Category Archives: Activism

Big Tech Cartels Versus Freedom of Speech, Culture and Conscience

I released a song called Rome is Burning to most streaming platforms on March 1, 2021. The next day the video of the song was posted on YouTube. The song and accompanying video are based on the mass protests that took place in 2020 against state organized racist violence and oppression triggered by a bystander’s filming of the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

To send the song/video to activists and organizations in the forefront of resistance, I signed up a Facebook account, which previously I did not have. My accompanying message on Facebook with the link to the video said: “We need to build a new society fit for human beings! I hope my new song/video contributes to this movement!”

After sending the message and link on Facebook to just five Black Lives Matter chapters a popup appeared on my screen saying my Facebook account was suspended and I was required to provide my phone number. I complied and received a text with a code that I had to enter into the Facebook message box to reactivate my account.

After sending four more messages to BLM chapters another popup from Facebook said I needed to provide a clear picture of myself for purposes of verifying my account, which I did. However, this made me wonder how Facebook could possibly verify the person in the picture was me. Another Facebook message quickly arrived confirming receipt of my information with the warning that if my account activities did not follow “Community Standards” the account would remain disabled. No further information was provided as to how long the account would remain suspended, who was reviewing the account and what action, if any, had to be taken to reactivate the account.

The following day when I tried to sign in to Facebook, a new popup message said my account was permanently disabled because I did not follow “Community Standards.”  The message also stated the decision could not be reversed. No reason was given for canceling my account other than providing a link to Facebook’s “Community Standards,” which lists everything under the sun as a potential violation of terms of use. Facebook offered no possibility to discuss the specifics surrounding what it deemed to be a violation of its standards or to enter into any dialogue with whoever made this decision.

Monopoly censorship parading as “Community Standards”

In my view Facebook’s action qualifies as monopoly censorship and suppression of speech and culture. Not for one second do I agree with the argument that Facebook is a private company, therefore it has the right to decide whatever it wants. Facebook is a company operating as a public utility in Canada and therefore must answer to Canadians and modern-day principles of freedom of speech, culture and conscience. Canadians and all citizens of this world cannot allow arbitrary decisions of private interests made behind closed doors to decide whether or not someone can participate in social and political communications.

Community standards are for the community to decide not some faceless individuals parading as dictators. Forms have to be developed to allow the people to decide community standards that serve the common good both in the general sense and particular cases. Faceless individuals in positions of privilege and power defending their private interests, wealth, world view and outlook must not have the right to decide for the people.

At no point did I receive any indication of violation of any given rule or practice for which discussion, debate and argument could be made. No justification was provided when my account was banned other than Facebook has the right to do so. No one, including myself, was given an opportunity to defend and discuss the views presented on the site and video or the reasons Facebook dismissed them as contrary to community standards. I am confident that the broad Canadian and American public would not find my message, song or video to be out of line with modern day principles of freedom of speech, culture and conscience and acceptable moral standards. Increasingly there are public outcries which find the practices of Facebook and other Big Tech companies undemocratic and reminiscent of medieval autocracy and its imposition of religious obscurantism as the only acceptable thinking, speech, culture and conscience.

Facebook banning of my account is part of a trend that activists concerned with the direction of the world face on all social media platforms, which includes algorithms for “throttling” and “shadow banning” to limit communication and the sharing of opinions with others. These practices amount to suppression of speech and are a form of thought control by those in charge of these global tech cartels.

Progressive voices are not alone in being silenced. Conservatives have had their opinions eliminated as well. The most famous case involving the suspension of the Twitter account of the former President of the United States can be summarized as in-fighting between factions of the rich and powerful.

Freedom of speech and conscience

If someone is to be banned or suspended from having their voice heard for violating “community standards” on a public platform then according to modern principles of freedom of speech and conscience, a public hearing or trial must be held on both the particular alleged violation and on the validity of the so-called community standards.

Community standards set by oligarchs are unacceptable as the final word and verdict, as if from their privileged positions of wealth and power they have the medieval right to decide what can be said and thought. Community standards are developed in practice as people engage to defend their rights and develop forms to ensure the rights of all are not violated without exception. The defence of freedom of speech, culture and conscience lies in the fight to defend the rights of all. I believe my song Rome Is Burning is a contribution to that fight and banning of it or limiting its promotion is an attack on the rights of all.

Social and political forms must be developed to encourage broad discussion involving the people to decide important decisions including the potential banning of individuals or groups. If countries such as Canada and the United States are to be considered modern and just, the control over such decisions must be in the hands of the people not a privileged few gathered in some government or private backroom who declare they can decide and exercise control simply because they own or control some institution or won an election. New social and political forms must also present the facts detailing how certain actions have caused harm and in the case of banning give the accused an opportunity to explain themselves and debate and challenge the decision. All of this must be open and aboveboard and not be taken lightly unlike the practice of Facebook and others.

Freedom of conscience and the right to freedom of speech and culture especially in ideological form go to the very core of what it means to be a modern human where people have rights by virtue of being human. Violation of these rights point to the dubious position the people find themselves in with regard to mass communication and social media. Powerful monopolies and cartels of Big Tech own and control these public utilities and forms of communication; they have given themselves the right to decide and control how they are used and what is said. This control by rich and powerful private interests violates the right of the people to decide and control those things that affect their lives and these crucial matters involving freedom of speech, culture and conscience, the exchange of ideas and discussion, how to develop their relations with others and with nature and to solve problems nationally and internationally without violence.

At this point in history people expect and demand as a public right instant mass communications without interference. Clearly, private determinations using the excuse of ownership of means of communication to define community standards and declare what is acceptable thought, speech and culture are not an objective or legitimate way to oversee mass communications.

Facebook and other tech companies may be privately owned but they cannot and should not be considered private companies. They are public utilities operating globally and accountable to the people. Facebook and others must conduct themselves with the permission of Canadians and in accordance with Canadian standards and regulations decided and established by Canadians not by arbitrary dictate coming from some distant head office representing private interests.

Facebook is said to employ 60,000 workers whose work built the public utility and means of communication and allow it to operate. Those thousands of skilled workers were trained and educated within schools and institutions that can only be considered public and products of the people’s collective thought material handed down from thousands of years of work and struggle to produce, live and develop. Facebook is part of an infrastructure of means of mass communication that belongs to all the people not a select and privileged few.

Another disturbing aspect of Big Tech’s control of speech is its connection to the political police of the U.S.-led imperialist system of states and the surveillance of citizens, including the collecting and tracking of personal information and data. Many are familiar with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to activities of the U.S.-led “Five Eyes” in spying and interfering in the political affairs of the peoples and nation states.

If certain individuals in Facebook object to the song and video and want to censure them, they should present their views openly and in debate with the people. Their position of ownership and control of a public utility does not give them the right to act with impunity as dictators and censors. Denial of freedom of speech, culture and conscience are aspects of condemning people to civil death. Opposition to this practice is a central theme of the song Rome is Burning. People of African descent, Indigenous peoples, political activists and others have long suffered civil death in North America from the state structures that have been established and entrenched by a small ruling elite over the past hundreds of years to protect their right of property ownership to exploit the work of others. Police violence, mass incarceration, and killing of Black and vulnerable people reflect the continuing civil death of many; resistance to this is both important and necessary. State-organized inequality, racism, poverty and wars cannot continue and the people must link their arms in resistance to open a path to build the New as the song indicates.

Public utilities and platforms of mass communication must be accountable to the people. They must allow and encourage free exchange of ideas and debate over what has to be done to move the world forward. They must come under the control of the people and not the other way around; the problem posed is how to bring this about. The people cannot be silent on this and must raise their voices to make it happen.

My and others’ banning from Facebook are aspects of continuing the autocratic practice of condemning people to civil death and blocking a path forward to peace, equality and justice. If Facebook maintains its stance as the privileged arbiter of free speech, culture and conscience, then the people will condemn it to the dustbin of history faster than it hit the scene. I am certain the people will not tolerate its arrogance and dictate because freedom of speech, culture and conscience are rights that belong to human beings and are a matter of life and death to build a new society which leaves behind the old world of inequality, violence, denial of rights, poverty and war.

Editor’s Note:  Subsequent to being banned by Facebook, Mistahi’s Twitter account was banned and his video was demonetized and restricted on YT.

The post Big Tech Cartels Versus Freedom of Speech, Culture and Conscience first appeared on Dissident Voice.

To Counter Terror, Abolish War

On the morning of September 11, 2001, I was among a small group of U.S. citizens who sat on milk crates or stood holding signs, across from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Manhattan. We had been fasting from solid foods for a month, calling for an end to brutal economic warfare waged against Iraq through imposition of U.N. sanctions. Each Friday of our fast, we approached the entrance to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations carrying lentils and rice, asking the U.S. officials to break our fast with us, asking them to hear our reports, gathered after visiting destitute Iraqi hospitals and homes. On four successive Friday afternoons, New York police handcuffed us and took us to jail.

Two days after the passenger planes attacked the World Trade Center,  U.S. Mission to the UN officials called us and asked that we visit with them.

I had naively hoped this overture could signify empathy on the part of U.S. officials. Perhaps the 9/11 attack would engender sorrow over the suffering and pain endured by people of Iraq and other lands when the U.S. attacks them. The officials at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations wanted to know why we went to Iraq but we sensed they were mainly interested in filling out forms to comply with an order to gather more information about U.S. people going to Iraq.

The U.S. government and military exploited the grief and shock following 9/11 attacks to raise fears, promote Islamophobia and launch forever wars which continue to this day. Under the guise of “counter-terrorism,” the U.S. now pledges to combine drone attacks, surveillance, airstrikes, and covert operations to continue waging war in Afghanistan. Terror among Afghans persists.

I visited Kabul, Afghanistan in September 2019. While there, a young friend whom I’ve known for five years greeted me and then spoke in a hushed voice. “Kathy,” he asked, “do you know about Qazi Qadir, Bahadir, Jehanzeb and Saboor?” I nodded. I had read a news account, shortly before I arrived, about Afghan Special Operations commandos, trained by the CIA, having waged a night raid in the city of Jalalabad at the home of four brothers. They awakened the young men, then shot and killed them. Neighbors said the young men had gathered to welcome their father back from the Hajj; numerous colleagues insisted the young men were innocent.

My young friend has been deeply troubled by many other incidents in which the United States directly attacked innocent people or trained Afghan units to do so. Two decades of U.S. combat in Afghanistan have made civilians vulnerable to drone attacks, night raids, airstrikes and arrests. Over 4 million people have become internally displaced as they fled from battles or could no longer survive on scarred, drought stricken lands.

In an earlier visit to Kabul, at the height of the U.S. troop surge, another young friend earnestly asked me to tell parents in the United States not to send their sons and daughters to Afghanistan. “Here it is very dangerous for them,” he said. “And they do not really help us.”

For many years, the United States claimed its mission in Afghanistan improved the lives of Afghan women and children. But essentially, the U.S. war improved the livelihoods of those who designed, manufactured, sold and used weaponry to kill Afghans.

When the U.S. was winding down its troop surge in 2014, but not its occupation,  military officials undertook what they called “the largest retrograde mission in U.S. military history,” incurring enormous expenses. One estimate suggested the war in Afghanistan, that year, was costing $2 million per U.S. soldier. That same year, UNICEF officials calculated that the cost of adding iodized salt into the diet of an Afghan infant, a step which could prevent chronic brain damage in children suffering from acute malnourishment, would be 5 cents per child per year.

Which endeavor would the majority of U.S. people have opted to support, in their personal budgets, had they ever been given a choice? Profligate U.S. military spending in Afghanistan or vital assistance for a starving Afghan child?

One of my young Afghan friends says he is now an anarchist. He doesn’t place much trust in governments and militaries. He feels strong allegiance toward the grassroots network he has helped build, a group I would normally name and celebrate, but must now refer to as “our young friends in Afghanistan,” in hopes of protecting them from hostile groups.

The brave and passionate dedication they showed as they worked tirelessly to share resources, care for the environment, and practice nonviolence has made them quite vulnerable to potential accusers who may believe they were too connected with westerners.

In recent weeks, I’ve been part of an ad hoc team assisting 60 young people and their family members who feel alarmed about remaining in Kabul and are sorting out their options to flee the country.

It’s difficult to forecast how Taliban rule will affect them.

Already, some extraordinarily brave people have held protests in in the provinces of Herat, Nimroz, Balkh and Farah, and in the city of Kabul where dozens of women took to the streets to demand representation in the new government and to insist that their rights must be protected.

In many provinces in Afghanistan, the Taliban may find themselves ruling over increasingly resentful people. Half the population already lives in poverty and economic catastrophe looms. In damage caused by war, people have lost harvests, homes and livestock. A third wave of COVID afflicts the country and  three million Afghans face consequences of severe drought. Will the Taliban government have the resources and skills to cope with these overwhelming problems?

On the other hand, in some provinces, Taliban rule has seemed preferable to the previous government’s incompetence and corruption, particularly in regard to property or land disputes.

We should be honest. The Taliban are in power today because of a colossal mess the U.S. helped create.

Now, we U.S. citizens must insist on paying reparations for destruction caused by 20 years of war. To be meaningful, reparations must also include dismantling the warfare systems that caused so much havoc and misery. Our wars of choice were waged against people who meant us no harm. We must choose, now, to lay aside the cruel futility of our forever wars.

My young friend who whispered to me about human rights abuses in 2019 recently fled Afghanistan. He said he doesn’t want to be driven by fear, but he deeply wants to use his life to do good, to build a better world.

Ultimately, Afghanistan will need people like him and his friends if the country is ever to experience a future where basic human rights to food, shelter, health care and education are met. It will need people who have already made dedicated sacrifices for peace, believing in an Afghan adage which says “blood doesn’t wash away blood.”

Essentially, people in Afghanistan will need U.S. people to embrace this same teaching. We must express true sorrow, seek forgiveness, and show valor similar to that of the brave people insisting on human rights in Afghanistan today.

Collectively, recognizing the terrible legacy of 9/11, we must agree:  To counter terror, abolish war.

This article first appeared at Waging Nonviolence

The post To Counter Terror, Abolish War first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Building Social Solidarity Across National Boundaries

Is it possible to build social solidarity beyond the state?

It’s easy to conclude that it’s not.  In 1915, as national governments produced the shocking carnage of World War I, Ralph Chaplin, an activist in the Industrial Workers of the World, wrote his stirring song, “Solidarity Forever.”  Taken up by unions around the globe, it proclaimed that there was “no power greater anywhere beneath the sun” than international working class solidarity.  But, today, despite Chaplin’s dream of bringing to birth “a new world from the ashes of the old,” the world remains sharply divided by national boundaries—boundaries that are usually quite rigid, policed by armed guards, and ultimately enforced through that traditional national standby, war.

Even so, over the course of modern history, social movements have managed, to a remarkable degree, to form global networks of activists who have transcended nationalism in their ideas and actions.  Starting in the late nineteenth century, there was a remarkable efflorescence of these movements:  the international aid movement; the labor movement; the socialist movement; the peace movement; and the women’s rights movement, among others.  In recent decades, other global movements have emerged, preaching and embodying the same kind of human solidarity—from the environmental movement, to the nuclear disarmament movement, to the campaign against corporate globalization, to the racial justice movement.

Although divided from one another, at times, by their disparate concerns, these transnational humanitarian movements have nevertheless been profoundly subversive of many established ideas and of the established order—an order that has often been devoted to maintenance of special privilege and preservation of the nation state system.  Consequently, these movements have usually found a home on the political Left and have usually triggered a furious backlash on the political Right.

The rise of globally-based social movements appears to have developed out of the growing interconnection of nations, economies, and peoples spawned by increasing world economic, scientific, and technological development, trade, travel, and communications.  This interconnection has meant that war, economic collapse, climate disasters, diseases, corporate exploitation, and other problems are no longer local, but global.  And the solutions, of course, are also global in nature.  Meanwhile, the possibilities for alliances of like-minded people across national boundaries have also grown.

The rise of the worldwide campaign for nuclear disarmament exemplifies these trends.  Beginning in 1945, in the aftermath of the Hiroshima bombing, its sense of urgency was driven by breakthroughs in science and technology that revolutionized war and, thereby, threatened the world with unprecedented disaster.  Furthermore, the movement had little choice but to develop across the confines of national boundaries.  After all, nuclear testing, the nuclear arms race, and the prospect of nuclear annihilation represented global problems that could not be tackled on a national basis.  Eventually, a true peoples’ alliance emerged, uniting activists in East and West against the catastrophic nuclear war plans of their governments.

Much the same approach is true of other global social movements.  Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, for example, play no favorites among nations when they report on human rights abuses around the world.  Individual nations, of course, selectively pick through the findings of these organizations to label their political adversaries (though not their allies) ruthless human rights abusers.  But the underlying reality is that participants in these movements have broken free of allegiances to national governments to uphold a single standard and, thereby, act as genuine world citizens.  The same can be said of activists in climate organizations like Greenpeace and 350.org, anticorporate campaigns, the women’s rights movement, and most other transnational social movements.

Institutions of global governance also foster human solidarity across national borders.  The very existence of such institutions normalizes the idea that people in diverse countries are all part of the human community and, therefore, have a responsibility to one another.  Furthermore, UN Secretaries-General have often served as voices of conscience to the world, deploring warfare, economic inequality, runaway climate disaster, and a host of other global ills.  Conversely, the ability of global institutions to focus public attention upon such matters has deeply disturbed the political Right, which acts whenever it can to undermine the United Nations, the International Criminal Court, the World Health Organization, and other global institutions.

Social movements and institutions of global governance often have a symbiotic relationship.  The United Nations has provided a very useful locus for discussion and action on issues of concern to organizations dealing with women’s rights, environmental protection, human rights, poverty, and other issues, with frequent conferences devoted to these concerns.  Frustrated with the failure of the nuclear powers to divest themselves of nuclear weapons, nuclear disarmament organizations deftly used a series of UN conferences to push through the adoption of the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, much to the horror of nuclear-armed states.

Admittedly, the United Nations is a confederation of nations, where the “great powers” often use their disproportionate influence—for example, in the Security Council—to block the adoption of popular global measures that they consider against their “interests.”  But it remains possible to change the rules of the world body, diminishing great power influence and creating a more democratic, effective world federation of nations.  Not surprisingly, there are social movements, such as the World Federalist Movement/Institute for Global Policy and Citizens for Global Solutions, working for these reforms.

Although there are no guarantees that social movements and enhanced global governance will transform our divided, problem-ridden world, we shouldn’t ignore these movements and institutions, either.  Indeed, they should provide us with at least a measure of hope that, someday, human solidarity will prevail, thereby bringing to birth “a new world from the ashes of the old.”

The post Building Social Solidarity Across National Boundaries first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Global Protests as Brazil’s Supreme Court Set to Begin Landmark Indigenous Rights Ruling


Over 6,000 indigenous people from approximately 170 peoples are protesting at the Struggle For Life camp in Brasilia against the Time Limit Trick. © Survival

Indigenous peoples from all over Brazil are protesting in a week-long action in Brasilia against the “Marco Temporal” (or “Time Limit Trick”), draft bill 490 known as the “Bill of Death”, and a series of other genocidal plans and actions by the Bolsonaro government.The “Struggle for Life” (“Luta pela Vida”) global action is led by APIB – the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil.

Indigenous protestors hold a vigil in Brasilia on the night before the Supreme Court begins its vote on the Time Limit Trick. © Survival

APIB have held a vigil outside the Supreme Court, which is due to restart voting on the Time Limit Trick, a proposal put forward by the agribusiness sector claiming that indigenous peoples only have the right to territory that they were physically occupying on October 5, 1988 – the day the current Constitution came into force.

A series of actions have taken place across the globe, including in San Francisco and London, by protestors calling for an end to the genocidal attacks being waged by President Bolsonaro and his supporters against Brazil’s indigenous peoples.

Protest outside Brazilian Embassy in London on the day the Supreme Court begins its ruling on the Time Limit Trick. © Survival

The Time Limit Trick poses a threat to hundreds of indigenous territories, hundreds of thousands of indigenous people and dozens of uncontacted tribes, including:

  • The Xokleng: one of their territories is the subject of the Supreme Court ruling which will judge the validity, or not, of the Time Limit Trick.

Large parts of Xokleng land and other indigenous territories were allocated to
Europeans settlers encouraged by the Brazilian government early last century. The government also financed a so-called “Indian-hunting militia”, which accelerated the colonial land grab and the genocide of indigenous peoples. The Supreme Court could now set the effects of these and subsequent evictions in stone, establishing a precedent which would have far-reaching consequences for indigenous peoples in Brazil.

    • The Guarani: nearly all their land was stolen before 1988 and is now used for agribusiness. They would be among the hardest hit. Their campaign to get their land back, already a mammoth battle, would become even harder and bloodier.
    • The uncontacted Kawahiva: their existence and location was officially confirmed after 1988, like many other uncontacted tribes.
    • Many other uncontacted tribes, whose existence still hasn’t been officially confirmed by the government, despite plenty of evidence. There are 86 such cases, one of which is the uncontacted people of Ituna Itatá indigenous territory, whose emergency Land Protection Order is due to expire imminently.

    Indigenous people lay out the names of indigenous territories that will be affected if the Time Limit Trick were to be passed by the Supreme Court, Brasilia, 2021. © Survival

    If approved, the Time Limit Trick would set indigenous rights back decades and could wipe out whole uncontacted tribes. The indigenous movement and their allies are campaigning for it to be scrapped.

    APIB said: “May the country listen to its indigenous peoples. Our lives are linked to the earth, as we live in communion with it. We are the guardians of the forests and all forms of life that live there. We are facing a Congress that continues to push its anti-indigenous agenda. We are fighting against the Time Limit Trick, scheduled to be voted by the Supreme Court on August 25th. We will resist!”

    Caroline Pearce, director of Survival International said today: “This is the most critical court ruling for Brazil’s indigenous peoples for decades. The future of hundreds of thousands of people is at stake. It is also a crucial test of Brazil’s judiciary and democracy. It is up to the Supreme Court judges to uphold the constitution which recognizes indigenous peoples’ original rights to their lands as the country’s first inhabitants.”

    Protesters in London stand in solidarity with Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples outside the Brazilian Embassy in London. © Suzanne Plunkett / GreenpeaceThe post Global Protests as Brazil’s Supreme Court Set to Begin Landmark Indigenous Rights Ruling first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Lesser Evil Politics Assure Greater Evil Economics

A new American president is presenting a program for renewal of human values in the marketplace unheard of since the 1930s but still projecting American military domination and environmental destruction far beyond the awareness of most Americans. Continued insistence that Russia and China are major global threats to everyone and not just American monopoly capitalists resonate not only in the cosmic void between the ears of our mentally disabled foreign policy experts but echo in the minds of innocent Americans since that’s all they get from major, and all too often minor media.

The charge that China is conducting genocide on its Islamic people coming from the butchers of hundreds of thousands of Islamic people in the middle east would be a dreadful sick joke if not so incredibly evil, but poor souls condemned to network media remain stuck in a misinformation chamber amplifying our ruling power’s message day in and day out. The fact that growing majorities have little or no faith in government or media is a hopeful sign but until we totally clean out the sewage system much of corporate news has become, the stench that wafts up remains a carrier of the information pandemic.

While alleged economic threats from China actually do offer market competition to the empire – and market competition is supposed to be good, according to the theology preached by the priest-rabbi-therapists of the church of capital – and China is under the control of communists who at least try, not always with success, to force it to work for the common good and not just the minority of Chinese capitalists, why and how and to whom is that a threat? Only to America where majorities exist in numbers of those in debt but never those who vote nationally. This is called  “our” democracy by many wishful thinkers still unaware that the political process is owned and operated by the wealthiest minority, which spends billions to maintain political control by purchase and rental of candidates and office holders. Citizens innocently proclaiming this hustle as “our” democracy are like past slaves referring to “our” plantation. If they were the minority house negroes of the time they could afford such fantasy but the overwhelming majority who toiled in the fields and suffered the most brutal treatment had no such luxury.

And as if the treatment of these two powerful nations didn’t show enough imperial idiocy, that of a nearly helpless tiny nation currently, as usual, under assault, is greater indication of lunacy bordering on stark raving insanity.

After 60 years of a murderous attempted strangulation of the Cuban political economy, that tiny nation survives with the support of the overwhelming majority of governments on earth. Recently at the United Nations 184 countries voted to end the filthy American embargo with only Murder Inc. headquartered in the USA and Israel still, as always out of step with the overwhelming majority while spouting humanitarian rhetoric and practicing murderous brutality. This still finds well meaning people waving flags and quoting bibles and constitutions as though these fabled symbols clean up the reality of degenerate social practice as hypocritical as a rapist claiming victims only to assure they do not suffer sexual frustration.

The anti-Cuban lobby, second only to that of Israel in its control of American foreign policy, was originally a creature of the Cuban upper classes who escaped to Miami from the revolution that was working to spread education, jobs, health care and other necessities of life to the greatest number of people who had long been denied by American partnership with Cuban ruling power. They loom large in the current scenario of an alleged uprising against the terror and horror of millions of people eating, going to school and getting health care despite the ugly embargo and other violent attempts to smother the island of 11 million so that capital might again profit from gambling and drugs, as it did before 1960.

Meanwhile, another bloody lie in Afghanistan has ended with the Taliban, the group we were allegedly protecting poor afghans from, has taken over the government of their own country. This after billions have been spent and hundreds of thousands murdered in pursuit of profits while good people here have been fed stories about emancipating women and educating Afghans to the joys of democracy like ours, where hundreds of thousands of Americans live in the street while we spend trillions to kill people and billions to care for pets.

And far beyond wretched national policies looms the global curse of what private profit industrial and war marketing are doing to the environment shared by humanity and not just one or anther national identity group often claiming super status with a special connection to deities ranging from Santa Claus to the Easter bunny for all they are worth in the material world. Words about democracy are not balanced by deeds of mass murder, oppression and absolute support for rich minority rule that assures continued profit making from exploitation of workers whether they clean toilets, drive buses, pilot airplanes or walk dogs. Like the sex workers who use their private parts to create private profits for their entrepreneurial pimps, those who create, package and deliver the consumer goods that are the foundation of the economy are doing it for the benefit of owners and investors rather than their own which would be far better served if they owned and ran the businesses they form the foundation for while others get rich on their labor.

Facing horrible news at what the future of humanity looks like under the environmental stress called climate change, more people than ever are working to end foul methods of economics that assure disaster for humanity but trying to do so while maintaining market rules of private profit assures further destruction or worse, simply throwing people out of work they do only to survive and thus destroy hope of survival. The future must be to keep people alive by assuring the public good before any pursuit of private profit. We do not need professional economists to explain that capitalism is the only answer to social problems all the while collecting fat salaries and investment opportunities while society fails more quickly under their rule.

In truth, if workers are doing dirty work that affords them salaries so they can pay their rent, mortgages and other life supports, but it costs society billions to have to clean up the mess they create, we would all best be served by paying them to not go to work. We’d be saving the billions we’d have to spend to clean up the mess they created in service to private profiteers and assure their survival by using those mammoth savings to help them learn and get better jobs for them and everyone else, that serve all of us and not simply minority investors. As the world grows more threatened and conditions become more dangerous with the USA holding several hundred military bases in foreign countries and surrounding Russia and China with troops and war ships, immediate action must be taken to both confront environmental conditions that threaten us all and war like preparations that are profitable to a criminal minority while threatening the planet and all its people.

In short, we need global democratic communism before anti-social capitalism destroys us all.

The post Lesser Evil Politics Assure Greater Evil Economics first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Will Americans Who Were Right on Afghanistan Still Be Ignored?

Protest in Westwood, California 2002. Photo: Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

America’s corporate media are ringing with recriminations over the humiliating U.S. military defeat in Afghanistan. But very little of the criticism goes to the root of the problem, which was the original decision to militarily invade and occupy Afghanistan in the first place.

That decision set in motion a cycle of violence and chaos that no subsequent U.S. policy or military strategy could resolve over the next 20 years, in Afghanistan, Iraq or any of the other countries swept up in America’s post-9/11 wars.

While Americans were reeling in shock at the images of airliners crashing into buildings on September 11, 2001, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld held a meeting in an intact part of the Pentagon. Undersecretary Cambone’s notes from that meeting spell out how quickly and blindly U.S. officials prepared to plunge our nation into graveyards of empire in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.

Cambone wrote that Rumsfeld wanted “…best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. (Saddam Hussein) at same time – not only UBL (Usama Bin Laden)… Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.”

So within hours of these horrific crimes in the United States, the central question senior U.S. officials were asking was not how to investigate them and hold the perpetrators accountable, but how to use this “Pearl Harbor” moment to justify wars, regime changes and militarism on a global scale.

Three days later, Congress passed a bill authorizing the president to use military force “…against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons…”

In 2016, the Congressional Research Service reported that this Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) had been cited to justify 37 distinct military operations in 14 different countries and at sea. The vast majority of the people killed, maimed or displaced in these operations had nothing to do with the crimes of September 11. Successive administrations have repeatedly ignored the actual wording of the authorization, which only authorized the use of force against those involved in some way in the 9/11 attacks.

The only member of Congress who had the wisdom and courage to vote against the 2001 AUMF was Barbara Lee of Oakland. Lee compared it to the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin resolution and warned her colleagues that it would inevitably be used in the same expansive and illegitimate way. The final words of her floor speech echo presciently through the 20-year-long spiral of violence, chaos and war crimes it unleashed, “As we act, let us not become the evil we deplore.”

In a meeting at Camp David that weekend, Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz argued forcefully for an attack on Iraq, even before Afghanistan. Bush insisted Afghanistan must come first, but privately promised Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle that Iraq would be their next target.

In the days after September 11, the U.S. corporate media followed the Bush administration’s lead, and the public heard only rare, isolated voices questioning whether war was the correct response to the crimes committed.

But former Nuremberg war crimes prosecutor Ben Ferencz spoke to NPR (National Public Radio) a week after 9/11, and he explained that attacking Afghanistan was not only unwise and dangerous, but was not a legitimate response to these crimes. NPR’s Katy Clark struggled to understand what he was saying:

Clark: …do you think that the talk of retaliation is not a legitimate response to the death of 5,000 (sic) people?

Ferencz: It is never a legitimate response to punish people who are not responsible for the wrong done.

Clark: No one is saying we’re going to punish those who are not responsible.

Ferencz:  We must make a distinction between punishing the guilty and punishing others. If you simply retaliate en masse by bombing Afghanistan, let us say, or the Taliban, you will kill many people who don’t believe in what has happened, who don’t approve of what has happened.

Clark:  So you are saying that you see no appropriate role for the military in this.

Ferencz: I wouldn’t say there is no appropriate role, but the role should be consistent with our ideals. We shouldn’t let them kill our principles at the same time they kill our people. And our principles are respect for the rule of law. Not charging in blindly and killing people because we are blinded by our tears and our rage.

The drumbeat of war pervaded the airwaves, twisting 9/11 into a powerful propaganda narrative to whip up the fear of terrorism and justify the march to war. But many Americans shared the reservations of Rep. Barbara Lee and Ben Ferencz, understanding enough of their country’s history to recognize that the 9/11 tragedy was being hijacked by the same military-industrial complex that produced the debacle in Vietnam and keeps reinventing itself generation after generation to support and profit from American wars, coups and militarism.

On September 28, 2001, the Socialist Worker website published statements by 15 writers and activists under the heading, “Why we say no to war and hate.” They included Noam Chomsky, the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan and me (Medea). Our statements took aim at the Bush administration’s attacks on civil liberties at home and abroad, as well as its plans for war on Afghanistan.

The late academic and author Chalmers Johnson wrote that 9/11 was not an attack on the United States but “an attack on U.S. foreign policy.” Edward Herman predicted “massive civilian casualties.” Matt Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, wrote that, “For every innocent person Bush kills in this war, five or ten terrorists will arise.” I (Medea) wrote that ”a military response will only create more of the hatred against the U.S. that created this terrorism in the first place.”

Our analysis was correct and our predictions were prescient. We humbly submit that the media and politicians should start listening to the voices of peace and sanity instead of to lying, delusional warmongers.

What leads to catastrophes like the U.S. war in Afghanistan is not the absence of convincing anti-war voices but that our political and media systems routinely marginalize and ignore voices like those of Barbara Lee, Ben Ferencz and ourselves.

That is not because we are wrong and the belligerent voices they listen to are right. They marginalize us precisely because we are right and they are wrong, and because serious, rational debates over war, peace and military spending would jeopardize some of the most powerful and corrupt vested interests that dominate and control U.S. politics on a bipartisan basis.

In every foreign policy crisis, the very existence of our military’s enormous destructive capacity and the myths our leaders promote to justify it converge in an orgy of self-serving interests and political pressures to stoke our fears and pretend that there are military “solutions” for them.

Losing the Vietnam War was a serious reality check on the limits of U.S. military power. As the junior officers who fought in Vietnam rose through the ranks to become America’s military leaders, they acted more cautiously and realistically for the next 20 years. But the end of the Cold War opened the door to an ambitious new generation of warmongers who were determined to capitalize on the U.S. post-Cold War “power dividend“.

Madeleine Albright spoke for this emerging new breed of war-hawks when she confronted General Colin Powell in 1992 with her question, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”

As Secretary of State in Clinton’s second term, Albright engineered the first of a series of illegal U.S. invasions to carve out an independent Kosovo from the splintered remains of Yugoslavia. When U.K. Foreign Secretary Robin Cook told her his government was “having trouble with our lawyers” over the illegality of the NATO war plan, Albright said they should just “get new lawyers.”

In the 1990s, the neocons and liberal interventionists dismissed and marginalized the idea that non-military, non-coercive approaches can more effectively resolve foreign policy problems without the horrors of war or deadly sanctions. This bipartisan war lobby then exploited the 9/11 attacks to consolidate and expand their control of U.S. foreign policy.

But after spending trillions of dollars and killing millions of people, the abysmal record of U.S. war-making since World War II remains a tragic litany of failure and defeat, even on its own terms. The only wars the United States has won since 1945 have been limited wars to recover small neocolonial outposts in Grenada, Panama and Kuwait.

Every time the United States has expanded its military ambitions to attack or invade larger or more independent countries, the results have been universally catastrophic. So our country’s absurd investment of 66% of discretionary federal spending in destructive weapons, and recruiting and training young Americans to use them, does not make us safer but only encourages our leaders to unleash pointless violence and chaos on our neighbors around the world.

Most of our neighbors have grasped by now that these forces and the dysfunctional U.S. political system that keeps them at its disposal pose a serious threat to peace and to their own aspirations for democracy. Few people in other countries want any part of America’s wars, or its revived Cold War against China and Russia, and these trends are most pronounced among America’s long-time allies in Europe and in its traditional “backyard” in Canada and Latin America.

On October 19, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld addressed B-2 bomber crews at Whiteman AFB in Missouri as they prepared to take off across the world to inflict misdirected vengeance on the long-suffering people of Afghanistan. He told them, “We have two choices. Either we change the way we live, or we must change the way they live. We choose the latter. And you are the ones who will help achieve that goal.”

Now that dropping over 80,000 bombs and missiles on the people of Afghanistan for 20 years has failed to change the way they live, apart from killing hundreds of thousands of them and destroying their homes, we must instead, as Rumsfeld said, change the way we live.

We should start by finally listening to Barbara Lee. First, we should pass her bill to repeal the two post-9/11 AUMFs that launched our 20-year fiasco in Afghanistan and other wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.

Then we should  pass her bill to redirect $350 billion per year from the U.S. military budget (roughly a 50% cut) to “increase our diplomatic capacity and for domestic programs that will keep our Nation and our people safer.”

Finally reining in America’s out-of-control militarism would be a wise and appropriate response to its epic defeat in Afghanistan, before the same corrupt interests drag us into even more dangerous wars against more formidable enemies than the Taliban.

 

The post Will Americans Who Were Right on Afghanistan Still Be Ignored? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Children’s Teeth, Collected Decades Ago, Can Show the Damage of Nuclear Testing

Nuclear Weapon Test, Bikini Atoll, 1954

In 2020, Harvard University’s T. C. Chan School of Public Health began a five-year study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, that will examine the connection between early life exposure to toxic metals and later-life risk of neurological disease. A collaborator with Harvard, the Radiation and Public Health Project, will analyze the relationship of strontium-90 (a radioactive element in nuclear weapons explosions) and disease risk in later life.

The centerpiece of the study is a collection of nearly 100,000 baby teeth, gathered in the late 1950s and early 1960s by the St. Louis Committee for Nuclear Information.

The collection of these teeth occurred during a time of intense public agitation over the escalating nuclear arms race between the U.S. and Soviet governments that featured the new hydrogen bomb (H-bomb), a weapon more than a thousand times as powerful as the bomb that had annihilated Hiroshima.  To prepare themselves for nuclear war, the two Cold War rivals conducted well-publicized, sometimes televised nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere—434 of them between 1945 and 1963.  These tests sent vast clouds of radioactive debris aloft where, carried along by the winds, it often traveled substantial distances before it fell to earth and was absorbed by the soil, plants, animals, and human beings.

The hazards of nuclear testing were underscored by the U.S. government’s March 1, 1954 explosion of an H-bomb on Bikini Atoll, located in the Marshall Islands.  Although an area the size of New England had been staked out as a danger zone around the test site, a heavy dose of nuclear fallout descended on four inhabited islands of the Marshall grouping and on a Japanese fishing boat, the Lucky Dragon—all substantially outside the danger zone—with disastrous results.

Criticism of the nuclear arms race, and especially nuclear testing, quickly escalated.  Prominent individuals, including Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, Albert Schweitzer, and Benjamin Spock, issued spirited warnings.  New mass membership organizations arose, among them the National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy (SANE) in the United States, the National Council for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Tests (which morphed into the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) in Britain, and the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs.

The public grew alarmed, particularly by the fact that strontium-90 from nuclear tests was transmitted from the grass, to cattle, to milk, and finally to human bodies—with special concern as it built up in children’s bones and teeth.  By the late 1950s, polls found that most Americans considered fallout a “real danger.”

Linus Pauling, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, emerged as one of the most trenchant and effective American critics, circulating anti-testing petitions signed by thousands of U.S. scientists and even larger numbers of scientists abroad.  Pauling charged that the nuclear bomb tests through 1958 would ultimately produce about 1 million seriously defective children and some 2 million embryonic and neonatal deaths.

Determined to maintain its nuclear weapons program, the U.S. government was horrified by the popular uproar and anxious to suppress it.  U.S. intelligence agencies and congressional investigations were unleashed against groups like SANE and antinuclear leaders like Pauling, while U.S. information agencies and government officials publicly minimized the dangers of nuclear testing.  In a Life magazine article, Edward Teller, often called “the father of the H-bomb,” insisted that nuclear test radiation “need not necessarily be harmful,” but “may conceivably be helpful.”

Even so, public concern grew.  In August 1958, Herman Kalckar, a biologist at the National Institutes of Health, published an article in the journal Nature, calling on public health agencies in multiple nations to engage in large-scale collection of baby teeth. Kalckar proposed testing teeth for strontium-90 from bomb fallout, as children are most vulnerable to the toxic effects of radioactivity.

Washington University scientists recognized that a tooth study could change public policy. In December 1958, they joined with leaders of the Committee for Nuclear Information, a citizen group opposed to nuclear war and above-ground bomb tests, and adopted a proposal to collect and test teeth for strontium-90 concentrations.

For the next 12 years, the Committee worked furiously, soliciting tooth donations through community-based institutions like schools, churches, scout groups, libraries, and dental offices. A total of 320,000 teeth were collected, and a Washington University lab measured strontium-90.

Results clearly showed a massive increase in strontium-90 as testing continued. Children born in 1963 (the height of bomb tests) had an average of 50 times more than those born in 1951 (when large-scale tests began). Medical journal articles detailed results.  Information on the tooth study was sent to Jerome Wiesner, science advisor to President John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy, already seeking a test ban treaty, was clearly influenced by the uproar over the fate of children.  In his July 1963 speech announcing the successful conclusion of test ban negotiations by the governments of the United States, the Soviet Union, and the United Kingdom, he argued that governments could not be indifferent to the catastrophe of nuclear war or to “children and grandchildren with cancer in their bones, with leukemia in their blood, or with poison in their lungs.”  The outcome was the Partial Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear testing in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water.

According to the ongoing tooth study, the average strontium-90 in baby teeth dropped by half in just four years after the test ban. With their goal apparently accomplished, the Committee on Nuclear Information and the University halted tooth collection and testing.  Soon thereafter, the Committee dissolved.

Three decades later, Washington University staff discovered thousands of abandoned baby teeth that had gone untested. The school donated the teeth to the Radiation and Public Health Project, which was conducting a study of strontium-90 in teeth of U.S. children near nuclear reactors.

Now, using strontium-90 still present in teeth, the Radiation and Public Health Project will conduct an analysis of health risk, which was not addressed in the original tooth study, and minimally addressed by government agencies.  Based on actual radiation exposure in bodies, the issue of how many Americans suffered from cancer and other diseases from nuclear testing fallout will be clarified.

The post Children’s Teeth, Collected Decades Ago, Can Show the Damage of Nuclear Testing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Rome is Burning

This song goes out to all those people who have gone into action to end state organized racist violence and oppression and all forms of racism.

Rome is Burning Lyrics

The story goes you’re gonna make it if you try,
And if you don’t may your life waste away ‘cause its your fault

Like the sheen of a rotting fish, The glitter just dazzles,
For everyone who’s filthy rich, A million must suffer,
So start your climb up the money tree, The best slaves are those who think they’re free,

Oh say can you see Rome is Burning, Oh how it burns, Oh feel the burn,

As life unfolds people struggle to make ends meet,
Look around, what you see, the hunger, the homeless, the powerless streets

On your mind the need for change, channel your pain and your rage,
Stand up and link your arms for strength, Shout it out to the police state,
I can’t breathe that’s why I take a knee, We won’t take your new form o’slavery,

Oh say can you see Rome is Burning, Oh how it burns, oh feel the burn,
Oh how it burns, Oh feel the burn

Make no mistake, racism starts with the state,
To divide and rule the working class to keep us broken, not building the new

Lessons of history revealed, Organize or be displaced,
The rulers have no solutions, Only violence, wars and jails,
Stick together and fight for your just claims, Workers united will prevail,

Oh say can you see Rome is over, Oh build the New, Oh build the New!
Oh build the New, Oh build the New!, Oh build the new, Oh build the New!

The post Rome is Burning first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Iran: The Uprising of the Thirsty

On 15 July 2021, people took to the streets in the Iranian province of Khouzestan to protest against the lack of water due to government mismanagement. Since then, despite the Iranian state’s brutal repression, the uprising has spread all over the country.

This was a collaboration with The Federation of Anarchism Era & Antimidia.

For more information on struggles in Iran:
http://asranarshism.com

The post Iran: The Uprising of the Thirsty first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Progressive Death of Progressivism

Emblematic of our times, the Berniecrat organization Our Revolution – never remotely revolutionary – has rebranded itself as “pragmatic progressive.” This innovation is based on the realization that progressive reforms will never be enacted unless they are fought for.  And, since they are not about to fight President Biden, then it is only programmatic to accept that these reforms won’t happen.

Our Revolution surrenders

Good bye, Medicare-for-All, now that Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and even Bernie Sanders have abandoned the cause. Never mind that a majority of the electorate still favors the proposal. But to get Medicare-for-All, progressives would have to stand up to the Democratic Party. And that would entail a fight and therefore is not pragmatic.

A major reason for the Democrat’s obstruction of Medicare-for-All is that the health insurance industry and big pharma bought them off plus the entrenchment of corporate interests more broadly in the party. However, another factor is at work. Access to healthcare free-at-the-point-of-service would make working people more secure. For the exploiting class, it is better to forego a small gain in profits as the tradeoff for keeping workers precarious and thus less demanding. The people who run the Democratic Party know which side of the class barricades they are on; unfortunately, some progressives do not.

Some of the dump-Trump veterans, who are now AWOL in the battle against the current leader of the imperialist camp, proclaim Joe Biden is the political incarnate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Lost in the fog of war is the fact that, for over forty years, Biden has been among the architects of the neoliberal project associated with the Democratic Leadership Group to bury FDR’s New Deal.

The New Deal was an experiment in a mild form of social democracy, where the capitalist ruling class allowed a degree of social welfare state functions in return for labor peace. Ever since Carter, gaining steam with Reagan and Clinton, and continuing now with Biden, neoliberal reform has entailed privatization of education, health, and other state enterprises, economic austerity for working people, and deregulation and tax relief for the corporations, while augmenting the coercive apparatus of the state. In short, since the 1970s, neoliberalism has been the form of contemporary capitalism.

This is what democracy looks like

In the run-up to the US 2020 presidential election, some erstwhile progressives told us to hold our noses and get on the Biden bandwagon. Then, as they worked alongside the decadent Democrats, they became desensitized to the redolence of being in proximity to power. And now some counsel us to stand down to the powerful and join in attacking the official enemies of Washington.

However, some Berniecrats have resisted the succor of the Democrat’s big tent and are still fighting the good fight under the banner of the Movement for a People’s Party. They have had the temerity to picket Squad member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to hold her feet to the fire on her campaign promises.

This is what democracy looks like. Politicians can hardly be blamed for gravitating to the rewards of party orthodoxy, if their constituents fail to demand that they follow through on the platform that got them elected. But for demanding that politicians that talk progressive also walk progressive, those who speak truth to power are attacked by those who no longer consistently do so.

So, we often see the following progression. After shirking from criticizing the powerful, the next career move is to find legitimacy by criticizing those who do. For example, the Young Turks show accused anti-imperialist Grayzone reporter Aaron Mate falsely and without evidence of being “paid by the Russians.”

This is symptomatic of elements of progressivism who have become ever more comfortable with the Democrats as the only alternative to what they perceive as the greater evil of the Republicans. Since they now eschew criticizing those actually in power, they are relegated to attacking the genuine left. Rather than “battling Biden” as they promised after “dumping Trump,” some progressives have descended the slippery slope into providing left cover for the Democrats both on domestic and, as argued below, international fronts.

Covering for imperialism

The domestic capitulation of some self-identified progressives also translates into a deafening silence about opposing the imperialism of the Democratic Party. Shortly after the dawn of the new millennium, the US anti-war movement experienced a resurgence against Republican President George W. Bush’s Iraq war. But soon as Democrat Barack Obama took office, with Bush’s Secretary of Defense Gates still in charge, the anti-war movement collapsed and has been since largely quiescent.

More recently, imperialist ventures have been greeted with more than silence. There are now, unfortunately, full-throated echoes of the imperialist’s talking points by former anti-war activists and intellectuals.

Take the arguably once progressive NACLA (North American Congress on Latin America) in a recent article specifically calling for “taking off the cloak of silence.” NACLA reports on the “long-standing totalitarian Cuban government.” According to the author, an expert on “social and cultural entrepreneurship” (i.e., promotion of capitalism), the US blockade of Cuba “isn’t responsible for the island’s economic downfall. Instead that is a result of the powerful [Cuban government] elite’s iron grip and stockpiling.” Of course, if that were anywhere near the truth, the US would have no need for the blockade.

This takes place in the context of President Biden doubling down on a regime-change offensive, reversing campaign promises to reverse Trump’s illegal sanctions on Cuba. Washington now believes Cuba is close to falling due to the deprivation caused by the ever-tightening US blockade exacerbated by the COVID pandemic.

Further, NACLA tells us that the view of Cuba as a “model for many anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements” is not only wrong but that the Cuban’s attempt at socialism is based on “an economic model that is inherently ineffective.” Unfortunately, that verdict has a perverse element of truth. As long as the US can impose suffocating unilateral coercive measures on Cuba and other small nations striving for an alternative to neoliberalism, the socialist model will not be allowed to succeed.

Socialism is supposed to satisfy people’s needs, while capitalism is inherently a system that creates unlimited perceived needs without the means for their fulfillment. That is, under capitalism, a system driven by individual greed, one cannot ever accumulate too much. The carrot on a stick, perpetually dangled out of reach, is the essence of what the author of the NACLA article proudly calls “entrepreneurship.”

But what happens when – as the NACLA article admonishes – the nation striving for socialism can no longer “cover the basic necessities to make daily life worth living”? Apparently, solidarity with the Cubans against attacks by the world’s superpower is not paramount for some self-identified progressives who issued a recent petition to the Cuban government.

Their Change.org petition, quoting Rosa Luxemburg on freedom from a repressive state, demanded the release of Frank García Hernández arrested by the Cuban government on July 11. However, the Mr. García had already been released the following day, while the petition was still being circulated.

Whatever the intentions of the individual signatories of the petition, its actual impact had nothing to do with freeing someone who was already free and everything to do with providing a left cover for imperialism. Had the signatories been genuinely concerned with what they perceived as an overreaction by the Cubans to a manifestly existential security threat to their revolution, they should have also addressed the petition to the White House and demanded the ending or at least easing of that security threat. Some of these same individuals have also signed petitions against Nicaragua, Syria, and other official enemies of the US.

Struggling on two fronts

Meanwhile, the neoliberal order is becoming more and more exposed, with billionaires increasing their net worth astronomically while working people face a yet to be contained pandemic with inadequate healthcare, unemployment, and austerity. This is fuel for the populist right-wing, which could be the shock troops of a fascist movement. But we are not there yet.

The legitimate concern about fascism, when associated exclusively with Trump and his followers, has been used by some self-identified progressives as an excuse to embrace the Democrats. The struggle against “neofascist” Trumpism has been coopted into a surrender into the main party now in charge of the imperialist state and increasingly distinguishing itself as the leading proponent of war.

The January 6th riot by Trump supporters at the Capital Building was conflated by Democrats into a coup attempt of new kind where the perpetrators, instead of taking state power, took selfies and went home. Some of the villains of January 6th, Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, turned out to be friendly with the FBI and possible agents with get-out-of-jail-free passes.

It would be cold comfort for progressives to discover that they have triumphed against the crude fascism of working-class guys with tattoos only to find that the friendly fascism of Saint Robert Mueller’s national security state has prevailed. Progressives, who have their canons aimed at Mar-a-Lago, may be leaving their backs exposed to those who now hold state power in Washington.

The ensuing clamor after January 6 from would-be progressives to expand the already enormous police powers of the state against protesters is an example of the dictum that you should be careful about what you wish for. The state coercive apparatus – police, military, homeland security, FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. – has been and will be used against the left.

The genuinely progressive solution is not to support one or the other neoliberal party, which are collectively the perpetrators of the current calamity, but to struggle against the conditions that foster a right-wing insurgency. That is, resist both right-wing populism and the established ruling class, with the main emphasis on those in power.

The post The Progressive Death of Progressivism first appeared on Dissident Voice.