November 27, 2016

Obama's Silence on Standing Rock

by Caitrin Smith

Democrats and socialists have fundamentally different ideas of how American democracy works, how change comes about, and who makes that change happen. Democrats seem to understand it as an interplay of policies, laws, treaties, and courts that come together to form what many agree is an American democracy.

Socialists argue, that "American democracy" is really unfettered capitalism, oligarchy, and a system which bends all those polices, laws, treaties, and courts to benefit the ruling class (those with capital/and those protecting it). It will be challenging for us to come to an agreement on Obama's response (or lack thereof) to Standing Rock if we have fundamentally different understandings on how the system operates. They argue that the bureaucratic process is "how our system is designed to work" and that change comes from "courts and congress."

What we argue, through a careful look at history, political theory, and practical experience in struggle, is that sweeping social movements are what pressure and make those laws pass, not the slow process of Democrat sanctioned reform.

To compliment the suggestion that working class solidarity/struggle pushes change, we argue that capital is the opposing force that makes these same laws bend. What we see at Standing Rock is a dance between oppressor and oppressed; the protectors of water push the laws in our favor and the protectors of capital push them back against us. In other words, there are two things that pressure our government: the working class's ability to organize and capital; our task is to make the former more powerful than the latter.

Standing Rock will continue to mount this pressure. Obama's complacency is an admission of allegiance to the protectors of capital rather than the protectors of water. If you are interested in exploring the effectiveness of reforming capitalism/the democratic party, to read Lance Selfa's "The Democrats: A Critical History" and Howard Zinn's "A People's History."

Selfa lays out, quite convincingly, the faults of the Democratic Party as being a pro capitalist, neoliberal, reformist party that has actually been detrimental for working people who have dedicated their lives to the black freedom struggle, LGBTQ rights, immigration reform, native american sovereignty, the list goes on.

Zinn argues that social change in these areas has not come from Democrats and the "bureaucratic process" but pressure of mass movements in the street and pressure from the people. Those who continue to have faith in the system (and the elected leaders who protect that system at our expense) that created and spawned the conditions for something like standing rock to occur, are digging their own graves: history teaches us to look elsewhere for real, social change.

That being said, it is not mutually exclusive to understand the working class as the agent for social change AND argue for the president of our country to at least offer a statement of support or admit that native american's are treated like absolute garbage historically and currently in the US. He hasn't done that, and they deserve that. They deserve something beyond, "We will get to addressing your oppression later, when the courts and congress and the bureaucratic process allows it."

Native American women are more likely to be sexually assaulted than any other race (and not by Native American men- mind you), Native American men are more likely to be murdered by police than any other race. Native Americans have some of the worst healthcare, highest poverty rates, and hardest living conditions than any other subgroup in the US. They demand to be heard and they should be.

Its deplorable that Obama hasn't even bothered to acknowledge this reality and they are only asking for clean drinking water. "I'll get around to it when the system allows" is an inexcusable response to oppression that will only worsen in his complacency.

I am not a Democrat, I have no faith in the two parties of capitalism. I am a socialist, which means I doubt the Democrats will agree with us; they wont until they see our system through a similar lens.

As Lenin once stated, "...'Full freedom' means election of officials and other office-holders who administer public and state affairs. 'Full freedom' means the complete abolition of a state administration that is not wholly and exclusively responsible to the people, that is not elected by, accountable to, and subject to recall by, the people. 'Full freedom' means that it is not the people who should be subordinated to officials, but the officials who should be subordinated to the people."

November 16, 2016

Preliminary thoughts on the disarray in Trump's transition camp:

via Owen Hill:

1. The disarray at the moment is not primarily being driven by protests in the street but instead by the arrogance and overreach of a triumphant Trump. They have axed a section of their ruling class supporters in an effort to settle scores and punish those that they deemed insufficiently loyal.

2. This has two effects: first of narrowing their base of support within the ruling class, second of energizing their far right populist base--since they are proving their "anti-establishment" credentials.

3. While the discord is being driven from within the administration, the ongoing protests have made it clear that there is a political price to be paid for compliance. Sanders and Deblasio seem to be the most prominent Democrats who have broken ranks so far from the Democratic Party line of "unity" for "an orderly transition". The early breaks widen our opening to assert a politics of mass resistance to the Trump regime. Simultaneously the continued protests are making it less likely that other establishment politicians will easily forgive and forget the scorn of the moment, which is how they would like to proceed.

4. Two dangers confront us: first that we assume that the rulers who break ranks and turn against Trump are really on our side. They are making a political calculation based on our mobilizations. End the mobilizations and the political calculus changes. Second, that we miss the way in which the discord at the top will actually energize Trump's base. The hardest of the hardcore elements will become more determined to fight as a result of the fighting at the top and they will have a broader appeal as well. This heights the need for self-defense and for a readiness to defend those being attacked. Moreover it puts a premium on confronting the far right as they begin to organize: their demonstrations, organizing meetings and organizing networks must be exposed and challenged. Meetings of the Klan must be broken up when they emerge. Keep them atomized and on the run.

November 6, 2016

Bernie Was Wrong to Endorse Hillary

There's nothing admirable about selling out the movement you built to back a candidate who worked with party operatives to sabotage your campaign and oppose everything you campaigned on.

Sanders ended his campaign exactly wrong, and has completely disoriented the movement he built and funnelled it into a bourgeois political party that sabotaged him from day one-- and he will extract nothing from the DNC in return for it-- neither for his personal gain, nor for his movement. What he will get in return, is a candidate who campaigned in 2008 on using nuclear weapons against Iran, who lobbied in Haiti to suppress the minimum wage at the behest of sweatshops, who used the state department to back a right-wing military coup in Honduras and then deported the refugees back to die, who lobbied for fracking around the world as Sec of State, who voted repeatedly as Senator to authorize and fund Bush's illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, who called the TPP "the gold standard in trade deals", who supported NAFTA as first lady, who lobbied for racist drug laws, who opposed gay marriage (and continues to privately), who calls Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden traitors who should be put to death, who backs the Keystone XL, and who is backed by all the same banks who are backing the DAPL pipeline going through Standing Rock (which is why she's silent-- she will complete the pipeline when she is president).

People said that Bernie could be like the "Ron Paul of the left wing" and move the right-wing DNC to the left. Yet, at the end of it, Bernie has proven himself a political coward. Ron Paul ended his campaign by refusing to endorse the GOP nominee, and endorsed the Libertarian Party candidate for president, and gave birth to the Tea Party, which has shifted both the DNC and GOP to the right wing. Bernie could have done the same by backing Jill Stein.

Bernie forfeited his chance to build a serious left wing challenge, when he endorsed Hillary. His "our Revolution" is neither revolutionary, nor ours, it is just another liberal nonprofit in a long line of failed liberal nonprofits formed in the attempt to reform an unreformable Wall Street political party. The Tea Party sought to make a far-right party more right wing. It succeeded. If Bernie's movement is an attempt to reform a center-right political party and make it leftist, it is doomed to fail.

What's needed is for the American left to say Goodbye DNC and work to build a politically independent party that runs it's own candidates, which remains independent of corporate money. Jill Stein is doing that work. I back her, and I back the Green Party. Because with the atmosphere over 400ppm CO2, the future of the planet quite literally depends on it.