Sunday, December 17, 2017

Don't Trust Putin's Kleptocrats -- Russia Needs Socialism

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

Don't Trust Putin's Kleptocrats -- Russia Needs Socialism


John Foster

Monday, November 13, 2017
Morning Star

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  Asked about current support for communism in Russia, Dr Slava Tetekin, veteran member of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, puts the figure at around 30 per cent.

  Tetekin, recently in London for the celebration of the October Socialist Revolution, explained “our parliamentary representation fell significantly in the most recent Duma elections to just over 12 per cent — largely as a result of a rigged electoral system.

   “But the daily sale of the communist-supporting Pravda is 80,000 and of Sovetskaya Rossiya 120,000. Particularly among the young and the better-educated, interest in our party’s policies and the achievements of the Soviet Union is increasing.

   “This is because life,” says Tetekin, “is becoming increasingly difficult for all in Russia except the very rich. Real incomes have been declining for three straight years. Twenty-two million people are classified as living in absolute poverty — struggling to get enough to eat. Half the population is classified as poor.

  “Yet people still remember that things were not always like this. Less than 30 years ago there was universal free healthcare.

   “Education was free right through to university and so was childcare. There were full pensions. There was no unemployment. Housing, energy, transport and basic foods were heavily subsidised.

   “There is also a growing awareness of the degradation of Russia’s economy. Russia’s manufacturing industries are virtually dead. The economy is almost entirely dependent on extractive industries that sell to the West: oil, minerals, natural gas.

   “In 1990 the Soviet Union produced 1,000 aircraft. Last year we produced 50. Our airlines lease from the West. Our motor industry is entirely dependent on imported technology and components. The same applies even more to IT and computing. The technological base for the independent economic development has all but disappeared.

   “These are some of the reasons why a new generation of Russians are looking again at their own history and particularly at period following the revolution. In 1917 Russia had a backward, largely agrarian economy. Within just 25 years the Soviet Union was outperforming Europe’s biggest economy, Germany, both in output and the quality of its technology. It was in large part for this reason that the Soviet Union was able to defeat Hitler fascism.”

   Asked how he would describe Russia’s current government under Vladimir Putin, Tetekin denied that it should be seen as at all progressive.

   “It is embedded in a layer of kleptocratic comprador oligarchs who are dependent on the West for the sale of their raw materials, for the banking of their money and for the technology needed for their operations in Russia. Immediately below Putin virtually all ministers are of this character.

  “The government depends on the oligarchs and the oligarchs depend on the West.

  “Putin,” he says, “has now been in power for a very long time. His 18 years exceed those of Brezhnev. It is remarkable how little challenge he offered to Nato and the US for the great bulk of that time, years that saw Nato’s eastward expansion into central Europe, the Balkans and the Black Sea. Russia even failed to oppose the invasion of Libya.

  “It is only recently, in Crimea and in Syria, that Russia has set down markers against further US advance. This may reflect the directness with which the US was challenging Russia’s interests.”

  But, says Tetekin, “there may well be other factors which we need to consider.
“These might include perceptions of a decline in the global power of the US, of a shift towards China and economic rivalries between the US and the EU.
“Russia sells seven times as much to Germany as it does to the US — and buys from Germany in the same proportion.

   “In turn Germany’s own energy costs and international competitiveness against the US depend very significantly on Russian oil and gas. US diplomatic action to impede the construction of new gas pipelines from Russia to Germany and banking sanctions on oligarch companies match the increasing conflict between the EU and the US over steel quotas and corporate taxation.”

  Joking, Tetekin says he would be all in favour of US sanctions against Russia if they covered technology and spare parts.

  “It would force the Russian government to invest in the redevelopment of our productive economy.”

   However, he adds, these rivalries also underlie attempts to promote a “democratic opposition“ in Russia similar to that funded by the US in Ukraine prior to the 2014 coup.

  “It has a smaller potential base. It is impeded by its neoliberal ideology. Unlike the time of Yeltsin’s 1991 coup there are no illusions about free markets. Russians have seen them and know the consequences. But regime change is increasingly becoming a goal of the US administration.”

  This, he says, makes it all the more important to redevelop working-class mobilisation and to ensure that the current reawakening of enthusiasm for the October Revolution is converted into a wider political movement for socialist change. The young are already leading the way.

Dr Tetekin is currently chief policy adviser to the general secretary of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, was a communist member of the Duma and previously played an active role in support for the anti-apartheid movement in southern Africa.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs


Fascism's Return and Trump's War on Youth


Fascism's Return and Trump's War on Youth

Saturday, December 16, 2017

By Henry A. GirouxThe Conversation | News Analysis

Students from numerous area high schools come together in Mariachi Plaza before continuing their march to City Hall to protest the upset election of Republican Donald Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton in the race for President of the United States on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California, United States. The mostly Latino youth walked out of class to protest because they are afraid that their families could be split up through mass deportations of millions of immigrants, as promised by Trump during his campaign. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
Students from numerous area high schools come together in Mariachi Plaza before continuing their march to City Hall to protest the upset election of Republican Donald Trump on November 14, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: David McNew / Getty Images)
Fascism is all too often relegated to the history books.
The word conjures up a period in which civilized societies treated democracy with contempt, engaged in acts of systemic violence, practised extermination and elimination, supported an "apocalyptic populism," suppressed dissent, promoted a hyper-nationalism, displayed contempt for women, embraced militarism as an absolute ideal and insisted on obedience to a self-proclaimed prophet.
But the seeds that produced such fascist horrors have once again sprung to life, returning in new social and political forms.
Today, a culture of fear dominates American society, one marked by massive inequities in wealth and power that not only uphold structures of domination, but also view differences as threats, compassion as weakness and shared responsibilities -- if not the common good itself -- as pathology.
Fascist thought is on the rise all over the world, but its most blatant and dangerous manifestation has emerged in the Trump administration.
Fear and the ethos of mass consumerism -- coupled with widespread insecurity and ignorance -- now drive people into a malignant notion of security, self-inflicted cynicism and into the arms of demagogues like Trump. For too many Americans, critical thinking and hope have given way to emotional bonding and the revival of the discourse of ultra-nationalism and bigotry.
Trump: Not Hitler, but Dangerous Nonetheless
Trump is not Hitler in that he has not created concentration camps, shut down the critical media or rounded up dissidents; moreover, the United States at the current historical moment is not the Weimar Republic.
But in the Trump era, remnants of fascism exist in different shapes and forms and include a celebration of the cult of the leader, systemic racism, the embrace of a toxic macho-populism and state support for ultra-nationalism, racism and the threat of violence against critics.
All of these elements are evident in Trump's rhetoric and policy initiatives.
Trump's corporate brand of neoliberal fascism is highly visible in right-wing policies that favour deregulation, corporate power and the interests of the ultra-rich.
Instead of draining the corporate swamp, Trump has embraced the merging of corporate and political power, and in doing so has turned the state into a battering ram designed to serve the most powerful and wealthiest members of society.
Trump's mode of fascism is a unique product of our times, our commercial culture, and a corporate controlled media, all of which saps the foundations of a viable democracy.
American culture is advertising-saturated and celebrity-based, and has permitted a rich self-promoter to abandon any pretense of civility, accountability or integrity in order to hype, scam and market his way to power.
Call it Fascism, American-Style. It's returned in the shadow of neoliberalism, with its celebration of the market as the template for governing all of society and its concentration of economic and political power in relatively few hands.
Friendly With dictators
How else to explain Trump's unapologetic support and friendly attitude toward right-wing dictators such as the self-confessed killer, Rodrigo Duterte, president of the Philippines, Russia's Vladimir Putin and China's Xi Jinping, all of whom have a fawning attraction to Trump given he exhibits little interest in their massive human rights violations.
Trump's fascism is also on full display in his ramping up of the police state, his relentless racist rhetoric, taunts and policies that cast Blacks, immigrants and Muslims as people unworthy of respect, compassion and dignity, and in his support for a war culture.
The latter is marked by his expansion of the US military budget, his provocations aimed at North Korea and reckless policies such as recognizing Jerusalem the capital of Israel --  widely condemned by almost all world leaders  -- that destabilize the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world.
But there are more subtle, if not under-examined, indicators that point to resurgence of fascist principles in the United States.
One of the most powerful is Trump's war on youth.
Finance capitalism now drives politics, governance and policy in unprecedented ways. And it's more than willing to sacrifice the future of young people for short-term political and economic gains, if not democracy itself.
In an apparent war on children, the Trump administration provides a disturbing index of a society in the midst of a deep moral and political crisis -- not the least of which was the president's support and defence of an accused serial pedophile, Roy Moore, in his unsuccessful attempt to win an Alabama Senate seat.
"Foreclosed Hope"
Too many young people today live in an era of foreclosed hope, an era in which it is difficult either to imagine a life beyond the tenets of a savage form of casino capitalism or to transcend the fear that any attempt to do so can only result in a more dreadful nightmare.
Youth today are not only plagued by the fragility and uncertainty of the present, they are, as the late Polish philosopher Zygmunt Bauman has argued, "the first post-war generation facing the prospect of downward mobility [in which the] plight of the outcast stretches to embrace a generation as a whole."
American youth, especially those marginalized by race and class, are subject to the dictates of the punishing state. Not only is their behaviour being criminalized in schools and on the streets, they are also subject to repressive forms of legislation.
Several states are sponsoring legislation that would make perfectly legal forms of protest a crime that carries a huge fine, or subjects young people to possible felony charges? Increasingly, young people are viewed as a public disorder, a dream now turned into a nightmare.
The most recent example is evident in budget and tax reform bills that shift millions of dollars away from social programs vital to the health of poor youth to the pockets of the ultra-rich, who hardly need tax deductions.
As US children's rights activist Marian Wright Adelman points out, such actions are particularly alarming and cruel at a time when "millions of America's children today are suffering from hunger, homelessness and hopelessness."
She adds: "Nearly 13.2 million children are poor -- almost one in five. About 70 per cent of them are children of colour, who will be a majority of our children by 2020. More than 1.2 million are homeless. About 14.8 million children struggle against hunger in food insecure households."
Cruel Mindset
The Trump administration is more than willing to pass massive tax cuts for the rich while at the same time refusing to fund the Children's Health Insurance Program, which supports over nine million children.
Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, meantime, has argued that tax cuts shouldn't benefit the poor because they will just waste the money on booze and women.
So if you're not rich, it's because you're lazy. Really? Tell that to the 10,000 people, some of them children, who may die each year as a result of losing their health insurance due to the proposed Senate tax bill.
Such a mindset, and statements like Grassley's, are more than cruel, they represent a political and economic system that has abandoned any sense of moral and social responsibility.
In this view, children are undeserving of aid because offering such government support flies in the face of a ruthless neoliberal ideology that insists that the only responsibility of government is to aid the rich and powerful corporations.
If the poor are suffering and subject to harsh conditions, according to Grassley's logic, it is because of a lack of character.
Another under-analyzed example of Trump's war on youth can be seen his cancellation of the DACA program (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), instituted in 2012 by former president Barack Obama.
Under the program, over 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children or teens before 2007 were allowed to live, study and work in the United States without fear of deportation.
In revoking the program, Trump enacted a policy that is both cruel and racist, given that 78 per cent of DACA residents are from Mexico. These are the same immigrants Trump once labelled rapists, drug addicts and criminals.
Trump's contempt for the lives of young people, his support for a culture of cruelty and his appetite for destruction and civic catastrophe are more than a symptom of a society ruled almost exclusively by a market-driven survival of the fittest ethos.
"Systemic Derangement"
It is about the systemic derangement of democracy and emergence of fascist politics that celebrates the toxic pleasures of the authoritarian state with no regard for its children.
Trump is the apostle of moral blindness and unchecked corruption, and he revels in a mode of governance that merges his never-ending theatrics of self-promotion with deeply authoritarian politics.
One of the most disturbing features of Trump's fascism is his disregard for the truth and his embrace of an infantilism that demonstrates, for young people, a lack of any viable sense of critical thought, agency and commitment to social and economic justice.
What's more, Trump has unleashed a rancid populism and racist-fuelled ultra-nationalism that mimics older forms of fascism and creates a culture of cruelty that both disparages its children and cancels out a future that makes democracy possible for them -- and therefore all of us.
At the same time, Trump has embraced a merging of corporate power and politics that is characteristic of all fascist regimes, and in doing so, he has shifted wealth and resources away from vital social programs for young people into the hands of the financial elite.
There is more at work here than regressive tax policies, there is also an attempt to disable the welfare state by eliminating its funding.
Domestic Terrorism
One result is what might be called the unleashing of a form of domestic terrorism -- terrorism practised in one's own country against one's own people -- in which young people are subject to state violence and relegated to forms of terminal exclusion, spheres of social abandonment and set adrift in a state of disorientation and despair.
Under this new resurgence of fascism, thinking is dangerous, public spheres that promote critical thought are considered pathological and youth are viewed as a threatening disoriented class, especially those marginalized by race, sexual orientation and class.
And so under Trump, the winds of fascism have accelerated into a hurricane and pose a haunting crisis for youth, the future and democracy itself.
That crisis of youth under the Trump regime is a political disaster of the first order and threatens every vital cultural and political ideal, principle, social formation and public sphere that makes a democracy possible. It's best illustrated by Trump's support for Moore, a homophobe, unabashed racist and an accused child predator, sexual harasser and sexual abuser.
Yes, fascism us making a comeback and is with us once again -- yet Moore's defeat in the deep-red state of Alabama to his Democratic challenger gives us reason to hope. Black voters, particularly black women, and young voters stood up to say "no more."
Fascism requires those among us who value equity, fairness, justice and morality to defeat it. To stop fascism, it is crucial that we show that democracy is the only alternative, and that the grotesque elements of fascism will be challenged. Here's hoping Alabama is just the beginning of such a struggle.
The Conversation
This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.
Henry A. Giroux currently holds the McMaster University Chair for Scholarship in the Public Interest in the English and Cultural Studies Department and the Paulo Freire Distinguished Scholar in Critical Pedagogy. His most recent books are America's Addiction to Terrorism (Monthly Review Press, 2016) and America at War with Itself (City Lights, 2017). He is also a contributing editor to a number of journals, including Tikkun, the Journal of Wild Culture and Ragazine. Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website is www.henryagiroux.com.
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Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

On January 11, speak out for the people of Yemen./A Story of Two Blockades: New York City and Yemen

Friends,

    Come to Washington, D.C. on January 11 to speak out against the ignoble U.S. role in the assault of Yemen.  We live in a country that is heavily involved in death and destruction in one of the poorest countries in the world.  As citizens, we are just as responsible as the Trump administration unless we speak out. 

    Please note that the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance will organize on Thurs., Jan. 11 at 10 AM a visit to the office of Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, 1705 Longworth House Office Building, WDC 20515 to Say No US Support for Saudi Arabia’s Assault on Yemen.  We will first meet at 9 AM in the Longworth Cafeteria. The plan is to deliver a letter to Hoyer’s office.  Contact Max at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 at Comcast dot net if you want to sign the letter. 

   On Fri.,  Jan. 12 at 11 AM, we will deliver a Healthcare not Warfare petition to Captain Mark A. Kobelja, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 4494 North Palmer Road, Bethesda 20889.  We are still gathering signatures on our petition.  If you want to sign it, please provide name, hometown and your organization to Max. RSVP to Max if you can join NCNR on Jan. 11, Jan. 12 or both days.  

 Kagiso, Max

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Story of Two Blockades: New York City and Yemen

The blockade of Yemen is an atrocious crime of the highest category, a violation of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international pacts.


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  On December 11, in response to the growing humanitarian crisis in Yemen, more than 50 concerned people including representatives of various peace, justice and human rights organizations and communities, gathered in New York City’s Ralph Bunche Park, across First Avenue from the United Nations. Our message, which was communicated on signs and banners and by speakers addressing the rally, was simple and direct: end the war crimes being committed by the military of the United States along with Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners abetted by the US and end the blockade of Yemeni ports.

   For more than two years, Saudi/US bombing has targeted civilian infrastructure: Hospitals, schools, factories, markets, funerals, sea ports, electrical power stations and water treatment facilities. US drones strikes and incursions by US Special Forces into Yemen have killed civilians as well. Armed conflict has directly taken the lives of some 12,000 people, but that tragic number is greatly exceeded by the number of those who are dying from a combination of malnutrition and otherwise easily preventable ailments and diseases like respiratory infections, measles, and cholera, including more than 1,000 children each week. 20 million of Yemen’s population of 28 million people are food insecure and few have access to clean drinking water. More than half of the hospitals in the country are not functioning.
Early in November, the already onerous blockade of Yemen’s ports was made practically total, prompting the United Nations Under-Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs to warn that, unless the blockade of Yemen was fully lifted, “... there will be a famine in Yemen... It will be the largest famine the world has seen for many decades, with millions of victims.”

  On November 27, limited exceptions to the blockade were made for humanitarian aid shipments alone. The resulting tightly controlled deliveries have been decried as an empty and vastly insufficient gesture by humanitarian aid groups, who are calling for the ports to be opened to all humanitarian and commercial shipments. Under this pressure, President Trump issued a very brief statement calling upon the Saudis to "completely allow food, fuel, water and medicine to reach the Yemeni people who desperately need it." Trump’s uncharacteristically polite request was not backed by anything much at all, much less by a freezing of US arms sales to the Saudis, nor did it address the practice of the US Air Force refueling Saudi fighter jets in mid-air or the US’ own drone strikes in Yemen.

   Clearly, the times demand that more be done to counter this dire threat and some voices are being raised. Along with robust diplomatic efforts, there are legislative attempts to curtail arms sales to the Saudis. There have also been fasts, vigils and protests such as occurred in New York and other cities on December 11.

   After speeches, songs and a powerful minute of silence, the rally moved up First Avenue to both the US and the Saudi Permanent Missions to the United Nations, led by banner reading “STOP US-SAUDI WAR CRIMES” and “LIFT THE BLOCKADE”, followed closely by officers of the New York City Police Department. Some of us felt compelled by conscience to stand in the doorway of the US Mission and after a short time, we were arrested for violating the “obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic” provision of the New York Penal Law regarding disorderly conduct. 15 of us, carrying photos of Yemeni child victims, were taken into custody and transported to the cells of the 7th Precinct on the city’s Lower East Side.

  I could not help but wonder as we were handcuffed and loaded into vans, how those police officers could listen so impassively to the denunciations of crimes against humanity being committed and to the disclosures of a blockade that threatens the lives of millions, orchestrated from the buildings we stood before. How could these officers, then, after hearing our pleas and the stories of starving children without reaction, move so decisively to remove our nonviolent obstruction to the perpetrators of those crimes? Did they not wonder if they were arresting the wrong people?

   The blockade of Yemen is an atrocious crime of the highest category, a violation of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international pacts. The US participation in the war on Yemen is a violation of the war powers provisions of the United States Constitution, at the very least. The imposition of our modest “blockade” of the United States Permanent Mission to the United Nations, in contrast, threatened no one. No one got sick or died because we stood in that doorway. In New York State, disorderly conduct is a violation, not even considered a crime at all. Still, the NYPD choose to ignore murder committed on its beat and to expend its prodigious resources to arrest and to prosecute law abiding citizens who demand an end to the crimes against Yemen.

  Our protest began in Ralph Bunche Park, named after one of the founders of the United Nations and the first black American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1950. Carved into the stone pavement there are these words from Mr. Bunche that speak to the present crisis in Yemen and to the many conflicts in the world today: “Peace, to have meaning for many who have known only suffering in both peace and war, must be translated into bread or rice, shelter, health, and education, as well as freedom and human dignity - a steadily better life. If peace is to be secure, long-suffering and long-starved, forgotten peoples of the world, the underprivileged and the undernourished, must begin to realize without delay the promise of a new day and a new life.”

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License
Brian Terrell

Brian Terrell is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence and lives on a Catholic Worker Farm in Maloy, Iowa.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/


"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

As the ANC Meets: Whither South Africa’s Historic Liberation Organization

Published on Portside (https://portside.org)

As the ANC Meets: Whither South Africa’s Historic Liberation Organization


Raymond Suttner

Thursday, December 14, 2017
Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
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  These days, the media seem to be reporting continuously on a single subject: the governing ANC's 54th national conference that is expected to be held in Johannesburg from December 16 to 20. The coverage of the upcoming conference is mostly focused on what journalists simply call "the race", referring to the election of a new ANC president.

  There are daily media reports on how many delegates appear to have pledged their support to one or the other candidate for the position which President Jacob Zuma is due to vacate. Zuma's term as state president is due to end in 2019, unless he is removed, for one of his many misdemeanours, before that term ends.
When the ANC held its first official conference in 1991, following a 30-year ban that forced the party to operate illegally, it was simply called a "national conference". But today, it is widely described as an "elective conference". By changing the description of the conference, the media is echoing the ANC's preoccupations and reducing party politics to discussions on who gets elected to this or that position.

  Back when the party was illegal, and involvement in the ANC was dangerous, people gained little by being part of the leadership in the party. But today, what position people hold in the party relates to the amount of power and resources they and their associates acquire or control.

   The ongoing contest for access to resources, which come with holding an elected post within the ANC, has resulted in some people resorting to illegality, violence and even murder. Extensive litigation has also arisen from disputes over the elections of executives for provinces and branches.

  For example, in the case of KwaZulu-Natal, the province with the largest ANC membership, a leadership that has been declared illegal by a court has continued to oversee the election of branch delegates for the national conference. This and similar developments in other provinces may have legal and political consequences that endanger the conference itself. The conference may be cancelled or cut short if accreditation of participating delegates is repeatedly questioned.

   Zuma and his loyal supporters may also cause the conference to collapse. The main contest in the conference will be between those who support the incumbent president and those who, while deriving from the same leadership, are less reliable. Zuma wants a trouble-free retirement. He wants to hold on to his wealth, however acquired, and he wants to avoid prosecution. And to achieve this goal, he needs to transfer control of the party to his loyal supporters.

  If the Zuma-supporting forces sense defeat, they may take illegal steps to ensure that the conference does not take place. That is not difficult to achieve, as individuals who have been vetted for loyalty to Zuma will be in charge of security at the conference. There are numerous ways of "sinking" the conference, short of outbreaks of violence already seen in some provincial or branch elections. The party's computer system could be damaged, making it impossible to accredit delegates. The venue can be made unusable in multiple ways - by flooding, inflicting damage or even dumping faeces (now a fairly common form of protest). It would be logistically difficult to find and speedily transport 5,000 delegates to a new venue.

  Much blood has been shed in recent years as result of intra-ANC violence relating to elections. Candidates or councillors have been attacked, injured or even murdered. The conflict is generally described as "factional". This may be true, but these days the "factions" in the ANC do not represent political tendencies or ideologies. Instead, they represent people loyal to certain individuals or even criminal networks.

  It has not always been like this. In the past, divisions in the party were mostly related to ideological differences, as with the breakaway of the Pan Africanist Congress in the late 1950s. There were other factional splits and differences, but these were also related to broad issues like the relationship between race and class, socialism and national liberation, or the resort to armed struggle.

  Given the ethical corrosion of the ANC and its descent from an organization with a thriving political inner life into violent and criminal practices, can it recover?
One needs to be cautious before suggesting that an organisation that has been at the centre of struggles for freedom for over a century will simply disappear. But it is equally difficult to imagine the ANC ever regaining the moral stature and level of trust that it enjoyed when the ban on its activities was lifted in 1990.

  The future of the ANC is not assured, and even if it survives this conference, it will remain a deeply fractured organization. There is no leader or group of people with a vision that unifies its members or attracts the enthusiasm of ordinary citizens. All of the candidates for the ANC presidency were complicit in Zuma's rule and advance scrappy, uninspiring alternatives. None of these evokes a sense of excitement that once surrounded the ANC.

   But there are many who are hoping that this gloomy prognosis is proved wrong. Business leaders long for stability, and many believe the conference may deliver a level of political certainty that would make this possible.

  Many ANC veterans and other well-meaning citizens believe that if Cyril Ramaphosa, current deputy president of the ANC and the country, were to be elected, the fortunes of the country could be turned around. Ramaphosa has been a successful businessperson and is credited, possibly with some exaggeration, with knowing how to "fix things up".

   Some, like dismissed finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, even suggest that Ramaphosa, if elected ANC president, would be able to remove Zuma as state president, but that is not easy to do. What all those who vest so much in Ramaphosa ignore is that Zuma remains president of the country and is impervious to a sense of honour.

   When Thabo Mbeki, the second post-apartheid president of South Africa, lost the support of the ANC leadership, he resigned as state president. But Zuma fears prosecution for fraud and other crimes. He will not follow Mbeki's lead and simply walk away from power, as long as these charges loom over him. It may also be that if Ramaphosa is elected, he will not have a substantial majority to back such actions.

   Some suggest that a package deal, similar to that offered to Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, could see Zuma go quietly. But there are doubts about the legality of such a deal. Many who respect the law and the constitution do not want to allow Zuma to hold onto his ill-gotten gains or be exempted from prosecution.
South Africans want a democratic state, run on the basis of the existing constitution. But South African democracy cannot be restored through deals behind closed doors. It requires re-empowering the citizenry, who have been so badly betrayed. That may be a difficult task, entailing listening to one another in order to rebuild democratic organisation. That will not be achieved overnight.

  Raymond Suttner, based in Johannesburg, is a scholar and a social and political analyst. He was actively involved in the liberation struggle against apartheid, both in legal political activities and illegal underground work. He served two periods of imprisonment and after release in 1988 was under house arrest, totalling 11 years.

   At one point he was in the leadership of the African National Congress, South African Communist Party and the United Democratic Front. Currently he is in disagreement with the directions taken by the ANC/SACP alliance and the ANC-led government, for reasons that are addressed in this blog.

   As a scholar Suttner has held positions at six South African universities. Currently he is a part-time professor at Rhodes University and emeritus professor at the University of South Africa.

  He has published Inside Apartheid's Prison, 2001 (UKZN press and Ocean Press, which was runner up for the Alan Paton prize), The ANC Underground, 2008 (Jacana, and 2009, Lynne Rienner). Together with Jeremy Cronin he wrote 30 Years of the Freedom Charter (Ravan Press and Ohio University Press, 1986), banned for possession by the apartheid government and 50 Years of the Freedom Charter, 2006 (UNISA Press) and Recovering Democracy in South Africa was published by Jacana media in 2015, with a US edition published in hardback by Lynne Rienner.  Inside Apartheid's Prison was reissued in 2017, with a new introduction reflecting on the political choices that lead Suttner to pursue his political convictions outside of the ANC and SACP.

Thanks to the author for sending this to Portside.


Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



Saturday, December 16, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert December 17 - 31, 2017

Baltimore Activist Alert December 17 - 31, 2017

"I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours." -Martin Luther King Jr.

Friends, this list and other email documents which I send out are done under the auspices of the Baltimore Nonviolence Center.  Go to www.baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com.  If you appreciate this information and would like to make a donation, send contributions to BNC, 325 East 25th Street, Baltimore, MD 21218.  Max Obuszewski can be reached at 410-323-1607 or mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net.

1] Books, buttons and stickers
2] Web site for info on federal legislation
3] Join Nonviolent Resistance lists  
4] Two friends are looking to buy a house in Baltimore
5] Meet with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis – Dec. 17
6] “Thinking about How Lives Matter” -- Dec. 17
7] Explore grassroots social movements – Dec. 17
8] Thomas Sankara film showing – Dec. 17
9] Baltimore Palestine Solidarity meeting – Dec. 17
10] Protest at the Pentagon – Dec. 18
11] Donate toys for cats and dogs – through Dec. 31
12] Gift of Life to an Animal – through Dec. 31
13] 4th Report International Migration in the Americas – Dec. 18
14] Protest Betsy DeVos – Dec. 18
15] See the film TAKING ROOT -- Dec. 18
16] SURJ Baltimore Legislative Team Meeting – Dec. 18
17] Get Money Out of Maryland Teleconference -- Dec. 18
18] Peace vigil – Dec. 19
19] Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" – Dec. 19
20] Say NO to the Pipeline – Dec. 19
21] Baltimore Ceasefire Public Meeting – Dec. 19
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1] – Buttons, bumperstickers and books are available.  “God Bless the Whole World, No Exceptions” stickers are in stock. Call Max at 410-323-1607.

2] – To obtain information how your federal legislators voted on particular bills, go to http://thomas.loc.gov/.  Congressional toll-free numbers are 888-818-6641, 888-355-3588 or 800-426-8073. The White House Comment Email is accessible at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/.

3] – THE ORGANIZING LIST will be the primary decision-making mechanism of the National Campaign of Nonviolent Resistance [NCNR].  It will be augmented by conference calls and possibly in-person meetings as needed.  It will consist of 1 or 2 representatives from each local, regional, or national organization (not coalitions) that wishes to actively work to carry out the NCNR campaign of facilitating and organizing nonviolent resistance to the war in Iraq.

To join the ORGANIZING List, please send your name, group affiliation, city and email 6address to mobuszewski at Verizon.net.  Different local chapters of a national organization are encouraged to subscribe.  

THE NOTICES LIST will include only notices of NCNR actions and related information and is open to any interested person to subscribe.  It will be moderated to maintain focus & will include periodic notices about getting involved in NCNR national organizing.  To join the NOTICES List, send an email message to ncnrnotices-subscribe@lists.riseup.net. You will get a confirmation message once subscribed.  If you have problems, please write to the list manager at ncnrnotices-admin@lists.riseup.net.

4] – Janice and Max are looking to buy a house in Baltimore.  Let Max know if you have any leads—410-323-1607 or mobuszewski 2001 at comcast dot net. 

5] – Join BUILD, the Immigration Outreach Service Center and the communities of Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Patrick Churches in a meeting with Police Commissioner Kevin Davis on Sun., Dec. 17 from 10 to 11:30 AM at St. Patrick Church, 319 S. Broadway, Baltimore 21231. This is a great opportunity to build relationships between the Baltimore Police Department and the immigrant community, and to work together on a plan to address safety issues facing the immigrant community. Discussion will focus on violence in Baltimore City and fear of the police and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) experienced in the immigrant community. RSVP to maryr.ioscbaltimore@gmail.com.

6] – Usually, the Baltimore Ethical Society, 306 W. Franklin St., Suite 102, Baltimore 21201-4661, meets on Sundays, and generally there is a speaker and discussion from 10:30 AM to noon.  On Sun., Dec. 17, the Sunday Platform is “Thinking about How Lives Matter” with Michael S. Franch.  We claim universality in our faith community. We talk about the worth and dignity of every person. It doesn’t matter whether one is black or white, gay or straight. That’s true but it’s also not true. If we ignore an identity that is important to a person, we ignore part of them. We know that “Black Lives Matter” and that “All Lives Matter,” but if we can’t say the former, we don’t mean the latter. We need to recognize both specificity and universality, that “all” contains multitudes.

  Franch is an Ethical Culture Leader and an active member of the National Leaders Council of the American Ethical Union. He served as Leader of the Baltimore Ethical Society from 1975-1984 and is currently affiliate minister at the First Unitarian Church, Baltimore. Mike is a historian by training but spent most of his career working in health policy at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Call 410-581-2322 or email ask@bmorethical.org.

7] – On Sun., Dec. 17 from 7 to 10 PM, come to Tactical Cinema at the Baltimore Free Farm, hosted by Tactical Cinema and The Holy Underground, at 3510 Ash St., Baltimore 21211.  This popular education workshop series explores grassroots social movements, the problems they seek to address, and the sickness and confusion they experience in the neoliberal era. In each session, participants view movement-media: audio and video clips of documentaries, speeches, raw footage and interviews that illuminate the nature and consequences of these problems. We will discuss the incomprehensibility of phenomena such as neocolonialism, empire and white supremacy, and how the corporate media obscures understanding of these issues. Please note that this session will involve viewing and discussing materials some may find upsetting.  Tactical Cinema 1 at Baltimore Free Farm will explore Political Unconsciousness, Confusion and Disorientation. The workshop length is three hours. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/406668229752668/.

8] – On Sun., Dec. 17 from 4:30 to 7 PM, come to the Forum - Thomas Sankara film showing, report & discussion, hosted by Workers World Party - Baltimore at 2011 N Charles St, Floor, Baltimore 21218.  December 21, 1949, is the birthday of Thomas Sankara, the revolutionary leader of Burkina Faso, who is referred to as "Africa's Che." Come to Sunday's film showing of "Thomas Sankara, the Upright Man" and hear a special report by Rasheed Green, community activist and Workers World Party organizer. In addition, there will be a report on Palestine and the recent pronouncements by Trump to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Get updates on struggles against police terror, activities sponsored by the bus riders union and the upcoming March on Dr. King Jr. weekend. Enjoy refreshments and a light dinner at 4:30 PM. The meeting will start at 5 PM promptly. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/304910926667933/.

9] – Baltimore Palestine Solidarity is meeting on Sun., Dec. 17 at 4 PM on the 12th floor of the University of Baltimore Law School,  1401 N. Charles St..  Meet in one of the group study rooms, depending on which is open.  Please walk around and look for an occupied room.  The meetings are every 1st and 3rd Sunday of the month from 4 to 6 PM.  At meetings people are free to come and work on their campaigns/projects, learn about the group or propose new ideas.  You don't have to stay the whole time.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/baltimorepalestine/ or https://bmoreagainstapartheid.wordpress.com/.

10] – There is a weekly Pentagon Peace Vigil from 7 to 8 AM on Mondays, since 1987, outside the Pentagon Metro stop.  The next vigil is Dec. 18, and it is sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker.  Email artlaffin@hotmail.com or call 202-882-9649.  The vigil will be outside the Pentagon's south Metro entrance and in the designated "protest zone" behind bicycle fences across from the entrance to the Metro.  By Metro, take Yellow Line and get out at the "Pentagon" stop. Do not go to the Pentagon City stop! Go up south escalators and turn left and walk across to protest area. By car from D.C. area, take 395 South and get off at Exit 8A-Pentagon South Parking. Take slight right onto S. Rotary Rd. at end of ramp and right on S. Fern St. Then take left onto Army Navy Dr. You can "pay to park" on Army Navy Dr.,  and there is meter parking one block on right on Eads St. Payment for both of these spots begin at 8 AM.  No cameras are allowed on Pentagon grounds. Restrooms are located inside Marriott Residence Inn on corner of S. Fern and Army Navy Dr.

11] – Throughout December, the Maryland SPCA is collecting toys for the cats and dogs in its adoption center. The goal is to collect enough toys in one month to entertain the homeless animals in the shelter throughout the coming year by filling its sleigh! You can help by bringing new cat and dog toys and treats to the Maryland SPCA's adoption center, 3300 Falls Road, Baltimore 21211 or Project Adopt in White Marsh Mall, 8200 Perry Hall Blvd, Baltimore 21236. Some of the toys which are needed are kongs, hard rubber chew toys, soft treats, toy mice (without catnip) and small cat balls w/ bells. Providing toys for the animals is more than a nice touch. Having toys and treats in the shelter environment helps socialize animals, reduces stress and improves health. See http://www.mdspca.org/updates/detail/presents-for-pets.

12] –  Continuing through Dec. 31, you can have the Gift of Life Adoption Special, hosted by BARCS Animal Shelter, 301 Stockholm St., Baltimore 21230.  On Mon., Dec. 18, for example, the shelter will be open from 2 to 6 PM.  Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/174440716485060/?event_time_id=174440769818388.

Give the animals the gift of "home," the Gift of Life! This holiday season, BARCS' adoption fees are $0 thanks to many generous friends who are sponsoring adoption fees right this very minute through online and mailed-in donations. This holiday season, BARCS has hundreds of homeless animals in the shelter who need families. These precious animals are spending the holiday season at the shelter through no fault of their own. Help us given them a second chance by choosing adoption. Please consider sponsoring an adoption fee of an animal in the shelter by making a donation this holiday season!

13] – On Mon.,  Dec. 18 from 10 AM to 1 PM, hear a Presentation of the 4th Report International Migration in the Americas, hosted by Organization of American States (OAS).  The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will present the Fourth Report of the Continuous Reporting System on International Migration in the Americas (SICREMI 2017) on in the Hall of the Americas at the headquarters of the hemispheric institution in Washington, D.C.  The Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, and the Head of the Division of International Migration of the OECD, Jean-Christophe Dumont, will open the event, and the report will be presented by the Migration Specialist in the OAS Department of Social Inclusion, Juan Manuel Jiménez, and the former Principal Administrator of the Division of International Migration of the OCDE, Georges Lemaître.  Among the findings of the study are the fact that between 2012-2015, of the 7.2 million people that emigrated from the countries of the Americas, 48% moved to Canada and the United States, 34% to Latin America and the Caribbean and 18% to European countries of the OECD. The study gathers data of migrations to, from and within the Americas, and includes specific information on countries of origin and destination, refugees and asylum seekers, and unemployment among migrants. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/125100961612305/.

14] -- On Mon., Dec. 18 at noon, Protest Betsy DeVos at UB at the Modell Lyric, hosted by GLSEN Maryland and Force, at 140 W. Mount Royal Ave., Baltimore 21201. DEVOS IS DANGEROUS.  She is a safety hazard to our nation's most vulnerable youth. Not only is she painfully unqualified, she has taken actions to reverse and eliminate some of the most important protections for students in our country. ALL students deserve a safe, supportive place to learn. This important idea is under direct attack as long as Betsy Devos holds her post as Secretary of Education. Her support of private school voucher programs, as well as her actions to revoke guidance to protect transgender youth, shows a dangerous disregard for LGBTQ youth, youth of color, youth from low-income families, and the role of public education in our country.  Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/666682760205840/.

15] – On Mon., Dec. 18 at 7 PM, Reel and Meal at the New Deal presents TAKING ROOT at the New Deal Café, 113 Centerway, Roosevelt Center, Greenbelt.  An optional vegan buffet is served at 6:30 PM for $14. The New Deal Café is accessible from the Greenbelt Metro station by buses G 12 and 14.    The film tells the story of Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Nobel Peace prize laureate, whose simple act of planting trees grew into a nationwide movement to safeguard the environment, protect human rights and defend democracy, teaching women about the connection between environmental problems and their daily problems. The sponsors are the Utopia Film Festival, Beaverdam Creek Watershed Watch Group, Green Vegan Networking and Prince George’s County Peace and Justice Coalition. Go to https://www.newdealcafe.com/events/reel-and-meal/.

16] – On Mon., Dec. 18, SURJ Baltimore Legislative Team Meeting, hosted by SURJ Baltimore, at 6:30 to 8:30 PM at 2640 St. Paul St., Baltimore 21218. Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/590015158011455/.

17] – Join the Get Money Out of Maryland Teleconference every Monday evening. On Mon., Dec. 18 at 8:30 PM, call 605-475-6711, 1136243#.  Focus on the petitioning drive and continue to plan public outreach events.

18] –  Each Tuesday from 4:30 - 5:30 PM, the Catholic Peace Fellowship-Philadelphia for peace in Afghanistan and Iraq gathers at the Suburban Station, 16th St. & JFK Blvd., at the entrance to Tracks 3 and 4 on the mezzanine.  The next vigil is Dec. 19.  Call 215-426-0364.

19] – Vigil to say "No Drone Research at JHU" each Tuesday at 33rd & North Charles Sts. join this ongoing vigil on Dec. 19 from 5:30  to 6:30 PM. Call Max at 410-323-1607.   

20] – The Maryland Department of the Environment is holding a public hearing on the Potomac Pipeline, and it needs to hear from you!  As proposed, the Potomac Pipeline would run through Maryland, crossing under the Potomac River and the C&O Canal — and endangering the drinking water of more than six million people who live downstream and rely on the Potomac for their water. RSVP to https://go.offfossilfuels.org/event/action/502.  Come to the Public Hearing: Say NO to the Pipeline on Tues., Dec. 19 from 6 to 9:30 PM at Hancock Middle and Senior High School, 289 W. Main St., Hancock 21750.  Rally outside at 6 PM. to demonstrate opposition to the pipeline, then move inside to attend the hearing.

At the hearing, staff from the Department of the Environment will take comments from Marylanders to inform whether they approve or deny the 401 Water Quality Certificate that's required under the Clean Water Act in order for the project to move forward. Denying the 401 permit would stop the construction of this pipeline in its tracks, and it's the best way for Governor Hogan and Maryland regulators to protect our drinking water!

21] – On Tues., Dec. 19 from 7 to 9 PM, come to a Baltimore Ceasefire Public Meeting, hosted by Baltimore Ceasefire 365 at 219 N. Chester St., Baltimore 21231. Prepare for the February 2018 Ceasefire weekend, discuss plans, strategies, ideas, and hope for a better Baltimore. Go to https://www.facebook.com/events/411475489269597/.

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/.

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs