial Crisis: Capitalism is an irrational economic system

Amerikan financial leaders were taken by surprise with the recent financial meltdown in Amerika and around the world. Even those who predicted the credit crisis did not expect the far reaching consequences. In fact on October 23, former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan told congress he was "shocked" at the situation and admitted that capitalism was not working as well as he thought it would. Greenspan went so far as to say he was "partially wrong" to think the free market could regulate itself. Greenspan was the chair of the Federal Reserve for over 18 years.

In reality the capitalists know perfectly well that the free market does not work. The regulation of financial markets (or any government regulation) contradicts the fundamental principals of free market capitalism, but they are happy to regulate when it works in their financial interests. Some people are complaining that the government is introducing "socialist" practices with this regulation. But the capitalist government of Amerika knows very well what it's doing - it is preserving capitalism, not promoting socialism. The inevitable crises of capitalism expose weaknesses in the system. To preserve that system, the capitalists need to shore up the economy. If that requires regulation, they will have no problem doing it.

Marx taught us a couple musts of a capitalist economy: capital must circulate and capital must accumulate. These two musts conflict with each other. Accumulation led to imperialism and the limits that imperialism put on circulation led to the crises of the 1930s in the capitalist world.



John Keynes represented the path to saving capitalism during the Great Depression. A path that John McCain and Joe the plumber would call socialism today, but a path that was developed by Keynes and implemented by the Roosevelt administration that was explicitly in opposition to socialism, which existed at the time in the Soviet Union.



Marx did predict this crisis - not directly because he could not know our specific conditions today. But to the extent that he correctly predicted that capitalism will always face crises, Marx was once again right about capitalism. In basic terms, Marx said that capitalism is not rational and so the capitalists are going to overproduce as a part of competition because they can not know the exact size of the market, nor can they rationally apportion that market to the producers.

Lenin expanded on Marx's theories explaining that imperialism is the highest stage of capitalism. One of the definitive characteristics of imperialism described by Lenin was the rise of finance capital. Like all capital, finance capital could not just sit still. So markets were created that didn't actually sell material goods but sold money itself or promises of money in various forms. Not only was this the haven for the imperialists with ever-concentrating capital, but increasingly, the oppressor nation became involved in these markets as ways of getting their share of global super-profits, while helping the imperialists manage these massive economic games. 



In the 1930s, there was anti-capitalist pressure from a socialist Soviet Union that was expanding its economy at record rates while the capitalist world crumbled. Meanwhile fascism exerted its own pressures on the future of capitalism in Europe unleashing unbridled violence to advance their own economic prosperity. In response, the idea that government was responsible for a nation's economic welfare and had the right to interfere in economics became prominent among the bourgeoisie for the first time.



The success of the New Deal was built on shattered post-WWII Europe and Japan, which the united $tates could use as an outlet for its own expanding production. Without these consumer nations, an army of people ready to work at home and new access to labor and resources of dozens of former European colonies, the New Deal policies would not have succeeded as they did in bringing a thriving u$-led capitalism to life.



Compared to the New Deal days, the u$ economy may be too top heavy this time. With most amerikans working in finance, law enforcement, state bureaucracies, advertisement/sales and other service industries, we have a country of parasites. There is no surplus value and little surplus population to fall back on. And we'll probably see a fascist revolution in this country before we see large numbers of amerikans taking up public works jobs that they currently force on Mexicans and other oppressed peoples.



Today the united $tates is no longer a rising economy, it is at the top and it is top heavy. With the former socialist countries having been incorporated back into the capitalist economy in the later decades of the 20th century, there are no new markets to break into. And with a large population that does not produce close to enough to sustain itself, being cut off from Third World labor and resources would be disastrous for the u$ economy.



While Keynes held that government intervention was necessary to keep a capitalist economy expanding, he did not recognize the limits on capitalist expansion recognized by Marx and Lenin. These limits make it harder and harder for capitalism to recover with time as accumulation becomes more extreme. Without imperialist war and massive loss of life, this accumulation remained a barrier to recovering from the Great Depression.



The Keynesians, increasingly the majority of capitalists during this economic crisis, say that the only way to stop the irrational banks is regulation - capitalism can not regulate itself because of the drive for profit, and the lack of information about competitors. We must distinguish this system of capitalism from socialism, which is characterized by nationalization of industry and finance, but more importantly, is controlled by a dictatorship of the proletariat working in the interests of the vast majority of the people. Any nationalization done under capitalism is controlled by a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie working in the interests of the few. In China, after Mao died, the bourgeoisie took power and began running the government for the profit of a few. They left industries nationalized and this fooled some people into thinking China was still socialist. But as the recent actions of the Amerikan government demonstrate, nationalization is not synonymous with socialism.

Although we should not confuse capitalist regulation with socialism, it is interesting to note that there are reports of a big upsurge in sales of Karl Marx's book Capital, as well as visits to his grave as people around the world seek an explanation for the financial crisis. While capitalism is making big profits for the imperialists and their labor aristocrats, those people benefiting have little interest in questioning the system. But in a time of crises some people are apparently inspired to think a little harder about what capitalism means. We don't anticipate this leading to a global upsurge in support for communism. Even with the current economic crisis, the workers in imperialist countries are still benefiting from the exploitation of the Third World. And so their economic interests are still tied up with capitalism.

True to the interests of the Amerikan citizens, what is considered progressive radio in the u$ can't stop crying about mortgages, car payments and kids having to go to community college. They completely ignore that most people in the world have never owned a car, a house or had a chance to get a college education. Joe the plumber, McCain's example of anti-Obama working people in Amerika, did a press event where he announced he was scared of Obama trying to take the country to socialism. Joe the plumber is in the richest 3.89% globally, that's why he's scared of wealth redistribution. When things get really bad, Joe the plumber is going to be fighting for national socialism so that at least he doesn't have to share with other nations.


For those labor aristocrats who want a more rational economic system, we encourage them to study communism. But we won't lie to them and tell them that fighting for communism is fighting for their economic interests. This will just foster reactionary nationalism, or fascism. And it is times of economic crisis when we need to be most wary of fascist upsurges in countries where the workers are benefiting from the exploitation of oppressed nations.

In general, times of capitalist crisis are times of opportunity for the international proletariat. While it is clear that it will take a lot more than the latest crisis to move the imperialist country citizens into the ranks of the proletariat and form a mass base for revolution, the revolutionary movements in Third World countries can take advantage of imperialist weaknesses. The relative strength of imperialism at this point in time may pull it through, but certainly the current crisis may allow our comrades in the Third World to gain some ground in the fight for liberation. The imperialists are doing what they can to shore up smaller countries hit hardest by economic collapse by providing IMF loans (Iceland, Hungary, Ukraine). But these loans are provided strategically and will not prevent the suffering and exploitation of Third World people, which existed before this economic crisis and will continue after it until the people rise up and put an end to this system of imperialism.

Notes: See MIM Theory 1 and 10 for further elaboration on why the Amerikan citizens are part of the labor aristocracy and not the proletariat.

This article referenced in:
chain
[Elections] [ULK Issue 5]
expand

Black prez in white amerika

Over a decade ago Tupac said we weren't ready to see a Black president. Yesterday, amerikans elected one. As we wrote about previously in an article on Obama's candidacy, neo-colonialism is nothing new. Africa has already had half a century of Black presidents. As a minority diaspora in the belly of the beast it is no surprise that it took much longer to see one in the united $tates. And it should be no surprise that given such a situation he has less independence from the imperialists than a president in a small African nation with little economic development.

The biggest lesson we can take from the Obama election is that we are surrounded by amerikans (surprise). And we say that in the context of amerikans being nationalists and members of an oppressor nation (think nazi Germany or apartheid Azania).

When George W. Bush ran against Kerry we said, "another day, another imperialist candidate for president." But we tended to agree with those saying that a Bush presidency would help to polarize the world and turn people more strongly against u$ imperialism. You might argue that we were right.

But the shortcoming of that history is the significant rise of anti-Bush sentiments among amerikans. This gave them a way out. Islamic groups like al-Qaeda held amerikans responsible for the actions of a president who a large plurality of them voted for, while too many so-called “communists” have played the role of neo-colonial peacemakers between the oppressors and the oppressed.

The anti-Bush united front blurred the lines between radicals in the u.$. and the Democratic Party. This process was helped along by those calling themselves Maoist accepting leadership roles in this movement. (We'll watch as this movement dissolves proving that they do support a different kind of imperialism, in this case one with a black face.)

But yesterday marked the moving of the poles. Suddenly, the millions who mushed themselves into the "radical left" because they disagreed with Bush are back in the white house with amerikan flags waving. It's not that they ever put their amerikan flags down or were ever radical at all. But they allowed and even promoted radical sounding rhetoric to rope some of the more radical and energetic activists into the Democratic Party, including oppressed nation youth.

Now all that has changed. Obama can't pretend he opposes the occupation of Iraq or be wishy washy on the fence anymore. He has to end it or stay the course. In that way the Bush - Obama 1-2 punch might be the perfect lesson in bourgeois politics. For all those years people said Bush was an evil, horrible man. Then dream prez Barack Obama comes in, and nothing changes. Lesson learned?

New Afrikan or Afrikan Amerikan

Comrades have already pointed out that Obama wasn't winning the white vote, putting into question our statement above that amerikans elected a Black president. (1) Not only did the Democratic Party benefit from the armed struggle against u$ imperialism while the Republicans were in the white house, but they also bet correctly on a growing oppressed nation electorate in the u$. In both cases, any progress should be attributed to the oppressed and not white amerika.

With the u$ hot war in Pakistan under way and the new president elect fully in support, we already have concrete evidence that this presidency is gonna be a lot like the last 43. Yet many Black people agree with Tupac that the new president is heaven sent. Blacks overwhelmingly opposed the war on Iraq, when white amerikans supported it. (2) Will they back Obama's war on Pakistan?

Oppressed nations should treat the Obama presidency as an opportunity to make demands from a president who claims to understand where they're from. The most astute New Afrikan leaders are rotting away in isolation cells in the united $tates. Some elders are facing trial for alleged crimes over a quarter century old. If Obama claims to care about people who aren't white he better stop the extreme repression being dealt out to any Black, Brown or Red leader that stands up for their people.

Obama united amerikans, reminding revolutionaries what we're up against in this country. He also united amerikans with oppressed nations within u$ borders (not to mention in Africa and elsewhere). It is yet to be seen whether Blacks and other internal semi-colonies are aligning themselves more completely with the oppressor nation from which they benefit financially or will step up to the opportunity to expand the voice of the oppressed. As the economic crisis advances, the oppressed would be smart to bet on self-reliance and self-determination. When the most oppressed and exploited come to tell amerika that they can't steal their wealth anymore, we'd like to be on the right side of history.

The oppressed youth in the united $tates need vanguards that unflinchingly uphold self-determination and anti-imperialism. White politics and non-profits have done too much to dilute the revolutionary energy of oppressed youth into dead-ends that do not serve oppressed people globally or promote any real change.

notes:
(1) Fox News exit poll summary. http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/11/05/fox-news-exit-poll-summary-599974112/
(2) A year and a half after the invasion 42% of whites thought it was a mistake, while 76% of Blacks did. see Gallup Poll. Iraq Support Split Along Racial Lines. Sept. 14, 2004. http://www.gallup.com/poll/13012/Iraq-Support-Split-Along-Racial-Lines.aspx

chain
[Europe] [ULK Issue 5]
expand

Georgia conflict: battle for imperialist control

September 4 - U.S. Vice President Cheney visited Georgia this week, meeting with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and criticizing the Russian invasion. This visit coincided with the Bush administration announcing $1 billion in aid to Georgia. This is the latest in an escalating battle between two imperialist powers, the United $tates and Russia, and their puppets in Georgia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This fight over control of European land will not benefit the people of the region, regardless of who wins. Only true autonomy for the nations living there, and removal of imperialist military and oil interests, will ultimately serve the interests of the people.

It is important to Amerika to keep the government of Saakashvili in power in Georgia as it is very supportive of Amerikan imperialist interests, primarily related to oil and strategic military positioning. In 2003 groups that helped to remove Saakashvili's predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze, received funding from the U.$. government(3), yet another in a long line of Amerikan-backed coups and rigged elections to put Amerikan puppets into power around the world.

Even before the Russian invasion, in 2008 the U.$. sent $64 million in aid to Georgia, a third of which was for the Georgian military.(1) In return, Georgia contributed troops to the U.$.-led invasion of Iraq. So essentially the U.$. was arming troops to serve as puppets for Amerikan imperialism while also setting up a stronger military to defend its claim on Georgia. The U.$. is evaluating increasing military aid to Georgia in light of their inability to defend against a Russian invasion.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) - another economic wing of imperialism - is also preparing to provide Georgia with a $750 million line of credit. As can be seen with IMF loans to countries around the world, this is a great way to keep small countries totally dependent on imperialist money and at the mercy of imperialist policy demands.

Georgian President Saakashvili is a U.$.-educated lawyer who knows how to play to Amerikan imperialist interests. After the August military battles, his government organized anti-Russia protests across Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, with huge banners denouncing Russia in English - a language that most in Georgia don't understand.(2)

Why are the imperialists so interested in Georgia?

Georgia is a geographically strategic country, with its link to the Black Sea. Georgia is a transit route for oil as a part of a major pipeline carrying oil from the Caspian Sea to Europe. This pipeline carries 1.2 million barrels of crude each day traveling through Azerbaijan and Turkey on the way to the Mediterranean Sea where the oil is shipped to the west. The pipeline was financed by the U.$ (costing $3.9 billion) and is owned and operated by a group of energy companies led by BP (formerly British Petroleum). This pipeline does not go through South Ossetia or Abkhazie.

Georgia is also an important strategic ally for the United $tates as a pro-U.$. force in a volatile region and bordering Russia. Amerika has permanently stationed "military advisors" in Georgia. At the same time Russia has been building up its military presence in the region and opposing U.$. moves to get Georgia into NATO. Russia would gain similar benefits from control of Georgia: partial control of an oil pipeline and a politically strategic military base, cutting off one of Amerika's allies that borders Russia.

History of the conflict

Even before the August invasions there was significant tension between South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Georgia. South Ossetia and Abkhazia are small regions bordering Russia. Separatists in these two provinces have been demanding independence since 1990 when Georgia became independent and claimed both areas as part of Georgia. Most people living in these regions are not Georgian. Since 1992 both areas have been operating semi-autonomously with Russian military support.

In 2006 Russia built a military base in South Ossetia, and in April of 2008 Russia established legal ties between itself and these two regions, also building up a military presence in Abkhazia. With a history of military conflict between Georgia and South Ossetian separatists, there have also been many attempts at internationally brokered peace agreements.

Currently in effect is a 1992 Sochi peace agreement which, according to the US Department of State, "…established a cease-fire between the Georgian and South Ossetian forces and defined both a zone of conflict around the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali and a security corridor along the border of South Ossetian territories. The Agreement also created the Joint Control Commission (JCC), and a peacekeeping body, the Joint Peacekeeping Forces group (JPKF). The JPKF is under Russian command and is comprised of peacekeepers from Georgia, Russia, and Russia's North Ossetian autonomous republic (as the separatist South Ossetian government remained unrecognized)…"(4) This agreement clearly authorizes Russian presence in the region.

In fact, the U.$. ambassador to Moscow initially endorsed Russia's military move into Georgia as a legitimate response after Russian troops came under attack.(5)

There is little debate that Georgia attacked South Ossetia in early August in a major offensive against the provincial capital of Tskhinvali, though Georgia is claiming they did so only after their soldiers were attacked (by South Ossetian separatists or possibly by Russian military - the story has changed a few times). Given the history of Amerikan imperialism and its tight control over its puppets, we are certain this attack was known about in advance and encouraged by the Amerikan government, either overtly or subtly.

Russia's ability to aggressively invade Georgia with such significant firepower makes it clear that they had been preparing for this fight, though certainly the Georgian attack on South Ossetia was a convenient excuse. Either way, the South Ossetian people are pawns in a war between Russian and Amerikan imperialist forces, each backing leaders who will act as their puppets.

For the Ossetians, the question is what is the principal contradiction standing in their way towards self-determination. As a part of the Russian Federation, it would seem that imperialist Russia would be playing the greatest role as oppressor there. However, in the context of a u$ proxy invasion using Georgian troops, the interests of the Ossetians are best served by upholding the pre-invasion status quo of relative peace with Russian supervision and opposing further attacks. So, despite the fact that South Ossetia does not promise to benefit as a client of Russian imperialism, those of us in the First World imperialist countries can best serve the Ossetian people by opposing u$/eu involvement and anti-Russian sentiments that justify such involvement with the myth of "Western democracy vs. Russian autocracy."

Under imperialism war is inevitable

Since the state capitalists took power in the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin, that country, and later Russia, has pursued a clearly capitalist economic system. The competition between Russia and the U.$. has nothing to do with "democracy" or "freedom" or communist aspirations in Russia. It is merely the military and political positioning of two big imperialist countries fighting over the spoils of Third World exploitation. The United $tates has a head start and many international allies in the battle, but Russia wants its part of the spoils too.

Imperialism is a system that generates profits for First World countries through exploitation of the Third World. Competition between imperialists over resources and labor in the Third World is a natural result, just like capitalism itself is predicated on competition between corporations. Imperialists may align with each other for various short or long term strategic partnerships (or because smaller imperialist countries can not survive without protection and support of a larger imperialist country). In over half a century, the imperialists have managed to avoid overt military conflicts with each other, but this has only intensified the violence of global wars felt in the Third World.

Whereas, Maoists uphold that the principal contradiction in the world today remains that between the oppressed nations and imperialism, we see progress in resolving those contradictions through self-determination of the oppressed. Russia could have played a progressive role in providing international banking services to Hamas in Palestine or extending diplomatic relations with the Lakotah Nation in North America. There is no reason to reject the possibility of similar roles for u$ imperialism. By definition, any alliances between imperialists and oppressed nations will be temporary.

During WWII communists saw a qualitative difference between the fascist states and the other imperialist states that led to the conclusion that a United Front with the bourgeois democracies was a necessary strategic move. In 2008, we see anti-amerikanism as an important progressive force uniting the proletariat and its potential allies. But we do not see ourselves in a stage where overall strategic alliance with a certain imperialist camp will benefit the international proletariat.

In the case of this conflict in Georgia, the only right side is the side of the Georgian, South Ossetian and Abkhazian people. And for the First World, that means opposing u$ or european backed invasions in the region. We have no independent confirmations of revolutionary organizing among the people, though we have no doubt that in Stalin's birthplace there is a strong memory of revolutionary history.


Notes:
1. Washington Post, September 4, 2008
2. Washington Post, September 2, 2008
3. Time Magazine, September 3, 2008
4. Counter Punch, www.counterpunch.org, August 30, 2008
5. The Globe and Mail, August 8, 2008

chain
[Elections] [Gender] [ULK Issue 6]
expand

Palin demonstrates gender privilege in Amerika

There is a lot of talk about John McCain's running mate Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska. A female on the Republican ticket does not mean any more than a female on the Democratic ticket. We should not be fighting for greater access for wimmin to positions of imperialist power in Amerika. Some wimmin have already achieved these positions, but having even more will not change the global situation of gender oppression or imperialist oppression in any way.

Hillary Clinton is part of the imperialist government as Senator from New York, and Sarah Palin as Governor of Alaska - wimmin in the Supreme Court and in leadership positions in the Amerikan government have done their part to further the militarist hegemony of Amerikan imperialism. In spite of all this, it is interesting that the Republican's will have a woman on the ticket while the democrats will not when Hillary Clinton's candidacy played up the gender issue. This seems to be a clear attempt to grab the vote of Clinton supporters who were in it just for the question of gender.

Some people are calling Palin a "pro-life feminist". The pro-life label is great irony for any Amerikan who supports (and even promotes) imperialist militarism. Countless people are killed by Amerikan intervention (covert and overt) and the products of Amerikan foreign policy. People who are truly pro-life fight Amerikan imperialism to stop the mass global murder by imperialism. At the same time, the label of "feminist" for Palin is as contradictory as the "pro-life" label. Feminism should mean fighting for an end to gender oppression. Just because she enjoys wealth and privilege doesn't mean Palin can't participate in this battle, but her political line is definitely not feminist. Palin is a part of the gender aristocracy in Amerika, and she is a part of the fight for greater gender privileges for oppressor nation men and wimmin, this is most definitely not feminism.

It's important to recognize that gender privilege in Amerika is enjoyed by oppressor nation biological wimmin as well as men. For years MIM has put forward the clear line that gender oppression is not just a question of biology. In imperialist Amerika, biological wimmin enjoy gender privilege relative to Third World wimmin and men. We call this group the gender aristocracy. This is not to say wimmin in Amerika are equal to men. In fact there is still a differential in earnings, and certainly a differential in representation in government in Amerika with only 16% of congresspeople being wimmin. But this relative difference between white nation biological wimmin and men is nothing compared to the differential between the oppressed and oppressor nations. Overall gender oppression is suffered by both men and wimmin of oppressed nations and gender privilege is enjoyed by both men and wimmin of oppressor nations.

Amerika has a long history of gender oppression of Black men who were lynched for rumors that they raped white wimmin (707 of the 2,060 lynchings in the u$ from 1882 to 1903 were for rape related accusations).(1) The theory of gender aristocracy is also clearly demonstrated when we think about contraceptive testing on Third World wimmin and men, to benefit Amerikan wimmin. Access to new and better contraceptives for Amerikans has repeatedly come at the expense of Third World people.

And on this topic of contraception, much of the discussion of Palin initially focused on her family and questions of so-called ethics. Palin's 17-year-old unwed daughter is pregnant, somewhat ironic as Palin is a supporter of abstinence education rather than contraception. Fortunately for Palin (who is staunchly anti-abortion), her daughter has decided to keep the baby and marry the father. In reality, those in the Republican party who say people should not talk about Palin's children are right - we have plenty of other more important topics to discuss. We need to tackle imperialism as a system, and part of this is talking about the hypocrisy of a womyn who fights to deny young people real education about reproduction, a practice that has been demonstrated to lead to more unwanted pregnancies.(2)

Palin has a lot of dumb Amerikan views about education, many which she shares with others in the government. She wants to teach religious creationism and so-called "intelligent design" alongside evolution in Amerikan schools, presumably presenting fantasy as science. It is fantasy that assumes we can teach youth about abstinence and ignore the increasing pregnancy rates and spread of STDs, so maybe this position should not be a surprise. In another fantasy, Palin also believes that global warming is not a product of humyn activity (though at least she's ahead of some politicians in admitting that it exists).

In the end Palin is just another imperialist candidate for an imperialist government who will perpetuate imperialist policies that lead to oppression, exploitation and death of Third World peoples. The difference with Palin is that she further demonstrates the power of the gender aristocracy in Amerika.

Notes:
(1) Marable, Manning. How Capitalism Underdeveloped Black America. Southend Press, 2000. p. 117.
(2) Contraception v Abstinence Education, December 12, 2006 review of studies published at stats.org

chain
[International Connections] [Censorship] [ULK Issue 4]
expand

Some Ammo for China v. Bush

"We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights, not to antagonize China's leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential." - U.$. President George W. Bush (1)

Last week MIM(Prisons) released our biannual censorship report, which cites documented incidents of censorship of our literature in more than half of the states in the united $tates of amerikkka. That's just the documented incidents of one organization with a tiny distribution.

Comrades in our movement have been yelled at, kicked out, ticketed, physically attacked, arrested and many are currently sitting in isolation cells for the crime of trying to speak about or distribute literature expressing our ideas. For prisoners in isolation, it's usually just a matter of possessing said literature.

If China changes its policy of not publicly criticizing the internal affairs of other countries, documentation of the extensive censorship we face is provided right here on our website for their use.

Let there be no mistake, freedom of speech in a class system is a bourgeois myth.

notes: (1) Washington Post. August 7, 2008.

chain
[Elections] [ULK Issue 4]
expand

Obama's world tour - international news roundup

Barack Obama's July international tour gives as much insight into what is not important to Amerika as it tells us about what is important. Looking at where Obama's tour stopped, we can see some big continents skipped: He did not visit Asia, Africa or Latin America. These regions represent the vast majority of oppressed and exploited people in the world. That's not to say Obama only focused on imperialist countries, but his visits to Iraq, Afghanistan, Jordan and Palestine underscore the relative importance of the Middle East to imperialism right now.

The missing Third World

It is pretty clear that Amerikans are not very interested in Third World countries as long as super profits flow back home and there is no perception of significant threat. The Amerikan government has done a great job of building up fear around the Middle East and its potential danger to Amerikan people. This served to justify several recent battles in the ongoing World War three against the Third World, and maintains our focus on this region.

Asia is currently in the news only for the Olympics and stories about pollution in Beijing. It is interesting that many have taken the opportunity of the Olympics to attack China and its foreign and domestic policies. We at MIM(Prisons) are not fans of the capitalist government in China, but we find their policies no more objectionable than those of the many other imperialist countries that have hosted the Olympics. And as we've discussed in a previous article on Tibet (White Nationalism still reaching out to Tibet), the attacks on China around this topic are regurgitation of white-washed imperialist history. Historical example predicts that the white nationalists condemning China will not rally for an independent New Afrika in response to Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. Yet, New Afrikans were enslaved by amerika, whereas Tibetans freed themselves from slavery in joining the socialist project of the People's Republic of China in the 1950s. The current mayor of Chicago has overseen numerous slayings of Black residents and many years of torture chambers run in the city's jails, targeting New Afrikans in particular. Mayor Daley's father oversaw the murder and imprisonment of Black Panthers, Vice Lords, Black P. Stone Rangers and other organizations organizing for Black self-determination as mayor of the city in the late 1960s. China would be hard-pressed to outdo the city of Chicago alone in its genocidal national oppression.

Even his African heritage is not sufficient reason for Obama to talk about that continent, much less visit there. In general Amerika is pretty happy to ignore Africa and it is among the regions of the world that the Amerikan public knows the least about. In Zimbabwe there is significant turmoil over Presidential election results and subsequent economic collapse. Imperialist hegemony relies on relative stability of oppressed nations and so there is a lot of interest in this country right now. The U.$. has gotten involved to the extent of calling for sanctions on the Mugabe government but this country is not impacting the Amerikan economy enough to merit further action. In reality this is a good thing as attention from Amerika generally means imperialist intervention (overt or covert) and is generally devastating for a country. But the flip side of that is that countries already devastated by imperialism are ignored because of the poor conditions and lack of threat to imperialism. The U.$. is setting the stage for potential actions against the Mugabe government in the future if that seems useful to imperialism, and this is something anti-imperialists must remain vigilant about fighting.

Iraq and Afghanistan

All eyes are on Iraq as Amerikans continue to fight a war that was started under false pretenses but continues as Amerika fights for a strong foothold in the Middle East. Obama continues to advocate a pull out of troops within 16 months if he is elected President. But as we reported in a previous article on the elections: Just because he wants to pull troops out of Iraq doesn't mean Obama is anti-militarist. Obama is clear that he will use the Amerikan military to defend the Amerikan economy. From his web site: "The excellence of our military is unmatched. But as a result of a misguided war in Iraq, our forces are under pressure as never before. Obama will make the investments we need so that the finest military in the world is best-prepared to meet 21st-century threats." And he wants to expand the imperialist military: "We have learned from Iraq that our military needs more men and women in uniform to reduce the strain on our active force. Obama will increase the size of ground forces, adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines."

Further, Obama has called for u$ troop redeployment to Afghanistan and into Pakistan. Essentially Obama will free up the resources to move from one invasion to another. Meanwhile, one of Obama's high-profile foreign policy advisors is Zbigniew Brzezinski, who's book detailing plans for continued amerikan hegemony foreshadows the current occupation of Afghanistan to secure access to the Caspian Sea. Brzezinski was a strong backer of the Shah in Iran, and later supported military occupation of the country to maintain stability after the Shah's fall. The amerikan imperialists will disagree on where to invade and who to befriend, but they never disagree on whether to be imperialists or to promote amerikan domination over the rest of the world.

There is really little difference between Obama's position and that of the current administration. Bush is now saying clearly that the "terrorists" in Iraq are on the brink of defeat and the Iraqi government and security forces are getting stronger, which would allow “further reductions in our combat forces, as conditions permit.” (NYT, Aug 1, 2008) Bush is likely looking for vindication of his policies and a "victory" before the end of his presidency, but the government also recognizes the decreasing popularity of this war with the Amerikan people. Earlier in July, Bush announced a plan to send more troops to Afghanistan: "We're going to increase troops by 2009." (Yahoo News, July 2, 2008)

Iran

This brings us to Iran - not a stop in Obama's world tour but a topic he discussed several times in public speeches around the world. "A nuclear Iran would be a game-changing situation, not just in the Middle East, but around the world," said Obama. "A nuclear Iran would pose a grave threat, and the world must prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." "It would endanger Israel and the rest of the region, and it could embolden terrorists and spark a dangerous arm race in the Middle East."

Obama is putting forward consistent imperialist rhetoric which sets the stage for an invasion or any other attacks against Iran the imperialists deem necessary. This is partly due to the position of the close Amerikan buddy, Israel, a country that considers Iranian nuclear power to be a direct threat. It is ok for Israel, a viciously aggressive country with a bloody history of repression against Palestinians, to have nuclear weapons, but their enemies must not be allowed to develop such tools. Some have speculated that Israel may attack Iran, and if that happens Amerika wants to be positioned to support their ally.

Israel

During his stop in Israel Obama told Israeli President Shimon Peres: "I'm here on this trip to reaffirm the special relationship between Israel and the United States and my abiding commitment to Israel's security and my hope that I can serve as an effective partner, whether as a U.S. senator or as president." Obama has always been consistent in his strong support for this imperialist ally. Joining him on his tour of the region was Dennis Ross, a former Middle East envoy who is a consultant for The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think-tank promoting the Israeli lobby under the guise of academia.

Oil

Very related to Middle East policy, with so much attention to gas prices in Amerika, John McCain has seized on this issue as the path to the presidency and is vocally promoting offshore drilling. Of course invading oil-rich countries is one way to gain control of significant stores of oil and bring down gas prices, but since that seems to be costing more Amerikan lives and money than the Amerikan people are willing to tolerate, environmental destruction to get at more oil is a reasonable backup strategy for the imperialists.

A poll from the Public Policy Institute of California reported that by the end of July Californian's had shifted their opinions, with a slim majority now supporting offshore drilling. California would be one of the main sites where costal waters would be opened to drilling by the McCain proposal. Historically public opinion has shifted with the price of gas - as prices go up, support for drilling goes up. This is typical Amerikan me-firstism, which leaves room for environmental protection, national self-determination, and other policies that are good for the majority of the world's people only if it doesn't impact their pocketbooks.

McCain's new support for offshore drilling has certainly gained him some donations from the oil industry. But a 2007 study from the Department of Energy suggested that new offshore leases will not lead to production of oil until 2020 and would not impact prices until 2030.( http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/aeo/otheranalysis/ongr.html) McCain has claimed offshore drilling could provide economic relief within months, which contradicts these studies by his own government. There is no doubt that oil drilling is bad for the environment. But the Amerikan government is uninterested in adopting far sighted policies that might protect against environmental destruction by developing energy sources. Until the Amerikan public really feels the impact of environmental destruction (in their pocketbooks or in their health) it is unlikely the government will be motivated to act.

As MIM wrote back in 1996: "The root cause of environmental problems is capitalism, the private ownership of the means of production by a relative handful of people. This essence of capitalism is one reason why capitalism creates environmental problems: while the majority of the world's people have a material interest in maintaining a healthy planet, the small capitalist ruling class is not accountable to this majority, except in the indirect sense that the ruling class seeks to co-opt the demands of the majority in order to maintain the capitalist system. A second reason why capitalism creates environmental problems is that although the world's resources are controlled by a relative handful of people, planning is not centralized under capitalism. Instead, production is anarchic; it is centered around making profits, not around meeting basic human needs in the short or long runs. Much of what is produced by the capitalist system is unnecessary and wasteful, and the system is not fundamentally capable of incorporating long-term human survival as a need. Finally, the capitalist system does not distribute resources equitably. Under capitalism, many people do not have adequate resources for survival. Many environmental problems stem from this root problem….. The capitalist system of production for profit creates a number of environmental problems which are often understood and discussed in isolation from their root causes. Key among these is pollution of air, water and land. Pollution, like all else under capitalism, is unequally distributed. On a world scale, waste from the imperialist countries is dumped in the neocolonies." (MIM Theory 12: http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/mt/mt12capenv.html)

European stops

Obama was received like a rock star in Berlin and was generally very popular among European leaders in his tour of that region. This just provides further evidence that Obama is a good imperialist, who works well with his imperialist allies. Being loved by other imperialist country populations may be considered good credentials by some voting Amerikans, but for anti-imperialists it is just further proof of an enemy of the people.

We have already lamented the readiness of many youth and oppressed people to join the Obama bandwagon because of his identity. Some closer to MIM(Prisons) are still suggesting that Obama represents progress for our movement and that everything reported in this article is just for show to get elected. This analysis acknowledges one important reality, while ignoring another. It recognizes that amerikans would not vote for someone who is working in the interests of the oppressed, and therefore such a persyn would have to put on a show to get elected. The mistake these people make is putting identity above a of mountain facts. We have seen serious revolutionaries degenerate into bourgeois politics, so don't think dark skin and a little time in the projects in Chicago means someone is a friend. The bourgeois theory of history upholds the idea that individuals make history, the proletarian theory looks to social forces on the group level to explain history and predict future developments. The president of the united $tates is only one persyn. Obama comes with a whole package of people, and they're all the standard imperialists, voted in by the same old amerikan oppressor nation.

More interesting than the theory that Obama is a progressive in imperialist clothing is the proposal that he could be the nail in the coffin of the Black Nation as an oppressed internal semi-colony. We would expect the bourgeois internationalists to have to pull the rest of white amerika into full integration, but we'd also expect this to require a healthy push from the oppressed themselves.

chain