Why the politicians have united to take down the Confederate flag


By Barry Grey
30 June 2015

The campaign to remove Confederate flags and other symbols of slavery from public places, following the murder of nine African Americans by a white supremacist in Charleston, South Carolina two weeks ago, has accelerated.

Since South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, called June 22 for the removal of the “stars and bars” from the Statehouse grounds in Columbia, state politicians and members of Congress of both parties from across the South have followed with demands that flags and other emblems of the Confederacy be taken down. This push has expanded to include statues of Civil War figures such as Confederate States of America President Jefferson Davis and General Robert E. Lee. Democrats and Republicans in a number of states have called for a ban on Confederate emblems on specialty license plates.

This sudden rush to take down symbols of racism and slavery that the American political establishment has kept in place for decades is a defensive response to an outpouring of public horror over the Charleston killings and popular hostility to racism. This powerful reaction has taken the political establishment and both parties by surprise, forcing them to reckon with vast changes in popular consciousness of a broadly democratic character, particularly in the South.

They fear this development, particularly as it follows protests across the country against police killings and other signs of social discontent. By removing symbols of slavery and racism, they are seeking to preempt the development of a broader, deeper and more politically conscious movement of the working class.

US Representative Mark Sanford, a former governor of South Carolina, gave an indication of the outpouring of public anger against symbols of the Confederacy, saying last week that legislators’ phones, including his, “had just been blowing up” from constituents demanding that the flag be taken down. “I’ve never seen South Carolina politics move this quickly,” he said.

A Rasmussen poll published June 24 reported that only 21 percent of likely US voters want the Confederate flag to keep flying at the South Carolina capitol, compared with 60 percent who want to see it removed.

These are indications of a vast change in popular consciousness in the United States, in contradiction to the insistence of “left” and liberal purveyors of racial and identity politics that there has been no significant change since the heyday of Jim Crow segregation and that American society is steeped in racism. The South, in particular, has undergone huge demographic changes, with an influx of Asians and other nationalities, a shift from the countryside to the city, and a development of industry and growth of the working class.

The reaction to the Charleston church killings is very different than the popular response in the South to atrocities carried out by segregationist forces half a century ago. When Klansmen bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in 1963, killing four black girls—the fourth such incident in that city in less than a month—nobody was prosecuted and there was little open opposition within the white population.

There was a similar response in the South to the 1964 Klan murder in Mississippi of three civil rights workers: Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and James Chaney.

But despite the rightward lurch of the entire political establishment over the past 40-plus years and its efforts to pollute public consciousness with all forms of social backwardness, xenophobia and militarism, the civil rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s had a lasting impact and racial attitudes in the general population have changed dramatically.

The public response to the Charleston shootings increased the sense within the political establishment of the immense chasm that separates it from the broad mass of the people, and its own isolation. The removal of symbols of slavery and racism is a tactical measure aimed at broadening its support within the population.

At the same time, it is accompanied by renewed efforts to remove the issue of racism from its real social, political and historical context, in order to obscure the fundamental class divisions in society and present racism as something pervasive, ineradicable and deeply embedded in the American psyche.

In his eulogy for slain pastor and South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney, President Obama continued to spearhead this ideological campaign. Having the previous week called racism part of the DNA of Americans, in Charleston on Friday he spoke of it as America’s “original sin.”

He hailed the removal of the Confederate flag as “one step in an honest accounting of America’s history.” Such an accounting is urgently needed and would be most welcome, but if it were serious, it would produce results very different from what Obama wants.

It might start with an explanation of why the political establishment kept noxious symbols of slavery and racism in place for so many decades. The public display of the Confederate flag is not a relic of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath. It was first hoisted above South Carolina’s Capitol in 1962 by Governor Ernest Hollings, a Democrat who later became a US senator, as a demonstration of defiance of Supreme Court rulings against Jim Crow segregation. In Alabama, the display of Confederate flags outside the Capitol in Montgomery dates back to the 1990s.

The political establishment kept the flag flying in the South for definite political reasons. Racism has always been an ideological tool of the ruling class. Under slavery, it was used to justify a socioeconomic system that brutally exploited people of African descent. Later, with the rise of industrial capitalism and the transformation of the United States into an imperialist power, it was used as a weapon to divide the working class and impede the development of socialist consciousness.

The historical and documentary evidence is voluminous and indisputable, and it would take several volumes to outline the history of racism in relation to the struggles of the American working class.

It can be established, however, that the use of racism as a political weapon to defend capitalism against the threat of working-class rebellion goes back to the first mass upsurge of the American working class, the great railway strike of 1877. A study of the strike in the city where it first broke out before spreading across the country, St. Louis, includes the following passage:

At an early strike meeting an eloquent address by a Black speaker asked whether whites were ready to support demands made by Black workers and received a resounding “We will!” in reply. One of the five early Executive Committee members was Black… Integrated crowds were the rule in St. Louis. Just after the strike, a WPUSA (Workingmen’s Party of the United States of America) leader advocated unity of the races behind labor demands and shortly thereafter S. Louis had one of the few Black sections of the Socialist Labor Party in the United States. (“’Not Only the Ruling Classes to Overcome, but Also the So-Called Mob’: Class, Skill and Community in the St. Louis General Strike of 1877,” David Roediger, Journal of Social History, Vol. 19, No. 2, Winter, 1985).

The response of the authorities was to dispatch black troops to attack the strikers.

Henry Ford employed the same tactics in an unsuccessful attempt to break the 1941 United Auto Workers strike for union recognition at his massive Rouge complex in Detroit. Ford imported African-American workers from the South to serve as strikebreakers. Socialist militants within the union had, however, championed the rights of black auto workers and insisted on the need to unite across racial and ethnic lines against the common enemy. This was a major factor in the victory of the strike.

The anticommunist purges and witch-hunts of the post-World War II years were bound up with the defense of Jim Crow segregation in the South and racial discrimination in the North. The government at the national, state and local level identified opposition to segregation with communism, and repeatedly attacked activists in the South who advocated integration as communists and agents of the Soviet Union.

This form of political repression, in its own way, reveals the function of racism as a political weapon of the ruling class against the unification of the working class and its conscious struggle for socialism.

Particularly after the 1954 Supreme Court ruling (Brown v. Board of Education) outlawing racially segregated public schools, the anticommunist witch-hunt was expanded in the South, focusing on socialists and leftists who opposed Jim Crow. Show hearings and trials were carried out by Democratic Party officials who controlled the South, with the tacit support of the Republican Eisenhower administration.

According to a 1996 study by Sarah Hart Brown published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly (“Congressional Anti-Communism and the Segregationist South: From New Orleans to Atlanta, 1954-1958,” Vo. 80, No. 4, Winter 1996):

After the Brown decision in 1954, the search for southern subversives intensified. Because the CPUSA (Communist Party USA) had advocated civil rights for black southerners at least since it led the fight for the Scottsboro defendants in the early 1930s, and since many Communists had supported the presidential candidacy of Progressive candidate Henry Wallace, who refused to speak before segregated southern audiences in 1948, identification of integrationists with the Communist Party made sense to many southerners. In addition, most southern politicians found it logical, convincing, and profitable to combine red-baiting with race-baiting…

State and federal grand juries reinstated investigations connecting local Communists to integrationism in Miami and New Orleans just after theBrown decision. In addition, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida, Virginia, Georgia and Arkansas all established or strengthened anti-radical laws and investigatory committees of the legislatures between 1954 and 1958.

The article notes that the US Senate Internal Security Subcommittee held three hearings in the South and the US House Un-American Activities Committee held four between 1954 and 1958. It quotes a leading member of the Louisiana legislature as saying: “Communism and integration are inseparable and…integration is the southern expression of the communist movement.”

Racism and anticommunism were used to defeat unionizing drives after World War II and keep most of the South relatively union-free. The CIO and then the AFL-CIO played a critical role, subordinating the working class to the same Democratic Party that controlled the South and upheld the Jim Crow system.

On this basis, the South presided over the most brutal levels of exploitation and poverty wages, so as to create the most favorable conditions for corporations to amass profits. George Wallace, the segregationist governor of Alabama in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, summed up the underlying agenda, declaring: “Private property and the free enterprise system are under attack by the liberal-socialist-communist crowd. It’s not the business of government to tell a businessman how to run his business.”

Socialists have always fought against racism. But they have done so by exposing its roots in a society grounded in the exploitation of the working class, and on the basis of a revolutionary program to unite all sections of workers against their common capitalist oppressors. This must become the basis for the development of a mass movement in defense of the democratic and social rights of the working class today.

Green Party candidate launches US presidential campaign


By Patrick Martin
27 June 2015

Dr. Jill Stein, the Green Party presidential candidate in 2012, announced June 22 that she will seek the party’s nomination for president in 2016. Stein made the announcement on the “Democracy Now” radio program in an interview with host Amy Goodman. This was followed by a formal declaration the next day in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington.

Stein is not a socialist, and the word “socialist” was never spoken in the interview or speech and appears nowhere in her campaign literature. She is running as a capitalist candidate seeking to reform American capitalism. She uses the language traditional to American populism, both right and left, contrasting Main Street to Wall Street.

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of Stein’s campaign is its parochialism. The world outside the borders of the United States might as well be invisible. In her interview, speech and campaign program, the words Syria, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan and Ukraine do not appear. China, Russia, Europe and Africa do not rate a mention. There are a few references to immigrants, but not to any of the countries they come from, or what drives them to seek refuge in the US.

There is no assessment made of the wars and military provocations which US imperialism has conducted for the past 25 years along the periphery of the former Soviet Union, from the Baltic States to Afghanistan. Insofar as Stein even addresses the question of military spending—she advocates a 50 percent reduction—it is essentially as a budgetary issue, not because the wars waged by the Pentagon are reactionary and criminal in character. Significantly, she brands Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a war criminal, but makes no such characterization of Barack Obama or George W. Bush, who have far more blood on their hands.

This exclusive focus on US domestic issues has a practical political benefit for the Green candidate, since she can pass in diplomatic silence over the reactionary record of fellow Green Party leaders who have entered capitalist governments around the world. From Germany to Australia, Greens have carried out capitalist policies of austerity, cutting jobs and social spending—the exact reverse of what the Green Party candidate claims to stand for in the United States.

The Green record on foreign policy is even worse. The German Greens opened the door to the reemergence of German imperialism, spearheading the deployment of German troops to the Balkans and Afghanistan. Green politicians are supporting imperialist intervention in Iraq and Syria, the US “pivot to Asia” against China, the preparations of NATO for military conflict with Russia over Ukraine, and the impoverishment of the Greek working people under the boot of the IMF and European Union.

More fundamentally, Stein’s silence on virtually all foreign policy questions is a signal to the US ruling class. The US Green Party will do nothing to challenge the global interests of American imperialism. Like its counterparts worldwide, the US Greens seek to gain access to the halls of power by reassuring those who really call the shots in American politics—Wall Street and the military-intelligence apparatus.

There is much in Stein’s domestic program that could attract popular support among American workers and youth. “Guarantee economic human rights, including access to food, water, housing, and utilities,” she urges, along with “economic rights for everyone—the right to a job, the right to complete healthcare through a Medicare for All… the right to quality education, from preschool through college, and that includes free public higher education and abolishing student debt.”

But like a snazzy car that unfortunately lacks an engine, the Green candidate fails to explain how such a program of social rights can be realized economically. Apparently, according to the Greens, this program can be accomplished within the framework of capitalism, without disturbing or even greatly inconveniencing the capitalist ruling elite.

The Socialist Equality Party calls for the realization of basic social rights: to a job, a living wage, health care, education, housing, a secure retirement. But we make clear that these rights, essential for a decent life in an advanced society, are incompatible with capitalist property relations. These rights can be achieved only through the confiscation of the wealth of the financial aristocracy, the nationalization of the major corporations and banks, and the reorganization of economic life under the democratic control of working people.

For the Green Party, however, these social rights are pie in the sky promises to workers that can be achieved without overthrowing the profit system, and even without any significant struggle, other than voting for Green candidates.

Stein declares, “Our Power to the People Plan lays out these solutions in a blueprint to move our economy from the greed and exploitation of corporate capitalism to a human-centered system that puts people, planet and peace over profit.” But when spelled out in detail, this “blueprint” consists of nothing more radical than breaking up the largest banks and supporting the development of cooperatives and small businesses, as well as efforts to “make Wall Street, big corporations, and the rich pay their fair share of taxes.”

There is no reference to wealth redistribution, a staple even of liberal Democratic Party candidates in the era of the New Deal and Great Society, but now banned from official capitalist politics, which includes the Greens. This reveals something about the class foundation of the Green Party. It is a creation of layers of the upper-middle class, living in comfortable circumstances and possessed of a certain degree of private wealth. The Greens are motivated largely by environmental and lifestyle concerns, not by the desperate struggle for economic survival that confronts the vast majority of working class families.

Much of Stein’s interview with Amy Goodman was taken up with discussion of her attitude to “left” Democratic candidates such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is challenging frontrunner Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

Sanders, despite his occasional misuse of the label “socialist,” is nothing more than a liberal Democrat with conventional views about setting modest limits on the power of the biggest banks and corporations, while supporting the worldwide military operations of American imperialism and its client states such as Israel.

Stein hailed the initial support won by Sanders, declaring, “It’s wonderful, and I wish him well. I wish him the best.” She dodged a direct question about whether she would support Sanders if he should run as an independent candidate for president, suggesting instead, “If we were both running as Greens, you know, we would have probably been in a Green primary, which would have been wonderful.”

She continued, “I wish that he had run outside the Democratic Party. There are many similarities, obviously, between his vision and my vision…” She added that “in the Democratic Party, we’ve seen wonderful efforts—Jesse Jackson, Dennis Kucinich, Al Sharpton—who had extremely vigorous, spirited, visionary campaigns.”

The problem with these campaigns, Stein concluded, was that “It’s very hard to beat the system inside of the Democratic Party. And, you know, when those efforts ended, that was the end. Ours will keep going, and it will continue into the general election. And when it’s over, we’re building a party that’s not going away.”

What is most noteworthy here is that Stein does not distinguish herself or the Greens from Sanders, Jackson, Kucinich or Sharpton in terms of political program. They are bourgeois politicians who defend capitalism and American imperialism, and so is she. The difference is that they do so within the framework of the Democratic Party, one of the two traditional parties of bourgeois rule in America, while Stein seeks to create a new political prop for bourgeois rule outside the two-party system.

Pressed by Goodman to elaborate on policy differences with Sanders, Stein exhibited a bad conscience, first conceding that the differences were small, then trying to correct herself.

“You know, certainly I have more in common with Bernie Sanders than differences,” she said. “I think if you had to look for differences, you would find them in foreign policy, where my campaign is perhaps more critical—I would say definitely more critical—of funding for regimes like that of the Netanyahu government, which are clearly war criminals.”

She continued, “These are, you know, small, big. I mean, foreign policy, I think, is big. It tends to be one issue among many, but it is the majority of our discretionary expenditures, and it’s really inseparable from all the other critical issues that we’re trying to solve.”

Stein spelled out in her interview with Goodman the essential perspective of middle-class “radical” politics in the United States: that protest in the streets and pressure from ethnic minorities, gays, women, trade unionists and others can compel the Democratic Party—or even the Republicans—to enact meaningful reforms.

“It’s important to remember what we did under Richard Nixon, as demonic a Republican as any,” she said. “We did amazing things: on women’s rights, the war, establishing the EPA and the Clean Air Act. We did that because we mobilized, and political activism became a way of life. It’s going to have to be again.”

Stein also revealed how the aspirations of the US Greens have been whetted by the electoral success of the Syriza party in Greece, a coalition of Stalinist and pseudo-left groups, including the Greens. “We wouldn’t presume that the odds are in our favor at this point, but the odds are shifting,” she told Goodman. “Let’s test those waters! Let’s find out! Who would have thought that Syriza would go from 3 percent to 70 percent in five years? We need to get started.”

Neither Stein nor Goodman mentioned that Syriza has cruelly betrayed those who voted for it, capitulating to the austerity demands of the European Union and the IMF and imposing cut after cut on Greek workers, youth and pensioners.

Just after this reference to Syriza, Stein said, “At some point, the tide is going to turn, and it may turn after there are 100 Katrinas up and down all of our coasts, but it’s somewhere along the line.”

What a perspective! Perhaps after 100 Katrinas—destroying 100 American cities, killing tens of thousands and displacing millions—the American people will finally be jolted from their political lethargy. Here, in unvarnished form, is the reactionary pessimism of the upper-middle class ex-radical, disappointed that nothing has come of their decades of engagement in protest politics. The underlying premise is that the fault lies with the workers, who haven’t suffered enough.

There is no question that as a mass movement against capitalism emerges in the United States, rooted in the working class, the attitude of groups like the Greens will be fundamentally hostile. They will prop up the left wing of the Democratic Party, or, failing that, seek to divert the workers into some new bourgeois political trap, such as Syriza in Greece.

The fight to establish the political independence of the working class from all forms of capitalist politics requires an intransigent struggle to unmask the political representatives of the upper-middle class, including the Greens.






Whatcha say folks? Now that we are banning/censoring all things Confederate, should we ban “Gone With The Wind?” (Both the book and the movie?) If so, we could have book burnings/BBQs for the 4th. How about the yearly commemorative charge of the VMI cadets (one of my distant relatives was in the original)? Trash all the Confederate graveyards? I understand people are rushing to buy GWTW DVDs lest pressure mounts to take it off the shelves.

Berlin Airlift (Operation Vittles)


Today in 1948: U.S. and British pilots began the Berlin Airlift (Operation Vittles) to deliver supplies to Berlin during the Soviet blockade.
In this photo from the U.S. Air Force, an “Operation Vittles” Douglas C-54 is on approach to Tempelhof Air Base, Berlin, Germany, as a group of children watch below. The children are hoping for candy bars tied to handkerchief parachutes to be dropped as part of “Operation Little Vittles”, initiated by Lt. Gail S. Halvorsen, USAF.

Image Credit: U.S. Air Force Photo, SI#84-3723


Why Apple’s response to Charleston is so stupid

Banning games isn’t the answer: 

When it comes to disowning the Confederate battle flag, there’s a right way and a wrong way. Apple chose the latter

Banning games isn't the answer: Why Apple's response to Charleston is so stupid
Tim Cook (Credit: AP/Richard Drew)

Earlier this week, in response to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call for the Confederate battle flag to be removed from the state’s Capitol grounds, I wrote a post commending the governor for doing what was obviously right.

But I also expressed concern that she was doing the right thing for the wrong reasons, and that, by defending her move with the language of feelings, she risked perpetuating a misunderstanding of why so many find the Confederate battle flag objectionable. It’s not about politeness or manners, I argued; it’s about fighting white supremacy.

In the mere two days since that post went live, it has become clear that Haley’s break with the flag, that once-unimpeachable shibboleth of Southern politics, wasn’t an act of bravery so much as good professional instincts. Not only has Haley been followed by fellow Southern Republicans in the South Carolina legislature, as well as inMississippi and Alabama, but private sector behemoths like Walmart, Amazon, Sears and eBay have decided to ditch the flag, too. And now comes word that mighty Apple has hopped on the bandwagon, kicking multiple rebel-flagged games from its App Store.

Unfortunately, however, it appears that Haley was ahead of the curve in more ways than one. Because just as Apple has joined her in no longer wanting to legitimize the trademark of the Army of Northern Virginia, its seems to have also done so without actually understanding why. The company claims it’s only zapping apps that feature the flag “in offensive or mean-spirited ways.” But when you look at some of their targets, including many games about the Civil War itself, that doesn’t hold up. A different, stupider explanation — that the company is treating the flag as if it were no less dangerous than the eyes of Medusa — makes more sense.

Take the “Civil War” game series by HexWar Games, for example, which saw at least four of its editions banned by Apple. To state the obvious, there are war games; and they’re war games about the Civil War. When it comes to the mission of the Confederate army, I’ll agree with Ulysses S. Grant’s famous description of it as “one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.” But that hardly makes the use of the flag in a game about the war “mean-spirited” or “offensive.” Apple says they won’t touch apps that “display the Confederate flag for educational or historical uses,” and though I doubt these war games are educational, they are historical, at least.

Now, if these games soon get their App Store privileges back and once again find themselves on Apple’s virtual shelves, I won’t be surprised. According to Kotaku, this isn’t the first time the people running the App Store have shown signs of being either confused or incompetent. And despite what the angry young men of #GamerGatemay argue in dozens upon dozens of ever-so-angry tweets, this is not exactly the greatest infringement on liberty the world has ever seen. Stipulating all of that, though, I still think Apple’s decision was ominous; and I still believe it should especially concern sincere anti-racists.
Because if we adopt a zero-tolerance policy regarding the Confederate flag, you can guess, looking at the present, where it’s likely to lead. The idea that white supremacy is a distinctly Southern affliction would likely be reinforced, even though it has always been a fantasy. The mistaken view of racism as an artifact of history would likely get strengthened, too. People would likely treat the flag like we treat the word “nigger,” hoping that if they ban it from their consciousness, they can make racism disappear. And the myth that we can wall ourselves off from the nasty parts of our heritage, which is one of American society’s more distinctive neuroses, would become even harder to shake.

A superior course, I’d argue, would be to deepen our understanding of our past, so that we can see the connections between the injustices of history of history and the iniquities of the present. Instead of exiling the flag from the culture as if it never existed, we’d acknowledge how the legacy of the Confederacy is still with us today. We’d recognize white supremacy as an inextricable part of the country’s founding, but not one we can’t defeat so long as we have purpose and conviction. And the cherry on top? Nobody would have to give up their video games.

Elias Isquith is a staff writer at Salon, focusing on politics. Follow him on Twitter at @eliasisquith.

Political issues in the Greek debt crisis

A European Union (EU) flag, left, and Greek national flag fly near the Parthenon temple on Acropolis hill in Athens, Greece, on Monday, Oct. 31, 2011. Europe's plan to solve the region's debt crisis made credit-default swaps covering Greece "ineffective," Moody's Investors Service said. Photographer: Angelos Tzortzinis/Bloomberg via Getty Images

26 June 2015

By summarily halting talks in Brussels with Greece’s Syriza-led government yesterday after barely an hour, the European Union (EU) made clear that it intends to whip Greece into line and force the government to repudiate any pretense of opposing austerity demanded by the European banks.

On Monday, Syriza had made new concessions, with a €7.9 billion package of pension cuts and other measures, going beyond even the cuts the EU demanded last December as a precondition to reopen the flow of credit to Greece and avert Greek state bankruptcy. Initially, the EU endorsed this proposal as the basis for a deal. Yesterday, however, only days before the June 30 deadline for Greece to receive EU aid needed to repay billions of euros to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), EU officials said that a deal was farther away than ever.

The EU demanded new cuts and informed Greek officials that it would only restart talks Saturday. According to EU documents leaked to the Financial Times, the EU and IMF are demanding deeper pension cuts, and that the retirement age rise from 62 to 67 faster than planned by Syriza. They also want the government to reduce proposed corporate tax increases.

Greece’s creditors are sending an unmistakable signal: insofar as Syriza’s election was based on promises to end EU austerity, they intend to force it into a humiliating series of retreats and capitulations. When Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras warned EU Commission President Donald Tusk yesterday that the EU had to respect the outcome of the January vote in Greece, Tusk bluntly replied that it was “game over,” and talks were broken off.

The EU’s hard line is provoking a deep political crisis in the Greek state and the coalition government of Syriza and the far-right Independent Greeks (Anel). The entire policy of the Greek government since elections in January makes clear that it is not in principle opposed to EU austerity, and Tsipras himself has always insisted that he expects Syriza will reach a deal with the EU. At the same time, he is aware that a full and open capitulation will provoke enormous opposition and social unrest.

There are powerful sections of the Greek bourgeoisie who are not prepared to accept the withdrawal of Greece from the Eurozone. Last week, the Greek central bank said that a deal with the EU must be found at all costs to avert state bankruptcy and maintain access to credit. Should the state go bankrupt and Greek banks lose access to emergency credit in euros, the Greek financial system would collapse, unless Greece abandoned the euro and saved its banks with massive injections of a Greek national currency, the drachma. Backed only by the Greek economy, however, this currency would be expected to plunge against the euro.

Syriza’s Left Platform faction and the Anel party of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos speak for other sections of the ruling class that have a more nationalist position and are considering a break with the EU and a return to the drachma. They point to the impossibility of repaying Greece’s €300 billion debt as EU austerity shrinks its economy. While a plunge of the drachma’s value would send prices skyrocketing and impoverish workers, it might allow Greece to repay its debts in a cheaper currency and, by slashing real wages, boost its global competitiveness.

Maneuvers are also afoot in the Greek ruling elite to bring down the current government and install a new one that would focus only on imposing a deal with the EU. Yesterday, former Prime Minister Antonis Samaras of the right-wing New Democracy (ND), Greece’s main opposition party that was voted out of office in January, said that Tsipras should form a “transitional government of national consensus.” It would bring together “those who agree with him for a deal with Europe, with our help.”

Enormous risks are posed to the working class, particularly of an intervention by the Greek military. A Syriza-ND regime would be a parliamentary dictatorship, relying on the security forces and the army to impose EU austerity on a hostile population that voted against it in January. As for plans of a return to the drachma, the Greek press has already indicated that they include the mobilization of the army to close Greece’s borders and suppress protests against the collapse of the currency.

Certainly, the recent joint military maneuvers of the Greek and Egyptian armed forces, and the invitations extended to Egyptian coup leader and military dictator General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi by Berlin and Paris are not accidental. They are a threat that, if Syriza or the government that follows it cuts across the interests of global finance capital, it could also find itself, like Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, the target of a coup backed by the major imperialist powers.

The coming to power of the Syriza government represents an enormous experience for the international working class, bought at a bitter price. Syriza and its supporters convinced themselves that they could reach a negotiated settlement on the issue of EU austerity. As they came to power, they publicly repudiated essential measures to defend against the EU: repudiating the debt, imposing capital controls, and nationalizing the banks and major industries.

Above all, as representatives of layers of the Greek bourgeoisie and affluent middle class, the last thing they could conceive of was mobilizing broad anger against austerity in the working class of Greece and across Europe in struggle against the EU. Rather, they sought to exploit divisions between the major EU powers—Germany, Britain, France, and Italy—to lighten the austerity policies being imposed on Greece. This policy collapsed, as all these regimes supported imposing austerity on Greece.

Syriza’s entire policy was, in the final analysis, based on a denial of the possibility of—and active opposition to—a socialist revolution by the international working class. As it now plays the hand it dealt itself, it is finding itself forced to carry out a humiliating political striptease, imposing the barbaric austerity policies it claimed it was taking power to stop.

Workers must draw the political conclusions of the bankruptcy of Syriza. What has emerged in Greece and across Europe is the failure of capitalism and of the political system. The task the working class faces is to mobilize itself in a revolutionary struggle for state power and for socialism.

Syriza’s supporters would no doubt insist that a revolutionary policy is unrealistic. In fact, it is Tsipras and Syriza who, with their pragmatic improvisations and media gimmicks, proved to have an utterly unrealistic policy. The experience of Greece has shown that it is revolutionary politics, based on a Marxist assessment of irreconcilable conflict of class forces, that proved to give a realistic assessment of the crisis.

Alex Lantier



How the Entire Country Bought the Government’s Confederate Flag Ploy


Op-Ed by Claire Bernish
June 24, 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) There is no question that the deaths of nine black churchgoers in Charleston at the hands of a white man picked the scab on America’s institutionalized psychopathy with race—and justifiably so.

But what happened next—beginning with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley’s decision to take down the Confederate flag from its 50 year tenure on statehouse grounds—was a textbook example of a diversionary trap used by governments the world over.

And the entire country fell for the bait.

PROBLEM: The state of South Carolina prominently displays the very embodiment of racism on government property in the form of a symbolic flag. This must be at least partially the reason for the shooting that occurred there.

ISSUE: If South Carolina continues to display said racism by keeping that flag in place, there will never be a solution to this racism. How will anything ever change?

SOLUTION: Take down the flag! In fact, remove that symbol from every government property in the country. Ostracize anyone who condones this racism by showing the flag. Boycott retailers who refuse to join the movement to erase this racism from existence.

RESULT: Confederate flag banished from memory. Good riddance. Now the racism isn’t in everyone’s face. We can all breathe easier. That was a close call.

REALITY: Institutionalized racism, both condoned and perpetuated by the State—from its genocidal birth to its police state, prison-industrial present—is still completely unaddressed and very much alive.

But at least that damn flag is dead.

This is, of course, what’s known as the Hegelian Dialectic. A manufactured problem elicits a manufactured solution that leaves everyone satisfied and allows the originating issue to simply fall from the spotlight, wholly unresolved. In this example, the red herring of the Confederate flag was the opportunists’ bait to ensnare the country in a brilliant diversion from the underlying—and inherently more critical—issue of institutionalized racism. Don’t believe it? Take a look around. Front pages of every mainstream and many independent news outlets are filled with reports about which company is besting another in how quickly and thoroughly they can yank Confederate flag-bearing items from their shelves. Suddenly, the racism they never realized (read: admitted) they were touting in the first place has become a source of shame and embarrassment in less than 24 hours. It was the same for the state governments. Sure, people have expressed outrage over this before—but now there is a reason to act. If a lone state should fail to follow suit, then the racism will surely continue.


Do you see where this is heading?

Racism, though, is not a flag.

It isn’t a symbol.

It isn’t a thing that can be solved—or kept in place—by a piece of colored cloth. No matter your feelings about what it represents, the flag itself is not the issue of racism.

But when opportunity knocked, that was precisely what it became—a red herring, a distraction—the symbolic “fall guy” for the insidious bigotry thatis America’s open wound. The State wants you to believe it applied the band-aid in one fell swoop when it banished the Confederate flag.

Obviously, this is a fundamental fallacy, but the tactic worked. Suddenly, the sorely needed national conversation about race that had begun after the Charleston shooting wholly shifted to focus on that ubiquitous flag. And this wasn’t by lack of design.

The State, in fact, thoroughly relies on systemic racism to function. Minorities are disproportionately represented in prison populations around the country. They are targeted by police. They are targeted by government-insured bank loans with ridiculously high interest rates. Minorities are targeted in mainstream media as thugs when anger boils over into justifiable rage from being continuously and unfairly targeted.

The crying shame of it all is the government’s two-pronged “win” from this madness. Not only was the distraction successful, but a nationalist coup arose, as well.

Vociferous outrage toward one flag led the masses to take up defense of another—the American flag. How cruelly ironic. Erstwhile latent nationalism is rediscovered by proxy when one flag becomes unacceptable. In the blink of an eye, the iconic American symbol didn’t seem half bad. Nevermind that the government it represents depends on actualized racism as an institution.

At least it’s not the Confederate flag.

And we must have a flag.

Symbols really mean something!


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