Thursday, November 26, 2015

British Labor MP Dennis Skinner on Syria.

Veteran Labor MP Dennis Skinner on Britain's involvement in the Syrian situation. One has to laugh when the defenders of US and western imperialism's savage century old military occupation of the Middle East defend the gulf states that are in the so-called "coalition" as Cameron does.  These coalition partners of the US, the Saudi's Bahrain, Kuwait, Dubai no doubt are among the most abusive and backward states in the region bribed directly by the US or cajoled and threatened through military power. The US taxpayer props up the Bahrainian monarchy, a family business basically that runs the country as well as the Zionists in Israel, an Apartheid state. Some coalition.

And US capitalism defends its ally Turkey in the shooting down of a Russian jet.  The US working class passively accepts this situation, war criminals, crooks and madmen representing us in the world. Meanwhile, Snowden, Manning and others to whom we owe a debt of gratitude are in jail or exile. And Pat Tillman, who refused to become the poster boy for them is dead, killed in this writers opinion by his own military.

And back home the bosses continue to drive down wages, destroy public services and jobs and the racists in the state security forces get bolder.

American Leftists Need to Pay More Attention to Rojava

Children flash the victory sign after singing the Rojava anthem at a public elementary school in Qamishli, Rojava, Syria, on Nov. 12.
This article on Rojava is very important. Our Blog is inspired by it and especially by the role of the women fighters. However we are not completely clear on where this movement stands in relation to the imperialist powers. So we are putting up the piece but wish in particular  to hear from our readers their comments and thoughts. We ourselves will try and do some more investigation into this movement and where it stands. Sean O'Torain

American Leftists Need to Pay More Attention to Rojava

By Michelle Goldberg

There is an astonishing story in Sunday’s New York Times about Rojava, a Kurdish region in Northern Syria that’s ruled by militant feminist anarchists. Rojava’s constitution enshrines gender equality and religious freedom. An official tells journalist Wes Enzina that every position at every level of government includes a female equivalent of equal power. Recruits to Rojava’s 6,000-strong police force receive their weapons only after two weeks of feminist instruction. Reading Enzina’s piece, it’s hard to understand how this radical experiment in democracy in one of the bloodiest corners of the world isn’t better known internationally, particularly on the left.

At the start of piece, Enzina himself isn’t quite sure Rojava is real. It sounds too fantastical:

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad doesn’t officially recognize Rojava’s autonomous status, nor does the United Nations or NATO — it is, in this way, just as illicit as the Islamic State. But if the reports I heard from the region were to be believed, within its borders the rules of the neighboring ISIS caliphate had been inverted. In accordance with a philosophy laid out by a leftist revolutionary named Abdullah Ocalan, Rojavan women had been championed as leaders, defense of the environment enshrined in law and radical direct democracy enacted in the streets.

The reports, Enzina eventually finds, are largely true. In Rojava’s three Kurdish cantons, together comprising an area about the size of Connecticut, society is being organized according to the principles of an American anarchist-ecologist philosopher named Murray Bookchin. (Bookchin’s most famous work is The Ecology of Freedom.) This unlikely turn of events springs from the ideological conversion of Abdullah Ocalan, the founder of the Kurdistan Workers Party, or P.K.K., which was once a Marxist Leninist terrorist group in Turkey. With America’s help, Turkey captured Ocalan in 1999, and he was imprisoned alone—surrounded by over 1,000 soldiers—on an island near Istanbul. There he discovered Bookchin, who inspired a manifesto he issued in 2005. Enzina writes:

The manifesto called on all P.K.K. supporters to implement a version of Bookchin’s ideas; Ocalan urged all guerrilla fighters to read ‘‘The Ecology of Freedom.’’ He instructed his followers to stop attacking the government and instead create municipal assemblies, which he called ‘‘democracy without the state.’’ These assemblies would form a grand confederation that would extend across all Kurdish regions of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran and would be united by a common set of values based on defending the environment; respecting religious, political and cultural pluralism; and self-defense. He insisted that women be made equal leaders at all levels of society.

In Rojava, the Kurds, under the government of a P.K.K. affiliate, are following Ocalan’s directive. More amazing still, Rojava’s militias, the Y.P.G., or People’s Protection Units, and the all-female Y.P.J., or Female Protection Units, are successfully taking on ISIS. The New York Review of Books has just published a story by Jonathan Steele about their military successes, titled “The Syrian Kurds Are Winning!” In January, with the aid of U.S. airpower, the Y.P.G. drove ISIS out of Kobani, a town on the Turkish-Syrian border. In July, again with American help, the Kurds rousted ISIS from another border town, Tal Abyad. “This meant ISIS had lost two of the three crossing points from Turkey through which it could bring foreign volunteers, finance, and weaponry to strengthen the jihad,” Steele writes.

Given this, how has Rojava remained relatively obscure? Some have certainly tried to raise awareness: Over a year ago David Graeber, a major figure in Occupy Wall Street, published a piece in the Guardian titled “Why is the world ignoring the revolutionary Kurds in Iraq?” He compared the hellish conflict in Syria to the Spanish Civil War, where leftists from around the world went to fight fascism. “If there is a parallel today to Franco’s superficially devout, murderous Falangists, who would it be but Isis? If there is a parallel to the Mujeres Libres of Spain, who could it be but the courageous women defending the barricades in Kobane? Is the world—and this time most scandalously of all, the international left—really going to be complicit in letting history repeat itself?”

If calls like this aren’t resonating, I suspect it’s because similar ones were made in the run-up to the Iraq war. Over the years, it has become hard to imagine why more than a few prominent progressives either supported that war or opposed it only ambivalently. But at the time, several Iraqi leftists—most notably Kanan Makiya—pleaded with their ideological allies in America not to oppose the overthrow of the fascist Saddam Hussein, however compromised George W. Bush’s motives were. I remember appeals to the memory of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, the American leftists who fought Franco in Spain. The memory of Bosnia was still fresh, and at least some progressives believed that Western military force could be a force for good.

Very few on the left believe that anymore. The Iraq war not only destroyed Iraq, destabilized the Middle East, and lead to the rise of ISIS; it also destroyed Western faith that much can be done to help the people who are now struggling to stop ISIS’s spread. Maybe part of the reason Americans haven’t heard more about Rojava is because we don’t want to. We’re ashamed at having unleashed the horror that besieges them, and ashamed that we have no idea how to help them stop it without making things even worse. Writing in Dissent about international apathy towards Rojava, Meredith Tax asks, “Are we in the United States too cynical or depressed to believe anything new can happen? Are we able to recognize revolutionary ideas when they come from Greece, Spain, or Latin America but not from the Middle East?”

Yet aiding the revolutionaries of Rojava needn’t be framed purely as a question of American intervention. Tax writes:

I recently spoke to someone from the Kurdish women’s movement in Rojava and asked what they need most. She said they need a massive international solidarity campaign, beginning with political education about the evolution of the PKK and its politics, including its emphasis on democratic governance, anti-sectarianism, secularism, ecology, and women’s liberation. In practical terms, they need all possible international pressure to be put on Turkey and the KRG to end the embargo and let supplies through. They need the terrorist designation to be lifted so they can travel and raise money and do public speaking.

That doesn't seem like too much to ask for the feminists dying for America’s foreign policy sins.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How Chicago tried to cover up a police execution

I wanted to write a bit more about this but I will wait until tomorrow as it is hard for me to contain my anger at this point.I was talking with my grandson the other day. He is an African American 17 year old and he was sharing his views with me about the portrayal of black people in the media.  This could have been him. Any number of these murders of black youth could have been him.

This is not an isolated incident, it is an orchestrated, organized war against people of African origin by a state apparatus that was built on violence, and brutal exploitation including of European workers and poor. It is not new. It has always been the case. That it is coming more to light with regard to the security forces is due to increased technology that benefits capitalism in its exploitation of the working class but also has its downside for capitalists themselves.

The US capitalist class that figured out long ago that a natural bond, a class unity/consciousness that automatically develops between all oppressed peoples had to be undermined in this country and could be best accomplished on the basis of color and through the creation of a "white race".  The white poor had to be brought in to the fold, had to become "white" like them. 

As tragic as it is, this murder only reveals a more threatening foe. The remnants of the slaveocracy, the reconstructed power of the southern white supremacists after their defeat in the civil war and their northern class allies, the industrial capitalists. These are the forces at work here. And the failure of a united working class to confront them, and of white workers in particular to stand beside our African brothers and sisters in this struggle, will not only mean defeat, it will mean we are betraying our own children, we are leaving them no future. RM

Reprinted from

How Chicago tried to cover up a police execution
By Curtis Black | November 24, 2015

Source: Cook County Medical Examiner

It was just about a year ago that a city whistleblower came to journalist Jamie Kalven and attorney Craig Futterman out of concern that Laquan McDonald’s shooting a few weeks earlier “wasn’t being vigorously investigated,” as Kalven recalls. The source told them “that there was a video and that it was horrific,” he said.

Without that whistleblower—and without that video—it’s highly unlikely that Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke would be facing first-degree murder charges today.

“When it was first reported it was a typical police shooting story,” Kalven said, where police claim self-defense and announce an investigation, and “at that point the story disappears.” And, typically, a year or 18 months later, the Independent Police Review Authority confirms the self-defense claim, and “by then no one remembers the initial incident.”

“There are an average of 50 police shootings of civilians every year in Chicago, and no one is ever charged,” said Futterman. “Without the video, this would have been just one more of 50 such incidents, where the police blotter defines the narrative and nothing changes.”

Last December, Kalven and Futterman issued a statement revealing the existence of a dash-cam video and calling for its release.  Kalven tracked down a witness to the shooting, who said he and other witnesses had been “shooed away” from the scene with no statements or contact information taken.
In February, Kalven obtained a copy of McDonald’s autopsy, which contradicted the official story that McDonald had died of a single gunshot to the chest. In fact, he’d been shot 16 times—as Van
Dyke unloaded his service weapon, execution style—while McDonald lay on the ground.

The next month, the City Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, whose attorneys had obtained the video. They said it showed McDonald walking away from police at the time of the shooting, contradicting the police story that he was threatening or had “lunged at” cops. The settlement included a provision keeping the video confidential.

“The real issue here is, this terrible thing happened, how did our governmental institutions respond?” Kalven said.  “And from everything we’ve learned, compulsively at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.”  To him this response is “part of a systemic problem” and preserves “the underlying conditions that allow abuse and shield abuse.”

In April, the Chicago Tribune revealed Van Dyke’s name and his history of civilian complaints—including several brutality complaints, one of which cost the city $500,000 in a civil lawsuit—none of which resulted in any disciplinary action. In May, Carol Marin reported that video from a security camera at a Burger King on the scene had apparently been deleted by police in the hours after the shooting.

“This case shows the operation of the code of silence in the Chicago Police Department,” said Futterman. “From the very start you have officers and detectives conspiring to cover up the story. The question is, why are they not being charged?”

Van Dyke’s history “also shows what happens when the police department consistently chooses not to look at patterns of abuse complaints when investigating misconduct charges,” he adds. This failure “is one of the reasons an officer like Van Dyke has an opportunity to execute a 17-year-old kid.”
Rather than acknowledging the systemic failures, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is now trying to frame the issue as the action of one bad officer, as the Tribune reports.  “One individual needs to be held accountable,” he said Monday.

Kalven calls Emanuel’s “reframing” of the narrative “essentially false.” He points out that “everything we know now, the city knew from Day One. They had the officers on the scene. They knew there were witnesses. They had the autopsy, they had the video.... They maintained a false narrative about those events, and they did it for a year, when it could have been corrected almost immediately....They spent a year stonewalling any calls for transparency, any information about the case.”

He points to Cincinnati, where last summer a university officer was indicted for murder and video from his body camera was released within days following the shooting of an unarmed African-American man in a traffic stop.

“The policy in Cincinnati is that you should release within 24 hours unless there are compelling investigatory reasons to hold on longer,” said Kalven.  “The policy should be that the presumption is that this is public information and it is released as quickly as can reasonably be done, except in cases where there is a genuine and very specific investigatory need to withhold it.”

That’s not the same as waiting until an investigation is concluded. Friday’s ruling that the McDonald video must be released—and the absence of any affidavit from investigators about the need to withhold it—showed that “there was absolutely no legal or investigatory impediment to releasing this” long ago.

“This was an incredible test of leadership, a major challenge to [Emanuel’s] leadership,” Kalven said.  “Think how different the situation would be right now if the city had acknowledged the reality of what happened in the days or weeks after it happened. That would have built confidence.”
And instead of vague and politically self-serving calls for “healing,” it could have begun a real process of accountability of the kind necessary to start addressing the extreme alienation between police and wide segments of our communities.

Instead, with only Van Dyke indicted, it looks like he’s being sacrificed in order to protect the system that created him.

Chicago Remembers Laquan McDonald

Today's world is becoming increasingly more violent with increasingly less and less regard for human life. Of course, this is reflected in the U.S., with its ready-made access to weapons and insatiable desire to control markets, materials and resources.

Our cities have become overrun with story after story of people being brutally killed. And instead of protecting the communities under which they are supposed to serve, parts of the police force have run amok, contributing to the violence in our society instead of reducing it. As many people have previously observed, law enforcement exists primarily, if not exclusively, to protect the interests of the wealthy elements of our society. However, it is also clear that there are elements of the police force which harbor views of white supremacy and have no value and the utmost contempt for the lives of black people.

It is against this backdrop that we must examine the case Laquan McDonald. By now most readers are familiar with the details of the case. McDonald was shot 16 times in October of 2014 by Chicago Police Department officer Jason Van Dyke. Van Dyke incredulously has remained on the force despite having 17 citizen complaints filed against him according to the University of Chicago and the Invisible Institute. More significantly, their study reveals a patterns of reckless behavior among many CPD members with tens of thousands of complaints having been lodged. Less than 5% of the cases resulted in disciplinary actions against cops.  Van Dyke's transgressions have included racial slurs and excessive force with their being a blue wall of silence around him.

The State of Illinois State Attorney for Cook County Anita Alvarez refused to file charges for over a year against Van Dyke. However, after a judge authorized the release of the video, Alvarez, who is facing strong challenge for re-election in March, changed her tune.

The Mayor's office in Chicago has also been complicit in the cover-up. Rahm Emanuel, who has been vilified as being out of touch with the concerns of many communities in Chicago, tried to prevent the video from being released. However, when he was overruled, Emanuel suddenly switched gears trying to cover his ass, said that Van Dyke's behavior was criminal and that he would be charged with murder.

The dash camera of one of the police cars that responded to reports of McDonald having stolen property contained no audio. Van Dyke, one of the eight officers who responded, was the only one who fired his weapon. Other officers on the scene did not see the need to use force. McDonald was not moving in the direction of Van Dyke or threatening him in any way.

According to Charlene Carruthers, National Director of the Black Youth Project, Emanuel has tried to meet with leaders in the black community who work with young people, concerned about how they might respond now that the video has been released. She points out that this misses the point. It is the Chicago Police Department that needs to learn to be peaceful.

When asked about what needs to change, Carruthers mentions the need for "the massive divestment and defunding of the police and investment in black communities" where the need in Chicago is the greatest. Beyond this, she notes the high incarceration rates and criminalization of minor transgressions like the possession of marijuana.

Indeed, she is right. The time for change is long overdue.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015


This a continuation of the series we have been publishing on the rise of the New Left in Europe. The second section of part 3 on Catalonia will follow.



by Stephen Morgan

129) Another complex manifestation of the radicalization in society and the shift to the left in general, has been the rise of nationalist, independence movements in Catalonia and Scotland, each with a strong left component. These are, by far, not the only nationalist movements in Europe, but, for the moment, they are the most significant ones.

130) The combination of the economic crisis, the betrayal of the leaders of the traditional workers' parties and historical animosity between the Scots and the English, and between the Catalans and the Castilian ruling class in Spain, has meant that many youth and radicalized sections of the middle class, together with many workers have turned towards secessionist movements to express their anger and in the hope that independence could be a way out of the crisis.

131) In both regions, there have been recent votes on independence, both of which were lost, but in which the separatist votes were very high. In 2014 in Scotland, 44% voted in favour and 55% against independence. In 2015 in Catalonia – where for constitutional reasons it took the form of regional elections – it was closer, with the pro-independence parties winning a majority of seats and 48% of the vote, just short of the 50% majority needed to declare victory. However, like the shift to the left in general, there are both similarities in the movements in Scotland and Catalonia and a great deal of differences as well.
SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at 2015 conference


132) In Scotland, the left nature of the independence movement has been much clearer than in Catalonia. Like the rest of the UK, Scotland hasn't experienced an independent left movement such as Podemos or SYRIZA for historical and cultural reasons. Instead the new left movement has manifested itself in support for the Scottish National Party (SNP), which is a left-nationalist party, that stands for secession and campaigns on a left-reformist programme of defending jobs and services. In its programme it states that the SNP fights for a, “real alternative to the pain of austerity, an end to unfair policies like the Bedroom Tax, a higher minimum wage and protection for our NHS and vital public services.”

133) Traditionally SNP support came from among the middle classes and the SNP has always been a petty bourgeois center party. But to stand any chance of taking power and winning a yes vote in a referendum, it had no choice but to move to the left. This was also facilitated by the shift to the right in the Labour Party and the absence of an autonomous, left movement like Podemos or SYRIZA, which left a vacuum on the left, which the SNP could fill. As a result, there has been a tendency to paint the independence movement as a working class movement. However, while there is no doubt that a large number of workers did vote for independence, it was not necessarily a majority. 

134) Many workers in Scotland were not convinced of the economic benefits of breaking away from the United Kingdom, and were afraid that it could lead to a loss of jobs and a fall in living standards. Workers understand that the Scottish economy is intrinsically linked with the national and international economy. They also know that the majority of the Scottish economy is controlled by the British ruling class, rather than by a Scottish bourgeoisie.

135) More than 70% of Scotland’s total economic output  is controlled by non-Scottish-owned firms and  83% of enterprises employing 250 or more people are owned by non-Scottish companies. Furthermore, virtually the whole of the North Sea oil and gas production is owned by foreign firms, and the top 90 banks and finance companies operating in Scotland are registered outside the country, with their profits going directly back to England or abroad.

136) Many Scottish workers feared that with the complications and instability which independence could bring, it might lead to many of these companies leaving Scotland or reducing their investments. Secondly, many Scottish workers feared that independence would divide them from other workers in Britain employed by those companies. They know that the capitalist class tries to play one group of workers off against another in different countries, and that this can lead to a reduction in wages and less job security. Moreover, organizing joint industrial action across international borders is a very difficult thing and they feared that if Scottish trade unions broke away from the all-British union structures, this would weaken solidarity with other British workers and undermine their ability to defend themselves against the bosses.

137) Until now, the British Labour Party has always been the traditional party of the Scottish working class., indeed Scottish workers played a key role in creating it. Scotland has long been considered a rock-solid bastion of the Labour Party, returning an overwhelming number of Labour MPs to Parliament. But in the 2015 UK national election, the Labour Party suffered a humiliating, PASOK-scale defeat in Scotland, and its catastrophe decline there has severely undermined its ability to form a future national government.

138) The Scottish referendum took place 8 months before the UK general election in 2015, and while many workers had voted against independence, when it came to the general election, they voted overwhelming for the SNP, mercilessly punishing Labour, not only for its betrayal of the British working class in general, but for the chauvinistic, class collaborationist position it put forward in the run up to the referendum. Labour had campaigned against independence, in alliance with the right-wing Conservative (Tory) government, which was carrying out draconian attacks on the working class in Scotland.

139) The Tories are largely despised in Scotland. They are seen by Scottish workers as the representatives of the English ruling class responsible for the suppression and exploitation of the Scottish people. Indeed, such is the hatred for the Conservative party that they have never succeeded in getting anymore than a handful of MPs elected from Scotland.

140) As a result of its alliance with the Tories in the independence campaign and its failure to present any class-based arguments.  If they had clearly supported the right of Scottish people to independence, but argued for the maximum unity of the working class and offered the perspective of a future federation of independent British states of Scotland, England and Wales, they would have caught the year of many Scottish workers. But, instead, Labour became seen as just another representatives of the oppressive English ruling class, and so although many workers voted no to independence in 2014, they mercilessly punished Labour in the 2015 national, general election. While the LP's overall vote in the UK also fell dramatically at a national from 40% to 30%, in Scotland its vote plunged from 40% to 24%, loosing 40 of its 41 MPs. SNP support, on the other hand, rocketed from 20% to 50% of the vote.

141) However, despite their stupendous victory in the general election, the austerity policies now being carried out by the SNP in the Scottish Parliament and city councils will erode their support. They are cutting millions of pounds from spending on public services and thousands of jobs are being lost. The SNP is betraying the working class and dumping its left programme in practice. It is shifting to the right, and as it increasing fails to deliver promised reforms and continues with its austerity measures, Scottish workers will begin to become disillusioned with it. It will also become clearer to Scottish workers, who voted for independence, that there cannot be a solution to their problems on the basis of an independent capitalist Scotland, and that there needs to be solutions on a national and international level. Then, there will be great opportunity to gather support for socialist ideas based on a Socialist Federation of Britain, and a European Socialist Union.

142) It is not clear whether the LP has been permanently destroyed in Scotland. It still commands a quarter of the vote, but because of the first-passed-the-post, constituency-based voting system – rather than proportional representation like other countries – they have not returned MPs corresponding to the size of the vote. An overall vote of 20% does show that the LP still has some base in Scotland. With the betrayals of the SNP, it is possible that it could recover, but to what degree is unsure.

143) Historical and cultural factors suggest that the shift to the left in Scotland will still probably find its main expression inside the traditional parties of the SNP and Labour Party, rather than through the development of some autonomous SYRIZA/Podemos-style movement. The victory of  Jeremy Corbyn as British Labour Party leader and the emergence of a more radical, left-wing British Labour Party could also attract back some disillusioned workers, who voted for the SNP.  The Scottish Labour Party (Scottish wing of UK LP) really has nowhere to go but left. The reformist nature of the SNP and the betrayals of the right-wing Labour leaders means there is no center ground for them. Indications of such a shift to the left came at the Scottish LP conference in 2015, when it voted to scrap the Trident missile programme, based in Scotland.

144) However, there are other possible variants. It could also be possible in the future that a more socialist left-wing develops within the SNP, in opposition to its shift to the right, and that eventually a split takes place in in its ranks, leading to the creation of a new more radical, left-wing nationalist party. Furthermore, if the right-wing manage to suppress the new left in the British Labour Party, it couldn't be entirely ruled out that the Scottish Labour Party would shift further to the left and even break away from the national party, creating an independent, left-wing Scottish Labour Party – which might then enter a coalition with a new break away, left-wing Scottish nationalist party.

145) How things develop also depends a lot on the economic situation. Increased growth could see a decline in the nationalist movement, there are even indications that a section of SNP voters have actually turned back to the Tories. Despite considerable poverty in de-industrialized areas, other areas of Scotland are relatively prosperous. The Scottish capital, Edinburgh, for has example, has the best living standards of any city in Britain, with the highest wages, low unemployment and the lowest costs of living than anywhere else.

146) But another major world crisis could put independence back on the agenda, as well as pushing society further to the left in general. However, the correlation between the economy and the so-called “National Question” isn't always simple and straightforward. There are many other political factors and unforeseeable factors which can also change the direction that events take.

Racists attack Jamar Clark protest in Minneapolis What will Trumka do?

by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

This is a quick comment on last night’s events.

As I write it seems little is known about the shooters that fired in to a crowd of protesters in Minneapolis.  Apparently 5 people at the #4thPrecinctShutDown have been wounded.
From the limited information out there it appears the people were shot near the 4th precinct, not at the Justice4Jamar protest itself and the suspects are three white males. I have also read that they were wearing ski masks.

The protesters have been demanding the police release video of the shooting death of Jamar Clark.  Clark was shot November 15th as two cops were trying to arrest him. There are conflicting descriptions of the event between the police and witnesses which is nothing new in the ongoing war against young black males in the US.

I had to listen to the nauseating remark of a right wing American last weekend as he talked of keeping Syrian refugees out as they might want to take us all out.  It appears, as many people have already pointed out, that it is white terrorists, both organized groupings and individuals that we need to worry about. These are the most dangerous elements in US society not Syrians. The protesters, many of them part of the Black Lives Matter movement are determined not to be intimidated by these racists and will continue their demand and actions to find out what happened to Jamar Clark in police custody.White workers must join with them in their struggle for justice, it will strengthen all workers.

We will find out more as time goes on but I need to say this in advance. When Rodney King was caught being beaten by LA cops I introduced a resolution at my local AFL-CIO labor council calling on the council to organize a mass rally in Oakland against racism, police abuse and for jobs.
I worked in the streets and it was a tense time. By organizing a protest and/or rally along these lines, organized labor in the area would have been seen my many of the black youth, alienated not only from society but also from organized labor and the trade union movement, as an ally, as sympathetic to their plight.

Not only was my proposal buried with the help of the liberals, nothing of any consequence happened.  As they do in all aspects of social concern the heads of organized labor keep their mouths shut. If it doesn’t immediately affect their revenue stream in the form of union dues, they are silent. Anything that is not acceptable to their friends in the Democratic Party is sidelined.

The world is in crisis.  Here in the US housing, education, jobs health care and safety are all critical issues and the best the heads of a national organization with 12 million workers in it and huge cash and human resources can do is place these resources at the  disposal of Hillary Clinton and the Wall Street party to which she belongs and whose supporters she represents.
Trumka on Ferguson. That'll scare 'em Dick

The silence of the labor hierarchy in the wake of repeated killings and murders of black people, men and women by security forces on the one hand and white terrorist organizations on the other is nothing less than criminal. Not only do they refuse to defend the interests of their own members on the job, many of them people of color, they refuse to campaign for and build in a serious way, a movement against racism and police brutality. Racism is a divide and rule strategy of the 1% and the bosses, it hurts all workers in the last analysis. Where is the collective voice of the leaders of one of the potentially most powerful organizations in the country? Shame on them. Most workers wouldn't even know the names of the top union officials. Where is Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO head? Pathetic is too nice a description of their role.

Instead of directing union members’ resources and energy on phone banking, precinct walking, TV ads and other efforts to get a Goldman Sachs fan club member in to the White House, a politician who once claimed the Egyptian dictator Mubarak was like family, the heads of organized labor should call an immediate press conference.

They should publicly condemn yesterdays attack by white terrorists on peaceful protesters in Minneapolis. They should publicly condemn the continuing murder of black people by security forces and the police and explain that all workers are harmed by racism.

They should announce that instead of wasting their members’ money on Hillary Clinton, a warmonger and politician of the 1%, they will use these resources to organize and mobilize for a huge “Poor People’s” march on Washington as a first step in building a nationwide movement against this offensive of capital.

The general theme of this mas protest and goal of it should be:
An end to racism, sexism and police brutality
End the special war against black people.
End all wars and occupations Jobs for all.
End mass incarceration
Increase spending on public services and public sector jobs
Fee health care on demand
Free education at all levels
Massive investment on social infrastructure and public transportation
Affordable housing for all

These are just a few of the issues that are necessary for people to begin to live what we might call a decent life in a civilized society.

I am anticipating that the heads of organized labor will say nothing controversial about this most recent bold racist attack; perhaps a whimper at best. If, with the resources at their command they do nothing, then they share the blame and the responsibility for the increased boldness of the racists. They too are responsible. 

Union members should pass resolutions at their union locals calling on the leadership of organized labor to take action, not the whimpish resolutions about the need for justice and fairness that even Jeb Bush could support and end up filed, but real action.

Lastly, not having much information we cannot rule out provocateurs as the state does not want racial unity. Racism is a very powerful tool for weakening the workers' movement.  The police and security forces, beefed up in the wake of the Occupy Movement, have been stung by the level of protests against police brutality. What we are seeing on YouTube and Facebook has been occurring all along, but with technology and social networking its become much harder to keep this behavior under wraps. Without the protests no cops would have been indicted for the murders that have been exposed so far.

Marxians, Marxists, profitability, investment and growth

by Michael Roberts

I continue my campaign, along with a small band of like minds, arguing that the ups and downs of real economic growth are driven by changes in business investment.  And, in a capitalist economy, that investment is driven by the level and movement in the profitability of capital and in the mass of profits generated by the workforce and appropriated by the owners of that capital.  To me, this seems a simple and realistic analysis: profit rules.  But this thesis is dismissed, ignored and rejected by mainstream, post-Keynesian and other ‘Marxian’ economists,

Mainstream economists reckon economic growth comes from a growing workforce and rising productivity per worker.  That is true by definition, but what drives each component?  According to mainstream economics, it is exogenous population growth plus the consumption and savings decisions of millions of individuals that materialise through the ‘hidden hand’ of the ‘market’ into aggregate supply and demand for goods and services.  The consumer rules, growth follows.

According to the Austrian school, economic growth does come from investment.  But it is the direct result of savings.  The supply of savings will create investment and consumer demand through the workings of the market.  Savings rule, growth follows.

According to the Keynesians, of various hues, it is consumer and investment demand that creates incomes and then savings.  Demand creates supply through the workings of the market (but sometimes with the help of government).  With the mainstream Keynesians, consumption by households rules; for the so-called post Keynesians, investment rules.  For both, demand rules, growth follows. But for neither does profit nor profitability play a causal and central role in changing investment or consumption; on the contrary, the reverse is the case.  As Keynes put it: “Nothing obviously, can restore employment which does not first restore business profits. Yet nothing, in my judgement, can restore business profits that does not first restore the volume of investment.”  (Collected Writings Vol 13, p343).

In a recent discussion on the nature of Marx’s Capital and its relevance today, Prof Riccardo Bellofiore made a distinction between Marxians and Marxists.  ‘Marxian’ economists are people who have taken Marxist theory forward to deal with new developments in capitalism, while ‘Marxists’ are stuck in the past of Marxist dogma and 19th century capitalism.  It seems to me, however, that ‘Marxian’ economists tend to bend to the mainstream or Keynesian view that, while profit is obviously key to the nature of exploitation under capitalism, it plays no role in explaining the pace of economic growth or the regular and recurrent slumps in that output under capitalism. For an explanation of that, we must look to instability in the banking and financial system, the growth of credit (or debt), rising inequality squeezing labour’s purchasing power (‘underconsumption’), or monopoly ‘stagnation’ (a glut of profit).  But don’t look to changes in the profitability of capital or the movement of profit and value created in the production and productive sectors of the economy.  That’s old fashioned.

Well, I must be an old-fashioned ‘Marxist’ (well, at least, I am old).  I am continuing the battle against ‘revisionism’ of ‘Marxians’ to promote Marx’s law of value and his law of profitability as an interconnected explanation of the causes of economic growth and crises under capitalism.  So sometimes, it is relieving to get some support from mainstream economics.

First, Matthew Klein in the FT has a piece that points out that the conventional view of the relatively poorer rate of investment in Europe compared to the US is due to the weakness of its banks and their refusal to lend is wrong. There is no supporting evidence for this ‘credit’ cause of slow growth.  In Europe, the collapse in credit is due to a lack of demand for borrowing not restrictions by banks.  As the graph of Eurozone bank lending and loan demand shows, “the … demand for credit collapses out of proportion of anything bankers expressed about their willingness to lend”.
EZ bank lending

Klein goes on, “it’s difficult to look at all this and argue the problem has been the supply of credit. Something else seems to be at work.”

Paul Krugman in a blog post
praised Klein’s analysis. Krugman reckoned it confirmed his long held view that the cause of the stagnation in Japan during the 1990s was not bad banking but the Keynesian ‘liquidity trap’ i.e. too high interest rates and a desire to hoard cash, not spend: “there’s little support for the bad-banks-did-it story, even though everyone repeats it. But look back at my 1998 BPEA on Japan, which is more or less where I came in. …I argued (154-158) that the nonresponse of monetary aggregates was exactly what you should expect in a liquidity trap, and that there was little evidence (174-177) that banking problems were actually central to the economy’s weakness.”

Be that as it may, we could also remind ourselves what Krugman said back about Japan. “It appears as if the slump could go on forever. A dynamic analysis makes it clear that it is a temporary phenomenon—in the model it only lasts one period, although the length of a “period” is unclear (it could be three years, or it could be 20). Even without any policy action, price adjustment or spontaneous structural change will eventually solve the problem. In the long run, Japan will work its way out of the trap, whatever the policy response”. So apparently, liquidity trap or not, Japan would recover.  When it did not, Krugman pushed to break the trap with quantitative easing which reckoned would do the trick.  As we know, after several bouts of QE from Japan’s monetary authorities, Japan remains stagnant, with five technical recessions since QE was introduced.

What Krugman does not refer to in his post on Europe’s banks is that Klein adds a little note from David Watts from CreditSight.  Watts finds that if he runs growth in sales revenues and the level of utilisation of existing capacity for Eurozone non-financial companies against business investment, he finds there is a close correlation.  In other words, what drives business investment are the level of sales and profits.   Klein concludes: You don’t need any estimate of a “credit channel” (or “policy uncertainty” or “confidence”) to explain why companies boost or cut their capex. They spend when it’s profitable, and don’t when it isn’t.”

The simple answer is best.  Recently, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) latched onto the same point—that the Great Recession and the subsequent weak and slow recovery in the major economies was a product of the collapse in business investment. As the BIS put it: “Business investment is not just a key determinant of long-term growth, but also a highly cyclical component of aggregate demand. It is therefore a major contributor to business cycle fluctuations. This has been in evidence over the past decade. The collapse in investment in 2008 accounted for a large part of the contraction in aggregate demand that led many advanced economies to experience their worst recession in decades. Across advanced economies, private non-residential investment fell by 10-25 percent.”  And the BIS went on: “the uncertainty about the economic outlook and expected profits play a key role in driving investment, while the effect of financing conditions is apparently small.”

So the bank dismisses the consensus idea that the cause of low growth and poor investment is the lack of cheap financing from banks or the lack of central bank injections of credit, just as Klein finds. Instead, the BIS looks for what it calls a “seemingly more plausible explanation for slow growth in capital formation,” namely, “a lack of profitable investment opportunities.”  Companies are finding that the returns from expanding their capital stock “won’t exceed the risk-adjusted cost of capital or the returns they may get from more liquid financial assets.” So they won’t commit the bulk of their profits into tangible productive investment. “Even if they are relatively confident about future demand conditions, firms may be reluctant to invest if they believe that the returns on additional capital will be low.”

And now to back the BIS analysis up and give us old-fashioned ‘Marxists’ some Xmas cheer (sorry too early), there is a new analysis by mainstream economists Kothari, Lewellen and Warner from three American business schools,  called The behavior of corporate investment.  The authors find a close causal correlation between the movement in US business investment and business profitability.AggregateInvestment

In the graph below, the authors show the return on total assets of US non-financial companies (measured as after-tax profits as a percentage of assets – red dotted line); and the rate of fixed investment against total assets (blue line).  What does it show?  That the US non-financial corporate rate of profit fell secularly from the 1950s, reaching a low in the mid-1980s and then consolidating or rising a little after that.

Quarterly fixed investment (Capx) and after-tax profits (NI) scaled by lagged total assets for nonfinancial corporations from 1952–2010. Data come from the Federal Reserve’s seasonally-adjusted Flow of Funds accounts. Shaded regions indicate NBER recessions.

Profitability and investment
Those who are regular readers of this blog will not be surprised at that finding.  But the graph also shows that business investment (as a share of assets) has declined in tandem with profitability.  Again, this confirms the work of ‘Marxist’ economists like Kliman, Jones and Tapia Granados, among others.

The three mainstream authors of the paper find that “investment growth is highly predictable, up to 1½ years in advance, using past profits and stock returns but has little connection to interest rates, credit spreads, or stock volatility. Indeed, profits and stock returns swamp the predictive power of other variables proposed in the literature.”  And that “Profits show a clear business-cycle pattern and a clear correlation with investment.” The data show that investment grows rapidly following high profits and stock returns—consistent with virtually any model of corporate investment—but can take up to a year and a half to fully adjust. This was exactly the conclusion that I have reached in my own study and jointly with G Carchedi (  See my graph below.
profits call the tune
The authors find that “investment growth is closely linked to recent profit growth and stock returns but only weakly related to changes in interest rates, stock volatility, and the default spread. We find no evidence that investment drops following a spike in aggregate uncertainty, contrary to the predictions of many models with irreversible investment. We also find no evidence that investment growth slows after a rise in short-term or long-term interest rates, contrary to the idea that Federal-Reserve-driven movements in interest rates have a first-order impact on corporate investment.”  So all the alternative explanations of crises offered by monetarists, Keynesians and post-Keynesians have no empirical backing.

The authors also measured the predictive causal correlation between changes in profits, GDP and investment and the Great Recession.  They found that “if investment maintained its historical connection to profit growth, investment was predicted to drop by 14.7%, roughly two-thirds the actual decline of 23.0%.”  This two-thirds figure is almost exactly what I found for the period 2000 to 2013. I found that the correlation between changes in the rate of profit and investment was 64%; second, the correlation between the mass of profit and investment was 76%; and third, the correlation between the rate of profit (lagged one year) and the mass of profit was also 76%.
US corporate profit and investment
Finally, the authors found that “at least three-quarters of the investment decline can be thought of as a historically typical drop given the behavior of profits and GDP at the end of 2008. Problems in the credit markets may have played a role, but the impact on corporate investment is arguably small relative to a decline in investment opportunities following the 2008 recession and financial crisis.”  

You can’t beat old fashioned ‘Marxist’ economics.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Human catastrophe in East Jerusalem

The magic circle: How income-security benefits are denied in East Jerusalem

45 Ha’aliya St, Tel Aviv. Tel: 03-5373271.



Press release for immediate publication

November 23rd, 2015

In Palestinian East Jerusalem the National Insurance Institute obstructs claims for income-security benefits, while the Employment Bureau turns a cold shoulder to jobseekers.

A new report by the WAC-MAAN Trade Union reveals that the East Jerusalem branches of the National Insurance Institute (NII = Bituach Leumi) and the Employment Bureau (EB) behave contrary to protocol in all that pertains to receiving claims, documents, and job requests. The two have erected an apparatus for denying benefits to the Palestinian claimants of East Jerusalem, the most poverty stricken sector in Israel.

After 48 years of occupation, the Palestinians of East Jerusalem (EJ) face a humanitarian catastrophe. They number 307,600, of whom 229,300 live below the national poverty line. That is 76% of EJ residents (including 83.9% of the children). Moreover, their average income is 41.4% lower than the poverty line! This situation of deprivation and despair has contributed to the waves of violence that are sweeping over Jerusalem.

According to the WAC-MAAN report, issued today in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, the EJ poor make up 13% of Israel's poor, but they get only 2.7% of the NII's income-security payments. In effect, they are deprived of a minimal economic safety net.

Each year the EJ branch of WAC-MAAN handles about 200 cases vis-à-vis the EB and NII, in addition to counseling hundreds more. The complaints and the files present an ugly picture, showing that the EB and NII practice unique discriminatory procedures against Palestinians. These procedures cause eligible people to fail in presenting claims at the NII, while the procedures of the EB amount to a war of attrition against those who most need an economic safety net.

For example, in a great many cases the NII acts contrary to its own protocol when it does not allow people to submit claims if the claimant does not from the start attach the full stack of required documents. This contravenes the procedures in branches in Israel. Furthermore, the EB clerks in EJ—contrary to other branches' practices—refuse to register jobseekers, especially women, unless they present an official, stamped confirmation from the NII saying that a claim has been made. Furthermore, when the clerks finally allow the claimants to report at the EB, the latter are often sent to jobs unsuitable to their health—even to jobs that aggravate illnesses, as well as fictitious jobs.

By such means, says the WAC-MAAN report, 69% of the claims for income-security benefits in EJ are denied, the vast majority on the pretext that the claimants had failed to produce full documentation and had failed to report to the EB.

The payment of income-security benefits to the people of EJ, and the spreading of an effective economic safety net, are Israel's obligation, because it annexed them. The obligation is rooted in Israeli law.
In hope of remedy, we present this report to those who are responsible for the policies and activities of the EB and NII in East Jerusalem.

We attach the report, which includes data and examples from the field.

For additional details please call Erez Wagner, Coordinator of the WAC-MAAN branch in East Jerusalem: 050-7596492.

WAC-MAAN in Facebook (Hebrew, Arabic, English)

بيان صحفي – للنشر العاجل
مكتب التأمين الوطني في القدس الشرقية يعيق تقديم طلبات لمستحقات المعيشة، ومكتب العمل يعيق إمتثال طالبي العمل
تقرير جديد تصدره نقابة معاً العمالية يكشف أن مكتبا التأمين الوطني والعمل في القدس الشرقية يعملان خلافاً للإجراءات بكل ما يتعلق بإستيعاب الطلبات، المستندات وطالبي العمل. وبذلك فإنهما يعملان وفق آلية تعيق طالبي المستحقات في القدس الشرقية الذين يعتبرون الشريحة الأكثر فقراً في البلاد.
مع انقضاء 48 سنة احتلال يقف المجتمع الفلسطيني في القدس الشرقية أمام كارثة إنسانية. فمن ضمن 307،600 مقيم، هنالك 229،300 يعيشون بفقر مدقع ليس كمثله في إسرائيل. 76% من السكان، و83.9% من الأولاد في القدس الشرقية يعيشون تحت خط الفقر، ومتوسط دخلهم أقل ب 41.4% من الدخل الذي يعتبر خط الفقر في إسرائيل. هذا الواقع يخلق بإستمرار ضائقة قصوى ويأس يغذّي موجات العنف في القدس.
أن التقرير الذي ينتشر اليوم بالعبرية والإنجليزية والعربية، يكشف أنه على الرغم من أن نسبة فقراء القدس الشرقية هي 13% من بين الفقراء في إسرائيل، فقط 2.7% من مجمل مستحقات تأمين الدخل في مكتب التأمين الوطني تصل إلى أياديهم. ويدل ذلك على إنهم محرومون عملياً من شبكة الأمان الإجتماعية.
خلال كل سنة يدير فرع نقابة معاً في القدس الشرقية حوالي 200 ملف مقابل مكتب العمل والتأمين الوطني، ويقدم إستشارة للمئات الذين يتوجهون إليه. من هذه الشكاوي والملفّات تظهر صورة مخزية، حيث أن مكتبا التأمين الوطني والعمل يتّخذان إجراءات إستثنائية ويتعاملان بشكل تمييزي تجاه السكان الفلسطينيين. هذه الإجراءات تؤدي إلى عراقيل في تقديم الطلبات والوثائق في التأمين الوطني وتحوّل الإمتثال في مكتب العمل (الخصوع لإختبار العمل) إلى حرب إستنزاف ضد المحتاجين إلى المخصصات.
على سبيل المثال، يعمل مكتب التأمين الوطني خلافاً للإجراءات حين لا يسمح بتقديم طلب ضمان الدخل إذا لم يرفق طالب المستحقات فوراً عند تقديم الطلب جميع المستندات والوثائق المطلوبة لمعالجة طلبه. ويخالف ذلك الإجراء الأوامر المتبعة في الفروع الأخرى. بالإضافة لذلك فإن موظفي مكتب العمل يشترطون – مرة ثانية، بما يتخالف مع الإجراءات المتبعة في الفروع الأخرى- تسجيل طالبات العمل عندهما بتصديق رسمي مختوم من مكتب التأمين الوطني يثبت أنهم قدّموا طلباً هناك. وحين يسمحون للمواطنين بالإمتثال، فإنه يتم إرسالهم مرات كثيرة إلى عمل غير ملائم، مسيء وأحياناً وهمي.
من خلال هذه الآلية، يكشف التقرير أنه يتم رفض 69% من طلبات ضمان الدخل، غالبيتهم العظمى بحجة عدم تقديم المستندات والوثائق إلى مكتب التأمين الوطني وعدم الإمتثال كما يجب في مكتب العمل.
دفع مستحقات المعيشة لسكان القدس الشرقية وإنتشار شبكة الأمان الإجتماعية فعالة هي واجب تجاه سكان القدس الشرقية طالما تصر إسرائيل على ضم القدس.
إننا نوجه هذا التقرير إلى الرأي العام وإلى كافة المؤسسات الحقوقية وكذلك إلى المسؤولين وفي مصلحة التشغيل والتأمين الوطني على أمل أن نساهم في تصحيح الوضع.
التقرير مرفق وهو يشتمل على معطيات وأمثلة ميدانية كثيرة.
لتفاصيل إضافية: إيريز فاغنر، مركز فرع معاً في القدس الشرقية، 050-7596492
نقابة العمال معاً في الفايسبوك                 موقع نقابة العمال معاً

מיכל שורץ

מיכל שורץ

Roni Ben Efrat
Tel: 972-3-5373280/71
Mobile: 972-504-330-038
Skype: roni.ben.efrat

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Ireland: Left Sectarianism Damaging the Workers’ Movement.

Ireland votes yes on gay marriage
By Sean O’ Torain

Plenty of blame to go around. - The role of the revolutionary Left in Ireland today.

I have been out of Ireland now for over thirty years. But I have tried to keep up with events. For the thirteen years previous to leaving I was a member of the CWI now the Socialist Party (SP). I was the first member in the South and the first full timer overall. From this background and from the background of later being expelled from the CWI I would like to share a few thoughts about the present situation in Ireland; mainly events in the South. There may be some inaccuracies in what I write due to not being back for some time. I apologize in advance and have no problem with these being pointed out.

I assume we would all agree that the role of the trade union leaders and Labor Party leaders in Southern and Northern Ireland is an absolute betrayal and disgrace. They have gone along with the so-called austerity program which bails out of the banks and fills the pockets of the rich while emptying the pockets of the working class and the poor. I do not need to spend any more time in condemning these forces. I also see that Sinn Fein has joined the austerity program in the North, this is a harbinger of things to come in the South. No surprise there from the people who court the British royalty, Tory governments and the representatives of US imperialism and Wall Street.

Having squarely put the blame for the betrayal and sell out where it belongs, on the shoulders of the trades union leaders and the Labor Party, I would like now to turn my gaze in another direction. There is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to the failure to defeat the so-called austerity program.  I am referring to the policies and activities of the left groups and individuals who see themselves as revolutionary socialist. I will be as blunt with them as I have been concerning the trade union and Labor Party leaders.

The role of these left groups is an absolute disgrace. It is utterly sectarian. It is a dogfight. The role of the left individuals is little better. I do not know all the details about the individuals so I will be more careful here and if I am unfairly criticizing anybody please correct me and I will most willingly correct any mistake I have made.  But let us look at these left groups and individuals.

As far as I can see there is the AAA and the PBP.  Then there is the UL. Then there is the Dail Comrades Clare Daly and Joan Collins. Then there is Mike Wallace whom I understand does not consider himself a socialist but who is a fighter on some issues. In the North there is Eamonn McCann. The AAA and the PBP are dominated respectively by the Socialist Party (CWI) and the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP). The SP and the SWP are so sectarian they cannot even have one united front. They each have to have their own united front!!! I also understand the self styled Workers Party is appearing again. There is also the IWU. I do not know the role they are playing.

The Labor Party is at its lowest ever in the polls. The opportunity for building a fighting alternative
Irish protest water charges
has never been greater. Surely it is as obvious as the eyes on your face that all these revolutionary left forces should come together to build an electoral alliance and work together. I shake my head here at the sectarianism and immaturity of these groups, at the counter revolutionary role their sectarianism plays.  What this amounts to is these groups putting what they consider their own petty interest above that of the working class. This does serious damage to the working class movement.

When the ULA was built I did not agree with its objective being to build a new left party. I thought the sectarianism of the various group’s was too great and that it would be better to work together as a united front against the attacks of the austerity program and out of this run candidates as part of an electoral alliance. On this I was proved right. The Tipperary Unemployed group was the first to bolt. They were going to a build national movement. I have heard nothing of this. The SP led by Joe Higgins used the cover of this to bolt next, The SWP kept one foot in as far as I could see and one foot out. The whole thing fell apart. Now as far as I know there is the UL.

The AAA and the PBP are now running together to try and win 7 seats. Last I heard the SWP was running a candidate to try and take Joan Collin’s seat in Dublin. This is so horrific in its sectarianism I can hardly believe it. I hope it is not true. I hope if it is true that leading members of the SWP such as Eamonn McCann and Boyd Barrett will speak out strongly against it. Not only speak out against it but wage an internal campaign within the SWP to get it stopped.

There are all the members of these various groupings. There are the thousands of ex members of left groupings. There are thousands and tens of thousands who have moved into struggle recently for the first time, on issues such as the water charges, gay marriage etc. A whole new layer of the population have moved into struggle. And what do the left groups offer them? A fractured sectarian backstabbing dog fight. It is an utter disgrace. Everybody in these groups should be ashamed of themselves. I am ashamed of myself that I was a sectarian and acted in a sectarian manner when I was in the CWI and what was the Militant back then in Ireland and what is now the SP. I have totally rejected that way of working now just as I have totally rejected other sacred totems such as so-called Democratic Centralism.

I am not against any group. I am against sectarianism. In all these groups and outside all of these groups there are very good people. What is necessary is for a left formation to be developed which has as its priority, yes fighting the so-called austerity, but also fighting the sectarianism of the left. The first cannot be achieved without the second.

I would suggest this. And it will not be easy. All those members in the left groups and former members of the left groups come together openly, state their identity openly and campaign against sectarianism. And in doing so state where they themselves have been sectarian, their organization has been sectarian and that from now on they are going to wage an open struggle in their own organizations against sectarianism and make this struggle public. For this to work the leading members of these groups would have to come out against their own sectarianism, and take up an open struggle against the sectarianism in their own groups and as practiced by their own groups. Over to you Joe Higgins, Boyd Barrett, Eamonn McCann, Mike Barry, Clare Daly, Joan Collins, Dermot Connolly.

And please do not come up with any crap about the need for the internal lives of revolutionary organizations to be secret.  It is mad to imagine that the internal life of revolutionary group in this Internet age can be kept secret. The Bourgeois can listen to just about anything while the left groups are calling for a secretive internal life. These groups are insane. The first step back to sanity is an open struggle against sectarianism, our own and all of the left.

I am part of a small revolutionary group here in the US which is trying to break from these sectarian ways. It is called the Project for a Working Peoples World. We organize on revolutionary socialist principles, no hard and fast line, general revolutionary principles. No 100% agreement on every dot and comma.  We organize on democratic organizational principles and these principles include one that states that members of PWPW can also be members of other groups. But there is one condition-------and it is non negotiable------that members of other groups share the internal life, including differences that exist with the members of the PWPW.  No more secretive B……T.