what’s wrong with kansas? russia iran disco suck

10 11 2010

Sharon Borthwick writes on the meaning of the success of right-wing ‘Tea Party’ candidates in the United States midterm elections

Shocking as it may be, the Tea Party movement has been a great success. This ‘grass roots’ conservative activism is not a new phenomenon and it would be interesting to look at its recent history.

Thomas Frank’s 2003, What’s the Matter with Kansas? proves a useful tool in that regard. Frank himself, grew up in Kansas and was a deeply conservative adolescent who hero-worshipped Ronald Reagan. He learnt from older men an anger that was “endless, implacable, spectacular”. Read the rest of this entry »





obamacare: the nuns strike back

28 03 2010

by Ernie Haberkern
Berkeley, California

The Health Care Reform bill has finally made it through the archaic legislative labyrinth our slave-owning founding fathers left us. Our modern corporate capitalists have found this unrepresentative system as useful as the slave owners did. One of features of the system is that it facilitates behind-closed-doors dealing that makes it extremely difficult for the average voter, or even the fairly well-informed voter, to find out what exactly the effect of the legislation will actually be. In fact, the result is usually so complicated that it often has consequences unforeseen and unintended by the authors of the legislation.

So what does this ‘reform’ actually amount to? In the first place, there is no regulation of the cost of drugs. In particular, the current twelve year monopoly granted to companies for brand name drugs remains in effect. This deal was made last August and in return the pharmaceutical industry, which played a major role in the defeat of Bill Clinton’s attempt to pass a health care bill, actively lobbied in favor of Obama’s plan. Read the rest of this entry »





dawn of the crisis generation in california

15 03 2010

On 4th March thousands of workers and students across California took action in protest against budget cuts, lay-offs and fee hikes caused by the state’s financial crisis. This article from Indybay was written after 157 people were arrested for occupying the I-880 motorway.

“Why the hell did you get on that highway?” asked the cops, our cell mates, our coworkers, our classmates. There are many responses that could be given that have been outlined by banners, occupation demands, student leaders, or budget statistics, but none of them really connect to why one would take over a highway. Obviously there are no libraries on a highway. The funding for schools isn’t going to be found on any one of those lanes of oncoming traffic. And, in fact, a lot of people who were arrested on the highway were not students or teachers. This is because the highway takeover is an action against a power structure that is much larger than this year’s budget crisis. Read the rest of this entry »





crisis ploughs on in united states

25 02 2010

by Dennis Marcucci
from Philadelphia

Worst than expected economic reports and job cut announcements show that the prospects for working people in the USA and around the world are going to worsen. After all, most of the world is capitalist, and most of the world is poor. So what does that tell you about this canker sore of an economic system?

Wall Street economists had said that unemployment claims would fall below 450,000. They were wrong. There was only a slight decrease to 470,000. Any reports have to be viewed with suspicion. I was speaking to an “expert” economist on a radio talk show two weeks ago who was telling the audience how claims for unemployment fell. I said that what is not being reported is (i) workers who exhausted their benefits and are now off the rolls and are viewed as employed. (ii) workers who were collecting benefits and found part time minimum wage employment and (iii) workers working temp jobs or contract work. Read the rest of this entry »





haiti, western intervention and the left

14 02 2010

by Rob Kirby

Tony Blair’s appearance before the Chilcot Inquiry brought up once again his hoary old argument that as Iraq is better off without Saddam, the invasion of British troops was a progressive thing for Iraqis.

Whilst Blair’s stance is clearly a self-serving attempt at justification for the barbarism that was unleashed on Iraq, the broader argument that Western troops can sometimes be a force for good does have currency for some on the left. Read the rest of this entry »





what the TV doesn’t tell us about haiti

30 01 2010

by Claudio Testa
Socialismo o Barbarie

The world’s TV is showing, as we might expect, a false picture of reality. In the case of Haiti, this is all the more outrageous given the circumstances. With barely disguised racism they paint the picture of a people who are suffering but “ignorant” and “barbarous”, incapable of “keeping order” by themselves after the earthquake, necessitating a renewed colonial occupation, with a fresh US invasion.

Of course, no-one mentions the two-hundred-year sentence capitalism and imperialism imposed on the Haitian people for having carried out the only successful slaves’ social revolution in history. Still less do they tell us about recent events, like the significant workers’, students’ and peasants’ struggles against colonial occupation and Preval’s puppet government which developed in 2009. Read the rest of this entry »





solidarity with the people of haiti – US troops out!

25 01 2010

by Claudio Testa
Socialismo o Barbarie

Much of the media has portrayed Haitians "looting" - the US has intervened to "restore order"

Although UN troops have been occupying the country for six years, the USA has decided to engage in a second invasion of its own, without even going through the farce of “consulting” previous occupiers. Read the rest of this entry »





a history of women in afghanistan

20 01 2010

by Malalai Joya
an extract from Raising My Voice

Western journalists rarely challenge the fables that are spun for them. Because of the laziness and complicity within the mainstream media, the United States and its allies have been able to perpetuate the myth that Afghanistan has always been an ungovernable state, and that the oppression of women is embedded in Afghan culture. The brutality of the Taliban, the myth goes, was only an extreme expression of an old problem. And so only foreign occupation can save Afghanistan from itself. Read the rest of this entry »





barack obama’s first year in charge

18 01 2010

by Ernie Haberkern
from Berkeley, California

The enormous enthusiasm that the election of the bright, well-spoken, African American woke in the liberal left is fading fast. Of course, much of that enthusiasm was a result of the justified revulsion provoked by the Cheney-Bush presidency and as that bad memory fades liberals are forced to face the current reality. Read the rest of this entry »





yes, chris ann, obama is punking us

19 08 2009

Ernie Haberkern writes on the row over healthcare reform in the USA

In a sense, the right wing tub-thumpers organized by the pharmaceutical and insurance companies through media hysterics like Russ Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, have done Barack Obama a favor. They have drawn attention away from what the administration is really doing by making stupid charges and turning their demonstrations into clown shows. It is easy enough to poke fun at Sarah Palin’s charge that a provision allowing doctors to be paid for advising elderly, ill patients about the possibility of setting up living wills, making clear to their loved ones what they would like done in the event they become incapacitated, amounts to setting up “death panels”. As the Republican Senator from Georgia who introduced the legislation, Jacob Isakson, put it the statement is “nuts”. But, then, what would you expect from Sarah Palin.

obamahealthcare

Increasingly, however, the liberal center is beginning to voice concerns about where Obama is going. The headline of this article is based on an op-ed piece in The New York Times by Frank Rich titled “Is Obama Punking Us” in which he quotes a real estate broker from Virginia who voted for Obama, Chris Ann Cleland, as saying “I feel like I have been punked!” Read the rest of this entry »





the “molly maguires” and the communist party of the usa: political repression in a free country

23 07 2009

by Hal Smith

At the rise and decline of the American labor movement, the media and courts saw demons among the working people: “Molly Maguires” and Communists. Who were these radical “conspirators,” and what was their “crime?” Theirs is the transatlantic story of militant workers, and the law as their masters wield it.

Kull

The Molly Maguires began as a group of Irish Catholic peasants who resisted British landlords. Since Britain yoked Ireland in the 1600′s, the Irish served as peasants on semi-feudal British estates. In the 1840′s, the Great Hunger devastated Ireland, while Britain exported its food. Landlords evicted starving peasants, whose poverty forced them into the worst mines of America and England. Among the Irish immigrants were nationalist revolutionaries like Fenians and “Mollies.” Read the rest of this entry »





barack obama – putting lipstick on a pig

20 01 2009

Ernie Haberkern gives a view from the USA on the Obama presidency

“You can put lipstick on a pig..It’s still a pig.
You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change.
It’s still gonna stink.
We’ve had enough of the same old thing.”
Barack Obama on the Republican campaign

Obama’s attack on McCain/Palin (or was it Palin/McCain?) was intended to expose the hollowness of their attempt to coopt his “the change we need” slogan. There is no question that the Republican Party’s attempt to present itself, rather than Obama, as the anti-Bush party – which is what the “change” slogan meant – was laughable. But Obama inadvertently highlighted what was the real meaning of his use of the “change” slogan.

The fact of the matter is that Obama’s own slogan is nothing more than an attempt to put lipstick on the pig that is American domestic and foreign policy. That he is the first black president of the country is itself part of this charade. There is no question that his election is one more nail in the coffin of slavery and segregation. But that only makes Obama a more effective salesman for the American government’s criminal foreign and domestic politics. In addition to being black, Obama is an intelligent, articulate, suave salesman. A sharp contrast to the mentally challenged George W. Bush and the crazed Dick Cheney.

I myself have been surprised at Obama’s behaviour. How quickly he has betrayed, not only his slogan, but his supporters. Read the rest of this entry »





factory occupation in chicago

7 12 2008

In our recent pamphlet Strategy for Industrial Struggle Chris Kane argued for the revival of the occupation tactic to resist lay-offs and redundancies in the current recession. It is excellent to see that workers in Chicago are putting such long-lost tactics into action  – from socialistworker.org

WORKERS OCCUPYING the Republic Windows & Doors factory slated for closure are vowing to remain in the Chicago plant until they win the $1.5 million in severance and vacation pay owed them by management.

In a tactic rarely used in the U.S. since the labor struggles of the 1930s, the workers, members of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) Local 1110, refused to leave the plant on December 5, its last scheduled day of operation. Read the rest of this entry »





two hands off the people of iran meetings

25 11 2008

Barack Obama has made it clear that he “will do anything” to stop Iran from developing the capacility to produce nuclear weapons. The global economic crisis has made world imperialism more belligerent. How do we fight the danger of another disastrous war in the Middle East?
7pm, Wednesday November 26. King’s College London. Strand Campus, The Strand (Temple tube)

Revolutionary Struggle in Iran
with Torab Saleth (Workers Left Unity Iran)
7:30pm, Tuesday 2nd December, University of Manchester Students’ Union – Meeting Room 1

Click here for details of HOPI conference, taking place in London on December 13th.








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