Things fall apart

From the May-June 2015 issue of News & Letters

Draft for Marxist-Humanist Perspectives, 2015-2016
Decaying social order shows need for philosophy, revolution

Contents:

Introduction

I.    Black Lives Matter

II.  Things fall apart 

A. Arab Spring: Revolution and war
B. Economic weakness and shifts in global politics
C. Whiff of fascism

III. Greek masses in peril

IV.  Marxist-Humanist organization and philosophy


…Continued from Part I

II. Things fall apart

The overall crisis in the economy and politics is global. Most starkly, the U.S. occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, enveloped in empty rhetoric of democracy and human rights, has in reality meant direct killings, torture and baseless imprisonment of many civilians, as well as collaboration with warlords and authoritarian figures such as Iraq’s former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, handpicked by the Bush administration, whose oppressive sectarianism helped fuel the rise of the Islamic State (IS or Daesh). The hollowness of that rhetoric is seen as well in how women’s freedom—one of the justifications for the U.S. war in Afghanistan—has been pushed aside. The worsening situation for Afghan women, whose slim gains in education and bodily integrity are rapidly being destroyed, is treated by the U.S. as an inconvenient fact best ignored. (See “Afghan women demand justice,” p. 2.)

For eight years President Obama has vowed to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but he has been dragged back by ever newer waves of fighting and by the weakness and corruption of the client regimes set up by his predecessor. As an alternative to “boots on the ground,” he has ramped up the drone war that has hastened the disintegration of Yemen and Pakistan.

Obama may seem the opposite of the hubris of the Bush-Cheney administration’s illusion that it could reshape the earth at will. However, it was Obama who had to admit ruefully that his major accomplishments include being “really good at killing people. Didn’t know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine.”1Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down: Game Change 2012 (Penguin Press, 2013), p. 55.

It is not only that global power politics overrides even a top leader’s subjective desires. It is that in this realm of supreme alienation, the consciousness of “good” and “bad” turn into each other. In Hegel’s analysis,

“This type of spiritual life is the absolute and universal inversion of reality and thought, their entire estrangement, the one from the other; it is pure culture. What is found out in this sphere is that neither the concrete realities, state-power and wealth, nor their determinate conceptions, good and bad, nor the consciousness of good and bad (the consciousness that is noble and the consciousness that is base) possess real truth; it is found that all these moments are inverted and transmuted the one into the other, and each is the opposite of itself.”

Hegel could speak so incisively to our age because he was writing of an age in crisis, and our age is characterized by the totality of its crisis. The birth of Marxist-Humanism and therefore the 60 years of News and Letters Committees emerged from that total contradiction, in which counter-revolution is in the very innards of revolution. Those who aim for a new society are forced to confront the question of what happens after revolutionary conquest of power—not in the sense of a blueprint but its very opposite, the need for absolute liberation as a process, in which self-activity of masses and self-determination of the idea of freedom unite to propel revolutionary transformation forward until the divide between mental and manual labor is abolished.

From its beginnings, Marxist-Humanism recognized such a drive in the questions coming from workers about “What kind of labor should a human being do?” in search of “no division between thinking and doing.” (See “Miners inspired Marxist-Humanism,” March-April 2015 N&L.) Thus, our first book, Marxism and Freedom by Raya Dunayevskaya, held:

“…the workers have been acting out Hegel’s Absolute Idea and have thus concretized and deepened the movement from practice to theory….It is the totality of the present world crisis which compels us to turn to Hegel and his Absolutes….”2Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, pp. 37, 39.

In the absence of successful social revolution, today’s total crisis is shown in a world capitalist order that is falling apart economically, politically, environmentally, and in thought. That does not mean that we can wait for capitalism to collapse and step aside for a new society. On the contrary. Its desperation makes it that much more vicious, and it threatens to doom all of humanity with it.

The transformation of the “mission accomplished” 2003 invasion of Iraq into a failed occupation is one aspect of the crumbling of the post-Cold War “new world order” (so named by the first President Bush). This defeat for U.S. imperialism is hardly an unqualified victory for freedom fighters, as it has led to sectarian conflict and the rise of IS.

A. Arab Spring: Revolution and war

Bombed-out neighborhood in Yemen. Eyewitnesses say this house “was destroyed on the heads of all the occupants” on April 12. Photo by Abubakr Alhamdani.

Bombed-out neighborhood in Yemen. Eyewitnesses say this house “was destroyed on the heads of all the occupants” on April 12. Photo by Abubakr Alhamdani.

In the case of Arab Spring, the efforts of global and regional imperialist powers to suppress the historic wave of uprisings have led, after four years, to a growing regional war. In particular, Iran and Saudi Arabia have faced off along the lines of their respective religious sectarianisms. The Iranian state’s genocidal support of Syria’s Assad regime, and the Saudi efforts to suppress revolution in Bahrain and Yemen—which would become direct threats to monarchical rule on the Arabian Peninsula—lay the basis for a potential sectarian holocaust.

The U.S. views narrow nationalist and sectarian forces as generally less dangerous than actual liberation movements like those that created the Arab Spring.

This only makes it more important to heed the words of Syrian revolutionary Yassin al-Haj Saleh, who has criticized the Western Left’s inability to see underlying realities in the Middle East:

“The problem is that their narrow anti-imperialist worldview only sees Obama, Putin, Hollande, Erdoğan, Khamenei, Qatari Emir Hamad, Saudi King Abdullah, Hassan Nasrallah, and Bashar al-Assad. Possibly they see also Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi. We, rank-and-file Syrians, refugees, women, students, intellectuals, human rights activists, political prisoners…do not exist. I think this high-politics, Western-centered worldview is better suited for the right and the ultra-right fascists” (New Politics, Winter 2015).

In fact, events across the region testify to the failure of world imperialism and local rulers to impose their wills. Whatever seeming alliances exist among various state actors and their local clients, the incoherence among them is more significant. Thus the U.S. works openly with Iranian-supported Shia militias in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq, takes a rhetorical distance from Iran’s client Assad in Syria, and participates in the Saudi bombing campaign against the Houthi militia in Yemen that Iran sympathizes with.

That U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia are no more coherent could be seen in the testimony given to Congress, by Commander of U.S. Central Command General Lloyd Austin, on the bombing in Yemen: “I don’t currently know the specific goals and objectives of the Saudi campaign, and I’d have to know that to be able to assess the likelihood of success.”

What does stand out in the last four years of U.S. policy toward the Middle East is its consistently counter-revolutionary role, from its support for Egypt’s military to its efforts to limit international support for Assad’s secular opponents, and from its silence on Bahrain’s repression of protesters to its part in short-circuiting Yemen’s Change Square by pushing instead a transition to a new president.

While Iran and Saudi Arabia, along with Israel, have long threatened regional war as rhetoric, the reality of the Arab Spring revolutions has made sure that they enter into it in various defensive postures. They aren’t attempting to expand their regional influence so much as to avoid the loss of influence—more, the existential threat—that they see in the potential overthrow of regimes in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen.

YEMEN IN THE CROSSHAIRS

The extent to which current war moves are directed against the Arab Spring can be measured in Yemen, where both Houthi militia members and their Sunni opponents were represented in Change Square in Sana’a in 2011. There they worked and debated alongside other forces in Yemeni society—including, for a short time, women—breaking down sectarian divisions in the aspiration for a new society. This mostly involved everyday people, and not the “leadership class.”

One of the first moves toward the current crisis was the imposition of a political blueprint on the revolution that left the Houthis unrepresented. Now the Houthi leadership finds itself in an uneasy alliance with former dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh, who controls parts of the old military. This fatal compromise belies their “revolutionary” pretense—as do attempts to impose dress codes and other sanctions on women in Sana’a, and the shooting of protesters in Taiz and Torba.

Some civilians caught up in the conflict in Yemen and terrified. (Photo by Abubakr Alhamdani)

Some civilians caught up in the conflict in Yemen and terrified. (Photo by Abubakr Alhamdani)

Former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi’s legitimacy is further discredited by the Saudi patronage. The Saudis are the world’s largest importers of weaponry, and the U.S. is promising to further supply them with whatever is necessary to conquer small, impoverished Yemen. Civilians are already dying. Hadi’s recent effort to co-opt South Yemen’s desire for independence appears to have been a non-starter, as he was forced to flee Aden and ended up in Saudi Arabia. There he is serving as the figurehead for a reactionary alliance including the Gulf monarchies, fundamentalist Sudan, and Egypt’s military regime under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

Sisi, who presents himself as secular, is forced to participate in this alliance—despite his wishes for rapprochement with Iran—by his dependence on Saudi financial largesse. They have contributed billions of dollars to his regime. The new Saudi rulers, under King Salman, are calling in that debt.

EGYPT: FEAR OF A SECOND REVOLUTION

At home Sisi presides over ferocious repression, murdering peaceful protesters like Shaimaa al-Sabbagh, jailing more, and suppressing all dissent, especially from the Left—though at first the pretext was removing from office the highly unpopular Muslim Brotherhood administration of Mohamed Morsi.

The intensity of repression reveals the Egyptian rulers’ fear of a second, deeper revolution in the home of that most exciting of Arab Spring revolutions, where the occupation of Tahrir Square shone with the light of new human relations in embryo. Lacking a philosophy of revolution, the movement fell prey to capitalist ideology that substituted elections for real self-determination through continued self-organization of masses in motion. The constricted democracy of bourgeois elections reduced itself to a choice between a representative of the old Mubarak regime and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi. When Morsi’s presidency too revealed itself as anti-labor as well as anti-woman, mass discontent resurfaced—but the masses, still not armed with a philosophy of revolution, failed to prevent the military from taking advantage of the situation with a coup that has essentially restored the old regime with new faces.

While Sisi was able to take advantage of the inability of the Egyptian revolutionaries to articulate a concept of second negativity—what they were for as a total break with existing social relations, not only what they were against—nevertheless, his devious path to power illustrates Karl Marx’s point about the difference between social and merely political revolution. Between the spirit of Tahrir Square, aspiring to a radically new and different society, and the attempts to reduce that by the rulers, lies Marx’s point: “however limited an industrial revolt may be, it contains within itself a universal soul: and however universal a political revolt may be, its colossal form conceals a narrow spirit” (“Critical Notes on ‘The King of Prussia,’” 1844).

SYRIA IN JAWS OF COUNTER-REVOLUTION

The collapse of Assad’s forces in Busra al-Sham and then Idlib City showed again the ultimate weakness of his genocidal regime, propped up by the “respectable” world for the last four years. Assad’s regime has now killed over 200,000 Syrians, most of them civilians, and forced over 10 million people out of their homes, the worst refugee crisis of the century.

Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statement that the U.S. must eventually negotiate with Assad further worsened the stench of U.S. responsibility for the carnage inflicted upon the Syrian people. As the revolutionaries of Kafranbel wrote on March 22:

“Obama! Doing nothing is hard, you never know when you’re done. Haven’t you ever heard about NFZ [a No Fly Zone] to protect civilians?

Rather than a No Fly Zone, the U.S. shares airspace with Assad’s air force over Syria. U.S. planes bound for the support of Kurdish forces in Rojava, in their fight against the Islamic State, cross paths with Syrian planes filled with barrel bombs or chemical weapons bound to decimate civilian neighborhoods.

The Syrian Revolution hasn’t respected the rhetorical or real lines of differentiation among the various ruling classes, but rather exposed the reality of class society itself. In having to oppose both the Assad regime and the fundamentalist counter-revolution from within—beginning with, but not limited to, IS—the revolution has given a fresh impulse to revolutionary thought. (See “From the U.S. to Ukraine, crises and revolts call for philosophy,” May-June 2014 N&L, and “The Syrian Revolution and its philosophy,” Nov.-Dec. 2014 N&L.)

While endlessly identified with Syria in bourgeois media, IS was born in Iraq. It grew as a result of the U.S. invasion and subsequent occupation, which nurtured some of the most retrogressive tendencies in Iraq—for instance, encouraging sectarianism, keeping Saddam’s anti-labor laws in effect, and giving only lip service to women’s rights.

But IS was created not only in the shadow of imperialism, but also in its image. From the massacres of indigenous Iraqis and Syrians, to the piratical primitive accumulation of capital through robbery, slavery and rape, the nihilistic IS embodies the fundamental inhumanity and brutality that remain at the heart of capitalist society.

THE IRAN-U.S. DEAL AND ISRAEL

Along with IS, what also grew from the salt sowed in Iraq’s soil by the U.S. occupation was Iran’s magnified regional influence. That is one side of the double weakening—of the U.S. in the Middle East and of Iran internally—that resulted in the tentative agreement on Iran’s nuclear activities. Iranian “hardliners” who previously excoriated any chance of compromise suddenly fell in line with the deal. What they did not mention was the discontent among the Iranian masses—who oppose not only U.S. economic sanctions on their country but the state’s repeated willingness to sacrifice the masses’ living conditions for the sake of building its arsenal. Neither the masses nor the rulers have forgotten the “Green Movement” whose suppression in 2009 drove it underground but did not eliminate dissent.

In appealing to the most reactionary elements in U.S. politics to try to scuttle the Iran deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was demonstrating that developments in the Middle East retain the ability to become a tripwire toward even greater, world-scale devastation. Perhaps he was simply seeking the most likely allies for his racist denial of Palestinian rights, beginning with the right of self-determination represented by statehood. (See “Death in Yarmouk,” p. 1.)

Despite Netanyahu’s rhetoric, nothing has better served the Israeli Right than the brutal efforts by Iran and Assad, Sisi and Saudi Arabia, to crush the Arab Spring rebellions. For the Israeli rulers, those revolutionary moments provided a challenge on the level of ideas, which could not be defeated militarily.

The Arab Spring has challenged all ruling classes, and also all revolutionaries. At the same time, it challenges revolutionary philosophy to rise to its full height, alongside the subjects of revolution, and help bring about a new, more human society.

B. Economic weakness and shifts in global politics

Setbacks in the Middle East epitomize the challenges to U.S. dominance. Its global power reached a zenith in the 2003 conquest of Iraq, which quickly transformed into a festering occupation sapping the vitality out of both Iraq and U.S. imperialism. The aftermath also undermined the ideological pretensions that U.S. intervention fosters democracy. From outright invasion of Iraq to serial massacre by drone in Yemen, the results led not to a stable Middle East serving as a reliable oil supply integrated into a U.S.-topped world market, but rather disintegrating societies riven by violence.

Late March saw U.S. special operations forces evacuated from Yemen, dealing a severe blow to U.S. “counterterrorism” capabilities in the whole region. Saudi Arabia followed up by taking the lead in outside military intervention into Yemen, leaving the U.S. in a supporting role.

In another arena, China, after being blocked by the U.S. from attaining a significant role in the World Bank, created its own Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The U.S. suffered a political defeat when its demands to shun the bank were rejected by 50 countries, including close allies South Korea, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and half the European Union.

All the challenges notwithstanding, the U.S. is still the only military/economic superpower. Only Russia approaches the planet-decimating capability of its nuclear arsenal. Hence U.S. efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear capability raise the question, not only why the U.S. is enabling India’s nuclear program, but, more importantly, why the U.S. and Russia continue to modernize their arsenals instead of taking a single step toward nuclear disarmament, flying in the face of their official, treaty-bound commitment.

Too much of today’s Left is fixated on opposing the U.S., as if that translates into, or substitutes for, opposing capitalism-imperialism as a system and struggling for a new human society. As if revolution is somehow helped by refusing to utter a single word of criticism of Russian President Putin—and pretending that his client mini-states in eastern Ukraine are the basis for socialism in one county! In reality, workers in these “people’s republics” face anti-labor repression even more severe than those in the west.3See “Stop These Beatings of Ukrainian Trade Union Activists” and “Slavery in the Donetsk and Luhansk ‘Peoples Republics.’ Right-wing politicians stifling the movement from below in the west have only been helped by the reactionary and military-imperialist activities of Putin and his clients in the east.

The post-World War II age has been characterized by the crisis in production via capitalism’s law of motion. That law issues from capitalism’s basic dialectical inversion: the domination of dead labor (capital, in the forms of value, money, production machinery) over living labor. It is spelled out as an accumulation of wealth at one pole and, at the other pole, of misery, toil, unemployment, and revolt. From its beginning, Marxist-Humanism singled out automation as a new stage of production, bringing speedup, unemployment, and revolt, including a new stage of cognition expressed by coal miners’ raising the question of what kind of labor should a human being do, as noted earlier. (See “Miners inspired Marxist-Humanism,” March-April 2015 N&L.)

The increasing ratio of dead over living labor also leads to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, since only living labor can create value, and therefore surplus value. In the mid-1970s the full force of the falling rate of profit made itself felt in the first global recession since the 1930s Great Depression. It was only through a concerted class war against labor—busting unions, driving down wages, cutting social services and benefits, globalization with plenty of people in poor countries desperate to compete for jobs—that capitalism achieved a slight rebound in the rate of profit. The new global crisis of the Great Recession of recent years heralded a resumption in the decline. The IMF’s April 7 report “Lower Potential Growth: A New Reality” points to “persistent lower growth” since the crisis, one reason being low business investment. Six years after the official end of the recession in 2009, the rate of profit and economic growth remain low.

AFRICA RISING—OR FALLING?

Even where capitalism’s boosters tout “Africa rising”—with the World Bank projecting 4% economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa, a slowdown but still well above a global average of 2.9%—people’s lives tells a different tale.

The ravages of Ebola in West Africa are a case in point. Healthcare systems in Liberia and Sierra Leone were devastated not only by civil wars fueled by the world economy’s thirst for blood diamonds, but by neoliberal structural adjustment programs. Imperialistic exploitation was the main reason that, as the World Health Organization reported, “no fundamental public health infrastructures were in place, and this is what allowed the virus to spiral out of control.”4What this—the largest Ebola outbreak in history—tells the world,” report by the World Health Organization.

While the Obama administration’s response was slow, what tamed the epidemic was self-organization of affected communities: “Communities taking responsibility for their own future—not waiting for us, not waiting for the government, not waiting for the international partners, but starting to organize themselves,” according to Peter Graaff, the leader of the UN intervention in Liberia.5Norimitsu Onishi, “Empty Ebola Clinics in Liberia Are Seen as Misstep in U.S. Relief Effort,” April 12, 2015, New York Times.

Rosy scenarios about Africa’s future development overlook climate change. Left unchecked, in Africa alone it will worsen the spread of pathogens like Ebola and HIV from animals to humans, destabilize agriculture, increase heat waves and air pollution, and force millions of people to move due to drought and other effects. In a few decades, it could overwhelm all efforts made to reduce poverty and illness.

CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE BANKRUPTCY OF THOUGHT

March 4, 2015, rally demanding that Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., divest itself from stocks of fossil fuel companies. Photo by Peter Bowden, https://www.flickr.com/photos/116378748@N03/16690938276/.

March 4, 2015, rally demanding that Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., divest itself from stocks of fossil fuel companies. Photo by Peter Bowden, https://www.flickr.com/photos/116378748@N03/16690938276/.

Climate justice is another movement where youth are in the forefront, along with Indigenous peoples from many countries. Students are gradually pressuring colleges to divest from fossil fuel stocks. As of mid-April, 26 colleges and 44 cities and counties, most of them in the U.S., had committed to divest. On April 10, a protest of 150 students at the seat of Yale’s administration ended in the arrest of 19 students who refused to leave until the administration agreed to a real discussion. At Swarthmore College, a similar occupation lasted three weeks and at the University of Mary Washington another lasted two weeks. A sit-in at Harvard continues at press time.

On April 12, 25,000 Canadians protested in Quebec City, as other demonstrations took place in other Canadian cities, demanding significant action on climate change, above all stopping expansion of tar sands extraction and of oil and gas pipelines.

As in most countries, the majority of U.S. residents (including half of Republicans) see global warming as a problem and want the government to take action; 78% favor limits on greenhouse gas emissions by businesses. However, the federal and state governments are replete with fanatics and opportunistic liars who deny the reality of harmful, human-caused climate change.

Even politicians who want to take action can hardly get started. President Obama has done more to reduce emissions in the past year than all Presidents combined in all the years before that, including himself. And yet it adds up to nowhere near what is needed to avoid catastrophic warming.

The same is true of the U.S.-China climate deal, which essentially just restated actions the two countries were already planning. And even that is under attack as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell leads a propaganda campaign against the alleged “war on coal” and urges states to defy the regulations.

The urge for action is mounting in the face of superstorms and the ruinous drought afflicting California and much of the U.S. West. But the ruling class and ruling ideas resist the fundamental, revolutionary social transformation needed to halt capitalism’s momentum toward climate chaos. They are ever more attracted to the illusion of quick fixes through geoengineering, that is, artificially modifying the environment by, for example, spraying huge amounts of sulfates into the atmosphere to block sunlight. The only certainty about the effects is that there would be massive unintended consequences. The fact that it is even under consideration reveals the desperate lengths the status quo is willing to go to avoid admitting that the present mode of production has long past outlived any usefulness to humanity.

While the development of industrial capitalism has always depended on fossil fuels, their use skyrocketed after World War II. Defining characteristics of that new stage of production are automation and the use of huge quantities of ever-growing varieties of synthetic chemicals, especially petrochemicals.

At the same time, the human and social impact of the new stage of production fostered resistance in various forms, beginning with the 1949-50 general strike of coal miners opposing the introduction of the automated “continuous miner,” and later with the Ban the Bomb movement and environmental struggles.

So deep is the bankruptcy of thought emanating from today’s total crisis that science, though needed for capitalism’s productivity, profits and weapons, is under attack. This year West Virginia joined four other states with laws inviting climate denial to be taught on an equal footing with science in public schools. Republicans want to cut the budget for climate research, and their budget includes cuts to CIA and Defense Department programs for climate research. Staff in certain state agencies in Florida and Wisconsin have been ordered not to talk about climate change.

C. Whiff of fascism

There is more than a whiff of fascism pervading local, state, national and international politics. One of the best examples is the theocrat Roy Moore, Chief Justice of Alabama, who, in ordering a ban on same-sex marriage in that state, defied not the supposedly “Left” Barack Obama, but rather the most reactionary Supreme Court in decades. This is the Court that enabled plutocrats like the Koch brothers to pervert elections with unlimited money, that gave its blessing to employers denying women access to birth control, that invariably sides with businesses over workers, and that gutted the Voting Rights Act.

Moreover, Moore’s appeal to the law of God—as determined by him—trumping the U.S. Constitution managed to rally not just the KKK but, initially, the majority of the state’s probate judges to his defiance, even knowing they would soon be ordered to grant wedding licenses to same-sex couples.

This mentality worships the police and is anti-science, anti-environment, anti-healthcare, anti-welfare, and, most especially, anti-union, anti-immigrant, anti-Black, anti-women, anti-Queer. Much of it is playing out on the state level.

In some cases, such as laws in Indiana and Arkansas using “religious liberty” as a cover for bigotry against LGBTQ people, protests were furious enough—including a March 28 rally of several thousand in Indianapolis—to win a partial retreat by those states’ Republican governors and legislators.

Forced pregnancy, another hallmark of fascism, is also increasingly evident in the U.S.—especially among poor women. So horrendous has been the avalanche of anti-abortion legislation that the cost of an abortion has gone up sharply. Now added to the price of the procedure are long trips, money for babysitters, losing work days and maybe even a job, overnight stays in motels, all made necessary by insulting and ridiculously long waiting periods and loss of clinics nearby.

In Texas, after state government officials cut funding for Planned Parenthood and defunded other women’s clinics to the tune of $70 million, over 200,000 Texas women lost access to reproductive healthcare services—including birth control and cancer screenings. As shown by a study done in 2012, 7% of women seeking abortions tried to end their pregnancies themselves. In the Rio Grande Valley it was 12%. The number today is no doubt much higher.

A group of supporters thanking abortion providers at the “Pink House,” the last abortion clinic in Mississippi.

A group of supporters thanking abortion providers at the “Pink House,” the last abortion clinic in Mississippi.

The bankruptcy of thought is also seen in government-mandated lies. Seventeen states now force doctors to tell women lies that abortions cause breast cancer, or that a fetus can experience pain even before its nerves are developed, or that depression including suicide routinely follows an abortion. Now Arizona has passed a bill forcing doctors to say “it may be possible to reverse the effects of a medication abortion…” This lie depends on an untested procedure that could be dangerous.

People with disabilities are also under attack. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has made his considerable fortune out of exploiting the disabled and elderly in his many nursing homes. He wants to balance the budget on the backs of those least able to afford it and, he thinks, least able to fight back. As a woman who cares for her severely handicapped daughter put it:

“My daughter is a person with disabilities, and I work as her personal attendant. If these cuts go through, I fear that Rauner will cut the hours my daughter can pay me, leaving us without enough money to survive. I would also lose my health insurance and could no longer get the medications that keep me out of the hospital” (“Budget cuts are death sentences!” March-April 2015 N&L).

Ironically, it would cost many times more for the state to care for her daughter, but that way the money can line the pockets of the rich, rather than sustain a mother/daughter relationship and people caring for others in their own homes.

From southern states like Tennessee to Midwestern Iowa, plundering the disabled poor is a favorite technique for balancing budgets. Disability Rights Iowa had to file a complaint with the federal government charging Republican Governor Terry Branstad with failing to meet the state’s obligation to provide services to disabled Iowans. These heartless policies mean death for some, shortened lifespans for others, and deepened misery for tens of thousands.

Politics at the federal level appears somewhat different. But, like laws denying global warming and defunding infrastructure, the intractability of Republicans in Washington is not just partisan politics. It is a manifestation of a desperate ruling class that does not believe in its own future, so that a very substantial part of that class is focused on the short term, and the future be damned.

The biggest underlying reason for that non-belief in this society’s future is the persistence of the economic crisis. The administration and many economists tout the recovery that is under way in the U.S., but they cannot escape mentioning how incomplete it is in employment and wages, although they may not bother to mention the increasing precariousness of so many people’s jobs, income and housing. Nor do they mention how little recovery there has been in the rate of profit, or the very real possibility that the recovery, such as it is, could be wiped out by a new recession. They do have to admit that the U.S. cannot escape its linkages to the rest of the world, and economic problems are increasing in China, while Europe is still struggling, and other important economies such as Brazil’s and Russia’s are in trouble.

Continued in Part III

References   [ + ]

1. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Double Down: Game Change 2012 (Penguin Press, 2013), p. 55.
2. Raya Dunayevskaya, Marxism and Freedom, pp. 37, 39.
3. See “Stop These Beatings of Ukrainian Trade Union Activists” and “Slavery in the Donetsk and Luhansk ‘Peoples Republics.’
4. What this—the largest Ebola outbreak in history—tells the world,” report by the World Health Organization.
5. Norimitsu Onishi, “Empty Ebola Clinics in Liberia Are Seen as Misstep in U.S. Relief Effort,” April 12, 2015, New York Times.

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