Object: ON THE USE OF STIGMA AND OTHER TECHNIQUES IN THE MANAGEMENT OF CRISIS CAPITALISM.
2 March 2010
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
"There is nothing like waiting to be executed to focus your concentration." This observation attributed to an Irish priest of the past century speaks to a reality in today's world, namely that essentialist thought can be engineered through refined techniques which include intimidation to be used to maintain order in an inherently unstable social structure. Take, for example, the terror imposed by certain religious doctrines. It was Edgar Snow, I believe, who described a school room in Mongolia at the start of the Chinese revolution, where the Buddhist school master used their belief in reincarnation to control the children in his class room. His pupils were constantly reminded that if they disobeyed him they would be reincarnated as some "loathsome animal," living their next life as a worm or perhaps a spider. In this context, Snow observed, signals were sufficient to keep order.
By contrast, a colleague recently told me of flyers he had seen being handed out while he was walking across the campus of the university where he teaches. It was an announcement which read: Introducing yet another administrative reform : two kinds of toilet paper will be introduced in the university restrooms; students and faculty will soon have the choice between tinfoil and wax paper for hygienic use on campus. This reform from above, the flyer explained, was made to offer more choices in the lives of scholars working in the library.
The 7 items below should provide CEIMSA readers with insights into the techniques used to maintain social control during the contemporary collapse of our economy. The military might of the United States is unaccompanied by credible ideological force, or consistent political power (but rather oscillating between unilateral or bilateral), while the intenal crisis of once autonomous financial institutions is wrecking the economies of entire regions of the world. The democratic response to these massive interrelated crises is literally to chart new territory in the realm of political behavior. I think that many of us agree that today's technology, in the midst of the communication revolution, is new, and different, and promising. . . .
Item A. is an announcement from San Diego community organizer, Monty Reed Kroopkin, providing information on the MARCH 4 NATIONAL DAY OF ACTIONS on the West Coast and elsewhere in the United States.
Item B., from Jim O'Brien representing Historians Against War, is a list of selected sites providing critical information of the American war machine and its consequences at home and abroad.
Item C., is an article critical of the so-called "Srebrenica genocide" (July 1995) by Dragan Pavlovic, a member of the Serbian Diaspora in France. (For more information on the dispute, please see the extraordinary documentary video : The Avoidable War, by George Bogdanich and Martin Lettmayer with George Kenney, Nora Beloff, David Hackworth.)
Item D., sent to us by Ronald Creagh, is a tribute to British anarchist, Colin Ward (1924-2010), written by his friend Jesse Walker.
Item E. is a "brief analysis of U.S. interference in the lives of Iran's 70 million citizens," by Edward Herman and David Peterson.
In item F. John Pilger writes a tribute to his heroic Jewish friends in Jerusalem, living day-by-day under the rule of imperialist aggression.
Item G. is an essay by Chris Marsden describing the historic significance of the labor strike in Greece on Wednesday, February 24, when two million workers (from the public and private sectors) joined by other labor movements across Europe protested against the international financial industry's attempt to impose political control over their working conditions and incomes.
And finally we offer CEIMSA readers a broadcast from the Real News on institutional racism in the U.S. :
Francis McCollum Feeley
Professor of American Studies
Director of Research
Université Stendhal Grenoble 3
from Monty Reed Kroopkin :
Date: 21 February 2010
Subject: March 4 - Defend Education - National Day of Actions
The Bail Out the People Movement endorses the March 4 National Day of Actions to Defend Education.
Across the country, students, teachers, faculty and other workers, along with concerned parents, community activists and organizations, will be using the week of March 4 to strike decisively to defend public education and the right to pursue higher learning.
The effects of the economic crisis have been felt in all sectors. Hundreds of thousands have faced having their homes foreclosed on or being evicted. Millions have lost their jobs and have added to the ranks of unemployed, especially people of color. Many families face hunger on a daily basis.
The crisis has not abated but continues like a storm. Federal, state and local governments are now cutting back on vital social services; closing schools; defunding education, health care and other needs; and laying off more workers.
There has been an accelerated push to privatize public education under the guise of school choice, using the crumbling infrastructure of inner city schools as an excuse. This crumbling is due to decades of systemic underfunding.
Parents and their children are wooed by for-profit and even nonprofit charter schools as a way out. But the charter schools offer a clear and present danger to teachers unions and are not bound to provide English as a Second Language or special education services. Charters can be granted to companies or a group of individuals who ultimately select the students and control the curriculum and budget.
Besides the above, corporations and financial institutions would like to get their hands on the $800 billion a year spent on education.
The Obama administration has contributed to the race to privatize public education. It has dangled $4 billion in front of strapped state governments to compete for by devising a new plan for education. This Race to the Top program calls not only for diminishing or eliminating altogether the cap on charter schools, but also calls for the tying of teacher pay to performance, opening the door for the firing of teachers at underperforming schools.
The state budget crisis, which grew out of the general economic crisis, has provided state governments across the country a pretext for further attacks on public education. As of December, 36 states have made higher education budget cuts, resulting in tuition increases and reductions in faculty and staff. Twenty-seven states and the District of Columbia have cut aid to K-12 schools. Additional cuts across states are expected to be widespread in 2010.
In this climate of severe and relentless education cuts, March 4 is just the beginning of a movement to unite students, educators and other workers against the attacks on public education. That is why the Bail Out the People Movement is proud to stand up for public education on March 4 and raise the demand: Money for Jobs and Education, Not for War and Incarceration. As the struggle continues to grow post-March 4, it will be critical to link together the movements for jobs and education with the movement to stop the wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
For more information on the March 4 National Day of Actions to Defend Education:
From Monty Kroopkin :
Date: 27 February 2010
Subject: SD Labor Council Endorsement of March 4 + Workers help organize student strike at University of Washington, March 4th.
Brothers and Sisters,
The San Diego-Imperial Counties Central Labor Council has endorsed both March 4, and the march on Sacramento. I have attached a copy of the Labor Council endorsement statement. The Labor Council has 125 affiliated union groups in our 2 counties.
March 4 is intended to be the beginning of a new movement, and we will hear much more in the weeks to come. A march on Sacramento will start on March 5, and end on April 21. It will go through the Central Valley.
This (below) was posted at Community Labor News. News from many locations is showing up around the Internet. It is clearly written from the point of view of the student component of the March 4 action, at UW. It also shows how union members in Washington state are working on March 4. The call for the March 4 Strike and Day of Action is for defense of public education and all public services (see the call at http://defendeducation.org/ ).
March 4th Student Strike Against Budget Cuts
Part of the National Day of Action to Defend Public Education
1 PM on the Quad at University of Washington-Seattle: Rally and picket lines begin
Facebook Page (invite your friends!): http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/event.php?eid=460473880290
The University of Washington is facing massive budget cuts which means tuition hikes, cuts to financial aid, and overcrowded classrooms for students.
It means layoffs, overwork, dangerous working conditions, furloughs, health care cuts, and union busting for workers.
On March 4th we will fight back to defend our education and our jobs! Students and workers across the country and around the world will be striking on that day, responding to a call emerging from the mass movement against budget cuts in California. Activists in some California cities are even organizing to build for city-wide strikes and actions on the 4th!
Here at UW we have tried rallying several times and it hasn't been enough to stop the cuts. It's time we up the ante by showing the legislators in Olympia that there will be no more business as usual on our campus as long as they try to balance the budget at our expense!
It's also time we show UW President Mark Emmert and the Board of Regents that UW is not for sale to corporations. The budget cuts are no excuse for targeting cuts towards custodians and other immigrant workers, working class students, students of color, women, and queer folks. We need to fight to make sure that UW is open and accessible for ALL people regardless of income!
Strikes are an effective form of struggle and have won concrete victories in California. By walking out of a class students show that this school cannot run without our daily cooperation. We feel our collective power. By setting up picket lines we will try to convince other students to skip class once so that our classes and our classmates will even be here next year! We hope this will inspire more people to join the struggle and will be one step among many toward building the kind of mass movement we need to actually stop these cuts.
Workers at UW, community members, and high school students are invited to come join the picket lines with us. Students will be striking not only for our own demands but for those of workers, high school students, and anyone else affected by budget cuts!
Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1488, SEIU local 925, and UAW local 4121 all decided to support this student strike after months of rank and file mobilization. WFSE Local 1488 is the union that represents thousands of workers and staff members at UW and Harborview. Rank and File WFSE members, especially custodians, have been at the forefront of the struggle against budget cuts; they helped build International Workers and Students for Justice, a group of campus workers, off campus workers, and students. Rank and file teaching assistants in the UAW have also been key organizers of this strike through their organization For a Democratic University. While workers are not necessarily striking at this time many will be coming to the student picket lines after work or will use vacation time to attend. We are building the necessary rank and file organizations to prepare for future actions.
This action overall is called by the UW Student - Worker Coalition, an alliance of undergrad, worker, and grad student organizations that has come together to fight the cuts.
For regular updates about the anti-budget cuts struggle at UW, check out: http://nobudgetcutsuw.blogspot.com/
For videos of past protests against budget cuts, go to Democracy Insurgent's "dinsurg" channel on youtube. For example, check out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKNAlZf_Oh4 and
Check out the National March 4th Day of Action facebook event page here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=184333923808&index=1
and the website here:
Check out the publication "We Are All Workers", Democracy Insurgent's analysis of budget cuts at UW that includes writings by custodians and other workers as well as working class UW students, high school students, and others: http://www.democracyinsurgent.org/ZINE.pdf
"Whose budget cuts?" pamphlet:
Solidarity with UW campus organizing from activists in California:
UW Daily coverage:
Student-Worker Coalition's demands:
1) Transparent and democratic budget allocation
2) Cut from the top administrators; cap all salaries at $150000 per year
3) No layoffs
4) No speed ups (extra work) for workers
5) Accessible public education for all
6) Freeze tuition (no tuition hikes)
7) Replace loans with grants
NOTE: If there isn't a critical mass of people the strike will only go on for an hour and we'll go back and organize to make sure the next strike is bigger. But if a lot of people show up with energy we'll take a vote at two to see if people want to keep it going longer. So if you want to make this big, invite all your friends, make announcements in your classes, and let's make this happen!
If you want to help organize to make this big, come out to the Student Worker Coalition meeting at 6 PM on Thursday in Suzzallo Cafe and be a part of the action!
Please see the APPENDIX at the bottom of this page for a complete copy of "The March 4 Resolution," which was passed this month by a majority vote in the San Diego Labor Council.
from Jim O'Brien :
Date: 14 February 2010
Subject: HAW Notes (including links to recent articles of interest).
To members and friends of Historians Against the War,
Here are some notes, followed by links to recent articles of interest on HAW-related topics.
1. HAW and the Labor and Working-Class History Association (LAWCHA) are planning a special session, "Remembering Howard Zinn," at the Organization of American Historians convention in Washington, DC in early April. The session will take place at 5:30 pm on Friday, April 9. Staughton Lynd, a friend of Howard for nearly fifty years, will speak, and there will be ample opportunity for attendees to share memories and thoughts.
2. The California Faculty Association (CFA) has called for a state- and nationwide day of action March 4 "to raise awareness about the crisis in public education and the need to fully fund our schools, college, and universities." The CFA's March 4 web site (http://www.calfac.org/march4.html) has information about events being planned in California and in a number of other states, with contact information.
Eight Links to Recent Articles of Interest
1) "The U.S. Military's German Fetish"
By William Astore, TomDispatch.com, posted February 18
The author, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, teaches history at the Pennsylvania College of Technology
2) Government in a Box' in Marja
By Andrew Bacevich, Los Angeles Times, posted February 17
The author teaches history and international relations at Boston University
3) "Hold Onto Your Underwear: This Is NOT a National Emergency"
By Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, posted February 14
On the continuing legacy of 9/11
4) "The Script Calls for Victory, No Matter What: The Battle for Marjah"
By Patrick Coburn, CounterPunch.org, posted February 11
5) "Ending the War in Afghanistan"
By Ron Jacobs, CounterPunch.org, posted February 11
6) "Haiti: A Creditor, Not a Debtor"
By Naomi Klein, The Nation (March 1 issue), posted February 11
Draws heavily on Haitian history
7) "Preserving the Golden Rule as a Piece of Anti-Nuclear History"
By Lawrence Wittner, History News Network, posted February 8
The author teaches history at SUNY Albany
8) "Iraq Policy: D"
By Bonnie Bricker and Adil E. Shamoo, Foreign Policy in Focus, posted February 5
The working group for these biweekly collections of recommended articles consists of Matt Bokovoy, Carolyn (Rusti) Eisenberg, Jim O'Brien, Maia Ramnath, and Sarah Shields. Suggestions for articles to include can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
from Dragan Pavlovic :
Date: 14 February 2010
Subject: "Srebrenica genocide" denied.
As a member of the Serbian Diaspora in France, I wish to express in the name of my friends around journal "Dialogue" and in my name strong disagreement with the proposed adoption by the Serbian parliament of a resolution regarding so called the "Srebrenica genocide". The use of the term "genocide" in such a resolution would be harmful to Serbia and harmful to the cause of peace in the world.
If the Serbian government would adopt a resolution as one which is in preparation, this would be terrible mistake. I categorically reject in advance to recognise such declaration as representing my and our, Serbian, opinion. By accepting such resolution, such government will cease to represent interests of the Serbian people. This government and its president will have to take all consequences of not representing and fulfilling the will of the citizens of Serbia and the Serbs abroad.
The way to contribute to peace and justice is not to give in to pressure to make forced confessions, but rather to seek reconciliation through truth, recognizing that in a tragic civil war, there were criminals and victims on all sides. The truth is not the exclusive possession of the victors, but the result of a scrupulous process that has yet to be carried out in an independent scientific manner.
Dr Dragan Pavlovic
Director and Editor in chief, Dialogue, Paris, France
from Ronald Creagh :
Date: 17 February 2010
Subject: Reason Magazine on Colin Ward.
My favorite left-anarchist writer, Colin Ward, has passed away at age 85. Ward was the most practical radical I've ever read: Rather than sketching out utopian blueprints of a society without a state, he searched for empirical examples of everyday people organizing to solve their own problems. Once he started looking, he found that voluntary,
non-authoritarian cooperation was everywhere. Utopia, he wrote in his 1973 book Anarchy in Action, is "already here, apart from a few little, local difficulties like exploitation, war, dictatorship and starvation."
Because he took his ideals seriously, Ward butted heads regularly with both the conventional left and the conventional right. In the '80s and early '90s, his column for New Statesman & Society was peppered with examples of the Tory government failing to live up to its rhetoric of liberty and decentralized power. At the same time, he was harshly critical of the social democratic left. In one of his most famous passages, he pointed out that
"When we compare the Victorian antecedents of our public institutions with the organs of working-class mutual aid in the same period the very names speak volumes. On the one side the Workhouse, the Poor Law Infirmary, the National Society for the Education of the Poor in Accordance with the Principles of the Established Church; and, on the other, the Friendly Society, the Sick Club, the Cooperative Society, the Trade Union. One represents the tradition of fraternal and autonomous association springing up from below, the other that of authoritarian institutions directed from above."
As Stuart White notes in his tribute to Ward, the writer was "a formidible and dedicated opponent of what is often understood as the Fabian tradition. This comes across very clearly in his work on housing where he was always highly critical of state-heavy efforts, led by middle-class housing professionals, to provide housing for the
working-classes. In this context, he argued for the alternative left tradition of cooperative self-help in the form of tenant cooperatives, self-build projects and squatting. He pointed repeatedly to the illogicality of local governments - often Labour-controlled - who would rather destroy unused council housing stock than allow it to be occupied
These squatters, to be clear, were not self-righteous trustafarians seizing a private home while the owner took a holiday. They were ordinary families finding uses for resources the state had left fallow. Such self-organization was a longtime theme in Ward's work. Quoting White again: "Much to the consternation of the [postwar] Labour
government, many thousands of working-class people responded to acute housing shortage by taking over and adapting disused military bases. While his comrades in the anarchist movement struggled to see the point, Colin saw this as an example of what he would later call 'anarchy in action': direct and cooperative self-help." Ward's interest in the institutions that people build from below took him to areas that radical writers rarely touched: He wrote appreciative histories and sociologies of holiday camps, allotment gardens, amateur music-making, even the street culture of urban children.
Ward had an eye for the creativity of ordinary people and the ways we use that inventive energy to transform our environments. He didn't have trouble imagining a society immersed in liberty and spontaneous order, because he knew that liberty and spontaneous order were what sustained society in the first place, even if they sometimes had to take a stunted form.
The Research on Anarchism List (RA-L) is an international forum which was started on January 1, 1996, and is devoted to book reviews, research and discussion of the theories, histories and cultures of world anarchist movements and to other topics related to anarchism.
from Edward Herman :
Date: 20 February 2010
Subject: "Chutzah, Inc.: 'The Brave People of Iran" (versus the Disappeared People of Palestine, Honduras....
In the establishment U.S. media, perhaps the least reported (as in most heavily "censored") foreign story of 2009 turned on the question: What do Iran's 70 million citizens really want? What was so intriguing about the suppression of this single question was that so many figures on the liberal - left in the States (and elsewhere) thought they had the right to answer it on behalf of Iran's people, and to ignore a majority of the Iranians. In the name of "peace" and especially "democracy," they cast aside majority opinion inside Iran for something more palatable to political tastes in the great metropolitan centers of the West.
For a brief analysis of this interference in the lives of Iran's 70 million citizens, see:
from Z Magazine :
Date: 26 February 2010
Subject: Endurance and Resistance within Israel.
I phoned Rami Elhanan the other day. We had not spoken for six years and much has happened in Israel and Palestine. Rami is an Israeli graphic designer who lives with his family in Jerusalem. His father survived Auschwitz. His grandparents and six aunts and uncles perished in the Holocaust. Whenever I am asked about heroes, I say Rami and his wife Nurit without hesitation.
Soon after when we met, Rami gave me a home videotape that was difficult to watch. It shows his daughter Smadar, aged 14, throwing her head back, laughing and playing the piano. "She loved to dance," he said. On the afternoon of 4 September, 1997, Smadar and her best friend, Sivane, had auditions for admission to a dance school. She had argued that morning with her mother, who was anxious about her going to the centre of Jerusalem. "I didn't want to row," said Nurit, "so I let her go."
Rami was in his car when he turned on the radio to catch the three o' clock news. There had been a suicide bombing in Ben Yehuda shopping precinct. More than 200 hundred people were injured and several were dead. Within minutes, his mobile phone rang. It was Nurit, crying. They searched the hospitals in vain, then the morgue; and so began, as Rami describes it, their "descent into darkness".
Rami and Nurit are two of the founders of the Parents Circle, or Bereaved Families Forum, which brings together Israelis and Palestinians who have lost loved ones. "It's painful to acknowledge," he said. "but there is no basic moral difference between the [Israeli] soldier at the checkpoint who prevents a woman who is having a baby from going through, causing her to lose the baby, and the man who killed my daughter. And just as my daughter was a victim [of the occupation], so was he." Rami describes the Israeli occupation and the dispossession of Palestinians as a "cancer in our heart". Nothing changes, he says, until the occupation ends.
Every "Jerusalem Day" - the day Israel celebrates its military conquest of the city - Rami has stood in the street with a photograph of Smadar and crossed Israeli and Palestinian flags, and people spit at him and tell him it was a pity he was not blown up, too. And yet he and Nurit and their comrades have made extraordinary gains. Rami goes to Israeli schools with a Palestinian member of the group, and they show maps of what ought to be Palestine, and they hug each other. "This is like an earthquake to children who have been socialised and manipulated into hating," he said. "They say to us, 'You have opened my eyes'."
In October, Rami and Nurit sat in the Israeli High Court while the state counsel, "stammering, unprepared and unkempt," wrote Nurit, "stood like a platoon commander in charge of new recruits and refuted the allegations". Salwa and Bassam Aramin, Palestinian parents, were there, too. Tears streaked Salwa's face. Their ten-year-old daughter Abir Aramin was killed by an Israeli soldier firing a rubber bullet point-blank at her small head while she was standing beside a kiosk buying sweets with her sister. The judges seemed bored and one of them remarked that Israeli soldiers were rarely indicted, so it would be best to forget it. The state counsel laughed. This was normal.
"Our children," said Nurit at a rally last December to mark the anniversary of the Israeli assault on Gaza, "have learned this year that all the disgusting qualities which anti-semites attribute to Jews are actually manifested among our leaders: deceit, greed and the murder of children What values of beauty and goodness can we squeeze into such a sophisticated apparatus of brainwashing and reality distortion?"
Rami now tells me the High Court has decided to investigate the case of Abir Aramin after all. This is not normal: it is a victory.
"Where are the other victories?" I asked him.
"In America last year, a Palestinian and I spoke five times a day in front of thousands. There is a big shift in American public opinion, and that's where the hope lies. It's only pressure from outside Israel - from Jews especially - that will end this nightmare. People in the West must know that while there is a silence, this looking away, this profane abuse of Israel's critics as anti-Jew, they are no different from those who stood aside during the days of the Holocaust."
Since Israel's onslaught on Lebanon in 2006, its devastation of Gaza in 2008-9 and Mossad's recent political murder in Dubai, the criminality of the Israeli state has been impossible to disguise. On 11 February, the influential Reut Institute in Tel Aviv reported to the Israeli Cabinet, which it advises, that violence had failed to achieve Israel's ends and had produced worldwide revulsion. "In last year's Gaza operation," said the report, "our superior military power was offset by an offensive on Israel's legitimacy that led to a significant setback in our international standing and will constrain future Israeli military planning and operations " In other words, proof of the murderous, racist toll of Zionism has been an epiphany for many people; justice for the Palestinians, wrote the expatriate Israeli musician Gilad Altzmon, is now "at the heart of the battle for a better world".
However, his fellow Jews in Western countries, particularly Britain and Australia, whose influence is critical, are still mostly silent, still looking away, still accepting, as Nurit said, "the brainwashing and reality distortion". And yet the responsibility to speak out could not be clearer and the lessons of history - family history for many -- ensure that it renders them culpable should their silence persist. For inspiration, I recommend the moral courage of Rami and Nurit.
from Z Magazine :
Date: 27 February 2010
Subject: The international financial industry targets Greek workers, and European workers strike back.
A Turning Point in Europe
by Chris Marsden
Wednesdays general strike in Greece, involving 2 million workers in the public and private sectors, marks a turning point in the political situation throughout Europe. It represents the most significant manifestation of a growing movement of resistance to the attempt by Europes governments and corporations to make workers pay for the economic crisis and the multi-billion-euro bailout of the banks.
At the very onset of this new movement of the working class, two fundamental characteristics have emerged: the movement assumes a cross-border and international character, and the workers immediately come up against the bankruptcy of their old trade union and political organizationsall of which are wedded to a nationalist program.
Indeed, austerity measures are being imposed by governments of the official left no less than those of the centre and right.
This week saw a succession of strikes and protests throughout Europe:
On Monday, Lufthansas 4,500 pilots in Germany struck. In France, air traffic controllers struck alongside workers at six French oil refineries. British Airways cabin crew voted by over 80 percent to strike.
On Tuesday, protest rallies took place in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia against the austerity measures of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government of Jose Zapatero. Trade unions in the Czech Republic announced that public transport would be halted next week.
A one-day general strike of the public sector is planned for March 4 in Portugal over the extension of a wage freeze as part of measures to cut the deficit from 9.3 percent of gross domestic product to 3 percent by 2013. French pilots have also announced plans to strike later this week.
These strikes and protests are only the initial response by Europes workers to the offensive being waged against them. The broadest mobilizations have been in those countries where the most savage cuts have been announced.
Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spainthe so-called PIGShave been targeted by the banks and financial speculators and ordered by the European Union to drastically slash their budget deficits. This will set a precedent for similar cuts across Europe. But the fact that industrial unrest has spread to Germany, France and the UK indicates the potential development of a truly pan-European movement.
The same underlying tendencies that have given rise to the reemergence of the class struggle in Europe exist in North and South America, Asia and Africa.
Many of the protests and demonstrations were relatively smalla factor utilized by the financial press to demand that the respective governments stand firm in imposing austerity measures. Nevertheless, the more perceptive commentators were clear as to the broader implications of these actions. Writing in the Independent, Sean OGrady stated that the strikes marked the onset of Europes Winter of Discontent. They promise to be just the start of the greatest demonstration of public unrest seen on the continent since the revolutionary fervour of 1968, he continued.
Commenting on the political impact of austerity measures that will see millions thrown into unemployment and social services gutted in Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy, he noted, The democratic strains in nations that had been ruled, well within living memory, by fascist leaders or the military are growing.
The basis for a continent-wide social and political movement is rooted in the common problems faced by workers in a globalised economy dominated by huge international banks and corporations. These organizations, and the financial oligarchy they represent, are demanding unprecedented cuts in social programmes, wages and pensions in order to pay for the trillions of dollars handed over by European governments to the banks. They are speculating against any economy that is seen as debt-heavy and unwilling to carry forward the necessary attacks on the working class, thereby increasing the financial pressure on the targeted governments.
As yet, the objectively international character of the movement developing in Europe finds no political or organizational expression. On the contrary, everywhere it meets with the determined opposition of the trade unions, to the point of outright sabotage.
This week saw the betrayal of many of these initial attempts at resistance by the working class. The German pilots union, Vereinigung Cockpit, called off the strike at Lufthansa on its first day, and the General Confederation of Labour (CGT) called off the strike against the oil giant Total in France. In both cases, the unions capitulated without having won any of the workers demands. For its part, the Unite union announced yesterday that its members mandate for strike action against British Airways would be put on hold while further negotiations take place.
Those protests and strikes that have gone ahead are, from the standpoint of the unions, designed to let off steam rather than mobilize a political movement against the governments that are imposing austerity measures. The unions portray their respective governments as mere hostages to either the European Union or the speculators, rather than the political representatives of the capitalist class.
The most draconian cuts are being imposed by social democratic governments that came to power as a result of popular hostility to right-wing governmentsPASOK in Greece, the PSOE in Spain, and the Socialist Party in Portugal. In every instance, they were elected with the support of the trade union bureaucracies, which have remained their allies as promised reforms have given way to austerity budgets.
The aim of the unions is to regulate social tensions and ensure that they do not pose a threat to big business and the state. A spokesman for the Greek General Confederation of Greek Workers (GSEE) made this clear when he said that imposition of PASOKs planned austerity measures would be tragic because it will provoke social unrest and clashes.
Ireland is cited by global financiers as the model to be emulated for imposing cuts in wages and services of between 10 and 15 percent. The ability of the Fianna Fail government to do so is entirely dependent on the Irish unions, which called off strikes against the budget that had involved hundreds of thousands of workers.
The Irish Congress of Trade Unions is limiting action against the government to a public sector work-to-rule. Its leader, Jack OConnor, declared, There will be those who will represent us as endeavouring to reverse the budget and undermine the democratically elected government. I want to state emphatically that agreement can be reached.
Whatever the intentions of the trade union bureaucracy, anger over the cuts being dictated by the banks and corporations will continue to grow. Their efforts to police this opposition, to stifle and betray it, will only lead to the development of a mass movement that must, of necessity, take the form of a political rebellion against the trade unions and the governments they defend.
There is no national solution to the crisis facing workers in Greece, Spain, Portugal or anywhere else. They are being thrust into a common struggle against globally-organised capital. The fundamental question facing the entire European working class is the adoption of a socialist and internationalist program as the basis for a new political leadership and new mass organizations to wage the class struggle in opposition to the nationalist and pro-capitalist organisations of the official labour movement.
San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council Resolution in Support of March 4th Day of Action and March for California’s Future in Defense of Public Education, Public Sector-Services, and Government and Economy that Works for all Californians
Whereas statewide, $18 billion in public education funding reductions over the past two years have resulted in layoffs of thousands of teachers and staff, millions of dollars cut from each K-12 school district increasing class sizes by as much as 35%, community college and university students losing classes, faculty and support staff being laid off (particularly our brothers and sisters in the contingent faculty ranks —at the community college, CSU, and UC levels—who have suffered massive layoffs and are frequently ignored in discussions of cuts), rising student costs and longer waits to graduate, and restricted access to educational opportunities for the students who need it the most and can afford it the least;
Whereas billions of dollars more are being cut from health care and social services for those who need them the most—the poor, the sick, the young, the elderly, and the disabled;
Whereas the ongoing budget crisis and raiding of city budgets poses a grave threat to public safety, fire, and other vital local government services;
Whereas the union busting represented by the constant assault on California’s public sector workers also harms union workers in the private sector;
Whereas California’s infrastructure is crumbling and continued budget cuts threaten to halt economic renewal and harm the state’s economic health and cost us jobs in the private sector as well as the public sector;
Whereas this is happening at a time when state spending for prisons has surpassed state spending for higher education and the income gap between the rich and the poor has reached historic proportions (locally as well as at the state and national levels);
Whereas these misplaced priorities are a recipe for disaster as education has long been the gateway to economic opportunity in the Golden state;
Whereas what was once the pride of California—our fine public education system—is being destroyed in the name of a disingenuous anti-tax populism that would sacrifice the future of the majority of Californians to preserve the interests of the most privileged people in the richest state in the richest country in the world;
Whereas despite the persistent mythology promulgated by the Governor and Republicans in the State Senate and Assembly about California's "spending problem," the reality is that California is radically under-funding the nation's largest systems of education. We serve 6.3 million kids in K-12 and 2.9 million adults in community colleges alone;
Whereas we have the largest education budget of any state because we have the largest population, but when we measure spending on a per resident basis, we are misers: California ranks 48th in the nation in per pupil spending in K-12, 47th in the nation in state employees per resident, and 45th in the nation in community college per student spending;
Whereas despite the mantra of the anti-tax zealots who have hijacked the state budget, taxes are not higher than they've ever been in California: in 1993 during the Pete Wilson years, the highest tax bracket in California was 11% of income. Today it is it is 9.3%.
In 1980, California corporations contributed nearly 15% of the state budget; today they pay 11%;
Whereas the legislature has imposed more than $12 billion in tax cuts for wealthy individuals and corporations over the past 15 years;
Whereas claiming to be holding the line against “taxes” while dramatically increasing the costs of education and other public services in the Golden State is the “big lie” of California politics. Increased student fees are simply a way of shifting the economic burden of education from those who can most afford it to students and working families who can least afford it and are frequently left drowning in debt in order to fund their educations or those of their children;
Whereas cutting education funding is economically counterproductive in the long term. For every dollar the state puts into higher education, it receives three in return in the form of more tax dollars from the higher incomes earned by a more educated populace;
Whereas the Governor’s proposed budget pits public sector workers against each other and pits the poor and elderly against the sick and disabled, the park system against students and students from K-12 against the students in higher education, etc;
Whereas on October 24th of 2009, more than 800 students, unionists and activists from more than 50 cities across the state gathered and called for a March 4th 2010 Day of Action to Save Public Education;
Whereas the California Federation of Teachers, the California Faculty Association, and dozens of public sector unions have also endorsed the day of action;
Whereas the California Federation of Teachers has been planning, since August of 2009, for a March for California’s Future as the centerpiece of their fight for California’s Future campaign to rally unions, activists, students, parents, and all other interested parties into a coalition with the goals of restoring the promise of public education; a government and economy that works for all the people; and fair taxes to fund California's future.
Therefore be it resolved that San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council calls for a day of action of all public workers on March 4th 2010 to bring attention to the need to end cuts to education and social services and the immediate need for progressive taxation in order to address California’s budget deficit and fund vital social needs—with actions to be carried out in a manner deemed appropriate by every union and local.
Be it further resolved that the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council will work with all interested parties to publically advocate for a simple legislative majority to replace the two-thirds supermajority in the California legislature for purposes of passing taxes and a state budget.
Be it further resolved that the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council will join with all interested parties to advocate for progressive taxation solutions to end the state budget crisis.
Be it further resolved that the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council endorses the March for California’s Future from March 5th 2010 to April 21st 2010 and invites all interested parties and their community allies to participate.
Respectfully submitted by
Jim Mahler, President, AFT Local 1931
Jim Miller, Political Action VP/Delegate, AFT Local 1931