Category Archives: Revolution

An Aperspectival View of the Culture War

Each stage in the history of the civil rights movement has had a specific theme and focus. In the 19th century it was race and gender, in the 20th it was race, gender, gay, bi, trans, queer, in the 21st it is all of them +.

One could say that these are ideas whose time has come, but what kind of society lets members of its own species become slaves, servants and second-class citizens in the first place? How does a society become more civilized when it just waits for solutions to come about in their own time?

If it has taken this long for these smaller, minor civil issues to be resolved, does that mean that the larger ones, that affect us all, will take even longer?

A revolution is only revolutionary if its supporters are enterprising enough to provide an alternative to the system they are rebelling against. It doesn’t matter whether it’s gay rights, affirmative action, or gender parity when it’s the exact same system with the same problems.

I grew up in the ‘80s and ‘90s and for a long time I believed that racism and sexism had been abolished during the civil rights era of the previous decades. That once we had made it through we could not or would not go back. But it seems that knowing history isn’t enough to prevent it from repeating, as if humanity is realizing a perverse desire to go a few more rounds before the pyrrhic victory is declared. Because if humans can’t disagree about something, they have nothing to do.

Up until now we have been in conflict with each other, but we are beginning to realize that our little identity groups are insignificant compared with the bigger picture issues (global socio-economics, climate change, black budgets, criminal enterprises) that make our little factions seem a lot more harmonious than they did before.

It is concerning, but also cathartic, that we are referring to the free exchange of ideas as a war. Concerning because there are people, large numbers of them on both sides, who are very passionate about their ideas and are ready to defend them, violently if necessary, but cathartic because these ideas have always been there, in potentia, and are finally now being expressed.

Historically they have found form as arguments, protests, movements and demonstrations and for a while it looked like we were making some progress, but now it seems that we are fighting for them all over again and not one at a time, but all at once. Fortunately, it is unlikely to ever become a fighting war because of its basis in culture and the intellect.

In culture, people live their ideology, whereas in politics they merely pay tribute to it once in a while. We’ve had political wars, they involve the logistics of people and materiel, while culture wars are fought primarily with words, the casualties are ideas and beliefs, that depending on the outcome, may never be rehabilitated.

That’s not to say that the culture war is not political, identity politics has infiltrated many areas of policy, science and the humanities, but at root these are still social and cultural ideas that are being bandied about. Only laws and policies make them political, which is what has focused the discussion on freedom of speech. Both sides accusing the other of putting limits on this most fundamental requirement of successful communication. But both of these assertions cannot be true. They cannot be true because the whole thing is illogical. It’s not just a freedom of speech issue, a civil, sexist, racist or even a classist one, it’s a human rights issue and human rights transcends logic and rationality to occupy the broader category of integral-aperspectival or ‘vision-logic’.

As its name implies, vision-logic sees the bigger picture rather than looking over here, (Right) or over there, (Left). It is a higher-order, holistic, almost holographic system of ideas. Therefore, from an integral-aperspectival point of view there is no culture war. It’s not racism or sexism that are the problem, they’re not even real because they have no basis in logic. They are ideas that can only be held by equally illogical people.

But many of us have not made it this far yet. We’re still trapped in the old dualist paradigm and the only reason the culture war has lasted this long is because no one can stop watching. It is new territory, equivalent to finding a tunnel to the unconscious outside of the psychologist’s office. Every new development is a new discovery and the ‘so-called’ authorities, our self-appointed guides through this treacherous terrain, have no idea how to deal with it either. But instead of meeting the challenge and following the tunnel where it leads, they have applied policies that restrict the outcome of events rather than letting them unfold naturally.

Just as things were starting to get really real, the frontier was moved, and in order to stave off conflict and possible violence, these policies have limited access into the shadowy world of the unconscious preventing us from giving it a name. Or perhaps this is part of the plan; to make the unconscious, where no one is necessarily safe from criticism, a no-person’s land guarded by taboo terms and arbitrary rules. While this may be possible for a little while, the archetypes and psychological contents are sure to find their way out one way or another like a repressed emotion, which goes on to make an even bigger scene.

Despite all the shadows and shades that have been cast over that particular part of the psycho-sociological terrain, the sounds can still be heard. There is no silencing it, and apart from all the laws that are imposed, the law of the shadow land, or Intellectual Dark Web, is free speech and freedom of expression.

It’s a well-known fact that people become more conservative as they age, that is if they have anything to lose, and many of those people who call themselves revolutionaries now, may end up resenting their teachers, politicians and acquaintances for indulging their utopian ideas about the way the world should be, rather than the way it is. They’re wonderful ideas, of course, but if one is not prepared to dedicate their lives to them, what good is a liberal education?

Whether consciously or not, people are beginning to realize that far from fair, life is in fact arbitrary and what gives it meaning is us. It’s not rich people’s fault, or men’s fault or white people’s fault, but rich, white, men. We could all consider ourselves oppressed and under-privileged in some way, even a few of us white males, which is exactly what we are saying. We were promised something that we cannot have—just like everybody else. What we must do is work together to change the power structure that has enslaved us all.

Race, gender, class and sexuality are not all we’re made of, just as our bodies are not all we’re made of. We must find ways to integrate these aspects and move on to what we do after the fighting is over, what life is really about. If it’s equality and human rights we want, we can work towards that, if it’s fairness, that’s another matter and we are just going to end up disappointed, while feeding everyone else the red pill in the process.

Shame of a Nation: The 1% Rules, the 99% Lets Them!

  1. There has never been more access to food – domestic and imported – yet hunger is an ongoing problem everywhere. In the U.S. alone, 16.5 million children go to bed hungry and 20% of community college students are experiencing “food insecurity.”
  2. Never have there been more communications technologies, yet it is harder to get through to people personally than fifty years ago.
  3. Never have people been able to use their right to free speech so unencumbered, yet a torrent of lies are now spread so freely and are often unchallenged.
  4. Never have there been higher corporate profits, yet staggering amounts of poverty and near poverty remain along with stagnant wages.
  5. Never have there been more medicines to alleviate pain, yet far too many of these pain killers have caused massive fatalities and addictions.
  6. Never has there been more liquid corporate capital piled up, yet corporate investment is proportionately lower than before. Instead, CEO’s have burned over 7 trillion dollars in unproductive stock buybacks in the past decade.
  7. Never have there been more exercise outlets, exercise machines and apps, yet obesity is still rampant.
  8. Never have there been more tax breaks for big businesses, yet big businesses use so little of the windfalls for productive investments, good jobs and shoring up pensions.
  9. Never has there been more free access to information, yet so little retained knowledge.
  10. Never have there been more impressive muckraking film documentaries and books that expose corporate and government crimes, yet this media attention produces less impact and reform.
  11. Never have there been more ongoing impeachable offenses and statutory violations by a president, yet the opposing Party in Congress have been reluctant to move on the many articles of impeachment. Remember how fast the unified House of Republicans moved to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998 for perjury and obstruction of justice?
  12. Never have there been more trainers, sports physicians, protective equipment and guards for professional athletes, yet there are far more injuries and days lost by players than was the case sixty years ago. Now there are helmets, gloves, pads, cushioned walls, better shoes etc. Why?
  13. Never has there been more to read, yet there are so few readers reading. Historically, we have gone from illiteracy to literacy to aliteracy!
  14. Never before has technology made it so easy for heads of government to meet, yet fewer international treaties are made. (Eg. Cyber, water, environment, consumer, labor etc.)
  15. Never has there been such an outrageous corporate crime wave, yet law enforcement budgets have decreased! The more big CEO’s are paid, the worse is their management. (Eg. The big banks twelve years ago, General Electric for years.)
  16. Never before have there been so many wrongful injuries, yet the court budgets are becoming tighter and the law of torts is being restricted. Without the defense of and use of our civil justice system, wrongful injury cases cannot go to court with a trial by jury.
  17. Never before has there been more corporate fraud, yet agencies tasked with bringing this fraud to justice have smaller budgets and more limitations. The budget of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a third of one day’s worth of health care billing fraud, which is estimated this year to be $350 billion, according to Harvard’s national expert on the subject, Professor Malcolm Sparrow. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has been straitjacketed by the evil corporate crime abettor Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House Chief of Staff for corrupt Donald.
  18. Never has the drug industry accumulated more profits and government subsidies, yet so many patients cannot begin to afford lifesaving medicines.
  19. Never have the under-taxed super-rich been so rich, yet on average give a smaller proportion of their money to “good works.” Actually, middle and lower income people give more proportionally than do the ultra-wealthy.

I could go on and on. Pick up the pace, readers. Senator Elizabeth Warren has correctly called for “big structural changes.”

How to find a Tiger in Africa

Agostinho Neto declaring independence of Angola 11 November 1975

What I want to do here is something very simple. I want to explain how I began to search for Agostinho Neto. I also want to explain the perspective that shapes this search.1

When I was told about the plans for a colloquium I was asked if I would give a paper.2 I almost always say yes to such requests because for me a paper is the product of learning something new. So I went to the local bookstores to buy a biography of Dr Neto. The only thing I found available was a two-volume book by a man named Carlos Pacheco called Agostinho Neto O Perfil de um Ditador, published in 2016. The subtitle of the book is “A história do MPLA em Carne Viva”. When I went to the university library I found another book, a collection of essays by Mr Pacheco and a book by Mr Cosme, no longer in print.3

Obviously the sheer size of Mr Pacheco’s book suggested that this was a serious study. Since these two ominous tomes were the only biography I could find in print in a serious bookstore, it seemed to me that the weight of the books was also designed as part of Mr Pacheco’s argument. The two volumes, in fact, comprise digests of PIDE4 reports and Mr Pacheco’s philosophical musings about politics, culture, psychology etc. There is barely anything of substance about the poet, physician, liberation leader and first president of Angola, Agostinho Neto, in nearly 1,500 pages.

As I said, I knew little about Dr Neto, but I knew something about Angola and the US regime’s war against the MPLA.5 I was also very familiar with the scholarship and research about US regime activities in Africa since 1945—both overt and covert. I also knew that dictators were not rare in Africa. However, in the title of Mr Pacheco’s book was the first time I had ever heard Dr Neto called a dictator. What struck me was that Dr Neto was president of Angola from the time of independence until his death in 1979—a total of four years. In contrast his successor remained president for almost 40 years. So my intuition told me if Agostinho Neto was a dictator he could not have been a very significant one. However, I wanted to know what the basis of this charge was. Certainly he was not a dictator on the scale of his neighbour, Joseph Mobutu.6 I reasoned that Agostinho Neto was called a dictator for the same reason all heads of state are called “dictators” in the West—because he held office by virtue of processes not approved in London, Paris or Washington. In the jargon of the “West”—a euphemism for the post-WWII US Empire—anyone called a communist who becomes a head of state must be a dictator, since no one in their right mind could elect a communist and no communist would submit to an election.

However, there was apparently more to this accusation than the allegation that Dr Neto must be a communist and therefore a dictator. Agostinho Neto had good relations with the Cuban “dictator” Fidel Castro and he enjoyed the support of the Soviet Union. When there still was a Soviet Union, anyone enjoying its support, no matter how minimal or ambivalent, could be considered at least a “potential dictator”. Then I read about a brief but serious incident in 1977, an attempted military coup against the Neto government on 27 May, led by Nito Alves and José Van Dunen. The coup was defeated and all sources agree there was a purge of the MPLA and many were arrested and killed. Writers like Mr Pacheco argue that Dr Neto directed a blood bath in which as many as 20-30,000 people died over the course of two years. There appears to be agreement that many people were arrested and killed but the exact figures vary.7

However, I still wondered whether this incident and its apparent consequences were enough to justify calling Dr Agostinho Neto, dictator of Angola.

While researching for this paper, while searching for Agostinho Neto, I found many people who had an opinion about him but very few who actually knew anything about Neto, and often they knew very little about Angola.

First I would like to deal with the coup attempt and the aftermath because that is the most immediate justification for this epithet. I am unable to introduce any data that might decide the questions I feel must be raised, but that does not make them less relevant to an accurate appraisal of Dr Neto’s four years in office.

  1. How, in the midst of a civil war, and military operations to defend the country, including the capital from a foreign invader—the Republic of South Africa—are the casualties and deaths to be distinguished between police actions and military actions? What reasonably objective apparatus existed to produce the statistics upon which the count could be based?
  2. What was the specific chain of command and operational structure in place to direct the purge on the scale alleged by Dr Neto’s detractors? What was the composition of the forces operating under government direction during this period? What was the composition of the command at local level?

Without claiming to answer these questions—they would have to be answered by research in Angola—there are some points that make the bald assertions of those like Mr Pacheco, who claim Dr Neto is responsible for the violent aftermath, for the thousands of victims, far from proven.

Casualty reporting during war is highly unreliable even in sophisticated military bureaucracies like those of the US or Britain. There were rarely bodies to count after saturation bombing or days of artillery barrage. To add a sense of proportion Sir Douglas Haig, commanding the British Expeditionary Force at the Somme during World War I, ordered the slaughter of nearly 20,000 British soldiers in one day with total casualties of some 50,000—the excuse for this was war.8 One’s own casualties are usually a source of embarrassment. But in Angola, like in other African countries, the presence of a stable and professional bureaucracy capable of generating any kind of statistics was certainly sparse. Whether those statistics can be deemed objective is another issue.

The absence of written orders or minutes is not by itself proof that no orders were given. In fact, as has been established in the research on the whole sphere of covert action, written orders can be issued “for the file” while operational orders are transmitted—deniably—by word of mouth.9 Then the question has to be answered in reverse: how did the actual enforcement officers receive their instructions and from whom? Here it is particularly important to note that the MPLA could not have replaced all police and other security force rank and file with personnel whose loyalty to the new Angolan government was certain. This means that many police or other security personnel had been performing under orders of the New State officers until independence and were still on duty.10 The actual relationships these personnel had to the people in the districts where they were deployed would have been known, if not notorious. It is not unreasonable to infer that a general purge would give opportunities to people at all levels to solve “problems” arising from the fall of the Portuguese regime.

Then there is one other factor—a question raised by the fact that Mr Pacheco’s book relies almost entirely on PIDE reports about the MPLA. One can, in fact, read in several accounts of the independence struggle that the MPLA was thoroughly infiltrated by PIDE operatives. So do we know if the orders which rank and file personnel took were issued by bona fide MPLA cadre acting on instructions from the president or issued by PIDE operatives within the MPLA command structure? In fact, it is a highly practiced routine of covert operations, also by the PIDE during the independence war, to appear and act as if they were the MPLA while committing acts intended to discredit it.11 While it is true that the Salazar/ Caetano regime had collapsed the people who had maintained the regime—especially in covert operations—did not simply disappear. Moreover, the world’s premier covert action agency, the CIA, was an active supporter of all MPLA opposition and certainly of factions within the MPLA itself. We know about IA Feature because of the revelations of its operational manager, John Stockwell.12 We also know that the PIDE and the CIA worked together and we know that the US ambassador to Portugal during the period (1975 to 1979) was a senior CIA officer.13 We also know many details about the various ways in which covert operations were run then.14 What we do not know is the extent to which it may have been involved in the coup against Dr Neto. But there is room for educated guessing.

I do not believe it is possible to reconstruct the events of the purge with evidence that can provide reasonable assurance of what responsibility Agostinho Neto bears for the deaths and casualties attributed to that period—beyond the vague responsibility which any head of state may have for actions of the government apparatus over which he presides. There, are however, grounds for a reasonable doubt—for a verdict at least of “not proven”.

Which brings me to my second argument: from what perspective should the brief term of Agostinho Neto as president of the Angola be examined.

First of all we must recognise that Angola prior to 1975 was a criminal enterprise.

It began with the Atlantic slave trade, which really only ended in the 1880s (although slavery did not end). Then, like in all other colonies created by Europeans, a kind of licensed banditry was practiced, euphemistically called “trade”. By the end of the 19th century most of this organised crime was controlled by cartels organised in Europe and North America.15

Why do I call this organised crime and not commerce? First of all if one uses force to compel a transaction; e.g., a gun to make someone give you something, this is generally considered a crime and in Europe and North America usually subject to punishment as such. To travel to a foreign land with a gun and compel transactions, or induce them using drugs or other fraudulent means, does not change the criminal character—only the punitive consequences.

Angola’s economy was based on stolen land, forced labour, unequal/ fraudulent trading conditions, and armed force, the colour of law not withstanding. Neither Portuguese law (nor that of any other European state) would have permitted inhabitants of Angola to come to Portugal, kidnap its youth or force its inhabitants to accept the same conditions to which all African colonies and “protectorates” were submitted.

In other words, Agostinho Neto was the first president of an Angolan state. He, together with his supporters in the MPLA, created a republic out of what was essentially a gangster economy protected by the Portuguese dictatorship in Lisbon. Does this mean that all European inhabitants of Angola were gangsters? Certainly it does not. However, it can be argued that many Europeans or children of Europeans who were born in Angola recognised this when they began to demand independence, too. Some demanded independence to run their own gangs free of interference from abroad and some certainly wanted an end to gangsterism and the establishment of a government for the benefit of the inhabitants.

The performance of Dr Neto as president of Angola has to be measured by the challenges of creating a beneficial government from a system of organised crime and defending this effort against foreign and domestic armies supported by foreigners, specifically the agents of the gangsters who had been running the country until then.

But stepping back from the conditions of Angola and its plunder by cartels under protection of the New State, it is necessary to see Dr Neto’s struggle and the struggle for independence in Angola within the greater context of African independence. Like Nkrumah, Lumumba, Toure, Nasser, Qaddafi, Kenyatta, Nyerere and Cabral, what I would call the African liberation generation, Neto was convinced that Angola could not be independent without the independence of all Africa.16  In other words, he was aware that the independence from Portugal was necessarily only partial independence. Like the others of this generation Neto rejected race as a basis for African independence.

The position of African liberation leaders who rigorously rejected racialised politics has often been criticised, even mocked as naïve. It has often been pointed out—accurately—that the African states were created by Europeans and hence the ethnic conflicts that have laid waste to African development are proof that these liberation leaders were wrong: that either Africa could not transcend “tribalism” or that the states created could not manage the inherited territories in a modern way.

On the contrary, the African liberation generation was well aware of the problems inherited from European gangster regimes. Moreover they understood quite well that race was created by Europeans to control them, that there was no “white man” in Africa before the European coloniser created him. The “white man” was an invention of the late 17th century. First it was a legal construct—the granting of privileges to Europeans in the colonies to distinguish and separate them from African slave labourers. Then it was elaborated into an ideology, an Enlightenment ideology—white supremacy. By uniting the colonisers, who in their respective homelands had spent the previous thirty odd years slaughtering each other for reasons of religion, ethnicity, language, and greed, the Enlightenment ideals of ethnic and religious tolerance or even liberty bound Europeans together against slave majorities. By endowing these European servants with the pedigree of “whiteness” the owners of the plantation islands could prevent them from siding with other servants—the Africans—and overthrowing the gangsters and their Caribbean drug industry. The white “identity” was fabricated to prevent class alliances against the new capitalists.17

It is not clear if the African liberation generation understood the impact of African slavery in North America. Many post-war liberation leaders have admired the US and seen in it a model for independence from colonialism. Perhaps this is because in the preparations for entering WWI, the US regime undertook a massive propaganda campaign of unparalleled success in which the history of the US was virtually re-written—or better said invented. There are numerous stories about photographs being changed in the Soviet Union under Stalin to remove people who had fallen from favour or been executed. There is relatively little attention devoted to the impact of the Creel Committee, a group of US advertising executives commissioned by President Woodrow Wilson to write the history people now know as “the American Dream” and to sell it throughout the world.18 This story turns a planter-mercantile slaveholder state into an “imperfect democracy” based on fine Enlightenment principles of human liberty. In fact, the contemporaries of the American UDI saw the actions in Philadelphia and the insurgency that followed in the same terms that people in the 1970s saw Ian Smith and his Rhodesian National Front. It is very clear from the record that the US regime established by the richest colonials in North America was initiated to avert Britain’s abolition of slavery in its colonies. It was not an accident that African slaves and Native Americans were omitted from the protections of the new charter. On the contrary the new charter was intended to preserve their exclusion.

Which brings me to my concluding argument. I believe there are two widely misused terms in the history of the post-WWII era, especially in the histories of the national liberation struggles and so-called Third World: “Cold War” and “anti-communism”. Since the end of the Soviet Union it is even very rare that these terms are explained. The reintroduction of the term “Cold War” to designate US regime policies toward Russia is anachronistic and misleading.

To understand this we have to return to 1945. In San Francisco, California, shortly before the end of formal hostilities representatives of the Allies met and adopted what would be called the Charter of the United Nations. Among the provisions of this charter were some ideas retained from the League of Nations Covenant (which the US never ratified) and some new ideas about the future of what were called non-self-governing territories (i.e. colonies, protectorates etc.) The principle of self-determination, a legacy of the League used to carve up Austria-Hungary, Germany and the Ottoman Empire, was to be extended to all empires. After the propaganda war by which colonial troops (natives) were deployed in masses against Germany, Italy and Japan, to defend freedom and independence, it became clear that the exhausted and even more heavily indebted European colonial powers could not return to the status quo ante. Britain was incapable of controlling India and with the independence of India it would become increasingly difficult to justify or sustain rule of the rest of the empire. The Commonwealth idea basically kept the “white” dominions loyal.19 But how were the “non-whites” to be kept in line? The US regime made it clear that there would be no support for European empires of the pre-war type. So the stated policy of the Charter was that independence was inevitable—meaning that all those who wanted it had a license to get it.

At the same time, however, an unstated policy was being formulated—penned largely by George Kennan—that would form the basis for the expansion of the US Empire in the wake of European surrender. That unstated policy, summarised in the US National Security Council document0 – NSC 68 – was based on some fundamental conclusions by the regime’s policy elite that reveal the essential problem with which all liberation movements and new independent states would be faced but could not debate. NSC 68 was promulgated in 1947 but remained secret until about 1978.

Kennan who had worked in the US mission to the Soviet Union reported confidentially that the Soviet Union, although it had won the war against Germany, was totally exhausted and would be incapable of doing anything besides rebuilding domestically, at least for another 20 years! In another assessment he pointed out that the US economy had only recovered by virtue of the enormous tax expenditure for weapons and waging WWII. It would be devastating to the US economy—in short, a massive depression would return—if the war industry did not continue to receive the same level of funding (and profit rates) it received during the war.

Furthermore, it was very clear that the US economy consumed about 60 per cent of the world’s resources for only 20 per cent of the population. Kennan argued the obvious, that this condition could not continue without the use of force by the US regime.

Although the US appears as (and certainly is) a violent society in love with its military, in fact, foreign wars have never enjoyed great popularity. It has always been necessary for the US regime to apply extreme measures—marketing—to generate support for wars abroad. The war in Korea was initially just a continuation of US Asia-Pacific expansion (aka Manifest Destiny).20 When US forces were virtually kicked off the Korean peninsula, the machinery that had sold WWI to the masses was put in motion and the elite’s hatred of the Soviet Union was relit in what became known as the McCarthy purges. The McCarthy purges were necessary to turn the Soviet Union—an ally against Hitler—into an enemy even worse than Hitler (who, in fact, never was an enemy of the US elite, some of whom counted the Führer as a personal friend.21  It was at this point that anti-communism became part of the arsenal for the unstated policy of the US regime. Anti-communism was enhanced as a term applicable to any kind of disloyalty—meaning failure to support the US regime in Korea or elsewhere. It also became the justification for what appeared to be contradictions between US stated anti-colonial policy and its unstated neo-colonialism.

The term “Cold War” has been attributed to US banker and diplomat Bernard Baruch and propagandist Walter Lippman. It has become accepted as the historical framework for the period from 1945 until 1989.  However, this is history as propaganda. The facts are that as George Kennan and other high officials knew in 1947, the Soviet Union posed absolutely no threat to the US. On the contrary the secret (unstated) policy of the US—declassified in the 1990s—was to manufacture enough atomic weaponry to attack the Soviet Union twice. Generals like MacArthur and Le May were not extremists. They simply discussed US strategy openly.22 The point of the “Cold War” was to create a vision, which would explain the non-existent Soviet threat as a cover for the unstated policy of US imperial expansion—against national liberation movements—while officially supporting national liberation.

Together with anti-communism, the Cold War was a propaganda/ marketing strategy for undermining what every member of the African liberation generation knew intuitively, that the liberation of Africa depends not only on the liberation of every African country on the continent but on the liberation of the African diaspora. Anti-communism and the Cold War myth successfully isolated African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans from the international struggles for liberation and human dignity and an end to racist regimes.23 In that sense anti-communism is a direct descendant of white supremacy and served the same purpose. It is particularly telling that Malcolm X, who had matured in a sectarian version of black consciousness- the Nation of Islam—was assassinated after he returned from Mecca and an extensive tour of Africa and began to argue not only that African-Americans must demand civil rights, but that they must demand human rights and that these are ultimately achieved when humans everywhere are liberated.24 Malcolm was murdered not just for opposing white supremacy but also for being an internationalist.

If we look at the fate of the African liberation generation we will find that those who were committed internationalists and non-racialists were also socialists and not did not confuse possessive individualism with human liberty. We will also find that all the leaders of newly independent African states who were most vilified, deposed or murdered were those who did not surrender those ideals or the practices needed to attain them. They were not Enlightenment leaders building on European hypocrisy. They were Romantic revolutionaries who knew that there was no salvation—only honest struggle for liberation.25 I believe that Agostinho Neto was one of those Romantic revolutionaries. And the honest struggle is not over.

Neto’s Funeral in September 1979

• Photos courtesy of Fundação Antonio Agostinho Neto

  1. Monty Python’s Meaning of Life (1983) includes an episode set in South Africa as a parody of the film Zulu (1964). The upshot is that an army medical officer suggests that a tiger could have bitten off the leg of a fellow officer in the night. To which all respond, “a tiger in Africa?!”. Of course, tigers are indigenous to Asia but not Africa. Salazar was also to have attributed the indigenous opposition to Portuguese rule in Africa as “coming from Asia”. See also Felipe Ribeiro de Meneses, Salazar A Political Biography (2016).
  2. Presented at the colloquium “Agostinho Neto and the African Camões Prize Laureates” at the University of Porto, Portugal, on the 40th anniversary of Agostinho Neto’s death.
  3. Leonel Cosme, Agostinho Neto e o sua tempo (2004).
  4. PIDE, Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado, Salazar secret political police, also trained in part by the Nazi regime’s Geheime Staatspolizei (Gestapo).
  5. MPLA, Movimento popular de libertação de Angola: Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola.
  6. (Joseph) Mobutu Sese Seko, (1930 – 1997) dictator of Republic of the Congo (Zaire), today Democratic Republic of the Congo, aka Congo-Kinshasa to distinguish it from the French Congo/ Congo Brazzaville, previously Congo Free State and Belgian Congo. Mobutu seized power in the wake of the overthrow and murder of Patrice Lumumba and ruled from 1965 until 1997. See Georges Zongola-Talaja, The Congo from Leopold to Kabila (2002).
  7. Alberto Oliveira Pinto, História de Angola (2015); Adrien Fontaellaz, War of Intervention in Angola (2019),
  8. Jacques R. Pauwels, The Great Class War 1914-1918 (2018).
  9. Ludo De Witte, The Assassination of Lumumba (2001) originally De Moord op Lumumba (1999). The Belgian foreign minister during the “Congo Crisis” wrote several memoranda in which the government’s position was that no harm should come to Patrice Lumumba while the Belgian secret services were actively plotting his kidnapping and assassination. Historical research generally privileges documents and they survive eyewitnesses.
  10. Estado Novo, the term used to designate the Portuguese regime under the dictatorial president of the council of ministers (prime minister) Antonio Salazar Oliveira from 1932 until 1968 and then under Marcelo Caetano until April 1974.
  11. This is also discussed in Fernando Cavaleiro Ângelo, Os Flêchas: A Tropa Secreta da PIDE/DGS na Guerra de Angola 1969 – 1974 (2016) history of the PIDE’s Angolan counter-insurgency force. Since the concept and organisation of the Flêchas bears considerable resemblance to the PRU formed by the CIA in Vietnam under the Phoenix Program, it would not be surprising ifCIA cooperation with the PIDE extended to “Phoenix” advice (see Valentine, 1990 p. 159 et seq.).
  12. John Stockwell, In Search of Enemies (1978) Stockwell had left the agency before the extensive covert support for UNITA was enhanced under Ronald Reagan, despite the Clark Amendment. However, Stockwell noted that when he had returned from Vietnam duty and before getting the paramilitary assignment for IA Feature, he noticed that the busiest desk at headquarters was the Portugal desk.
  13. Frank Carlucci (1930 – 2018), US ambassador to Portugal (1975 – 1978), Deputy Director of the CIA (1978 – 1981).
  14. Philip Agee, CIA Diary (1975), and Douglas Valentine, The Phoenix Program (1990) and The CIA as Organized Crime (2017) Douglas Valentine uses the terms “stated policy” and “unstated policy” to show the importance of overt and covert language in the conduct of political and psychological warfare.
  15. See Eric Williams, Capitalism and Slavery (1944) and Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa (1982).
  16. Ghana, Congo-Kinshasa, Guinea-Conakry, Egypt, Libya, Kenya, Tanzania and Guinea Bissau, Mozambique: Nkrumah was overthrown by a military coup and forced into exile. Lumumba was deposed and murdered by a Belgian managed corporate conspiracy with US/ UN support. Cabral was assassinated. Both Mondlane and Machel were murdered. Years later Qaddafi would be overthrown after massive armed attacks, tortured and murdered by US agents. The general attitude rejecting “race” and “racialism” can be found in the speeches and writings of these leaders, esp. those delivered on the occasion of independence. See also CLR James, Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution (1977) and A History of Negro Revolt (1985) See also Jean-Paul Sartre Kolonialismus und Neokolonialismus (1968) in particular “Der Kolonialismus ist ein System” and “Das politische Denken Patrice Lumumbas” originally published in Situations V Colonialisme et Neocolonialisme.
  17. For a thorough elaboration of this see Gerald Horne, The Counter-Revolution of 1776 (2014) and The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism (2018).
  18. George Creel, How We Advertised America (1920) also discussed in Stuart Ewen, PR: A Social History of Spin (1996).
  19. “Dominion” status was granted under the Statute of Westminster 1931 to the “white colonies”: Canada, Irish Free State, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. This gave these colonies so-called responsible government based on local franchise, largely eliminating the jurisdiction of the British parliament in London.
  20. US war against Korea, combined with a Korean civil war, began in June 1950. A ceasefire was agreed on 27 July 1953. However, the war has not officially ended and the US regime maintains at least 23,000 personnel in the country—not counting other force projection (e.g. regular manoeuvres, atomic weapons and naval power, etc.).
  21. Prescott Bush, father/grandfather of two US Presidents Bush, was nearly prosecuted for “trading with the enemy” due to his dealings with the Nazi regime. Henry Ford had even been awarded a decoration by the regime. These were the most notorious cases in the US. There were many other forms of less visible support to the Hitler regime from US corporations before, during and after the war. The fact is that the US did not declare war against Hitler’s Germany. Hitler declared war on the US in the vain hope of bringing Japan into the war against the Soviet Union. See Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War (2002) The US war against Japan was a continuation of its standing objectives for expansion into China—see also Cummings (2009).
  22. This argument has been made and documented in the work of Bruce Cummings, The Origins of the Korean War (1981, 1990) and Dominion from Sea to Sea (2009).
  23. Gerald Horne, White Supremacy Confronted (2019).
  24. Also formulated very clearly in his Oxford Union speech, 3 December 1964. Malcolm X was assassinated on 21 February 1965.
  25. For an elaboration of the term “Romantic revolutionaries” see the work of Morse Peckham, especially a collection of essays, Romantic Revolutionaries (1970).

The Metaphysics of Revolution

Socrates was the first revolutionary. He opened up with a legendary oracular search of the inner space from which the individual, as we understand him today, would eventually emerge. His “daemon” was that which spoke the necessary freedom and autonomy to become what we are. His was the first lesson.

His student, Plato, brought on the second movement. He postulated the availability of an ideal world accessible and open to a properly trained, disciplined mind. Truth was intelligible and its sighting in a flash of insight or through life-long questioning could and should change both the individual and his society. There were no limits to human malleability according to what was both universally natural and thus comprehensively reasonable. Both the revolutionary chance for a radical human transformation and its totalitarian inversion as ideology in the hands of power was born.

The third movement, as first noted by Hegel, was the advent of Christianity. Here the ideal world of the Greek was equipped with stern Hebraic commandments. The ideal world not only is; it is hierarchical, patriarchal, jealous and unforgiving. All are equal under its apocalyptic sky. Burn with sincere belief and entry into the kingdom of heaven is guaranteed. The seed of the revolutionary equality of all people was here first lain to forever explode the exclusivity of the polis and all other artificial divisions between men; ethnic, national, sexual or otherwise. Thus, the first drops of blood of the French Revolution were shed on the Cross.

The fourth movement, after more than a thousand years of veneration of pagan-christian icons known as saints, was the inner revolution within Christianity itself; the privatization of the relationship between man and God. The destruction of spiritual hierarchy. The loud inner silence of the conscience sacralized and weaponized within the sincere prayers of the heart. Protest-antism against the de facto reigning powers of the earth in the name of the freedom of pure individual thought and feeling. The representatives of the ideal/God were impostors robbing the natural patrimony of the weak and of the powerless for an exemplary, righteous exodus to a New Jerusalem. The modern revolutionary springs forth from burning cathedrals, shattered stain glass, and the gauged out eyes of the saints. God is for all and He is everywhere where I think and breath.

All this was the preliminary metaphysical scaffolding for the revolutionary mind over two thousand years. The fuse burned slowly, but it burned. Philosophy and religion were its handmaidens.

Enter science.

Science brings the revolutionary development of the mind/spirit into material practice. It affords the tools for both material and spiritual transformation. It is the glowing hammer which actively molds our world and if in the 500 years since Bacon and Galileo we have only achieved power after power, the hammer itself cannot be called wise, the hand that moves it cannot be called self-directed, for it is still up to the whole man to enter the blinding parlors and dim antechambers of physics to declare their discoveries for a Nietzschean transvaluation of all values. The scientist cannot do this, only the revolutionary can.

Through the twin legacies of both spirit and machine, the Western World breathed into the rest of humanity the spirit of restless change and desire for maximum freedom.  History declared itself, formally, for global humanity in the revolutions of 1776 and 1789. Here, History if it did not all together stop, declared a significant pause in the long history of revolutionary consciousness.

Representative democracy aged, putrefied, mutated, and exotically luxuriated into new forms of unfreedom, deception and control.

Was this the fault of a historically necessary capitalist class eventually doomed to sow the seeds of its own destruction?

The proletariat, that great Hegelian-Marxist capitalist antithesis, historically dissolved itself into a great sea of the middle class. Success! And the necessary historical end to all revolutionary experiment! The deranged and the disgruntled are to be put to eternal sleep! The great Neo-Aristotelian compromise of the dialectic was born; the middle will hold and stop the resolution of the Marxian dialectic from ever being born.

But it was always and ever to be a still birth.

For the history of society is not a class struggle.

Rather, it is the struggle of the individual to be most utterly himself in a world of hierarchy, in a world where control is in the hands of others. It is not capital and capitalists who structure this world although they surely do have influence. The black stain of unfreedom is much older than that. Indeed, it goes back millions of years as the readers of Frans de Waal may already be familiar. The animal in man, the desire for domination and power in all its forms over other men is the true as yet unbreakable conundrum of history. The Machiavellian Prince and his natural political appetites and not an objectively historical ruling class is the true nefarious and unchanging figure in the affairs of men. Hunter-gatherer, ancient city-state, feudal lord, factory owner, Global CEO, it is not a self-conscious class that determines the action of domination, but the eternal will to power itself that precedes classes, nations, parties, and organizations of all kinds. It is Robert Michels’ iron law of oligarchy and not Marxian economics that keeps us still firmly in our chains.

In this Thirtieth year since the publication of Francis Fukuyama’s The End of History, there are those, like Aaron Bastani, Bhaskar Sunkara, and Peter Frase (young men all) who dare to question the situation of today and dream of another world. If not exactly professional revolutionaries like Lenin, they struggle to keep the revolutionary idea alive. And this is all to the good. Yet the question for today is, I think, are the by now classical concerns and concepts of both socialism and Marxism adequate to the particular historical moment that confronts us today? Does protest, opposition, and, even, yes, political violence have to necessarily emerge from the acute revolutionary observations of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in order to activate a critical mass of activists and revolutionaries today?

Is capitalism still the enemy, truly? Or is hierarchy, in all spheres of life, the true oppressor? The division between ruled and ruling, not as a class phenomenon but as an existential way of being of man in the world since time immemorial.

There are bosses everywhere. In schools, in jobs, in political parties, in cities, in nations, in your home even. How can hierarchy be eroded, tamed, reformulated? How can individuals be empowered to live in an eventual Kingdom of Ends, where no one is treated as a means? What can be done to uncover and stop surreptitious power in all its forms? Does the revolutionary spirit of today cry out for a Kantian turn towards a practical unity of knowledge, freedom, respect, love, and individuality? Must we reach back before Marx and Hegel to go forward? We are the heirs of millennia of revolutionary metaphysical and material development. We can make the tomorrow of our own choosing.

Decolonization Displaces Neoliberalism in Bolivia

In the central interior of the Canadian province of British Columbia is the unceded territory of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. A corporate entity, Coastal GasLink (CGL), abetted by colonial-government structures, is preparing to lay a pipeline in this territory. The Dinï ze’ and Ts’akë ze’ (hereditary chiefs) did not grant consent for this; in fact, the proposal from CGL was unanimously rejected.

On 22 July, the Gidimt’en (Wolf and Bear) Clan of the Wet’suwet’en filed a lawsuit against CGL in the BC Supreme Court connected to the enforcement on 7 January when 14 people were arrested resisting a BC Supreme Court injunction granting CGL access to the pipeline right-of-way through Wet’suwet’en territory.1

Given the state of siege and corporate Canada’s unwelcome intrusion onto Wet’suwet’en territory, what is crystal clear is that colonialism continues unabated.

Ongoing colonialism and ongoing genocide remain a reprehensible and undeniable fact in “British Columbia.”2

Overcoming Colonialism and Genocide: The Bolivian Template

To combat the insidious effects of colonialism the colonialism must be undone. South of Turtle Island is the landlocked nation of Bolivia where decolonization has been underway. Author Benjamin Dangl chronicles this in The Five Hundred Year Rebellion: Indigenous Movements and the Decolonization of History in Bolivia (AK Press, 2019). The brilliance of The Five Hundred Year Rebellion is that it lays out one actionable template for reclaiming what settler-colonists robbed from Indigenous peoples.

There are 38 different Indigenous groups in Bolivia; populous among them are the Aymara, Quechua, and Gurani. Indigenous peoples in Bolivia have mobilized en masse to reclaim their history and empower themselves through grassroots activism. The movements were labor-, union-, academic-, and politic-oriented.

Dangl writes that after the Spanish destroyed Incan society, the Indigenous-led National Council of Ayllus and Markas of Qullasuyu (CONAMAQ) sought to reconstitute and solidify Bolivian ayllus (a centuries old community structure in the Andes). The Andean Oral History Workshop (THOA) reconstructed the historical narrative of Indigenous Bolivians.

Bartolina Sisa and Túpac Katari © Hugo Quispe

Important in restoring the historical Indigenous narrative was Katarismo organized by campesino movements in the 1960s and 1970s. Kararismo is named after the Aymara martyr Túpac Katari. In 1781, Katari with his wife Bartolina Sisa (women were an important part of the movement; p 71-78) and thousands of campesinos used road blocks (an effective tactic often used by the Indigenous resistance movements) to lay siege to La Paz, the seat of government in Bolivia. However, this uprising failed and Katari was brutally quartered by the Spanish. Katari, subsequently, has been used as a icon of the resistance against the police state and military regimes. (p 49, 61)

Out of Katarismo arose the Unified Syndical Confederation of Rural Workers in Bolivia (CSUTCB). The Kataristas resisted the military governments in Bolivia and the National Revolutionary Movement (MNR) that overthrew a military government in 1951. While the MNR brought in some land reforms, it sought to erase Indigenous identity. (p 25-28) The Kataristas, however, reinvoked Indigenous memory.

The CSUTCB indigenized the Bolivian Workers’ Central by, for example, recognizing Indigenous sartorial. (p 65) The solidarity was important in overthrowing military regimes.

Dangl details the importance of THOA in bringing Indigenous history to the forefront after years of being suppressed by colonialism, academia — and even Marxism (p 93). After the ayllu network was reconstructed by CONAMAQ, Indigenous surnames were retained, Indigenous narratives were incorporated into education, and Indigenous languages and culture were promoted. (p 94-104)

One particular history recovered by THOA was of the Indigenous resistance leader Santos Marka T’ula: “T’ula’s life is the vehicle of the narrative, positioned as a crucial step in a much longer journey toward justice.” (p 126)

Notable in the history of the Indigenous peoples has been a strong socialist component from the days of the Incan empire, Tawantinsuyu, to the Movement toward Socialism (MAS) governing Bolivia today. The ayllus are communal, featuring sharing and mutual aid (p 139- 140) — and even anarchistic in that leadership is rotational and decision-making consensus-based. (p 153)

Dangl describes the election of an Indigenous leader, Evo Morales, as a “watershed moment” in Bolivia. (p 163) Morales is currently standing for election to a fourth term as president of Bolivia. This is hardly rotational, but his MAS governments have made great strides for the people of Bolivia while continuing to face challenges and criticisms.

The Five Hundred Year Rebellion traces the historical path of colonial repression, historiographical and cultural destruction which was met with Indigenous resistance and the struggle for decolonization.

Solidarity is a key, and the Wet’suwet’en have reached out in their fight against colonialism.

Bolivia offers a template that might be useful in Indigenous contexts elsewhere. As such, Dangl’s book is an important source to consider for carrying out a successful resistance and achieving justice.

  1. .See Unist’ot’en.
  2. See Kerry Coast, author of The Colonial Present: The Rule of Ignorance and the Role of Law in British Columbia (Clarity Press and International Human Rights Association of American Minorities, 2013). Review; Tamara Starblanket, Suffer the Little Children: Genocide, Indigenous Nations and the Canadian State (Clarity Press, 2018). Review; Tom Swanky, The Great Darkening: The True Story of Canada’s “War” of Extermination on the Pacific plus The Tsilhqot’in and other First Nations Resistance (Burnaby, BC: Dragon Heart Enterprises, 2012). Review; James Daschuk, Clearing the Plains: Disease, Politics of Starvation, and the Loss of Aboriginal Life (University of Regina Press, 2013); Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada (Black Rose, 1973).

In Venezuela, the Right to Housing is Made Possible by the Revolution

In the Antímano neighbourhood of the capital district of Caracas, a very special block of flats has been built. Its inhabitants built it with their own hands. In 2011, on the initiative of President Hugo Chávez, a little less than one hectare of land was expropriated from the Polar company. The idea was to rescue abandoned urban land that did not fulfill any social function to benefit families in a situation of “social risk, without their own housing and young couples who are founding families”.

Camp Amatina is located in an industrial zone, but other camps were also set up “in upper class, middle class and peri-urban areas, adapting to urban contexts with different characteristics” – explains Housing Vice-Minister Nelson Rodríguez. In Amatina there are about 140 families that meet in weekly assemblies. Iraida Morocoima, one of their spokespersons, welcomes visitors to share this experience:

Many people among these families had no idea how to hit a brick. There were certainly others who were bricklayers, but most of us were women. The first challenge was to assume that a five- or six-story building had to be built; it was difficult, we couldn’t even conceive of it.

To get there, the pioneers relied on construction materials and technical advice provided by the state as part of the Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela.

The architectural plans were studied and finalized under the supervision of the future inhabitants, based on the specific needs of each of the families.  “This served us as a tool to give a different approach to this type of urbanism. If we had not politicized this construction, we would have fallen into the error of reproducing the family model advocated by capital: housing spaces conceived only for a male and a female, even changing their skin color… But we said no, because here there is a prototype of a different family. Our goal was to build a community.”

An example?

“There are no elevators in the building, so elderly and disabled people live on the ground floor. Before coming here, that disabled girl had nowhere to share. Now here we have this meeting space, where she can come and participate in parties like Christmas,” says Moracaimo.

Once they obtained state support through technical assistance, the camp established a model of self-managed construction, with no construction companies. In this way, “for the State, the cost of the project was reduced by half” – concedes Nelson Rodríguez. But the most relevant thing is the dynamic of participation that it provoked, with “hundreds of hours of organization of the families and the other 11 movements of settlers that came to their aid: material and resources were lent, it functions as a network, a system in which workers exchange, a joint purchase of machinery is made, etc.”.

Once the housing was raised as a right, returning the use to an abandoned land, the tool for the community to consolidate its objective was to assume self-government. It is one of the basic notions of this camp. “This is the first project that was carried out, and surely there are many mistakes that we made, with cracks in the wall, but we are learning. And the most important thing is what we have learned with this participatory design, because we are very aware that living here has to be different. This is a well-established idea among the families, including the younger ones. As I climb the stairs of the block of flats, I comment to a child who accompanies me how grateful the community must be to the Bolivarian government. His spontaneous response breaks in a thousand pieces the concept of “assistentialism” that has been recurrently applied as the characteristic seal of the Latin American processes of socialism in the 21st century: “We make this Revolution, nobody gives it to us!”

Nelson Rodríguez insists on the idea that the Amatina camp is not just a housing: “They are not only houses, but also community spaces, productive spaces such as cooperatives, communal gardens, and communal services such as a bank, a bakery, a factory… What is sought is the construction of a community of life and means of production based on self-management. It is an integral project of production and supply”. There are those who relativize this type of struggle for the right to housing, giving lessons from their ivory tower, but for others it is intolerable and must be ended in any way: “Many economic sectors did not accept this state intervention. The right wing says there are processes of land confiscation. They intend to return them, as they were confiscated by the Revolution. It is a battle, the company wants to initiate a process to recover them”. Far from being conceived as an isolated experience, its protagonists seek to extend it to the length and breadth of Venezuelan geography in order to strengthen the construction of the “communal state,” destined to undermine the foundations of institutionality and thus progressively replace the old state structures, tailored to the needs of the ruling class throughout decades of Punto Fijo government. It is therefore a question of deepening participatory democracy to the detriment of “restricted democracy”.

Without a doubt it is communal experiences like Amatina’s that best explain the quixotic mood and the unbribable attachment of this people to his government; also why Nicolás Maduro was re-elected president in May 2018 defying the economic crisis, the threats of the coup right-wing, the announcement of non-recognition by the EU and the sanctions of the Obama empire and then Trump. Morocoima sums it up like this:  “We didn’t plan to live here and then become another social class. We live here to defend the Revolution, to maintain this revolutionary process. This is a dignified and struggling people: Chávez came, he revived Bolívar and now we are Guaicaipuro, Bolívar and Chávez together!”

The indigenous, the Creole and the mestizo are symbols of the sovereignty of Venezuela and of its generous identity for the sake of integration; their incarnation in those three historical figures is the sample of the fact that this people made reality what seemed impossible: holding the reins of their destiny against all odds.

On July 26, Cuba Has a Lot to Be Proud Of

Young social workers marching in the plaza of the revolution on May Day

Today marks the 66th anniversary of the simultaneous assaults on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba and the military garrison in Bayamo led by Fidel Castro and less than 200 combatants in what is known as the impossible storming of the heavens against the brutal U.S. puppet dictator Fulgencio Bautista, who in the 7 years before the Revolution, carried out a reign of misery and poverty punctuated by torturing and executing 20,000 Cubans.

The attacks marked a new stage of Cuba’s quest for independence and sovereignty that is deeply ingrained in all Cubans. Fidel, however, made it clear that July 26 was not the beginning of the revolution; that was born in 1868 when Manuel Cespedes freed his slaves marking the beginning of the Wars of Independence against Spain. Heroic Moncada, which today serves as a middle school, was a dramatic reawakening of a flame that the Imperial powers could never extinguish.

For the Cuban people July 26 is a day of great pride for all the gains they have made through determination and sacrifice against all the nonstop attacks and a unilateral blockade by the United States that has remained in place throughout the last 12 presidents.

The ideals and principles of July 26 remain vibrant in Cuba and can be seen in the legacy of a people whose example has raised the bar of human conduct between each other and nations too. While insistent and determined in maintaining their sovereignty Cuba is the first to make and promote respectful agreements based on what is mutually beneficial with other nations while constantly promoting world peace as a goal.

Cuba opens it arms to the world not to profit off it but to make it a better place. Fidel Castro was the first world leader to sound an alarm about the global climate crisis back in the 1980’s. When it comes to health and education Cuba is not just interested in that for their own country but for others too. Cuba is rightfully proud to export teachers to help combat illiteracy and has medical brigades working in 66 developing countries.

Just this past week Cuba’s Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) graduated another 500 doctors from 84 countries most of whom received full scholarships. Brought into existence in 1999 by the Cuban government, ELAM has graduated nearly 30,000 doctors from 115 countries in those 20 years including 170 from the United States, whose only cost was a moral one to go back and work in a community of need. This is not a token public relations program but one that has become the largest medical school in the world and a project that the Cuban people have given to the world.

The World Health Organization has reported that Cuba has 9 doctors per thousand inhabitants where the United States has 2.3 doctors per thousand. And the Cuban Ministry of Health has just announced that Cuba, a country of 11 million, has over 2,000 of its citizens who are right now over 100 years old. This is not a fluke but rather the priority of a society that never discards people even after they are no longer productive, or are living with a disability. All Cubans at all levels and capacity have access to health, education, culture, sports etc. to keep them fully engaged their entire life.

A Save Our Children report has ranked Cuba as the safest country in Latin America to be a child or adolescent (not to mention visit). And UNICEF has declared that Cuba, despite the blockade, has no malnutrition. Cuba has eliminated Malaria through its preventative health model, Cuba has eliminated mother to child HIV transmission, Cuba has invented a new drug that arrests lung cancer, Cuba’s infant mortality rate per 1000 is 4, Cuba’s life expectancy is close to 80, social indicators better than many developed countries including the US; and on and on.

So let’s ask the question once again, why is it there is so much sustained hatred coming from consecutive US administrations? Well, it is because Cuba provides an inconvenient good example of what collectively striving for a better world looks like. An example that was catapulted onto the world stage with the attack on the Moncada Barracks, July 26, 1953.

July 4th: Return to Sender, No Guarantees, Broken Treaties, Shafted!

What, to the American slave, is your Fourth of July?

I answer: a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.

― Frederick Douglass

 

This two-bit country will cheer the idiotic, overpriced, absurd “tanks” on the White House Mall as this other two-bit in chief can pull on his polyester orange locks and ogle over his daughter Ivanka!

See the source image

According to report published by USA Today on 7 March 2006, Trump made the comment during an appearance on the daytime talk show The View while discussing the possibility of Ivanka’s posing for Playboy magazine: “It would be really disappointing — not really — but it would depend on what’s inside the magazine. I don’t think Ivanka would do that, although she does have a very nice figure. I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

Why would I bring up that bit of perversion on July 4th, 2019? Values, man, and ethics. What a world that in 2019, this non-military veteran slathers his mouth with Big Mac juice while watching tanks sink into the tarmac and overpriced death machines do tricks in the air. This is the “pussy grabber in chief.”

Fact — On July 4, 2019: In 2018, there were 159.41 million men in the United States, compared to 165.92 million women. By 2024, it is projected that there will be 167.08 million men and 173.9 million women in the U.S.

So, this Cadet Bone Spurs has so many rape and sexual assault allegations against him, and he states this creepy stuff about his daughter, well, that’s what — in his mind and in his July 4th bang-bang-bang followers’ noggins — Makes America Great Again.  The USA has a slightly higher number of women to men, yet this is it for the apotheosis of POTUS? Does he represent my 23-year-old daughter’s needs and values? Any woman’s values? Come on!

See the source image

What more has to be said about this country’s schizophrenia, political bankruptcy, failing education systems (PK12 and college) and deplorable people who allow child abuse after child abuse on all levels, but also in those internment camps on the border?

Doctor compares conditions for unaccompanied children at immigrant holding centers to ‘torture facilities

According to Basic Facts about Low-Income Children, the center’s annual profiles on child poverty in America, some 41 percent (29.8 million) of America’s children were living on the brink of poverty in 2016 — including more than 5 million infants and toddlers under age three.

I’m dealing with a burn ban in my county on the Oregon Coast, and then all these pop-up tents have been selling ballistics and rockets red glare for the big days leading up to the big lie — God Bless America!

We have a plastic bag ban in the county, and the state of Oregon, but bozos can take out their Roman Candles and big ass rockets — One Bad Mother, Excalibur Artillery Shells, America’s Glory, Chasing Booty!

I even argue with so-called environmentalists how we should be tabling all around the waysides and Marine Reserves/Sanctuaries to not only point out the magnificent gray whales and orcas, but to inform people “to can” their fireworks since they are toxic, belly-choking, neck-strangling, PTSD-inducing examples of the mindlessness of USA. This Article here, which is pretty benign!

Depending on the effect sought, fireworks produce smoke and dust that contain various heavy metals, sulfur-coal compounds, and other noxious chemicals. Barium, for instance, is used to produce brilliant green colors in fireworks displays, despite being poisonous and radioactive. Copper compounds are used to produce blue colors, even though they contain dioxin, which has been linked to cancer. Cadmium, lithium, antimony, rubidium, strontium, lead, and potassium nitrate are also commonly used to produce different effects, even though they can cause a host of respiratory and other health problems.

Just the soot and dust from fireworks alone is enough to lead to respiratory problems like asthma. A study examined air quality at 300 monitoring stations across the United States and found that fine particulate matter spiked by 42% on the Fourth of July, compared to the days before and after.

Physical particles — colored paper, metal wires, plastics, etc. Think of all those murres and fish and seals mucking about the ocean with volumes of this shit floating nearshore and on beaches?

Of course, TerraPass has a scheme to buy off (carbon offset double speak) the pollution, the embedded, transportation and packaging energy used to produce, package and move the products to those pop-up fireworks tents here in Lincoln City.

Environmentalists, using their “capitalism needs fixing” mentality, will never cross that line, especially now when these greenie weenies are afraid to even engage in simple rhetorical debates with fellow citizens of the deplorable Trump-David Duke-Nazi-Racist kind. I have had a million conversations on how these animal lovers will never have a verbal debate with an in-the-round live Trumpy.

These are the failings of America, from day one, really — to not engage the Indian-Killers, Women-Rapers, Baby-Beheaders, Nature-Razing pigs of the pulpit and penury.

So these racists, these Joe Arpaio-loving Arizonans want that Betsy Ross White Supremacist Shoe Sold in Phoenix? While their state engages in mass arrest, mass child abuse, mass concentration camp policies!

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This entire show — cult of celebrity — is yet another chink in the rusting armor of the mythological madness of American might. Schizophrenia, maybe! WSWS:

On Tuesday evening, the San Francisco Unified School Board voted unanimously to destroy or cover over the historic 1936 “Life of George Washington Murals” at a district high school. The vote is a reactionary decision that marks a new stage in the censorship drive that began last December.

The 13 murals created by left-wing artist Victor Arnautoff were products of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a New Deal arts program for unemployed artists during the Great Depression. The murals at George Washington High School (GWHS) depict the contradictory character of early American history, portraying many of the progressive aspects of the American Revolution and also depicting slave labor and the genocide of Native Americans.

At the crowded meeting, supporters and opponents of the murals were each allocated 30 minutes, one minute maximum per person, to state their reasons for or against the preservation of the murals. Speakers from the George Washington High School Alumni Association, California College of the Arts, San Francisco Art Institute, United Public Workers for Action and many others offered statements in support of the murals.

See the source image

Alas, July Fourth — what the hell does it mean to the rest of the world, or the few brave people in my cadre who have taken the blinders off at age 12. I recall the fights –physical ones and administrative ones, too — for not standing at football games, assemblies or the Pledge of Allegiance. I’m 62, so this is pre-Celebrity Colin K’s “take a knee” protestations. I was 12, a white boy, sure, in Arizona of all places!

I teach, write about education, and am around youth — big time. We are destroying youth from the inside out, for sure, and we are giving them what is a common but true refrain — they are what they hear and don’t hear or can’t hear; they are what they read (and never read); they are what they see in museums, concerts, performances, readings, art shows (and what they don’t see); they are what they are taught, mistaught, never taught; they are what they are encouraged to be, not encouraged to be, forced to be; they are what their options give them, offer them, force them to take; they are what they self-profess, never-profess, forced to profess.

Forget about the chronic illnesses and the gut diseases, and the effects of Round-up, Atrazine, plastic polymers, and a Rachel “Silent Spring” Carson laundry list of toxins, from gestation to through adulthood. This is what is killing revolutionaries like me —

A mural depicting George Washington’s life at a San Francisco high school is fueling an emotional debate.

The board of educators is considering covering the historic new deal mural that greets students at George Washington High School.

Senior Kai Anderson-Lawson said seeing dead Native Americans and African American slaves working the fields for Washington sets a demeaning tone and it’s time for a change.

“It’s a lot of emotional stress,” Anderson-Lawson said.

“One of the reasons it’s hard to go to school sometimes is because of the mural in the lobby.”

Others however, said it provides an important history lesson and should remain.

“In San Francisco we should be teaching about the mural and what it means,” said Donna Parker. “I, as half Native American Indian see no problem with the mural.”

A tale of two upbringings, perspectives and for me, one of these children are being coached and cajoled and forced to not see the crimes of this country.

That’s $600,000 to paint over a radical’s art work — welcome bombs bursting  in air, July 4.

This is the painter Victor Arnautoff,  born in 1896 in a small village in present-day Ukraine and then emigrated to San Francisco in 1925. He was part of a leftist art collective. Imagine these faux teachers and poor nanny society children being part of any collective in capitalism, where they can individualize their fake hurt, and then gather together and strike down a radical artist’s work.

Happy July 4th!

Arnautoff was an ardent supporter of workers’ strikes during the “great” depression” and then became a card-carrying member of the Communist Party in 1937. He was even drawn and quartered by one of Trump’s mentors, or both, Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn, the year before I was born, 1956 — for drawing a “Communist Conspiracy” cartoon that caricatured then-Vice President Nixon.

Get this — with this blasphemy of destroying art, we have youth who will get to the tenth level of hell’s cluelessness. In “The Life of Washington,” the artist put Native Americans, African Americans and working-class revolutionaries front and center in the four largest panels, pushing Washington to the margins as a way to honor the real people and denigrate in artistic fashion the mythological Washington, Father of the Nation . . . Birth of a Nation!

Can anyone imagine those school board members, the teachers and the students and parents who support destroying radical history in this artwork even having the guts to really support those causes of the people that count?

Happy July 4th!

It seems that everywhere I turn and go full force into, I end up back to the linchpin of my life — exposing the lies of a faulty education system that has quite elegantly transformed the collective consciousness and cognition of generation after generation. Anyone want to paint over the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Seattle offices? Well, that would never happen with these kids, and for those of us who have protested Gates in Seattle, we ended up locked up by the Seattle Nazi Police.

Image result for “The Life of Washington,” Arnautoff

Fresh off his successful efforts to transform K-12 education through a combination of investment and support of policy initiatives such as the Common Core State Standards, Bill Gates has turned his eye toward higher education.

His move is the establishment of the Postsecondary Value Commission, which promises to develop methods to measure the “value” of a post-secondary degree or certificate, essentially answering the question “What is college worth?”

They want to know definitively about the “return on investment” of college.

To ease the path towards achieving this goal, Bill and Melinda Gates have started the Gates Policy Initiative, a lobbying group tasked with further the preferred Gates solutions on issues of “global health, global development, U.S. education and outcomes for black, Latino and rural students specifically, and efforts to move people from poverty to employment.”

I would like to take a moment to speak directly to Bill and Melinda Gates.

Please, please, please, please, pretty please don’t do this. I am certain you mean well, but honestly, please just stay away from education. You’ve done enough already.

I’m back.

That opening paragraph several inches above is what in the writing business we call, irony, a.k.a., a joke. Bill Gates has not had success transforming K-12 education. His ideas backed by his wealth have had a tremendous, largely deleterious effect on our systems and schools.

Alas, I will be writing soon about a young fellow — 37-years-old — for my bi-weekly column for the trendy Oregon Coast Today. He’s a product of Lincoln City’s PK12 schools (dropped out at 10th grade) and he is his own man, a carpenter, and he questions his own lack of male role models in his life, and now his significant other has four children from previous relationship, three of which are struggling: 13 and 16 year old boys; 18-year-old young woman.

Justin wants to know what can be done with more and more youth missing almost everything, including ethics, work values, and the ability to use their hands and learn hands-on math, science, reading, writing, history.

And this fellow is working class, blue collar, and not some liberal limp wrist or intellectualized union guy. This conversation with Justin, twice while he was hammering away, has been more valuable to me as I embark on the “how to kill children and society too” pamphlet around the “good, bad, ugly of the American education system” than any interview with this or that superintendent, principal, educational consultant or guru.

Gates is Satan, sure, a bumper sticker in Seattle. Bezos is Beelzebul, also a sticker in Seattle.

See the source image

See the source image

We can read or listen to Anand Giridharadas as he hawks his book Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Sure, this young Turk tells us that these shameful ploys — philanthropic efforts undertaken by billionaires like Gates — are really premised on keeping not only the status quo but to in order to cement their position atop the social order. These guys (and gals) are eugenicists and social engineers who need their billions recirculated into society!

Happy Fourth of July (not)!

Thanks to Frederick Douglass

Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? and am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?

Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? Who so obdurate and dead to the claims of gratitude, that would not thankfully acknowledge such priceless benefits? Who so stolid and selfish, that would not give his voice to swell the hallelujahs of a nation’s jubilee, when the chains of servitude had been torn from his limbs? I am not that man. In a case like that, the dumb might eloquently speak, and the “lame man leap as an hart.”

But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common.-The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn. To drag a man in fetters into the grand illuminated temple of liberty, and call upon him to join you in joyous anthems, were inhuman mockery and sacrilegious irony. Do you mean, citizens, to mock me, by asking me to speak to-day? If so, there is a parallel to your conduct. And let me warn you that it is dangerous to copy the example of a nation whose crimes, towering up to heaven, were thrown down by the breath of the Almighty, burying that nation in irrevocable ruin! I can to-day take up the plaintive lament of a peeled and woe-smitten people!

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down. Yea! we wept when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. For there, they that carried us away captive, required of us a song; and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth.”

Fellow-citizens, above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, “may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!” To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then, fellow-citizens, is American slavery. I shall see this day and its popular characteristics from the slave’s point of view. Standing there identified with the American bondman, making his wrongs mine, I do not hesitate to declare, with all my soul, that the character and conduct of this nation never looked blacker to me than on this 4th of July! Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future. Standing with God and the crushed and bleeding slave on this occasion, I will, in the name of humanity which is outraged, in the name of liberty which is fettered, in the name of the constitution and the Bible which are disregarded and trampled upon, dare to call in question and to denounce, with all the emphasis I can command, everything that serves to perpetuate slavery-the great sin and shame of America! “I will not equivocate; I will not excuse”; I will use the severest language I can command; and yet not one word shall escape me that any man, whose judgment is not blinded by prejudice, or who is not at heart a slaveholder, shall not confess to be right and just.

[…]

What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July? I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to Him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.

Go where you may, search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse, and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me, that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.

Frederick Douglass

Finally, a Happy Birthday America goes out to the people we are proud to accept as our own concentration camp “citizens” and “non-citizens” alike:

Japanese concentration camp, Manzanar, Independence, California, circa December 1942  . . . but Rohwer, Arkansas (former Japanese concentration camp) is being considered now for Mexican and Central American immigrants rounded up by CBP and ICE and Trump and Company!

Image result for Japanese internment camps children

Canadian Japanese internment camp, circa March 1942–

Image result for Japanese internment camps children Canada

Power to No One but to Every One

There is an old adage, if the people lead, the leaders will follow.

“There goes my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.” Gandhi said (probably apocryphal.)

Rather than a leader being in advance and in the vanguard of a movement he or she is only the reflection of it. The actions of leaders are limited by the outlook of their supporters. Impossibilists see leaders as an anachronism. It is undemocratic in principle; it is unhelpful in the task of arousing class consciousness and a sense of the dignity and strength of the working class; it, therefore, tends to demoralise the “rank and file” and leads to a spirit of competition rather than co-operation; it can also be a direct cause of factionalism, intrigues and splits caused by personal ambition and group rivalry developing into hostility. Another way in which the leadership cult can be detrimental to a political party is due to the leader’s “charismatic” personality being identified with his or her party’s policy.  Even if the leader leads a blameless life, has courage and intelligence, is incorruptible, it only requires a jail sentence or an early grave, for the party to suffer a crippling blow.  What the Impossibilist movement wants is the conscious support of men and women the world over, committed to destroying the rotten fabric of capitalist society, not patching it up but exposing the stark reality of its squalor and misery, famines and wars, bigotry and xenophobia. Working people can and must decide our political destiny for ourselves, taking full responsibility on our own shoulders and not leaving the burden of decision to selected individuals. For the “leader” is no better than his or her flock and may well be a good deal worse. Leadership, hero-worship, and élitism are contrary to the democracy of the socialist movement, incompatible with the egalitarian nature of a socialist society and are utterly inimical to the mass movement of class-conscious workers to abolish the old privilege-ridden society.

Must we have leaders? Most will answer “Yes – to educate the workers politically and economically towards socialism ” But teachers are not leaders any more than erudite writers or eloquent speakers are leaders. Their function is to spread knowledge and understanding so that the workers may emancipate themselves. Quite different from the idea that we should have leaders to direct their subordinate supporters. Socialism is not the result of blind faith.

One of the astonishing things about the Impossibilist parties is their claim to be leader-free. Leaders has always been an accepted fact in workers’ movements. “Surely somebody has to lead” is the bewildered response of disbelief when people hear there are no leaders within the Impossibilist movement. Leadership is one of those problematic words that needs qualifying. When Impossibilists say “don’t follow leaders” they mean by this something very specific – a narrow political sense of the term – to denote the idea of surrendering power to an individual or group to change society on our behalf. They are not promoting the false idea that socialism is about “making everyone equal” in their abilities and so on. There will always exist those who will be better orators or write more clearly than others.

How often have we all heard that we want is good leadership to later excuse failure on the treachery of the leadership yet bringing forth the demand for yet another leader full of promises. Unlike other political parties, one of the things the Impossibilists pride themselves in is an opposition to political leadership because it is as an obstacle to the spread of socialist ideas, something most workers cannot so far conceive of.

The leadership idea has cursed the working class movement from its beginning. Political leaders have made stepping stones of their followers to advance their own careers. The Impossibilists in the World Socialist Party of the United States and the Socialist Party of Canada explain that if we are going to change the basis of society we will not do so by following professional politicians or leaders of any kind. We are going to have to act for ourselves to organize ourselves democratically to bring about a society geared towards serving human needs, not profits. Only a party whose members understand and seeks socialism can work to that end and the growth of such a party cannot proceed faster than the work of spreading socialist knowledge.

It is often asserted by the left-wing, that the workers  require the assistance and guidance of educated, intellectuals, both to direct their agitation and energies now, and to manipulate affairs. The workers, therefore, should not endeavor to obtain control of the political machinery themselves, but should place the career politician in that position of command and control and obey orders.

When these leaders sell out their followers, the excuse is made that they were “bad leaders. The role of the party, cadre or vanguard plays a large part in contemporary Left discussion. Marxism teaches that the revolution against capitalism and the socialist reconstruction of the old world can be accomplished only through conscious, collective action by the workers themselves. Revolution is not a goal in itself. Revolution is an instrument. The goal is building a socialist class-free society, the self-emancipation of the working class, and self-liberation of all the exploited.

The simple fact is that wherever people accept leaders it always provides the conditions for selling out, no matter who those leaders may be. Such is the lesson; “Trust and ye shall be betrayed”. The workers have still a fair road to travel before they will get rid of the superstition of “leadership” or the belief in “good” and “bad” leaders. Workers haven’t yet recognized we can achieve a world without masters. Socialism means self-emancipation of the working class by the working class. Forget about looking for leaders. What is required is a movement that rises from the people and empowers ourselves. People need organizations, and people need to come together. A leader may say “all that our organization has gained is because of me”. But it is not so. It is not because a leader negotiates with a government to be ameniable, but because the actions of mass movements forces the government to yield some of what has been taken from us. Leaders, indeed, will sometimes pretend that they know best and that the movement depends on them. But they can do this only by with-holding knowledge and denying power from others. The individual leader substitutes for and holds back the capacities of the led. If we rely on one leader, or a clique of leaders, we are putting ourselves in a vulnerable position because we can easily be mis-led. When a leader comes to symbolize an organization’s cause and it is projected on to one individual then that person’s reputation and fallibilities comes to represent and embody the cause.

William Lovett, the Chartist activist, renounced all leaders in the early 19th century:

The masses, in their political organisations, were taught to look up to “Great Men” (or to men professing “greatness”) rather than to great Principles. We wished therefore to establish a political school of self-instruction among them, in which they should accustom themselves to examine great social and political principles, and by their publicity and free discussion, help to form a sound and healthful public opinion throughout the country…We have not wished, neither do we desire to be, Leaders, as we believe that the principles we advocate have been retarded, injured or betrayed by Leadership, more than by the open hostility of opponents. Leadership too often generates confiding bigotry, or political indifference on the one hand, or selfish ambition, on the other.

The principles WE advocate are those of the peoples’ happiness, and for these to be justly established, each man must Know and feel his Rights and Duties. He must be prepared to guard the one; and perform the other with cheerfulness. And if Nature has given to one Man superior faculties, to express or execute the general wish, he only performs his Duty at the Mandate of his brethren; he is therefore the “Leader” of none, but the equal of ALL.1

There exists an assumption that without leaders, there can be no organisation. The Impossibilists’ contention is the opposite. Leaders, and the followers who create them, are holding the workers’ movement back. Each of us can be our own leader. The greatest command is that over oneself. This capitalist world, controlled by a few wealthy people and their minions, has done its best to school out of us the very things which make us such a great species in the first place – initiative, experimentation, imagination, diversity. The leaders we are asked to support represent a myth, created and maintained by leaders, themselves. They are poor examples of honesty, integrity, even of humanity. They are not interested in truth, justice, or any of the grand ideals they spout about. They exist, have always existed, will always exist, for one purpose only: to line their own pockets and empty yours. They are parasites on the social body, unwanted, unnecessary and destructive. To follow leaders is to hand over your heart on a platter, with knife and fork attached. It is an admission of defeat and an acceptance that you are inadequate, in and of yourself. It is an act of submission and indeed an act of cowardice. Relying on leaders dulls the critical faculties of people who habitually depend upon others to solve their difficulties. They become averse to working out solutions to their own problems. They expect the leaders to do their thinking, and when events take place that needs thoughtful action they have lost the ability. They blame the leadership for failure. Repeated failure develops apathy, and the feeling that success is impossible.

Rosa Luxemburg explains:

The understanding by the mass of its tasks and instruments is an indispensable condition for Socialist revolutionary action―just as formerly the ignorance of the mass was an indispensable condition for the revolutionary action of the ruling classes. As a result, the difference between “leaders” and the “majority trotting along behind” is abolished (in the Socialist movement). The relation between the mass and the leaders is destroyed.

The Impossibilists argue that to refuse to follow leaders is a liberating step, but one which the working class has yet to take. Leaders come and go, but capitalism will go on until the very people who admire leaders come to understand the social system they live under. The leaders always say that they stand for a world of peace and human dignity. But only when the system which needs the leaders is gone will these empty and cynical words become reality. People who despair of the apparently endless procession of aspiring candidates for leadership should consider the proposition that the alternative is not to switch their support from one leader to another and then back again but to adopt the Impossibilist tradition of creating and structuring political organizations where there is no role for leader.

The first thing a leader must do is to convince the masses that the course he or she proposes following is the best one. Out of this arises rivalry and antagonism among leaders, each striving for support and building up of a club of political disciples. This creates the intrigues and internecine warfare that plays a prominent part in labor politics. The qualities that make leaders are varied. In some cases, it is the power of their oratory, the ability to make fine speeches, in others a capacity for intrigue, and in others again, the ability for the back-room bureaucratic paperwork. Extravagant unachievable promises are the general stock-in-trade. Exclusive inner-circles develop, placing barriers around the available jobs, and a great part of the political life is taken up with this side, instead of pushing for the workers’ interests. Any criticism either by erstwhile followers or budding rivals is bitterly resented. Leaders are jealous of one others’ popularity. At times, where circumstances dictate it, the interests of followers are sacrificed to the interests of keeping the job. There are innumerable examples of the callous way in which those who have risen to position on the backs of followers have then abandoned their followers for further political advancement.

Eugene Debs, the Socialist Party of America’s presidential candidate but never a member of its management committees, once said:

I never had much faith in leaders. I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week. If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and mis-representatives of the masses you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction. I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.

And another time he said:

Too long have the workers of the world waited for some Moses to lead them out of bondage. He has not come; he never will come. I would not lead you out if I could; for if you could be led out, you could be led back again.  I would have you make up your minds that there is nothing that you cannot do for yourselves.

The Left-winger behaves as if he or she was Moses, laying down the commandments in tablets of stone for the faithful to obey. Left -wing propaganda offering leadership portrays the worker as incapable of thinking, organizing and acting and imbues further the master-and-servant mentality of the worker. Therefore, revolutionary ideas have to be introduced from outside the working class by all-knowing “professional revolutionaries” who will lead workers to the promised land.

The Impossibilists are unique among political parties in calling upon people NOT to vote for them unless they understand and agree with what they stand for. Those on the Left who offer a critique of the leader-free politics assume people who are fighting to dismantle leadership systems in the working class are really opposing formal leadership structures where the leadership is open and accountable, while concealing themselves behind anti-leadership rhetoric, they replace open leadership with informal, secret and unaccountable leadership cliques. The Impossibilists expects any working class body that professes democratic self-organization to possess formal rules and structures, to prevent the emergence of unaccountable, self-appointed elites, who may become the de facto leaders making decisions. They endorse Jo Freeman’s Tyranny of Structurelessness.

Impossibilists are not promoting the sort of structures advocated and practised by Leninist-type organisations, which are designed to enshrine control by a self-perpetuating elite. Impossibilism favours majority decision making in face-to-face assemblies and when not feasible by fully accountable re-callable delegates. A representative is someone who makes decisions for the other people. A delegate, in contrast, carries out a mandate they have been given by the people who delegated them. In other words, they don’t act as they think best, they act as they are told. How could it not? The whole premise of Leninism’s democratic centralism is that a central committee dictates policy to everyone else, so no matter how democratically chosen it is, it will enforce its party-line and stifle dissent. Democratic centralism would exclude you from participation, in practical terms, the real vanguard always remains the central committee. Impossiblists are talking about structures that place decision-making power in the hands of the group as a whole, along the lines of the “principles of democratic structuring” listed by Jo Freeman. Mandating delegates, voting on resolutions and membership referendums are democratic practices for ensuring that the members of an organization control that organization and, as such, key procedures in any organization genuinely seeking socialism.

Socialism can only  come about democratically, both in the sense of being the expressed will of the working class and in the sense of the working class being organized democratically without leaders – to achieve it. has good reason to ensure that only conscious socialists enter its ranks, for, once admitted, all members are equal and it would clearly not be in the interest of the party to offer equality of power to those who are not able to demonstrate equality of basic socialist understanding. Once a member, she or he have the same rights as the oldest member to sit on any committee, vote, speak and have access to all information.

Consider what happens when people join left-wing groups. The new applicant has to be approved as being a loyal comrade. The individual is therefore judged by the group according to a range of what might be called “credential indicators”. Hard work (more often than not, selling the party’s paper) and obedience and compliance by new members are the main criteria of trustworthiness in the organization. In these hierarchical, top-down groups the leaders strive at all costs to remain as the leadership, and reward only those with proven commitment to their “party line” with preferential treatment, more responsibility and more say. New members who present the wrong indicators remain peripheral to the party structure, finding themselves unable to influence decision-making, eventually resigning, often embittered by all the hard work they had put in and the hollowness of the claims of equality and democracy.

When the workers become socialists, they will not need a vanguard party or their cadres to lead them. They will organize consciously and politically to emancipate themselves. Its bond of comradeship and unity is rooted in the barest minimum of socialist principles which may be summarized as: socialism is a product of social evolution; the socialist revolution is inherently democratic because of its nature of being conscious, majority, and political; and that socialism is based on the social relations of a community of interests between all the members of society and society as a whole. There can hardly be any compromise on these three general principles. Further, a socialist is one who recognizes and realizes that capitalism can no longer be reformed or administered in the interest of society or of the working class; that capitalism is incapable of eliminating poverty, war, crises, etc.; and that the times call for arousing the majority to become socialists to inaugurate socialism, now possible and necessary.

Let the working class shed its sheep-like acceptance of leaders and themselves set about solving the social problem. The problem and the solution are comparatively simple. no leader, no matter how honest, clever or sincere he or she may be can lead the workers out of slavery. No person or group can create a new society which depends for its success upon the knowledge and understanding of the bulk of the population. Socialism will be a society of voluntary co-operation. This means that in order to run socialism, the workers have to be aware of what is necessary to make the new society function. And it follows from this, that it will not be possible to establish a voluntary society unless those seeking to do so are in fact the majority of people in society, and those people know what is involved and can work conscientiously for socialism. Socialism can only be attained by working men and women who know what socialism means and how it is to be obtained. Therefore, it is necessary for working men and women to do the comparatively small amount of thinking that is necessary to understand socialism.

“Our philosopher” as Marx and Engels described Joseph Dietzgen said,If a worker wants to take part in the selfemancipation of his class, the basic requirement is that he should cease allowing others to teach him and should set about teaching himself.”

When they have done so they will know the steps to be taken, and will no longer need to rely on leaders. In that day, the orator of cheap, hackneyed false phrases will find his or her eloquence wasted and will depart. For many years we have witnessed the “success” of a procession of practical efforts to rally workers to socialism by clever policies. We have seen the transformation of these advocates of socialist goals into supporters of the status quo ― rebels who have been converted and co-opted into the system. Where are the convinced socialists they were going to make?

When the Revolution begins, the big question for the ruling class and their media hacks will be “Who are your leaders?”

  1. William Lovett, Life and Struggles of William Lovett, 1876, references to 1967 edition prefaced by R.H. Tawney, page 75.

Re-forming the Reformers

Further to previous articles,1 on the Marxist Impossibilist tradition it must sound rather bizarre to modern ears that there exist political parties that do not make demands upon the present capitalist system and its protector, the State. For many people it seems common-sense that a socialist party should advocate for something right now. Labor and left-wing parties have over the years issued manifestos listing their immediate demands, formulating platforms for various minimum programs and promoting their particular menus of transitional reforms. Amelioration of conditions by palliative changes has been the bread and butter of elected politicians for generations and, in contrast, here are the Impossibilists of the World Socialist Party of the United States and the Socialist Party of Canada declaring that they stand for socialism, only socialism, and nothing less than socialism. Yet they express the original authentic view of the Marxists. It was after the dismal results of a French election in 1881, that saw a group arise which began to advocate a more pragmatic policy, declaring “We prefer to abandon the ‘all-at-once’ tactic practised until now…We desire to divide our ideal ends into several gradual stages to make many of our demands immediate ones and hence possible of realisation.” Describing themselves as the Possibilists, they regarded socialism as a progressive social process. Those who still regarded capitalism and socialism as mutually exclusive systems and refused to budge from the revolutionary position of what has become known as ‘the maximum program’ were henceforth labelled as Impossibilists.

Those Impossibilist parties, such as the WSPUS and SPC do not deny that reforms won by the working class have improved living and working conditions. Indeed, they see little wrong with people campaigning for reforms that enhance the quality of their lives, and some can be viewed as “successful” such as public education, housing and sanitation. They also acknowledge that the “welfare” state, socialized healthcare, unemployment payments and so on, made living standards of the working class better than they ever had been under free-market, laissez faire capitalism. Nevertheless, these “successes” have, in reality, done little more than to keep workers fit for the treadmill and their families in working order and while they may have taken the edge off problems, they have rarely managed to eradicate problems completely. The theory underlying the Impossibilist case against reformism is that a revolution is the work of a class which has gained political power in order to transform society to suit its interests; a reform is carried out only within the framework of the social system. Reforms cannot end capitalism; they can modify it to some extent, but they leave its basis untouched. To establish socialism, a revolution — a complete transformation of private property into common property — is necessary.

Impossibilist socialists do not oppose reformism lest it dampens revolutionary ardor, nor because they think that capitalism cannot deliver on any reforms but because the continued existence as property-less wage-slaves undermines whatever attempts is made to better our lives through reforms. The objection to reformism is that by ignoring the essence of class, it throws blood, sweat and tears into battles that will be undermined by the operation of the wage-labor system. All that effort, skill, energy could be instead turned against class society, to create a society of common interest where we can make changes for our collective mutual benefit. So long as class exists, any gains will be partial and fleeting, subject to the ongoing class war. It is much like medics on a battlefield, all they can do is to keep slamming in the morphine, slapping on the bandages and hope that somehow the slaughter might cease.

What Impossibilists are opposed to is the whole concept that capitalism can be tamed and made palatable by the proper reforms. They do not claim capitalist reforms stand in the way of achieving socialism. If they did, they’d logically have to oppose them — which they don’t. They actively encourage workers to fight back against employers but don’t propose or advocate reforms, and don’t oppose them if they genuinely do improve workers’ lives under capitalism. Impossibilists say that palliatives are merely irrelevant to achieving socialism and that a socialist party should not advocate reforms.

If a pipe bursts and the water is flooding the house, one can start bailing the water out while it continues to flow in, or one can turn the water off, and then start bailing it out. It may take a while to find the tap, but unless the water is turned off, the water will continue to rise and bailing is rather pointless. Human tragedies occur daily, by the millions, and generate thousands of social activist groups trying to stem the tide. The Impossibilists urges people to find the tap and turn it off.

In the history of the working class movement a variety of different parties have been following and vacillating between four different roads:

1 ) The insurrection of a small determined group which would hold on to power until the majority were converted to socialist ideas – Blanquism/Leninism
2 ) The seizure of the means of production and distribution by some form of economic action – Syndicalism/Industrial Unionism
3 ) The accomplishment of ever more sweeping reforms until capitalism had been reformed out of existence and society had become socialist – Reformism/Gradualism
4 ) The conquest of power by a majority of class-conscious workers imbued with the single aim of abolishing the capitalist ownership of the means of production and distribution – Impossibilism

In the history of the working class movement a variety of different parties have been built, some following one or other of the above roads. Endeavoring to change capitalism, or reformism is the route that has been taken by most who have wanted to improve society. Reformism has some attractions over revolution – especially if you lack imagination, don’t like confrontation, prefer to think only in the short term, and don’t want to be accused of not living in the real world. You are also assured of being in good company because large numbers of people think as you do that capitalism can be humanized. What is needed is for the class which is poor to dispossess the class which is rich so that we may have a society in which we will all live in a condition of security and equality.

Reforms can be defined as political measures brought forward to amend the operation of capitalism in some way. Because in a class-divided system like capitalism, it is the State which is the institution operating this entire process. By extension, reformism is the attempt to seek support so that political power and influence over the state can be obtained to enact reforms. The role of hegemony – that powerful combination of ruling ideas filtered through the mass media is important in understanding how reformism is actually carried out. Concerned as they are to maintain the profit system, reformists persuade themselves to do what is best for “the economy.” Reforms are implemented by political parties that seek and get a mandate to run capitalism. Politicians’ logic prevails:

1. Capitalism is terrible.
2. We must do something.
3. Reforms are something.
4. Therefore we must enact reforms.

While political and economic measures are often intertwined, without their political character, they can’t be reformist. So the key issue for Impossibilists is not to advocate nor seek political support for reform programs, as this is reformism. It is for others such as trade unions and the many one-issue activists to engage with the State for the purpose of gaining relief from the effects of capitalism.

Important to note (and perhaps the most common mistaken criticism of them) is that Impossibilists do not accept the view that nothing but socialism are of concern and accept that a non-revolutionary phase of the struggle between the classes is as inevitable as the revolutionary. When the worker acquires revolutionary consciousness he or she is still compelled to make the non-revolutionary struggle, fighting in the here and now, where they can and how they can. Opposition to everything that does and can happen in capitalism in the guise of being true to socialist principles would be ridiculous. Impossibilists argue that while the working class should organise for socialism, it doesn’t mean that nothing can be done this side of the revolution. Such things as basic healthcare and education came into being because the working class fought for them. Without the threat of action we would never have won such concessions. Industrial action helped to improve wages and working conditions. We have the ability to change things if we act together. The power to transform society lies in the hands of those who create everything – the working class. This is the source of our power, should we eventually use it. It is the class power not to make a few reforms, but to change the whole system, to make a social revolution. Leading the workers along the path of reform is not equipping them for their revolutionary role.

Those convinced that political parties promising reforms deserve support should consider the following points. The campaign, whether directed at right-wing or left-wing governments, will often only succeed if it can be reconciled with the profit-making needs of the system. In other words, the reform will often be turned to the benefit of the capitalist class at the expense of any working class gain. Any reform can be reversed and eroded later if a government finds it necessary and we are witnessing that from all the recent austerity measures happening from Scandinavia to Spain. Reforms rarely, if ever, actually solve the problem they were intended to solve. One can pick any single problem and find that improvements have taken place, usually only after a very long period of agitation. But rarely, if ever, has the problem actually disappeared, and usually other related problems have arisen to fill the vacuum of left by the “solution”. Impossibilists choose to use their time and limited funds to work to eliminate the cause of the numerous social problems. They hold the opinion palliatives and ameliorations will be offered and conceded by a besieged capitalist class in a desperate attempt to retain ownership rights if the working class were demanding the maximum program of full and complete appropriation and nothing less. To stem the socialist tide reforms now derided as Utopian aspirations will be two-a-penny in an attempt to fob off the workers. Governments do not feel threatened by appeals to it to act on single issues – even if those appeals take the form of mass protests. A government feels a sense of power and security in the knowledge that the protesters recognize it as the supreme arbitrator to which all appeals must be made. As long as people are only protesting over single issues they are remaining committed to supporting the system as a whole. But a government will take a very different view when people confront it not to plead from a position of weakness for this or that legislative change, but to challenge the whole basis of the way we live – in other words to question the inevitability of buying and selling and production for profit, and to actively work from a position of political strength for its replacement by the socialist alternative. In such circumstances, the governments’ aim will be to buy off the growing socialist consciousness of workers. In other words, reforms will be much more readily granted.

Finally, another reason the Impossibilists resist the siren song of reformism as some sort of tactic to gain support from workers, is that people who’d join a socialist party because they are attracted by its reformist tactics would eventually turn it into a pure and simple reformist organization, constantly working on the terrain of capitalism. History shows the fate of the social democratic parties, which despite a formal commitment to socialism as an “ultimate goal”, admitted non-socialists and sought non-socialist support for a minimum reform program of capitalism rather than the maximum socialist program. In order to maintain their non-socialist support , they were themselves forced to drop all talk of socialism and become even more openly reformist. Today the social democratic parties are firmly committed to capitalism in theory and in practice. Impossibilists say that this was the inevitable result of the admission of non-socialists and advocating reforms of capitalism. That is another reason why they have always advocated socialism and declines to call for the reform of capitalism. A socialist party advocating reforms would be the first step towards its transformation into a reformist party. Regardless of why or how the reforms are advocated, the result is the same: confusion in the minds of the working class instead of growth of socialist consciousness. The Left always wish to have the ear and confidence of the working class and will say to fellow-workers “Carry on with your reformist struggles. We’re with you all the all way” even though it is known that this is a recipe for failure and so, in the end, the Left actually helps to weaken not strengthen the working class by tying it ideologically to capitalism, fostering the illusion that capitalism can be run in the interests of workers and entrenching their dependence on capitalist governments to do it for them. It is far better to say what you really think and feel to be the case however unpopular or out of touch it might might make you seem at the time. Workers will not thank you for trying to lead them up the garden path and you will certainly not gain their confidence as a result.

  1. Here and here