From the November-December 2018 issue of News & Letters
CAPITALISM VS. THE PLANET
No sooner did your paper come out with “Masses vs. capitalism: Climate chaos hangs in the balance” on the front page (Sept.-Oct. 2018 N&L), than the UN’s panel of climate scientists produced a report calling for “systemic change,” in which “required rates of change in the energy, land, urban, infrastructure and industrial systems would need to take place…have no documented historic precedent.” Meanwhile, key countries are moving backward. Without using the words “revolution” or “capitalism,” these scientists are saying that humanity needs revolution in the economic system.
What havoc will be wrought by the lame duck Congress? I worry about wildlife and the environment, Social Security and Medicare. So many in power are striving against workers, including the Supreme Court. But they may underestimate workers’ creativity; hotel workers and LPNs from Chicago, teachers from Oklahoma and Arizona, hotel workers rising up in San Francisco. Never underestimate people’s hope and creativity.
This 40th anniversary of the Jonestown massacre in Guyana must become the wake-up call that prevents the whole of humanity from continuing to prepare for the “global Jonestown” that we are fast approaching with each new day. We human beings must put a stop to preparing for our own graves by moving off the path of global warming and away from the mad drift toward a nuclear holocaust. This new spate of wildfires that is devastating California is only a preview of what is in store for our imperiled planet unless we, as a world community of nations, radically change.
Dunayevskaya’s 1960 article on “The Roots of Anti-Semitism” (Sept.-Oct. 2018 N&L) has a contemporary ring: “What the recent anti-Semitic outbreaks show is that it is impossible to destroy Nazism, the most bestial expression of capitalism, where its root, capitalism itself, flourishes.” Trump’s wild racist remarks and his winks to the alt-Right have certainly empowered those extreme elements to enter openly into U.S. society. There may not be a direct line between Trump’s rhetoric and the murder of Jewish parishioners in Pittsburgh, but he is helping produce a vile climate of hate. Trump may seem to be the opposite of “liberal” capitalism, but he is in fact rooted in capitalism’s long history of racism and anti-Semitism.
Concerning “Massacre of Jews measures the inhumanity of capitalism” (Oct. 29 statement on N&L website), the situation is so awful, especially because deep divisions among the exploited undermine our powers to effectively fight back. Why hasn’t the mainstream news made sure everyone knows that Muslim organizations nationwide are in solidarity with the Jewish communities? Or remind us that Black Lives Matter fights but another form of hate—the daily prejudice and hate against Black Americans? Or called out the 45th president when he says “Democrats want to liquidate our borders” that “liquidate” was the term used by Nazis to mean murdering the Jews during World War II? Let’s insist on the whole picture!
Susan Van Gelder
The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court (“Masses for freedom fight Trump-Kavanaugh’s reactionary grab for power,” Oct. 10 statement on N&L website) was a foregone conclusion, although many hoped that the testimony of Dr. Ford, who credibly accused him of attempted rape, would derail it. Republicans marched in lockstep, joined by wishy-washy Democrats who were afraid they would not be re-elected in states that had voted for Trump. Any reasonable person watching his testimony could see a person consumed by extreme anger, an uneven, dangerous temperament unsuited for the Supreme Court. I’m not surprised he succeeded. In the words of the old Socialist Labor Party: the members of the Supreme Court are the watchdogs of capitalism. Our corrupt, obsolete, capitalist system couldn’t care less if its watchdogs are rabid. It prefers them that way.
Battle Creek, Mich.
Survivors of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School spoke here on Oct. 26. They were full of hope in our ability to create a just and human world, and shared their insights on how to get there. They spoke at a high school, where we walked through a metal detector with security guards. That’s what the kids do every day. The speakers and movement worked hard to make the struggle be about gun violence and the violence/injustice in general in our society. They stretched themselves and our consciousness by collaborating with Black youth and organizations who have been fighting gun violence for decades.
FREEDOM MOVEMENTS VS. FASCISM ACROSS THE GLOBE
The election of the fascist Bolsonaro in Brazil is terrifying. Many had illusions in an economic bloc of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa as an alternative to U.S. imperialism. But from Russia’s genocidal bombing of Syria, to China’s concentration camps for Muslims, to South Africa’s massacre of the Marikana miners, that myth of a “good capitalism” was never anything less than a death trap. Real proletarian solidarity was extended to the Brazilian landless movement by the South African shackdwellers’ movement Abahlali baseMjondolo. They wrote, “This is a disaster for democracy. Jair Bolsonaro…has described organizations like the Landless Workers’ Movement and the Homeless Workers’ Movement as ‘terrorists’ and land occupations and road blockades as ‘terrorist activities.’ It is clear that the Right will militarize the state and attack the popular movements of the Left, and rule the poor with even more violence….We commit ourselves to standing firm in solidarity with our comrades in Brazil and call on all our comrades in South Africa and around the world to do the same.”
In Zimbabwe, the cost of basic commodities has risen drastically and there are shortages. Our new government is taking no action to stop the profiteering business fat cats while the workers and the poor peasantry are being forced to starve. How can, for example, two liters of cooking oil skyrocket from $3.60 to $10 within several days? It’s clear that the wheels of global imperialism continue being senselessly oiled to benefit the minority in a country with everything, including good soils, best weather conditions, vast minerals not yet mined. Who then should save the local starving masses? I am touched by the current actions and wishes to build up a socialist/labor party. Our government is unconcerned for its citizens, and workers have been totally neglected.
B. Musemwa, email@example.com The Marxian Solidarity, PO Box A306
Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe
I was pleased to learn of the re-election of Mikiko Shiroma as mayor of Nago, Okinawa, and the election of Denny Tamaki as mayor of Okinawa Prefecture. Both are opposed to the relocation of the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Futenma in Ginowan. Seventy years after the end of World War II, no U.S. military bases should be on Okinawa.
Happy for Okinawa
The folks at News and Letters Committees are the only socialist organization I know of that never compromised with the rotten influence of the Assadists in the Chicago anti-war Left. They have consistently shown that they understand that principles are to be fought for, even when the fight looks lost. From their support for the people of Bosnia against fascism to their support for the Syrian democratic revolution, they have never flinched, building international solidarity even when doing so required considerable courage. While much of the “Left” has made “anti-interventionism” a dogma, and reduced opposition to genocide to a matter of tactics and convenience, the comrades at N&L have shown they prefer the risky struggle for principles over the false comfort of compromised values. These are the kind of people to be talking to if one is interested in a discussion about socialism.
N&L not only is a rare medium that reports on this (“Israel’s reactionary nation-state law,” Sept.-Oct. 2018 N&L) but it shows U.S. complicity in the attempt by the right wing in Israel to impose total apartheid on the country. Equally important, (1) women are in the forefront of the protests; (2) massive protests come from both Arab and Jewish Israelis.
Revolutionary Jewish woman
CATHOLIC CHURCH CRISIS
Your editorial “Catholic Church laid bare” (Sept.-Oct. 2018 N&L) reminded me of Hegel from The Philosophy of History: “That corruption [of the Church] was not an accidental phenomenon; it was not the mere abuse of power… A corrupt state of things is very frequently represented as an ‘abuse’; it is taken for granted that the foundation was good…the institution itself faultless—but that the…arbitrary volition of men has made use of that which in itself was good to further its own selfish ends, and that all that is required to be done is to remove these adventitious elements. On this showing the institute in question…and the evil that disfigures it appears something foreign to it. But when accidental abuse of a good thing really occurs, it is limited to particularity. A great and general corruption affecting a body of such large and comprehensive scope as a Church, is quite another thing.—The corruption of the Church was a native growth….” So it remains today.
Losing my religion
I am deeply concerned with the title, “Catholic Church laid bare,” and the last paragraph. The revelations of abuse in the Catholic Church are a world-historic moment, and are just the beginning. These revelations come in large part as a result of the work of people within the church, many of them devout believers. The editorial will cut us off from the people who made this awareness possible. Pope Francis may not be as good as he appears, but he is responding to deep discontent within the church. Often revolutionary impulses come in religious expression. We should not forget liberation theology and those who gave their lives for it. In Québec, anti-war priests helped protect many during the Viêtnam war, and one of them prevented the Provincial Police from storming the Séminaire, where I was a student, during the 1968 student occupations. Many church people struggled for a secular Québec society, and, ironically, this secularism is one of the things that the people of Québec are under attack for.
Ireland shows the meaning of “the beginning of the end of the Catholic Church.” Repeated scandals like the enslavement of young women in the Magdalene Laundries, pedophilia, and needless deaths of pregnant women led to an ever-declining minority of congregants and isolation when voters rejected its anti-abortion edicts. The Church still exists, of course, but not the Church with the devotion of the populace and a veto power on national policy.
VOICES FROM BEHIND BARS
Being in Lowell Correctional Institute, I am faced with the realization of no family support. There is not a system in place to help the children left behind. My oldest has custody of her two siblings until I am home. We have been hard pressed to locate any agency to help them with housing, food, clothes, car repairs, now that my savings have run out. If Florida is only going to offer prison as an option for every crime, something must be put in place. The other issue here is the lack of rehabilitation and the mental health system. It does seem to have, however, a method of mentally breaking down women in their most vulnerable state.
This nation’s first inhabitants can relate to racism and any other unjust treatment experienced by all colonized/immigrants brought to this continent. I still advocate for my fellow felons and our Native Nations of ONE group. I would suggest that your reporting include the Indigenous Nations in a broad context, for we are overlooked, sort of like the Bear in the room.
I got the Sept.-Oct. issue. I’m a political prisoner and participated in the Aug. 21-Sept. 9 U.S. prison nationwide strike. The prison authorities transferred me and labeled me a gang member and a security threat.
Cross City, Fla.
Thank you for allowing me to enjoy the N&L subscription for free as I am still incarcerated. At 35¢/hour, there’s not much at the end of the month. I’m housed at a private facility which is for-profit and we are forced to buy everything to get by. Please discontinue my subscription so that another prisoner can have a chance to receive your newspaper.
TO OUR READERS: Can you donate $5 for a prisoner who cannot pay for a subscription to N&L? Prisoners are eligible to continue their free subscriptions when they first get released.