Understanding the Bourgeois State

In a lecture delivered at the Sverdlov University on July 11, 1919, Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov remarked, “The state is a machine for maintaining the rule of one class over another.” In other words, the bourgeois state is a political product and institutional precipitate of the social dominance of capitalists. What does this dominance consists of? It comprises the successful management of the irreconcilable class antagonisms of a given social formation. Now, insofar that the state is a site historically occupied by the ruling class, it is an instrument deployed exclusively by it to maintain power, one which is constantly re-configured so as to be effective against the efforts of the subalterns to impose controls on its operations.

The fact that the state is a transformed form of social power – alienated from class society and so beyond its control – derives from the class domination of the bourgeoisie, which encompasses the whole set of economic, political and ideological forms of domination. Since the state arose in conjunction with the division of human societies into classes, it draws its sustenance from the hegemonic requirements of the dominant class, serving as the regulatory node where its economic rule is translated into political power; it is where it becomes centralized and condensed, reinforced with the power and authority of various state apparatuses.

As the state is the primary agency through which the ruling class gives appropriate socio-political forms to its economic clout, the basis for state apparatuses is defined by the constitutive violence of the wage labour-capital relation; i.e., the bourgeoisie’s claim to the juridical right to appropriate the surplus-value produced by the proletariat. The class character of the state, therefore, is linked to its status as a machine which recognizes only the force and violence of the bourgeoisie, which transforms the basic fact of economic exploitation into elaborate and dense networks of consent and coercion. G. M. Goshgarian’s introduction to Louis Althusser’s “Philosophy of the Encounter Later Writings, 1978-87” notes:

Because the state results from the transformation of an excess of class force, the differential between the class struggle of the dominant class and all the others (friend or foe), it is by definition the preserve of the victors in the struggle. And it is such whatever the ‘political form’ through which the dominant exercise state domination: the dominion of the landed nobility persists under absolutism, that of the capitalist class is not necessarily diminished – the contrary generally holds – with the advent of parliamentary democracy.

In short, the conflictual differential between the force of the dominant classes and that of the dominated classes – the dynamics of class struggle – gives structure to the state. However, as the state is based on this differential, class struggle is inscribed in a new framework within which only one force – the force of the bourgeoisie – is recognized, which is then transformed into hegemonic power. That is why Lenin said:

Every state in which private ownership of the land and means of production exists, in which capital dominates, however democratic it may be, is a capitalist state, a machine used by the capitalists to keep the working class and the poor peasants in subjection.

While the capitalist state is an instrument of the ruling class – functioning as an articulated whole and existing by virtue of specific hegemonic objectives – it is not structurally static. If we try to understand the state historically – as an instance of the combination of the singular elements that give rise to it, as ensemble of social relations in which real people move and act, as an ensemble of objective conditions – it becomes clear that the state is always-already embedded in a hegemonic matrix. Even though state apparatuses are in the service of the dominant class, the complex, uneven and contradictory logic of class struggle results in the continuous accrual of internal contradictions between different branches, the accentuation of the ideological role of a given apparatus, or the consolidation of violence.

However, the regular rhythms of class struggle never impact the fundamental structures of the state. While the proletariat can expand its influence in civil society and even gain parliamentary power, an elementary fact remains: since the derivative base of the state is class society and the violence upon which it rests, and its purpose is to transform the surplus of violence into legitimate force, what an electoral victory damages – through the creation of an alternative architecture of consent – is the transmission system of the state-machine. To comprehensively destroy the bourgeois state – and gain full-fledged hegemony – the proletariat has to not only open ruptures but confront the very materiality of the repressive apparatuses of the state. This process involves the construction of hegemonic apparatuses – the series of institutions, practices, and initiatives by means of which subalterns create popular organizations opposed to the logic of the bourgeois state.

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It’s What the Babies Eat: Inflammatory Capitalism in Mush

Again, you can’t shuttle through the headlines, the so-called news, without having spasms and fits. You will not get journalists doing shit to really go after the capitalists, uh? Baby food. And these transnational Wall Street thieves, these stockholding companies, not even a slap on the wrist. So, if I as an unjabbed person goes into a public place, and then the rabid fascists find out, they then can call the cops, do a citizen’s arrest, and take my ass down, zip ties and all. But, do these billionaires and multimillionaires get hog-tied or frog-marched into court, and have their ill-gotten profits used for a reparations fund for all those babies? Dream on:

Baby Food Makers Kept Selling Products with Arsenic Levels Exceeding FDA-Approved Limits



Baby food manufacturers allowed products contaminated with heavy metals to remain on store shelves — even after dangerous levels of the toxic chemicals were detected in their products. That’s according to a new congressional report released Wednesday, which found baby food makers Gerber and Beech-Nut failed to recall infant rice cereals tested to have arsenic levels above FDA limits.

This is how these felons roll, these dirty rotten propagandists, the smoke and mirrors crowd, the polluters, all those elites and money grubbers:

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Going from baby food to land, forests, indigenous rights, we can see more putridity of the White Savior Civilizations (sic) facilitating the land rapists and the water polluters. This is not outrageous in Can/Klan/Ada?

In Canada, a judge has ended an injunction granted to logging company Teal-Jones, which the court says was used to crack down on activists at the Fairy Creek watershed blockade in a way that violated their civil liberties and infringed on press freedom. Police have arrested over 1,000 land defenders, often violently, as they fight to protect the remaining trees in Vancouver Island’s ancient forests. The First Nations-led protest is Canada’s largest act of civil disobedience. Click here to see our coverage of this issue

It’s a simple formula, a simple illustration of how syphilitics the ruling class is, and here, “David Graeber’s bestselling book Debt: The First 5000 Years revolutionised our understanding of the origins of money and the role of debt in human societies. But intellectual revolutions take time, and David’s sudden and untimely death left this revolution unfinished. David’s widow Nika Dubrovsky has established ‘The Fight Club’ to keep David’s unique way of challenging conventional wisdoms alive. Each ‘Fight’ will pit leading advocates of different visions of how society functions against each other. The inaugural fight, to mark the first anniversary of David’s death, is a debate between the renowned economists Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and Michael Hudson, author of And Forgive Them Their Debts. Thomas Piketty wrote the preface to the tenth anniversary edition of Debt: the First 5000 Years. Michael Hudson’s anthropological research into the origins of money and debt in ancient Sumeria was the basis of much of David’s analysis in that book. Join us for an unmissable encounter between two celebrated and highly influential economic thinkers as they debate: what is money and what is debt? What are the most serious problems of today’s finance-capital economies? And what are the best remedies?”

Finally, the new brisk and slick predators, those capitalists, those impact bond folk, the algorithms, the mining of our minds, bodies, dreams, aspirations. Wrench in the Gears, a long one, with lots of sources to click on to enhance Alison’s work:

This past week someone sent me a paper on augmented cognition. As I read it, a number of pieces clicked for me about earlier research I’d done into executive function. I wanted to preserve the thread, so I captured it in the screen shots below. Follow along to see how grit and resiliency intersect with Metaverse navigation and soul theft.

Also, this week Philadelphia School Superintendent William Hite briefed the Federal Reserve. Listen carefully to hear him setting up human capital bond markets in ed-tech, social emotional learning (SEL), nutrition, and tele-health via public-private partnerships with “philanthropic” predators.

This is accepted behavior, accepted “follow the science” bullshit; accepted state paid for university research; accepted elite school work and disgust? This is what Americans cannot handle:

So, how can lead in Flint’s water be a big deal? Arsenic in baby food? Arresting protestors in Canada? Think about how polluted media are, how broken universities are, and how confused and full of Collective Stockholm Syndrome the public is. This last comment is pretty telling:

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Emmanuel Macron sets up mission to counter disinformation and conspiracy theories

On 29 September 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron established a “Mission against disinformation and conspiracy theories”. This entity is expected to "Formulate proposals in the fields of education, prevention, regulation, and the judicialization of hate advocates in order to free society from the traps ensnaring some of our fellow citizens, which feed extremisms, hatred, violence, sectarian aberrations and obscurantism.” This mission is chaired by sociologist Gérald Bronner (photo), (...)

Do You Miss Us?

When you post those happy concert video clips, do you miss us? As you click “share” on the ‘gram to show off your latest (indoor restaurant) meal, are you feeling even a little bit lonely? While typing something about “rise and grind” on your gym bathroom mirror selfies, does a hint of emptiness sneak into your soul? Do you feel any regret at all for not speaking out against repressive mandates — even when you don’t think they impact you? (Spoiler alert: They do.)

You go about your lives with your mask on your face and your vaccination card in your wallet, and you think “I’ve done my part.” Have you? Does anyone’s part end when they take steps (real or imagined) to look out for themselves?

Weren’t you banging pots and pans in spring 2020? Weren’t you making posts about how “we’re all in the together”? Didn’t you talk about things being better and more civil once Trump was dethroned? Didn’t you declare that we’d be done with alternate facts and fake news? What happened to you?

If you don’t miss us, do you think you’ll miss your rights when they’re taken from you? Will you miss your bodily sovereignty when digital medicine becomes the non-negotiable norm?

Are you okay living your “best life” while friends and family members are being segregated for making personal choices about their own bodies? Have you already chosen to forget about us or does some part of you feel a pang of guilt deep inside? I just wanna know: Do you miss us?

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CIA planned to abduct and assassinate Julian Assange

The attorneys of Julian Assange have disclosed official US documents showing that the head of the CIA considered Wikileaks to be a “non-state hostile intelligence service”. Mike Pompeo had various kidnapping and murder scenarios drawn up to thwart his transfer from the Ecuadorian embassy in London - where he was holed up - to Russia. The United States had obtained permission from the United Kingdom to deploy weapons at a London airport against Russian officials. The plan was shelved because (...)

Murderous Fantasies: The US Intelligence Effort Against Assange

If there was any reason to halt a farcical train of legal proceedings, then the case against Julian Assange would have to be the standard bearing example.  Since last year, the efforts by the US government to pursue his extradition to the vicious purgatory of American justice has seen more than a fair share of obscene revelations.  While prosecutors for the US insist that the publisher must find himself in freedom land for having, incongruously, violated provisions under the Espionage Act of 1917, the broader political elements to this are impossible to shake.

From the moment classified US documents were released with daring aplomb on the WikiLeaks site, Assange was treated as a political target sneeringly condemned by Joe Biden (then Vice President) as a “cyber terrorist”.  It did not matter that he had been granted political asylum by a foreign government, or that he had exposed the vicious nature of the US war machine in foreign lands.

The central strategy of the enraged in the face of such exposure is conventionally dull.  Mock the publisher; redirect attention away from exposing the bloody mischief of empire.  In the court of public opinion, such an individual can be queered and rendered indigestible, motives rubbished, intentions trashed.  Cheeky public disclosure contrarians can be dismissed as cranks and discredited.

Once Michael Pompeo assumed the reins at the Central Intelligence Agency, WikiLeaks became something of an obsession, fascinating given Donald Trump’s sheer delight over its releases of those Democratic emails that holed Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016.  “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is,” he told an audience at the Center for Strategic and international Studies (CSIS) on April 13, 2017, “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

Such a perspective led to brazen efforts by the Spanish private security firm UC Global, hired to furnish surveillance equipment to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, to spy upon Assange and his various colleagues and confidantes.  The firm, through its chief executive David Morales, was knee-deep with the Central Intelligence Agency and delighted to be of assistance.

The extent of Morales’s zeal alarmed a few former employees of the company, a point they were unreserved in expressing in the Old Bailey proceedings in September last year.  “Around June 2017, while I was sourcing providers for the new camera equipment, David Morales instructed that the cameras should allow streaming capabilities so that ‘our friends’ in the United States’, as Morales explicitly put it, would be able to gain access to the interior of the embassy in real time.  This request alarmed me greatly, and in order to impede the request, I claimed that remote access via streaming via the camera circuit was not technically achievable.”  That witness noted Morales’s wish to bug the entire embassy and suggested that the purpose of installing microphones had been at the behest of the United States to target Assange’s legal representatives.

This was merely the start.  One of the witnesses (for convenience, called Witness 2), revealed how Morales had asked him to “steal a nappy of a baby which according to the company’s security personnel deployed at the embassy, regularly visited Mr Assange.” The act was designed to ascertain whether, in fact, it came from “a child of the asylee.”  It was “the Americans”, Morales claimed, “who wanted to establish paternity.”

Frustrated by a lack of movement on expelling Assange from the embassy, US officials began teasing out options.  According to the second witness, “the Americans were desperate [in December 2017] and that they had even suggested that more extreme measures should be employed against the ‘guest’ to put an end to the situation of Assange’s permanence in the embassy.”  An “accident” was proposed, one that could be claimed for covering an operation “which would allow persons to enter from outside the embassy and kidnap the asylee”.  And just in case such a scenario would not unfold, another, more final suggestion was put on the table: a  handy poisoning.

As is often the nature of the modern news cycle, such damnable revelations are dips in what is otherwise a more substantive, disturbing story. It takes such reports as those of Yahoo!News to add a chilling confirmation.  To the credit of the authors, much flesh is added to the narrative. A former Trump national security official is cited as claiming that the administration was “seeing blood” after WikiLeaks published the Vault 7 files, a set of hacking tools developed by the CIA.  “This extraordinary collection, which amounts to more than several hundred millions line of code,” crowed WikiLeaks in a press release at the time, “gives its possessor the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”

But the interest in gathering material on the organisation in the intelligence community began prior, inspired by the revelations of Edward Snowden in June 2013 about the warrantless and expansive surveillance programs of the National Security Agency.  Within the CIA, the Office of Transnational Issues got busy establishing its own “WikiLeaks team”.  The intelligence community was abuzz with efforts to give the publishing outfit a different designation as “information brokers”.

With the publication of leaked Democratic Party emails, the belief among some intelligence operatives that Assange “was acting in collusion with people who were using him to hurt the interests of the United States” became, according to the community’s senior lawyer Robert Litt, palpable.  With Trump taking up residence in the White House, a counterintelligence official could only remark that, “Nobody in that crew was going to be too broken up about the First Amendment issues.”

The Yahoo report is also filled with the wet dreams of adolescent functionaries pondering how the Australian might have made a dash for it.  One of these involved the prospect that Assange might be spirited away by Russian agents after being granted diplomatic status by Ecuador.  Scenarios involved crashing into any vehicle transporting Assange, snatching him and shooting the tyres of any plane intended to carry him to Moscow.  “It was going to be like a prison break movie,” one former senior administration official fantasised with relish.

Outside the embassy, the area got cluttered with spooks and operatives.  “It got to the point where every human being in a three-block radius was working for one of the intelligence services – whether they were street sweepers or police officers or security guards.”

Within some channels of the US government, concerns were aired that the rendition and kidnapping enthusiasts were getting out of hand.  The fairly obvious point was expressed by some NSC officials that any such operation would be illegal.  “You can’t throw people in a car and kidnap them,” a former national security official warned.

In the spring of 2017, assassination made it to the front of the queue as a possible remedy.  President Trump put out the feelers for some advice.  “It was viewed as unhinged and ridiculous,” a former senior CIA official is reported as saying. Another claimed that those proposing the idea “were just spitballing”, all part of an atmosphere where Trump was just being Trump.  The spit balls in question evidently lingered long enough for rough sketches to be drawn up contemplating Assange’s murder and WikiLeaks members with access to the Vault 7 trove.

Assange’s US lawyer Barry Pollack wishes that this grubby state of affairs will lead to a sensible conclusion.  “My hope and expectation is that the UK courts will consider this information and it will further bolster its decision not to extradite to the US.”  The US appeal against the refusal to extradite Assange will be doing its best to avoid such thorny, and telling, revelations.  Assange’s defence team will be doing its best to foil such efforts.

The post Murderous Fantasies: The US Intelligence Effort Against Assange first appeared on Dissident Voice.

One Degree of Separation: There Will be Parasitic Capitalism’s Blood

This year’s NDEAM theme is prescient: “America’s Recovery – Powered by Inclusion.” October 2021.

The power of acceptance in this diverse world will follow the arc of social justice; however,  it’s a long journey, still, in 2021.

When I was 15, I had to do community service for ripping through the Tucson desert with my unlicensed motorcycle while I had no driver’s license.  For three months, I read poetry, drama and letters to people in the last stages of their lives at a hospice.

When I sat with some of these patients, I was both humbled by and shaken awake to life’s fragility. My favorite person was Gloria, who was on her last stages with a tube running from her 60-pound inoperable tumor to draining ghastly fluids.

We  talked about her days in theater, and I read plays to her, including Shakespeare’s Othello and Sam Shepherd’s, Curse of the Starving Class. I met her 55 year old daughter with Down Syndrome.

Disability, or handicap, and other phrases like terminally ill, vegetative state and bed-ridden flummoxed me into a state of wokeness.

I am still working with drama and engaging people who fit the Disability Month profile: adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

This awareness campaign — started by Congress 33 years ago – is close to my heart since I’ve worked as a trained customized employment specialist, initially with United Cerebral Palsy of Oregon.

This work was in the tri-county Portland area, and successes were high points in my life, probably more so than the clients’ lives. Helping land jobs for people who have challenges and face unimaginable hurdles tied to discrimination, stigmatization and poverty is rewarding.

There have been big changes in how we relate to people living with disabilities; however, prejudice and disenfranchisement are still prevalent. Discrimination against those with a developmental disability is high.

The “National Snapshot of Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in the Labor Force” was commissioned by Special Olympics. The facts are sobering:

  • Only 44% of adults with ID aged 21-64 are in the labor force. This is compared to 83% of working-age adults without disabilities who are in the labor force.
  • 21% of working age adults with ID are unemployed. This is compared to less than 8% of adults without disabilities who are unemployed.
  • 28% of working age adults with ID have never held a job.
  • Only 34% of adults with ID aged 21-64 are employed.

In Lincoln County, adults with intellectual disabilities work in  grocery stores, hotels, landscaping businesses, restaurants and other settings. State agencies are committed to making sure adults have the opportunity to work in competitive environments.

However, stigma and unique circumstances make it challenging to get job placement: many with DD/ID can’t work more than PT jobs;  transportation is problematic; and many need a job coach on site to ensure successful day-to-day activities.

Historically, in 1941, National Employ the Physically Handicapped week cracked open the nut. In 1962 “physically” was removed. 1973 harkened the Rehabilitation Act declaring discrimination on the premise of disability was illegal. Then, more headway: Education for All Handicapped Children Act (1975).

Thirty years ago, Americans with Disabilities Act was signed into law, guaranteeing access to work and prohibiting discrimination against individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities.

Today, more families and communities are comprised of an increasing number of people who live with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Still, today, those wanting integrated employment that have an employment specialist assisting in customized employment face roadblocks.

Cultural change must galvanize this philosophy of “it takes a village to ensure the safety, health and well being for all our fellow citizens.” That means business owners must step up to the plate.

In the words of Mister (Fred)  Rogers himself:  “Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”

2021 NDEAM Poster English

Ahh, that’s the piece coming out in the Newport News Times, above. The reality is I have 750 words to work with, no graphics, and alas, no polemics. And, yes, this concept of disabilities of a wide variety should be on everyone’s minds now, in 2021, the Year of the Jab, the Year of the Long Haul, the Year of Weathering, the Year of the Haves Putting the Screws Down on the Haves Not!

You see, the injuries caused by the felony offenders, Pfizer and their mRNA experimental what not, those are disabilities to be argued over for years to come. Lawyers lines up, judges bought and paid for through the ugly world of Capitalism — adding these prefixes: predatory, usury, chaotic, casino, disruptive, mafia, and so many other terms for this predation and rip-off scam. Structural violence is built into the system, and whether you are injured by glyphosate encrusted foods, or the unending cascade of carcinogens and neuro-toxins put out by the great believers in “better living-chronic illnesses through chemistry”, or injured by the jabs, or the bioweapon that is the perfect triple storm, or just by the endless threat of eviction-incarceration-bankruptcy, homelessness, medical-educational indebtedness, all that Repo that is the Republic, there ain’t no Demon-crat or Repulsive-can to come to anyone’s rescue. Prostitution is honest compared to these continuing criminal enterprise winners in government-big business-big finance-military-tech-Pharma-et al.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles.

Old news:

A GRANT PROPOSAL written by the U.S.-based nonprofit the EcoHealth Alliance and submitted in 2018 to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, provides evidence that the group was working — or at least planning to work — on several risky areas of research. Among the scientific tasks the group described in its proposal, which was rejected by DARPA, was the creation of full-length infectious clones of bat SARS-related coronaviruses and the insertion of a tiny part of the virus known as a “proteolytic cleavage site” into bat coronaviruses. Of particular interest was a type of cleavage site able to interact with furin, an enzyme expressed in human cells.

The EcoHealth Alliance did not respond to inquiries about the document, despite having answered previous queries from The Intercept about the group’s government-funded coronavirus research. The group’s president, Peter Daszak, acknowledged the public discussion of an unfunded EcoHealth proposal in a tweet on Saturday. He did not dispute its authenticity.

Disability — what pray tell is that? There are dozens of chronic illnesses that generate many levels of loss of abilities; i.e., disabilities. I work with all sorts of disabilities, and all sorts of chronic illnesses go hand in hand with disabilities, especially with homeless and those who are fighting addiction and poverty and incarceration. Then, the luck of the roulette wheel — intellectual, developmental and psychiatric disabilities.

Anyway you cut it, this is the Land of Chronic Illnesses. Food and factories, and the filth in prescriptions and in the peddled crap of fast food, junk food, packaged food. The chronic illnesses are at birth, and many are tied to all the hormone disruptors and neurotoxins and gut and brain discombobulations. We are really in a world of hurt, with so many with fatigue, fatty livers, kidney malfunctions, obesity, all the drug injuries from the Pharmaceuticals, and so much more of the pollution, single point source, and all of it mixed together into a veritable pureed mush of poisons in the food, soil, air, water, airwaves and just living in a mass psychosis society. . . . Where the rich, undeserving, celebrity of every dirty kind, play god, and determine who and what and where and why and how we are as people. Elites are the cancer of cancers.

And then, you have this human tick, Trump, and boy what a sick world of people who would never ever let this guy forget who he is — racist, fascist, undeserving, soiled un-Man, Donald Trump (and his followers and bootlickers)

‘The poor guy’

Referring to the 2001 article (published by the Washington Post) at a South Carolina rally on Tuesday night, Mr. Trump called Mr. Kovaleski “a nice reporter”.

“Now the poor guy, you gotta see this guy,” he continued, before launching into an apparent impression of Mr. Kovaleski, waving his arms around with his hands at an odd angle.

“Uhh, I don’t know what I said. Uhh, I don’t remember. He’s going like ‘I don’t remember. Maybe that’s what I said.’”

Mr. Kovaleski has arthrogryposis, a condition that affects the movement of joints and is noticeable in his right arm and hand.

A New York Times spokeswoman told news site Politico: “We think it’s outrageous that he would ridicule the appearance of one of our reporters,”

The original Washington Post article by Mr. Kovaleski said that authorities in Jersey City “detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river”.

Since Mr. Trump’s claims about Muslim Americans celebrating 9/11, the reporter has said he does “not recall anyone saying there were thousands, or even hundreds, of people celebrating”.

Yeah, October, the month when the folks like Fauci and Trump and all the other enablers of pain and disaster capitalism should be set to sea. We all are useless breathers, eaters, walkers, sleepers, in and out of wheelchairs, what have you, to the rich! Hence, the planned demic, bioweapons 6.0. May they all rot in proverbial hell.


The proposal, rejected by U.S. military research agency DARPA, describes the insertion of human-specific cleavage sites into SARS-related bat coronaviruses (source)

Disabilities month, indeed!!!

The post One Degree of Separation: There Will be Parasitic Capitalism’s Blood first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Sino-British competition in Asia-Pacific

The United Kingdom has initiated negotiations with a view to entering the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This treaty came out of the Asia-Pacific Regional Economic Forum (APEC). After having joined, the United States withdrew soon after Donald Trump's inauguration as president. It covers all aspects of trade except drugs and tobacco. The CPTTP was devised in order to create an anti-China free trade zone, but China has recently applied for (...)

Patriarchy:  The Struggle Continues

In a day when America is ruling over a global Empire maintained with violent enforcement to insure universal subordination to its will;  and in a day when a military-style domestic police state relentlessly makes sure anti-government protest and dissent is contained,  the patriarchal part of that America has been enhanced and strengthened.

Feminist movements have launched long, fierce struggles to undermine patriarchal culture:  to ensure female power, to assert woman’s image as showing woman’s strength, to refute women’s inferiority to men, to establish female equality, politically, economically, and personally.  In my own work, I’ve analyzed those struggles:  first, the National Woman’s Party’s heroic campaign for woman’s suffrage, which included jail, beatings and forced feeding;  second, the uphill battle of women athletes, from the late 19th century on, striving to rid themselves of the necessity to have an image of “sex appeal” and just play ball.  And last, I’ve written of the amazing courage of American women political prisoners, women who challenged a government and society which refused to recognize their right to be  dissenters against imperialism—racism—capitalist inequality and ecocide—and sexism.

The Patriarchy, in spite of all the movements, campaigns and struggles, is not dead yet. The problems come from many directions, but they circle back to age-old conditions.  We feminists of the 1960s-70s thought we might have won some of the battles.  I almost got out of my car to object when I drove through a town near where I live to challenge workers sporting “men working” signs.  My Saratoga NOW chapter succeeded in eliminating separate sections for male and female in the local paper’s help wanted section in the 70s.  What happened to that?!  We feminists must continue to stubbornly insist on our equality, on woman’s image not being sexualized, and on changing women’s lack of power.  We must keep on insisting that women are not inferior to men, should be believed, should be listened to.

American sports, still a stubbornly male-dominated institution, has largely held the line against real female equality.  All this was very evident last March when NCAA women’s basketball was not accorded anywhere near balanced attention, or its needs met in a comparable way to the men’s.  More ominously, the NCAA has shown their (lack of) concern for women athletes, especially vis-à-vis some criminally violent male athletes, when it decided, as Jessica Luther wrote in the LA Times, that “rape is not an NCAA violation.”  Between 2011 and 2016, 17 women reported assaults by Baylor University football players, including four gang rapes.  In the spring of 2012 a woman volleyball player reported being assaulted by “multiple football players” at a party.  After her mother spoke to the athletic director and football coach Art Briles, nothing was done.  A player was convicted of sexual assault in 2015, but in 2016 and 2017 lawsuits against Baylor accused the school of continuing to ignore its “culture of sexual violence.”  Coach Briles was finally fired in 2016, and college president Ken Starr, who had belatedly started an investigation, also resigned.  Recently, citing pandemic delays, the NCAA finally ruled on Baylor’s culture of violence by deciding it “did not break NCAA rules.”  Although the NCAA panel punished them for an academic infraction, they did not find Baylor guilty for not reporting or addressing “sexual and interpersonal violence.”  They declared it was a failure of the coaching and athletic staff, but not an NCAA problem.  They who supposedly wanted (women) athletes to be safe, offered no assistance in the case of “gendered violence.”  Numerous attempts to get the NCAA to change this policy have not succeeded.  Remember Michigan State was cleared of blame for allowing gymnastics’ doctor Larry Nasser’s unspeakable sexual crimes against young women!

The NFL also does not do well dealing with sexual violence.  Player violence against women has been commonplace, with few repercussions.  The recent case of accused multiple sexual assaulter DeShaun Watson is illustrative of valuable player versus serious female complaints about him.  The Houston quarterback has had a number of licensed massage therapists accuse him of unwanted sexual acts and assault.  At this time, Watson is facing 22 civil law suits and 10 criminal complaints, and is thus on the NFL’s “inactive” list.  The victims were interviewed by NFL investigators who treated them—said the women—in a “patronizing” and “victim-blaming” manner.  The NFL placed no restrictions on Watson during the investigation, who, according to his accuser Ashley Solis, not only assaulted her but threatened her career when she got upset.  When the investigator questioned what she wore for their massage sessions, she asked:  “What did they think I should wear to suggest that I don’t want you to put your penis in my hand?”  She has said that “the NFL is taking a stand against women and survivors of sexual assault.”  The NFL is also not so great in other areas regarding women’s worth and dignity.

Cheerleading is a (predominantly) female sport which has encountered all kinds of indignities.  The NFL teams Buffalo, Cincinnati, Jets, Tampa Bay and Oakland all faced lawsuits from cheerleaders in 2014.  Two Buffalo Jills told HBO’s Real Sports they receive $125 a game, and nothing for ads, photo shoots or practices.  Some of these lawsuits were successful, but today there are still NFL cheerleaders making less than $1,000 a year.  The interviewed Jills also said they were rejected as dancers if they didn’t pass “the jiggle test” while doing jumping jacks. First female Jet football coach Collette Smith said on “Real Sports” that it does not seem right for cheerleaders, “athletes,” to just have to “shake with no clothes on, like sex kittens!”  There’s a new documentary film called “A Woman’s Work:  The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem,” about which Director Yu Gu says, that in a culture with “toxic masculinity… men feel entitled to women’s bodies.”  An even darker situation took place with youth cheerleaders.  In an unregulated sport, except by its own million-dollar profit-making organizations, abuses have been many.  Male cheerleading “coaches” supposedly training cheerleaders, instead sexually assaulted them—and continued to participate in the sport.  Two were even featured on the Netflix “Cheer” show, before finally being arrested and scheduled for trial.  Not much protection there, when, as usual, it might interfere with image and therefore profit.

Image is also an issue regarding this year’s Tokyo Olympics.  I watched with admiration as silver medalist shot putter Raven Saunders demonstrated for human rights and against racism on the Olympic podium by crossing her arms over her head to show their intersection.  The IOC’s (International Olympic Committee) restrictions on protests held quite well, although hammer thrower Gwen Berry and the US women’s soccer team took a knee before competing.  Women Olympic athletes have not been afraid to speak out.  Track and field athlete Sara Goucher, with several other women, accused former champion marathoner and prominent track coach Alberto Salazar of “doping violations” and of abuse.  He is banned, at least for now.  A problem which has always resonated with me is the way female athletes dress to do their sport.  It’s not new:  female baseball players had to wear short skirts and female basketball players sported red wigs in the 40s, but now it is beyond absurd.  Women have to wear (it’s mandatory) very revealing outfits as skaters, runners, beach volleyball players and gymnasts.  But some women are protesting this.  Norway’s women’s beach handball team (not yet an Olympic sport) were fined after they wore shorts instead of bikinis at EURO2021.  And at the Olympics, the German women’s gymnastics team wore unitards covering their whole body from the neck down.  They said they wanted to “push back against the sexualization of women in gymnastics.”  Male gymnasts wear shorts and loose pants.  It’s the Olympic women who wear revealing outfits to run, and bikinis to play beach volleyball.  It’s an extreme demonstration of “sexualization,” of a patriarchal culture limiting woman’s image to a sexual one, rather than one of a competent, strong athlete.

In a patriarchal culture, male power attempts to supersede women’s.  In such an environment, women have little value and receive little respect.  And when powerful male politicians do this (and there are so many of them), it becomes very public.  (Former) Governor Andrew Cuomo is the latest to fall from grace after many years of getting away with sexual misconduct toward his staff, campaign organizers, and even a female state trooper.  Some of his fellow Democratic politicians have called him “a lecherous tyrant” who empowered his staff “to threaten and intimidate.”  Cuomo collected young, good-looking women to work for him and they were expected to always dress well, including makeup and high heels.  If a woman decided she didn’t like his demands and cruel work environment, it was made clear she’d have a hard time getting another job.  Inappropriate comments and touching were his trademarks.  He was able to maintain this extremely harmful situation for women in his employ until on August 3rd, New York Attorney General Letitia James, after taking on the growing complaints (which had gotten nowhere with senior staff), issued her thorough and well-investigated report which accused the governor of “sexually harassing 11 women in violation of the law.”  The report detailed “unwanted groping, kissing, hugging and inappropriate comments.”  Some were worse, such as the Albany staffers who reported that he grabbed their breasts.  And so the media darling who supposedly handled the COVID crisis so well (except for that pesky problem with covering up nursing home deaths), had to resign.  Most Democratic politicians abandoned him in the end:  but two who held out a long time were President Biden and Vice President Harris.

President Trump’s sexual misadventures were numerous, as such things are very much bipartisan.  Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct got him impeached.  He admitted to relations with Monica Lewinsky, but faced more serious allegations of rape from Juanita Broaddrick.  Last March Kamala Harris held a discussion about “empowering women and girls”—something the Clinton Foundation states that it does around the world—which included Mr. Clinton.  Broaddrick asked in a tweet if conference host Howard University might “like to include me in their empowering event with Bill Clinton?”  Harris had no comment on that, nor, at that point, on the accusations surrounding Governor Cuomo.  The President also did not feel Cuomo should resign, until after the Letitia James report was revealed.  Funnily enough, Joe Biden has been accused of the self-same thing as Cuomo, for years.  During Biden’s presidential campaign, these proclivities were brought up, especially by Tara Reade, his former staffer.  Reade accused Biden of serious sexual assault, including pressing her against a Capitol corridor wall and digitally penetrating her.  She reported this incident to friends and family, and senior staff (to no avail), at the time.  Other women have complained of similar incidents of inappropriate touching, up to and including on the 2020 campaign trail.  Reade’s May 2020 interview with Megyn Kelly tells of her experience, but she also talks about the overwhelming hate she has received from the media and the utter disbelief from Democratic women protecting their candidate.  As Reade said to Kelly:  “Do we want [as president] someone who thinks of women as objects, who thinks that they can just take what they want in that moment for their pleasure and that’s it?”   She was not believed, an experience common to so many women who have undergone abuse by powerful men, from Dylan Farrow (re Woody Allen), to Ambra Gutierrez (re Harvey Weinstein), to Andrea Costand (re Bill Cosby), and to women aides and staff of important and powerful men.  #Me Too has been a good thing, to a point.  Women still shy away from believing accusations against certain men.

Not believing women is inherent to patriarchal culture.  I remember going to the hospital when I was teaching in Fargo, where I was eventually admitted for severe dehydration and a bad case of the flu.  The male doctor who first saw me talked of “the so-called pain in my chest.”  He apparently didn’t believe me.  The value of women’s bodies certainly seems to be in question when yet another struggle supposedly won in the 70s—a woman’s right to choose abortion—is, thanks to the rise in power of Christian right fascists who are (!) patriarchal, again in jeopardy.  Women’s lives are in jeopardy on many fronts.  Attorney and John Jay professor Marcie Smith Parenti wrote a piece for the Grayzone, entitled “Why Won’t the US Medical Establishment Believe Women?”  She outlines a serious situation where the CDC and FDA, in their rush to vaccinate everyone (only 23% of pregnant women have at least one dose), have seriously downplayed and dismissed evidence that thousands of women have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 vaccines (most related to the mRNA vaccines).  Large numbers of vaccinated women have had their menstrual cycle disrupted:  extreme cramping, passing golf-ball size blood clots, and having “hemorrhagic bleeding.”  Parenti has several friends with such symptoms.  But beyond possibly anecdotal experience, by July of this year, the UK had 13,000 reports of “menstruation disruption,” with similar reports in Canada and India.

The US, with its “Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), had thousands of reports (they admit VAERS only catches a low percentage of adverse events) by July as well:  such reports included 88 “fetal deaths” and 25 “stillbirths” along with the hemorrhagic bleeding.   Although the FDA and CDC quickly warned of the myocarditis threat (a heart ailment) to young men posed by the vaccine, no warnings have been issued regarding menstrual disruption.  Parenti argues that menstruation is a central issue for women’s health and there are many incidents revealing that cycle’s disruption in myriad and very serious ways, including possible infertility.  She says that women deserve an investigation into these reports, with explanations and medical information, and “non-punitive accommodations if they decline a vaccine at this time.”  But no:  they can be barred from school and public places, and lose their jobs.  And if women are showing too much concern publicly, Parenti says they are “subjected to 1950s-style dismissal and demonization.”   After all, such concerns could “stoke unwarranted vaccine fears.”  And about such trivial health issues as menstruation, just “woman troubles.”

Last June the National Institute of Health called for proposals to study a possible link between the vaccine and menstruation disruption.  And now, the NIH has at last ordered a study about that possible link, $1.67 million worth, with a half million (!) participants.  But Diana Bianchi, NIH head of child health and human development says the FDA should not be faulted for the investigation’s delay.  And the (of course, justifiable) reason for the delay has been echoed in every single item of media coverage I’ve read over the last few days.  The FDA was “worried this was contributing to vaccine hesitancy in reproductive-age women.”  Bianchi says the vaccine certainly does not cause infertility.  And (again echoing all the news reports on it), “really [menstruation} is not a life and death issue.”  Women should simply do what they’re told and ignore their “so-called bleeding.”

Another area where there is a lack of confidence in what women say is when they warn of wider environmental dangers.  Traditionally women have tried to prevent harm and bring healing to the environment.  Women whistleblowers have suffered repercussions for warning against corporate entities’ disastrous policies; while indigenous women have sacrificed to try to protect Mother Earth from corporate disregard for the Earth’s destruction.  African-American women are all too familiar with environmental racism, from the drinking water of Flint, Michigan to the waters of Hurricane Katrina (and now Ida).  When Mississippi environmental analyst Tennie White, a Black woman, brought to light highly toxic wastes produced by Kerr-McGee endangering the people of Columbus, Mississippi, she was railroaded by the EPA’s “Green Enforcement” Unit and went to jail.  And recently, another woman whistleblower was ignored and punished.  Ruth Etzel was hired by the EPA as an expert in children’s health; a pediatrician and epidemiologist she has done stints at the WHO and CDC.  Etzel was to investigate lead poisoning in the chemical industry.  She found herself put on leave, demoted and then became a victim of an EPA smear campaign.  Etzel and other fellow scientists found that the EPA’s biggest concern is protecting chemical companies. Her suggested policy to help children avoid lead poisoning, formed after she found industries were doing “irreparable harm,” has yet to be put into effect.  Neither Obama, nor Trump, nor now Biden has changed the trend to protect corporations, and not the environment, humans, or even children.

Native-American women fighting fiercely against the terrible poisons of oil pipelines are harassed and jailed.  Winona LaDuke, Green Party VP candidate and head of environmental advocacy group “Honor the Earth,” was arrested and jailed repeatedly last July for protesting against construction of a new Enbridge oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.  Minnesota recently granted Enbridge the right to displace five billion instead of the former half billion gallons of water.  Such a disastrous situation leads LaDuke to protest and thus be charged with trespassing, harassment, unlawful assembly and public nuisance charges.  She charges Minnesota governor Tim Walz with giving “the water, the land and our civil rights to a Canadian multinational.”  The incomparable LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, died last April, fighting to the very end against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  As of a month ago, federal regulators had fined DAPL for safety violations like not doing necessary repairs and insufficient oil spill impact studies.  But Biden’s Army Corps of Engineers is still allowing the pipeline to operate.  The women of Standing Rock and Honor the Earth will never stop their campaigns against corporate poisoning of their lands.  As LaDonna Allard said, the movement is not just about a pipeline.  “To save the water, we must break the cycle of colonial trauma.”  And:  “We are fighting for our rights as the Indigenous peoples of this land; we are fighting for our liberation, and the liberation of Unci Mako, Mother Earth.”  Women fight to protect the Earth from the American corporate state and women fight to protect people from the violence of the American police state.

The penalties can be dire for those who dare challenge police violence.  Lillian House and Eliza Lucero of the Denver area’s Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) helped lead a persistent protest against the police and paramedics’ killing of the unarmed and unresisting young man, Elijah McClain.  Lucero and House faced felony charges of incitement to riot and kidnapping (of police) which could have meant sentences of 48 years.  Thanks to public pressure and a new district attorney, all charges were dropped on September 13th.  Earlier in the month, three police officers and two paramedics were indicted for McClain’s murder.  PSL’s Lillian House stated that “the indictments are a major victory, but they’re not convictions yet.  This is just the beginning of the people here taking power.”  And this is what these women activists want:  a dismantling of the police state in favor of “the people” being in charge.

This is the goal of the movement, bringing huge numbers of people into the streets after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s executions.  But these demonstrations, gradually called “riots” by the corporate media, have been hard-pressed to continue.  A report by the Movement for Black Lives found there has been a major crackdown on dissenters against police violence.  Charges against protesters were made into more serious federal crimes, with harsher penalties.  Surveillance, violence, and intimidation, in a coordinated vast federal enterprise, has been the usual response to potentially viable movements to change the corporate police state.  Because Rev. Joy Powell tried to curb police violence in Rochester, NY, she’s served 14 years inside, framed for crimes she didn’t commit.  But she is never cowed, despite solitary, COVID, and all the harassment they dish out.  She recently wrote me (and I get some of her letters, but she gets very few of mine) that she “made it to an interview” with Essence magazine, which did a great job of gaining her deserved attention.  The Police State is an entrenched corporate/capitalist/patriarchal institution, as is the American Empire.

The Empire is not feminist.  It is dangerously extreme in its macho Patriarchy.  The military, particularly one which has for years fed on death and destruction against helpless civilians, many of them women and children, is not feminist in its aims.  Expecting an occupying army to initiate and protect women’s rights is insane.  The women of Afghanistan have been tortured and murdered by US forces for over 20 years.  Perhaps a few elite women were helped and protected under American occupation, but their numbers are few.  Aafia Siddiqui, Muslim woman prisoner of the Empire is serving her 86 years in a Texas maximum security prison—or not, it’s not clear if she’s still alive.  Siddiqui was raped, mutilated and tortured in American black sites, including Bagram (US) Air Force Base, Afghanistan, and was grievously shot in Ghazni, Afghanistan by American soldiers who needed her to be seen as a “terrorist” and so staged what was supposed to be her attack on the soldiers.  This is women’s rights in Afghanistan.  As the incredible Caitlin Johnstone has written:  “If the US empire hadn’t manufactured consent for the invasion by aggressive narrative management about Taliban oppression westerners would give 0 fucks about women in Afghanistan, just like they give 0 fucks about women in all the other oppressive patriarchal nations.”  Was it worse for women to have a Taliban government, or to endure a 20-year occupation which has brought untold death and destruction to Afghan women and their families?  Occupying and controlling Afghanistan is not a feminist undertaking.  And so-called American feminist leaders should know better than to support it.  But NOW leaders urge you to write your Congress people to protect Afghan women (from the Taliban).  The “advances in [Afghan] women’s rights of the last 20 years are in jeopardy.”  The Feminist Majority web page asks for money for the same purpose, telling us that in 2009 Obama showed concern for “Afghans’ security” and the Americans “have brought much progress for women there,” in the last 20 years.  With all Obama’s drone killings?  Are you people serious?  This is not feminism.

“Feminists” are also proud to see female warmongers as part of President Joe Biden’s Team.  There is Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman, who helped engineer the Iran deal (not a great one for them) and spent her early days in office busily scolding China to ramp up our newest Cold War.  Or Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who famously helped arrange the neo-Nazi takeover of Ukraine in a power play vs. Russia, with her also famous leaked diplomatic conversation where she said “fuck the EU” re involving American allies.  Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth has a strong police/Homeland Security background; and Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks will oversee a “modernization of our nuclear triad.” Avril Haines, Biden’s Director of National Intelligence, from the CIA, directed the drones program for Obama, sometimes having to get up in the middle of the night to decide who should be killed by a drone next.  Of course, there was never “collateral damage,” as we’ve seen just recently in our Afghanistan drone hit which killed an entire family (they were not ISIS K).  Wonderful to have such feminist examples!  As commentator Richard Medhurst (half Syrian, half British) has said:  isn’t it great for Biden to have all these women involved?  Will they drop pink bombs—rainbow bombs?—on my country?

The real feminists are the stalwart anti-war women who fight the very real threats of Empire.  The women to be truly admired are women like Elizabeth McAlister, Martha Hennesy (Dorothy Day’s granddaughter) and Clare Grady. In 2018 they entered Kings Bay, Georgia naval base to bear witness against the Empire’s potential for nuclear war.  They have all now served time, 10 to 12 months, for trying to, as McAlister said, “slow the mad rush to the devastation of our magnificent planet.”  They too would save Mother Earth.  They too, like the tortured and ruined Julian Assange, are truth-tellers against the Empire.  Dismissed, ignored, not believed, imprisoned.  These are what 1980s political prisoner Marilyn Buck called “noncompliant women”—women who the patriarchal authorities believe should be put back into subordinate, quiet and compliant status.  Such authorities believe women should wear bikinis and makeup as athletes, not question if a vaccine has deleterious side effects on them, and overlook a governor’s inappropriate behavior.  Let’s not be compliant.  Let the struggle continue.

The post Patriarchy:  The Struggle Continues first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Labour’s Palestine motion means Keir Starmer’s war on the left is not over

Labour leader Keir Starmer hoped he would hammer the final nails into the coffin of support for his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn and his left-wing policies at the party’s annual conference in Brighton this week.

But delegates had other ideas.

With a resounding slap to Starmer’s face, the conference voted in favour of a motion declaring Israel an apartheid state, echoing the findings of Israeli and international human rights organisations. It also called for sanctions against Israel’s illegal settlements that usurp Palestinian land, as well as a halt to the UK’s sales of arms to Israel.

Delegates demanded an end to Israel’s belligerent occupation of the West Bank and 15-year siege of Gaza, and upheld “the right of Palestinians to return to their homes” – a right of return for Palestinians expelled by Israel since 1948 that is enshrined in international law but increasingly ignored by western states.

The success of the motion, put forward by Labour’s youth section, was a deeply embarrassing blow for Starmer, who has colluded in a campaign by the media, Jewish leaders and the Labour right to conflate support for Palestinian rights – one of Corbyn’s signature policies – with antisemitism.

As leader, Corbyn faced relentless, evidence-free claims that he indulged a plague of antisemitism in Labour, and even the implication that he might himself be antisemitic.

The campaign ultimately forced Corbyn to accept a controversial new definition of antisemitism that made it easier for the Labour right – in charge of internal disciplinary procedures – to expel members for making trenchant criticisms of Israel over its decades-long oppression of Palestinians.

Precisely the kind of criticisms of Israel the Labour conference endorsed this week.

The motion cast a long shadow over Starmer’s keynote speech on Wednesday, in what he had doubtless hoped would be a triumphant finale to the conference, stamping his authority on the membership. Instead, the very issues that plagued Labour under Corbyn continue to simmer barely below the surface.

Treated like ‘outcasts’

Corbyn argued that claims of antisemitism had been exaggerated by his opponents to undermine his socialist agenda – a statement that provided Starmer with the excuse to expel him from the parliamentary party.

With Corbyn gone, and most of his allies either purged or cowed, Starmer has begun driving the party rightwards in an attempt to reassure the establishment that, unlike the socialist Corbyn, he will be a safe pair of hands, protecting its interests at home and abroad.

Keeping Israel a close military and intelligence ally in the oil-rich Middle East, as well as not angering Washington, Israel’s staunch patron, appear to be among Starmer’s top priorities.

He has stated that he “supports Zionism without qualification” – a reference to Israel’s state ideology of Jewish supremacism over Palestinians. He has also ignored repeated calls from Palestinian groups and Palestinian party members to engage with them, leading one to observe that they have been treated like “outcasts“.

Nonetheless, Starmer has been faced with a tricky balancing act that this week’s Israeli apartheid motion will only make harder.

On the one hand, Starmer needs to exploit and perpetuate the antisemitism smears as a weapon to continue isolating, intimidating and expelling the party’s left-wing members and Corbyn supporters.

But on the other, he must at some point show he has surgically removed the antisemitism problem, both to demonstrate he is a strong, decisive leader and to switch from waging factional war on the party’s left to presenting an image of unity in time for the next election.

The conference was clearly intended to mark that turning point. Starmer used the event to explicitly tell party activists that Labour had now “closed the door” on antisemitism.

On the back foot

Both the apartheid and sanctions components of the motion on Israel, however, serve as a
gauntlet showing that the left may not lie down so easily. They put Starmer firmly on the back foot.

The Labour leader has suggested in the past that demands for sanctions against Israel – even feeble ones that punish only those industries directly implicated in the occupation – are motivated, not by principle or support for Palestinian rights, but by antisemitism.

He made that evident, for example, when he withdrew from a Ramadan event in April – upsetting Britain’s Muslim community – because one of its organisers had expressed support for a boycott of dates illegally grown by Israel on occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

Most Labour members disagree with Starmer’s position. A recent YouGov poll showed that 61 per cent of them supported the boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) campaign launched more than 15 years ago by Palestinian civil society. Only eight per cent opposed it.

The reference to Israel as an apartheid state will prove difficult for Starmer too.

Pro-Israel lobby groups – including the Jewish Labour Movement, an offshoot of Israel’s own Labor party, which is currently sitting in a government dominated by settler leaders – have denounced any description of Israel as an apartheid state.

They have done so even though Israel’s decades-long, systematic abuse of the Palestinian population appears to meet the United Nations’ definition of the crime of apartheid.

Instead, Jewish leaders and the Labour right have weaponised a set of examples attached to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism imposed on Corbyn in 2018. Those examples include describing Israel as “a racist endeavour” and “requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation”.

The Labour motion rightly takes as its starting point that Israel cannot claim to be democratic when half the population it rules over – the vast majority of Palestinians inside Israel and all Palestinians under occupation – have no voice in how they are ruled.

Hounded out

The conference vote requiring Labour to support the Palestinians appears to be a backlash from the party’s left against the onslaught they have suffered over the past 18 months of Starmer’s rule.

He has effectively banned constituencies from criticising Corbyn’s expulsion from the parliamentary party.

Groups that support Palestinian rights and challenged Starmer’s confected antisemitism narrative – arguing that it has been weaponised against them – have been proscribed.

Leaders of Jewish Voice for Labour, set up by Jewish members to defend Corbyn’s reputation, are also being hounded out, including most recently its co-chair Leah Levane, whose entry to the conference was revoked on the second day.

One of Corbyn’s most prominent supporters, Ken Loach, the world-renowned film director, was expelled in the run-up to the conference, again in the context of antisemitism claims. He had expressed support for many of those who were suspended or expelled, calling it a witch-hunt.

Starmer’s officials quietly tried to break the party rule book and block a conference day for Young Labour, the party’s youth section, after it proposed the motion urging justice for Palestinians. Officials also sought to prevent a representative from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, Britain’s foremost Palestinian advocacy group, from speaking.

Starmer rightly understood that neither could be relied on to toe his authoritarian line. But after the exposure of their move, Labour officials were forced to back down.

And finally, John McDonnell, the former shadow chancellor, berated Starmer for behaving “like Stalin” in allowing the last-minute exclusion from the conference of dozens of members identified as Corbyn holdouts. The move seemed intended to help Starmer’s measures pass, and foil embarrassing resolutions like the Palestine solidarity one.

Rooting out socialism

Starmer did manage to secure support from the conference for an independent complaints procedure to handle antisemitism cases in future – removing it from the control of party officials.

Labour members presumably hope that external adjudicators will be fairer in assessing antisemitism allegations than a Labour right bent on settling scores with the left. The celebrations of pro-Israel groups at the prospect of the disciplinary process being outsourced indicates that members may be gravely disappointed.

For Starmer, transferring the complaints procedure to outsiders means he can finally sever his responsibility for the handling of Labour’s supposed antisemitism crisis. It will be out of his hands.

All of this is meant to prepare the ground as Starmer, who has lagged in the polls behind a disastrously inept and corrupt Conservative government, tries to prove his electability – even if only at this stage to Rupert Murdoch and the other billionaire owners of the press.

Starmer clearly believes that the political formula that worked for Tony Blair, who led three Labour governments a quarter of a century ago in the short-lived heyday of neoliberal economics, will work for him too.

The week before conference, Starmer issued The Road Ahead, a personal manifesto chiefly intended to reassure the private sector that he would not disrupt the gravy train it has enjoyed uninterrupted since Blair was in power.

He has ruled out public ownership of key utilities, even as gas suppliers continue to go broke and the British public faces an unprecedented hike in energy prices.

Starmer pressured delegates to approve – if only narrowly – the appointment as general secretary of David Evans, a man closely identified with business-friendly Blair and the Labour right.

And to top it off, Starmer forced through rule changes – including giving MPs a bigger veto on who can stand in leadership elections – to prevent any repetition of a socialist candidate such as Corbyn winning.

Starmer’s meaning would have been entirely unaltered if the word “antisemitism” had been replaced by “socialism” as he addressed party activists: “We’ve turned our back on the dark chapter. Having closed that door, that door will never be opened again in our Labour Party to antisemitism.”

Starmer’s success – against the Labour left – was underscored on Monday, when Andy McDonald, the last Corbyn ally on the shadow front bench, resigned. He objected to being forced by Starmer’s office to reject union demands for a £15 minimum wage and statutory sick pay on the living wage – two issues the pandemic might have made a vote-winner with the public.

Starmer’s albatross

But though Starmer may be winning the battle to drive Labour back to the right, making it once again an establishment-friendly party, the issue of justice for Palestinians looks likely to continue hounding him.

He faces two opposing challenges he will struggle to contain.

On one side, Starmer is determined to shrink his party, ousting as many as possible of the hundreds of thousands of new members who joined because they were inspired by Corbyn’s populist left-wing policies.

Starmer has neither an ideological commitment to left-wing politics nor the stomach to brave the onslaught Corbyn faced – especially the barrage of antisemitism smears – as he struggled to revive socialism 40 years after big business, the establishment media and the Tory party thought they had buried it.

Starmer views the Labour grassroots as an albatross around his neck. It must be removed by further curbs on party democracy, lightly disguised as efforts to root out a supposed antisemitism problem.

The Israeli apartheid motion shows that there are still pockets of resistance, especially among the young. They can use the glaring injustices heaped on the Palestinian people as a way to keep embarrassing Starmer and reminding Labour members how unprincipled their leader is.

Lobby pressure

But on the other side, Starmer also faces a pro-Israel lobby that has got the bit between its teeth after its critical role in undermining Corbyn. It expects the Labour party to serve as a cheerleader for Israel, paying no more than lip service to Palestinian rights.

For the lobby, Starmer must continue to be cowed with threats of antisemitism to make sure he does not concede, under grassroots pressure, that Israel is an apartheid state, or support sanctions, or end the UK’s arms sales to Israel – as party members want.

Even before the Palestinian solidarity motion was passed by conference, Euan Philipps, a spokesman for one lobby group, Labour Against Antisemitism, set out how much more the pro-Israel lobby expects to extract from Starmer.

He told the Jewish Chronicle newspaper that Labour must go further in dealing with what he termed “anti-Zionist antisemitism” – that is, labelling and punishing any serious criticism of Israel’s abuses of Palestinians as antisemitism.

He called for Labour to sever all ties with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, removing the main vehicle for promoting justice for Palestinians in the party.

Philipps urged the party to punish MPs and officials who take part in “extreme” Palestinian solidarity events or protests against Israel’s occupation, describing participation as “tacitly endorsing antisemitism”.

And he demanded Starmer take an even harder line against “antisemitic” members – in this case, apparently meaning any who speak out in favour of Palestinian rights – than recommended by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission last year after it completed an unprecedented investigation of Labour over the antisemitism claims.

Labour’s civil war is not going away quite yet. It will continue to simmer, as it has at the conference, until Palestinians and the party’s left-wing can be permanently silenced.

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