Building autonomy in Turkey and Kurdistan: the DAF

By Corporate Watch On September 3, 2015

Post image for Building autonomy in Turkey and Kurdistan: the DAFIn this interview the DAF discusses the history of anarchism in Turkey, their initiatives in the anti-capitalist struggle and the Kurdish freedom movement.

In May this year, Corporate Watch researchers traveled to Turkey and Kurdistan to investigate the companies supplying military equipment to the Turkish police and army. We talked to a range of groups from a variety of different movements and campaigns.

Below is the transcript of our interview with three members of the anarchist group Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Istanbul during May 2015. DAF is involved in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, the Rojava revolution and against ISIS’ attack on Kobane, and has taken action against Turkish state repression and corporate abuse. They are attempting to establish alternatives to the current system through self-organization, mutual aid and co-operatives.

The interview was carried out in the run-up to the Turkish elections, and touches on the election campaign by the HDP, the pro-Kurdish Peoples‘ Democratic Party. Soon after the interview took place, the HDP passed the threshold of 10 percent of the total vote needed to enter the Turkish parliament.

The DAF members – who all preferred to remain anonymous – began the interview by talking about the history of anarchism in the region.

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DAF: We want to underline the relationship between the freedom struggle at the end of Ottoman times and the freedom struggles of Kurdistan.

In Ottoman times anarchists organized workers’ struggles in the main cities: Saloniki, Izmir, Istanbul and Cairo. For example [the Italian anarchist, Errico] Malatesta was involved in organizing industrial workers in Cairo. The freedom struggles of Armenia, Bulgaria and Greece had connections with anarchist groups. Alexander Atabekian, an important person in the Armenian freedom struggle, was an anarchist, translating leaflets into Armenian and distributing them. He was a friend of [the Russian geographer and anarchist, Peter] Kropotkin and distributed Kropotkin’s anarchist leaflets.

We are talking about this as we want to underline the importance of freedom struggles and to compare this to the importance of support for the Kurdish struggle.

Corporate Watch: what happened to anarchists after the Ottoman period?

Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 19th century, Sultan Abdul Hamid II repressed the actions of anarchists in Turkey. He knew what anarchists were and took a special interest in them. He killed or deported anarchists and set up a special intelligence agency for this purpose.

Anarchists responded by carrying out attacks on the Yildiz Sarayi palace and with bomb attacks at the Ottoman bank in Saloniki.

The government of the Ottoman Empire didn’t end with the Turkish republic. The fez has gone since but the system is still the same.

At the beginning of the [Kemalist] Turkish state [in 1923] many anarchists and other radicals were forced to emigrate or were killed. The CHP, Mustafa Kemal’s party, didn’t allow any opposition and there were massacres of Kurds.

From 1923 to 1980 there was no big anarchist movement in Turkey due to the popularity of socialist movements and the repression of the state.

The wave of revolutions from the ’60s to the ’80s affected these lands too. These were the active years of the social movements. During this period, there were revolutionary anti-imperialist movements caused by the Vietnam war, youth organizations, occupations of universities and increasing struggle of workers. These movements were Marxist-Leninist or Maoist, there were no anarchist movements.

In 1970 there was a long workers’ struggle. Millions of workers walked over a hundred kilometers from Kocaeli to Istanbul. Factories were closed and all the workers were on the streets.

Was there any awareness of anarchism in Turkey at all at this time?

During these years many books were translated into Turkish from European radicalism but only five books about anarchism were translated, three of which were talking about anarchism in order to criticize it.

But in Ottoman times there had been many articles on anarchism in the newspapers. For example, one of the three editors of the İştirak newspaper was an anarchist. The paper published [Russian anarchist, Mikhail] Bakunin’s essays as well as articles on anarcho-syndicalism.

The first anarchist magazine was published in 1989. After this many magazines were published focusing on anarchism from different perspectives; for example, post structuralism, ecology, etc.

The common theme was that they were written for a small intellectual audience. The language of these magazines was too far away from the people. Most of those involved were connected with the academia. Or they were ex-socialists affected by the fall of the Soviet Union, which was a big disappointment for many socialists. That’s why they began to call themselves anarchists, but we don’t think that this is a good way to approach anarchism, i.e. as a critique of socialism.

Between 2000 to 2005 people came together to talk about anarchism in Istanbul and began to ask: ‘how can we fight?’. At this time we guess that there were 50-100 anarchists living in Turkey and outside.

Can you explain how DAF organizes now?

Now we get 500 anarchists turning up for May Day in Istanbul. We are in touch with anarchists in Antalya, Eskişehir, Amed, Ankara and Izmir. Meydan [DAF’s newspaper] goes to between 15 and 20 cities. We have a newspaper bureau in Amed, distributing newspapers all over Kurdistan. Until now, it is in Turkish but maybe one day, if we can afford it, we will publish it in Kurdish. We send Meydan to prisons too. We have a comrade in Izmir in prison and we send copies to over 15 prisoners.

A few months ago there was a ban on radical publications in prisons. We participated in demos outside prisons and we managed to build enough pressure so that now newspapers are allowed into prisons again.

The main issue for DAF is to organize anarchism within society. We try to socialize anarchism with struggle on the streets. This is what we give importance to. For nearly nine years we have been doing this.

On an ideological level we have a holistic perspective. We don’t have a hierarchical perspective on struggles. We think workers’ struggle is important but not more important than the Kurdish struggle or women’s struggles or ecological struggles.

Capitalism tries to divide these struggles. If the enemy is attacking us in a holistic way we have to approach it in a holistic way.

Anarchy has a bad meaning for most people in society. It has a link with terrorism and bombs. We want to legitimize anarchism by linking it to making arguments for struggles against companies and for ecology. Sometimes we try to focus on the links between the state, companies and ecological damages, like the thing that Corporate Watch does.

We like to present anarchy as an organized struggle. We have shown people on the streets the organized approach to anarchism.

From 1989 to 2000 anarchism was about image. About wearing black, piercings and “mohawks”. This is what people saw. After 2000, people started to see anarchists who were part of women’s struggles and workers’ struggles.

We are not taking anarchism from Europe as an imitation. Other anarchists have approached anarchism as an imitation of US or European anarchism or as an underground culture. If we want to make the anarchist movement a social movement, it must change.

DAF’s collectives are Anarchist Youth, Anarchist Women, 26A cafe, Patika ecological collective and high school anarchist action (LAF). These self-organizations work together but have their own decision-making processes.

Anarchist Youth makes connections between young workers and university students and their struggles. Anarchist Women focuses on patriarchy and violence to women. For example, a woman was murdered by a man and set on fire last February. On 25 November there were big protests against violence against women.

LAF criticizes education and schooling in itself and tries to socialize this way of thinking in high schools. LAF also looks at ecological and feminist issues, including when young women are murdered by their husbands.

PATIKA ecological collective protests against hydro-electric dams in the Black Sea region or Hasankey [where the Ilisu dam is being built]. Sometimes there is fighting to prevent these plants from being built.

26A cafe is a self-organized cafe focusing on anti-capitalist economy. Cafes were opened in 2009 in Taksim and in 2011 in Kadıköy [both in Istanbul]. The cafes are run by volunteers. They are aimed at creating an economic model in the place where oppressed people are living. It’s important to show people concrete examples of an anarchist economy, without bosses or capitalist aims. We talk to people about why we don’t sell the big capitalist brands like Coca Cola. Of course the products we sell have a relation to capitalism but things like Coke are symbols of capitalism. We want to progress away from not-consuming and move towards alternative economies and ways of producing.

Another self-organized collective, PAY-DA — ‘Sharing and solidarity’ — has a building in Kadıköy, which is used for meetings and producing the Meydan newspaper. PAY-DA gives meals to people three times a day. It’s open to anarchists and comrades. The aim of PAY-DA is to become a cooperative, open to everybody. We try to create a bond which also involves the producers in the villages. We aim to have links with these producers and show them another economic model. We try to evolve these economic relations away from money relations. The producers are suffering from the capitalist economy. We are in the first steps of this cooperative and we are looking for producers to work with.

All of these projects are related to DAF’s ideology. This model has a connection with Malatesta’s binary model of organization.

These are anarchist organizations but sometimes people who aren’t anarchists join these struggles because they know ecological or women’s struggles, and then at the end they will learn about anarchism. It’s an evolving process.

As DAF we are trying to organize our lives. This is the only way that we can reach the people who are oppressed by capitalism.

There is also the Conscientious Objectors’ Association, which is organized with other groups, not just anarchists. Our involvement in this has a relation with our perspective on Kurdistan. We organize anti-militarist action in Turkey outside of military bases on 15 May, conscientious objector’s day. In Turkey the military is related to state culture. If you don’t do your military duty, you won’t find a job and it’s difficult to find someone to marry because they ask if you’ve been to the army. If you have been to the army, you’re a “man”. People see the state as the “Fatherland”. On your CV they ask whether you did military service. “Every Turk is born a soldier” is a popular slogan in Turkey.

Is Kemalism [the ideology associated with Mustafa Kemal Atatürk]as strong a force as it used to be?

Kemalism is still a force in schools but the AKP [the ruling Justice and Development Party] has changed this somewhat. The AKP has a new approach to nationalism focused on the Ottoman Empire. It emphasizes Turkey’s “Ottoman roots.” But Erdoğan still says that we are ‘one nation, one state, one flag and one religion.’ There is still talk about Mustafa Kemal but not as much as before. Now you cannot criticize Erdoğan or Atatürk. It’s the law not to criticize Atatürk and the unwritten rule not to criticize Erdoğan. The media follows these rules.

Can you talk about your perspective on the Kurdish freedom struggle?

The Kurdish freedom struggles didn’t start with Rojava. Kurdish people have struggled for hundreds of years against the Ottoman Empire and the Turkish state.

Since the start of DAF we have seen Kurdistan as important for propaganda and education.

Our perspective relates to peoples’ freedom struggles. The idea that people can create federations without nations, states and empires. The Turkish state says the issue is a Kurdish problem, but for us it is not a Kurdish problem, it’s an issue of Turkish policies of assimilation. It’s obvious that since the first years of the Turkish republic the assimilation of Kurdish people has not stopped. We can see this from the last Roboski massacre [of 34 Kurdish cross-border traders by Turkish F16s on 28 December 2011] by the state during the “peace process.” We can see this in the denial of Kurdish identity or the repeated massacres. Making people assimilate to be a Turk and making nationalist propaganda.

The AKP say they have opened Kurdish TV channels, allowed Kurdish language and that we are all brothers and sisters, but on the other hand we had the Roboski massacre which occurred under their rule. In 2006 there was government pressure on Erdoğan at a high level. Erdoğan said that women and children who go against Turkish policies would be punished. Over 30 children were murdered by police and army.

The words change but the political agenda continues, just under a new government. We do not call ourselves Turkish. We come from many ethnic origins and Kurdish is one of them. Our involvement in conscientious objection is part of this perspective. We want to talk to people to prevent people from going to the army to kill their brothers and sisters.

After the 2000s there has been an ideological change in the Kurdish freedom struggle. The Kurdish organizations no longer call themselves Marxist-Leninist and Öcalan has written a lot about democratic confederalism. This is important, but our relation to Kurdish people is on the streets.

Can you talk about DAF’s work in solidarity with people in Rojava?

In July 2012 at the start of the Rojava revolution, people began saying that it was a stateless movement. We have been in solidarity from the first day of the revolution. Three cantons have declared their revolution in a stateless way. We try to observe and get more information. This is not an anarchist revolution but it is a social revolution declared by the people themselves.

Rojava is a third front for Syria against Assad, ISIS and other Islamic groups. But these are not the only groups that the revolution is faced with. The Turkish republic is giving support for ISIS from its borders. The national intelligence agency of the Turkish republic appears to be giving weapons to ISIS and other Islamic groups. Kurdish people declared the revolution under these circumstances.

After the ISIS attack on Kobane began [in 2014] we went to Suruç. We waited at the border as Turkish forces were attacking people crossing. When people wanted to cross the border to or from Kobane they were shot. We stayed there to provide protection.

In October, people gathered near Suruç, and broke through the border. Turkish tanks shot gas over the border at them.

From 6 to 8 October there were Kobane solidarity demonstrations across Turkey. Kader Ortakya, a Turkish socialist supporter of Kobane, was shot dead trying to cross the border.

We helped people. Some people crossed the border from Kobane and had no shelter. We prepared tents, food and clothes for them. Sometimes soldiers came to the villages with tear gas and water cannons and we had to move. Some people came through the border searching for their families and we helped them. Other people came, wanting to cross the border and fight and we helped them. We wore clothing with DAF’s name on it.

The YPG and YPJ [the People’s Protection Units of Rojava, the YPJ is a women’s militia] pushed ISIS back day by day. Mıştenur hill was very important for Kobane. After the hill was taken by the YPG and YPJ some people wanted to return to Kobane. When they went back their houses had been destroyed by ISIS. Some houses were mined and some people have been killed by the mines. The mines need to be cleared, but by who and how? People need new houses and help. We have had conferences and talked about how to help Kobane. There was a conference two weeks ago in Amed.

What is your position on the elections?

We do not believe in parliamentary democracy. We believe in direct democracy. We do not support the HDP in the election, but we have links in solidarity with them on the streets.

Emma Goldman said that if elections changed anything they would be illegal. There are good people in the HDP who say good things, but we think that the government can’t be good because the election system isn’t equal.

In Rojava they do not call it an anarchist revolution, but there’s no government, no state and no hierarchy, so we believe in it and have solidarity with it.

Can you tell us about the bombing in Suruç [we asked this final question by email, weeks after the original interview].

More than 30 people who wanted to take part in reconstruction of Kobane were killed by an ISIS attack. This attack was clearly organized by the Turkish State. They did not even do anything to stop it although they got the information of the attack one month before. Moreover, after the explosion the Turkish State attacked Rojava and launched operations against political organizations in Turkey. Now there are many operations and political pressures on anarchists and socialists and Kurdish organizations. They are using the explosion as a reason to make this political repression on both the domestic and international levels.

We have lost 33 of our comrades, friends who struggled for the Rojava Revolution against the state’s repression, denial and politics of massacre. There are people who are killed by state, ISIS and other powers. But our resistance won’t stop, our struggle will continue, as always in history.

This article was originally published by Corporate Watch and has been republished with their permission.

Corporate Watch is an independent research group that investigates the social and environmental impacts of corporations and corporate power. You can follow them on Twitter via @CorpWatchUK.

 

http://roarmag.org/2015/09/turkey-kurdistan-anarchist-struggle/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+roarmag+%28ROAR+Magazine%29

Who is responsible for the refugee crisis in Europe?

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4 September 2015

The gut-wrenching images of a three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach, lying face-down in the sand, his lifeless body then cradled by a rescue worker, have brought home to people all over the world the desperate crisis that is unfolding on Europe’s borders.

The family of the toddler, Alan Kurdi, had come from Kobani, fleeing along with hundreds of thousands of others. A protracted siege by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and an intense US bombing campaign has left the northern Syrian city in ruins, its houses as well as water, electrical, sanitation and medical infrastructure destroyed. The boy was one of 12 who drowned in an attempt to reach Greece, including his mother and five-year-old brother. His distraught father, the family’s sole survivor, said he would return to Syria with their bodies, telling relatives that he hoped only to die and be buried alongside them.

There is plenty of blame to go around for these deaths, which are representative of many thousands more who have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean or suffocated after being stuffed like sardines into overheated vans.

Canada’s Conservative Party government ignored a request made in June by the boy’s aunt, who lives in British Columbia, to grant Alan’s family asylum.

The countries of the European Union have treated the surge in refugees as a matter of repression and deterrence, throwing up new fences, setting up concentration camps and deploying riot police in an effort to create a Fortress Europe that keeps desperate families like Alan’s at bay and condemns thousands upon thousands to death.

But what of the US? American politicians and the US media are deliberately silent on Washington’s central role in creating this unfolding tragedy on Europe’s borders.

The Washington Post, for example, published an editorial earlier this week stating that Europe “can’t be expected to solve on its own a problem that is originating in Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya and—above all—Syria.” The New York Times sounded a similar note, writing: “The roots of this catastrophe lie in crises the European Union cannot solve alone: war in Syria and Iraq, chaos in Libya…”

What, in turn, are the “roots” of the crises in these countries which have given rise to this “catastrophe”? The response to this question is only guilty silence.

Any serious consideration of what lies behind the surge of refugees into Europe leads to the inescapable conclusion that it constitutes not only a tragedy but a crime. More precisely, it is the tragic byproduct of a criminal policy of aggressive wars and regime change interventions pursued uninterruptedly by US imperialism, with the aid and complicity of its Western European allies, over the course of nearly a quarter century.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US ruling elite concluded that it was free to exploit America’s unrivaled military might as a means of offsetting US capitalism’s long-term economic decline. By means of military aggression, Washington embarked on a strategy of establishing its hegemony over key markets and sources of raw materials, beginning first and foremost with the energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia.

This strategy was summed up crudely in the slogan advanced by the Wall Street Journal in the aftermath of the first war against Iraq in 1991: “Force works.”

What the world is witnessing in today’s wave of desperate refugees attempting to reach Europe are the effects of this policy as it has been pursued over the whole past period.

Decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, waged under the pretext of a “war on terrorism” and justified with the infamous lies about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction,” succeeded only in devastating entire societies and killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.

They were followed by the US-NATO war for regime change that toppled the government of Muammar Gaddafi and turned Libya into a so-called failed state, wracked by continuous fighting between rival militias. Then came the Syrian civil war—stoked, armed and funded by US imperialism and its allies, with the aim of toppling Bashar al-Assad and imposing a more pliant Western puppet in Damascus.

The predatory interventions in Libya and Syria were justified in the name of “human rights” and “democracy,” receiving on this basis the support of a whole range of pseudo-left organizations representing privileged layers of the middle class—the Left Party in Germany, the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France, the International Socialist Organization in the US and others. Some of them went so far as to hail the actions of Islamist militias armed and funded by the CIA as “revolutions.”

The present situation and the unbearable pressure of death and destruction that is sending hundreds of thousands of people into desperate and deadly flight represent the confluence of all of these crimes of imperialism. The rise of ISIS and the ongoing bloody sectarian civil wars in both Iraq and Syria are the product of the US devastation of Iraq, followed by the backing given by the CIA and US imperialism’s regional allies to ISIS and similar Islamist militias inside Syria.

No one has been held accountable for these crimes. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell and others in the previous administration who waged a war of aggression in Iraq based upon lies have enjoyed complete impunity. Those in the current administration, from Obama on down, have yet to be called to account for the catastrophes they have unleashed upon Libya and Syria. Their accomplices are many, from a US Congress that has acted as a rubber stamp for war policies to an embedded media that has helped foist wars based upon lies upon the American public, and the pseudo-lefts who have attributed a progressive role to US imperialism and its “humanitarian interventions.”

Together they are responsible for what is unfolding on Europe’s borders, which, more than a tragedy, is part of a protracted and continuing war crime.

Bill Van Auken

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/04/pers-s04.html

When Big Data Becomes Bad Data

Corporations are increasingly relying on algorithms to make business decisions and that raises new legal questions.

Protesters participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. Among the visible signs are those advocating for equal rights, integrated schools, fair housing and fair employment. (Marion S Trikosko/PhotoQuest/Getty)

A recent ProPublica analysis of The Princeton Review’s prices for online SAT tutoring shows that customers in areas with a high density of Asian residents are often charged more. When presented with this finding, The Princeton Review called it an “incidental” result of its geographic pricing scheme. The case illustrates how even a seemingly neutral price model could potentially lead to inadvertent bias — bias that’s hard for consumers to detect and even harder to challenge or prove.

Over the past several decades, an important tool for assessing and addressing discrimination has been the “disparate impact” theory. Attorneys have used this idea to successfully challenge policies that have a discriminatory effect on certain groups of people, whether or not the entity that crafted the policy was motivated by an intent to discriminate. It’s been deployed in lawsuits involving employment decisions, housing and credit. Going forward, the question is whether the theory can be applied to bias that results from new technologies that use algorithms.

Asians Are Nearly Twice as Likely to Get a Higher Price from The Princeton Review

One unexpected effect of the company’s geographic approach to pricing is that Asians are almost twice as likely to be offered a higher price than non-Asians, an analysis by ProPublica shows. Read the story.

The term “disparate impact” was first used in the 1971 Supreme Court case Griggs v. Duke Power Company. The Court ruled that, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it was illegal for the company to use intelligence test scores and high school diplomas — factors which were shown to disproportionately favor white applicants and substantially disqualify people of color — to make hiring or promotion decisions, whether or not the company intended the tests to discriminate. A key aspect of the Griggs decision was that the power company couldn’t prove their intelligence tests or diploma requirements were actually relevant to the jobs they were hiring for.

In the years since, several disparate impact cases have made their way to the Supreme Court and lowercourts, most having to do with employment discrimination. This June, the Supreme Court’s decision in Texas Dept. of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project, Inc. affirmed the use of the disparate impact theory to fight housing discrimination. The Inclusive Communities Project had used a statistical analysis of housing patterns to show that a tax credit program effectively segregated Texans by race. Sorelle Friedler, a computer science researcher at Haverford College and a fellow at Data & Society, called the Court’s decision “huge,” both “in favor of civil rights…and in favor of statistics.”

So how will the courts address algorithmic bias? From retail to real estate, from employment to criminal justice, the use of data mining, scoring software and predictive analytics programs is proliferating at an exponential rate. Software that makes decisions based on data like a person’s ZIP code can reflect, or even amplify, the results of historical or institutional discrimination.“[A]n algorithm is only as good as the data it works with,” Solon Barocas and Andrew Selbst write in their article “Big Data’s Disparate Impact,” forthcoming in the California Law Review. “Even in situations where data miners are extremely careful, they can still affect discriminatory results with models that, quite unintentionally, pick out proxy variables for protected classes.”

It’s troubling enough when Flickr’s auto-tagging of online photos label pictures of black men as “animal” or “ape,” or when researchers determine that Google search results for black-sounding names are more likely to be accompanied by ads about criminal activity than search results for white-sounding names. But what about when big data is used to determine a person’s credit score, ability to get hired, or even the length of a prison sentence?

Because disparate impact theory is results-oriented, it would seem to be a good way to challenge algorithmic bias in court. A plaintiff would only need to demonstrate bias in the results, without having to prove that a program was conceived with bias as its goal. But there is little legal precedent. Barocas and Selbst argue in their article that expanding disparate impact theory to challenge discriminatory data-mining in court “will be difficult technically, difficult legally, and difficult politically.”

Some researchers argue that it makes more sense to design systems from the start in a more considered and discrimination-conscious way. Barocas and Moritz Hardtestablished a traveling workshop called Fairness and Transparency in Machine Learningto encourage other computer scientists to do just that. Some of their fellow organizers are also developing tools they hope companies and government agencies could use to test whether their algorithms yield discriminatory results and to fix them when necessary. Some legal scholars (including the University of Maryland’s Danielle Keats Citron andFrank Pasquale) argue for the creation of new regulations or even regulatory bodies to govern the algorithms that make increasingly important decisions in our lives.

There still exists “a large legal difference between whether there is explicit legal discrimination or implicit discrimination,” said Friedler, the computer science researcher. “My opinion is that, because more decisions are being made by algorithms, that these distinctions are being blurred.”

 

http://www.propublica.org/article/when-big-data-becomes-bad-data?utm_source=et&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailynewsletter&utm_content=&utm_name=

The 2016 US election and the scapegoating of immigrants

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1 September 2015

New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie proposed over the weekend that Washington institute a system of control over foreigners entering the country akin to the methods used by the express shipping company Fedex to track its packages. This Orwellian scheme, evoking the branding and police-state hounding of everyone visiting the US, is one more contribution to a 2016 US presidential debate that expresses complete contempt for democratic rights and a seething hatred within ruling circles for workers of every nationality.

Christie’s appeal to anti-immigrant chauvinism and xenophobia came in the same week that his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, raised the need for not only sealing off the US southern border with Mexico, but constructing a wall along the 5,525-mile-long border with Canada to the north.

Meanwhile, a phony furor has been whipped up over the use by both Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, a candidate for the Republican nomination, of the word “boxcar” in referring to proposals for the mass deportation of over 11 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the US. Clinton’s press aide was compelled to issue a statement affirming that she did not intend any allusion to the trains the Nazis used to send Jews to Auschwitz and other death camps.

This strained disavowal only draws attention to the fact that campaign stump speeches in the US in 2015 are echoing the rhetoric of 1930s-style fascism.

Donald Trump, the bloated, bullying billionaire and current Republican front-runner, has set the tone for this rabid scapegoating of immigrant workers. Slandering immigrants, who do the most grinding and ill-paid work, from the agricultural fields to the slaughterhouses, as “rapists” and “murderers,” Trump has demanded that they be rounded up and deported en masse.

He also advocates the building of a wall along the US-Mexican border—paid for by seizing the remittances sent by immigrants working in the US to support their families—and the revocation of citizenship for immigrants’ children born on US soil.

This last measure has either been endorsed or sidestepped by virtually the entire Republican pack. Jeb Bush, who has attacked Trump’s plan based on its cost rather than its gross inhumanity, vowed that his own plan would effectively seal the border “so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies’, as they’re described, coming into the country.”

With all of the arrogance, raw prejudice and stupidity that he brings to every subject, Trump has described the citizenship of these children as “illegal.”

In reality, citizenship rights for everyone born in the US, no matter what the status of their parents, has stood as a foundation of American bourgeois democracy for nearly a century and a half. Enshrined in the 14th Amendment, this right was a product of the Civil War and the overturning of the Supreme Court’s hated Dred Scott decision of 1857, which found that African-Americans were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

The first sentence of the first section of this article of the US Constitution, establishing the bedrock for the assertion of equal rights, reads: All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The determination of citizenship based on “soil,” or place of birth, rather than “blood,” or the nationality of one’s parents, was rooted in the principles of the American and French Revolutions and was what distinguished the US from Europe’s old monarchies and empires.

Attempts by the Democratic presidential candidates to exploit the Republicans’ anti-immigrant tirade for their own electoral purposes are as hollow as they are hypocritical.

In her speech last week to the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton denounced the Republicans for saying “hateful things about immigrants and their babies,” while her contender for the presidential nomination, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, insisted that the symbol of the US must be “the Statue of Liberty, not a barbed wire fence.”

In the real world, however, both support the current Democratic administration, which has driven deportations to record levels, expelling close to 3 million undocumented immigrants since Obama came to office promising immigration reform within 100 days. This deportation rate is nine times higher than 20 years ago.

Over the course of the past month, the administration has sent its lawyers into federal court to defend an illegal and inhuman system of jailing behind barbed wire fences thousands of children and their mothers who fled to the US to escape rampant violence in Central America.

The White House and Department of Homeland Security want to maintain this system, which reproduces the methods of Guantanamo and is described by some who worked in it as tantamount to torture. It is a means of deterring others from attempting to flee the horrific conditions created by decades of US-backed dictatorships, dirty wars and military coups, and of denying those who reach the US border their right to asylum.

The rhetoric of the Republicans and the deeds of the Democratic administration are of a piece with the attempts by governments across the Atlantic to erect a “Fortress Europe” to repel by force the hundreds of thousands of defenseless refugees fleeing for their lives from the devastation and bloodshed wrought by the succession of US-led wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. On both continents, the mistreatment and witch-hunting of immigrants is one of the rawest and most tragic expressions of the incompatibility of world economy with the outmoded and reactionary capitalist nation-state system.

Capitalism can provide no answer to the reality of mass global migration outside of violent repression, detention camps and mass deportations. The big-business politicians and media attempt to generate support for these odious methods by scapegoating immigrants for the loss of jobs, wages and vital social services that are produced by the crisis of the profit system.

These claims, made by candidates ranging from Trump to the Democratic “socialist” Bernie Sanders, are deserving only of contempt. There are resources to provide for all—native born and immigrant alike—but they are monopolized by a financial oligarchy that has enriched itself off of the destruction of the living standards of working people.

The defense of the democratic right of immigration and opposition to the police-state measures advocated by Trump and employed by Obama is a vital task of the working class as a whole, which is the ultimate target of the methods being honed in the crusade against immigrant workers.

Bill Van Auken

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/09/01/pers-s01.html

New York cops spied on activists against police violence

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By Sandy English
29 August 2015

A report published last week in Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept has revealed that police spied and exchanged information on activists who led protests against police violence last winter in New York City.

The spying was conducted by a special counterterrorism squad from police working for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Intelligence Division of the New York Police Department (NYPD).

The protests erupted after the refusal of a grand jury to indict NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo for the murder of Eric Garner. Pantaleo was videotaped strangling Garner during a targeted arrest for allegedly selling tax-free cigarettes in the borough of Staten Island on July 17 last year.

As he lay on the ground, Garner told police officers on the scene several times that he could not breathe. He was given no first aid and was pronounced dead at the hospital. His death was later ruled a homicide by the city coroner’s office.

Activists obtained 118 pages of police reports from the MTA and 161 pages from the Metro North Railroad through New York’s Freedom of Information Law. The documents cover protests that took place from December 2014 to February 2015 in Grand Central Station in Manhattan where the MTA police have jurisdiction. A number of protests in the timeline occurred there.

The NYPD has not released any documents, but those that have been supplied reveal an information exchange between the NYPD and the MTA police, and the presence of both NYPD as well as MTA undercover officers at the protests.

Police tracked demonstrators as they were moving around Grand Central Station and in the city and identified specific individuals among the demonstrators. One undercover officer sent frequent email updates on the activities of protesters at the station during a protest on Martin Luther King Day in January. These included notice of the presence of Jose LaSalle, a founder of CopWatch Patrol Unit, in an email that includes his photograph.

Another email chain from December includes a chart of upcoming protests, including one organized by high-school students.

It is worth noting that some of the police spying occurred after Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a halt to the protests against police violence in the aftermath of the shooting death of two NYPD officers in Brooklyn on December 20 by a deranged gunman, although the documents indicate that surveillance of protesters also took place before de Blasio’s plea.

The political atmosphere during the first half of December in New York City was one of intensifying anger at police violence, particularly over the Garner case, but also including the dozens of police shootings in the city over the past decade, as well as the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the refusal in November of a grand jury to indict his killer, Officer Darren Wilson.

During the period from December 4 to December 15, large demonstrations against police violence took place throughout the city, some of them partly spontaneous, with tens of thousands of workers and youth protesting in Washington Square Park on December 15.

After the December 20 shooting, however, elements of the state apparatus attempted to go on a counteroffensive. Police union officials claimed that de Blasio had blood on his hands for his supposed tolerance of anti-police-violence protests, and the NYPD staged a near-mutiny when cops turned their backs on de Blasio on several occasions in what became a political mobilization of the police. Over the next few weeks, NYPD officers then performed a systematic slowdown in arrests and citations for minor crimes across the city.

While police surveillance and intimidation of protesters during this period were undoubtedly intensified, these practices certainly did not begin from scratch. Spying on protesters in New York City who have not broken the law and represent no threat to public safety is the modus operandi of the NYPD and other state agencies, including the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The NYPD has a long and well-documented history of spying on and harassing Muslims in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. More recently New York cops have video-recorded, photographed, followed and intimidated nonviolent protesters, such as those involved in the 2011 Occupy Wall Street protests in Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan. The NYPD also subjected these protesters to beatings, pepper spraying and the use of LRAD sound cannons. One of the most egregious state attacks on protesters’ democratic rights was the frame-up of organizer Cecily MacMillan in 2014.

There can be little doubt that the documents published by the Intercept are only the tip of an iceberg of sustained and extensive surveillance of organizers of and participants in protests against police violence, not only in New York City, but throughout the United States.

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/08/29/poli-a29.html

Is Donald Trump Really a ‘Fascist’?

The Trump campaign doesn’t seem so funny anymore.

Donald Trump speaks in Manchester, New Hampshire, USA, on April 12, 2014
Photo Credit: Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

Although he is still a clown, nobody laughs at Donald Trump anymore — which may be the real purpose of his candidacy, at least as far as he is concerned. The casino mogul is pleased to instill fear among Republican elites, as he dominates their presidential nominating contest — and forces them to face a hard question about the man who is exciting such belligerent enthusiasm among Republican voters.

Is Trump a real live fire-breathing fascist?

From Newsweek to Salon to the Daily Caller, commentators of various colorations have found ample reason to apply that often-discredited label to him. While these observers hesitate to lump Trump in with totalitarian dictatorships and historic crimes against humanity, they are clearly concerned over his strongman appeal, his populist rhetoric, and his rejection of GOP free-market orthodoxy.

Genuine conservatives aren’t wrong to fret, but they seem unwilling or unable to grasp the clearest evidence that Trump is channeling toxic currents from the past — namely, his appeals to racial bigotry, his truculent attitude toward other nations, and his extremist “solution” to illegal immigration.

Obvious clues to the noxious nature of Trumpism keep cropping up across the political landscape like poison mushrooms. In Boston’s “Southie” neighborhood, once headquarters of the openly racist anti-busing movement known as ROAR (Restore Our Alienated Rights), two white males severely beat an older Hispanic man. When arrested, one of the thugs told police, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

Rather than deplore this ugly assault, Trump’s impulse was to praise the zeal of his supporters. “It would be a shame,” he said when first told of the beating, then added: “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

At a big rally in Mobile, Alabama, Trump welcomed Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, R-Ala., the only prominent politician singled out for praise. Sessions is a dubious figure whose federal judicial nomination was once rejected by the Senate Judiciary Committee over his record of racially inflammatory behavior and remarks — which included calling a white civil rights lawyer “a disgrace to his race” and opposing the Voting Rights Act. Today, he is the chief Senate opponent of legal immigration to the United States.

Opposition to legal as well as illegal immigration is a foundation of the white nationalist movement in the United States. So perhaps nobody should have been too surprised when a loud voice in the Mobile audience greeted Sessions’ arrival by screaming “White Power!”

Again, the reaction of the Trump campaign was telling. Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski responded that he wasn’t aware of the “white power” shouter. “I don’t know about the individual you’re talking about in Alabama,” he insisted. “I know there were 30-plus thousand people in that stadium. They were very receptive to the message of ‘making America great again’ because they want to be proud to be Americans again.”

Asked about the Boston beating, Lewandowski acknowledged that violence is “unacceptable,” continuing: “However, we should not be ashamed to be Americans. We should be proud of our country, proud of our heritage, and continue to be the greatest country in the world.” Like his boss, Lewandowski isn’t subtle. His dog-whistle about “heritage” and being “proud” was heard loud and clear by the white supremacist underworld, which is rallying behind Trump.

The troubling tone in Trump’s language can be detected when he talks about foreign policy, too. As David Cay Johnston recently reported, the draft-dodging billionaire boasts that he is the “most militaristic” candidate, and has blatantly advocated attacking other countries to “take” their oil. Imperial warmongering is a classic hallmark of fascism — indeed, it was military aggression by Nazi Germany that led to World War II.

Finally there is Trump’s “solution” to illegal immigration. He promises to deport an estimated 11-12 million people, a plan that would be ruinously expensive and grossly inhumane to even attempt. The only analogous projects on that scale were atrocities carried out by the Turks against Armenians and, later, by the Nazis against European Jews.

Imagine a country that seeks to round up millions of brown-skinned people by force, transforming itself into a police state, while mobs of vigilantes in militias scourge frightened families out of hiding. It is not hard to predict scenes of bloodshed and horror.

No Donald, that isn’t the way to “make America great again.” For most of us — the majority of citizens who have no use for Trump and Trumpism — that isn’t America at all.

Joe Conason is the editor of the National Memo and writes a column for creators.com

 

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/donald-trump-really-fascist?akid=13427.265072.KrNupL&rd=1&src=newsletter1041631&t=4