United States

United States

Imperialist rivalries behind humanitarian aid

In the last few years, there seems to have been one natural disaster after another, and the human consequences of these gigantic dramas have been growing bigger and bigger each time. After each hurricane, earthquake, drought or famine, we have heard all kinds of laments from the ruling class and its governments, and all kinds of promises about help for the victims...

Hurricanes in US: Ruling class cannot learn the lessons

After Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans the chaos for the survivors, thousands of whom were packed into the Superdome and convention centre shelters without food, water or services, showed that the world’s only superpower could treat its poor and working people as badly as any third world country. The death toll was over 1000.

Hurricane Katrina: A Capitalist-made Crisis

Everyone has seen the catastrophic images. Bloated corpses floating in fetid flood waters in New Orleans. An elderly man sitting in a lawn chair, hunched over, dead, killed by heat and lack of food and water as other survivors languish around him. Mothers trapped with their young children with nothing to eat or drink for three days. Chaos at the very refugee centers that the authorities told the victims to go to for safety...

Hurricane Katrina: Capitalism leads humanity to disaster

As with the Bam earthquake which killed tens of thousands in Iran two years ago, as with the Tsunami which left hundreds of thousands dead in the Indian ocean region in December, so in New Orleans, in Mississippi and Alabama, the capitalist system has turned a natural disaster into a social disaster.

Crisis in the AFL-CIO: A Falling Out AmongThieves

The AFL-CIO is primed for a possible split at its upcoming quadrennial convention. A coalition of unions, led by the Services Employees International Union (SEIU) and including the Teamsters, Laborers, United Commercial Food Workers, and UNITE HERE are threatening to leave the federation if it does not adopt a broad set of “reforms” ostensibly designed to once again make the union movement a powerful force in national and international politics...

Working Class Struggles to Regain Political Identity

Alaska Airlines has proposed a contract to its workers that, if signed, will cut their salaries by 20%, while United Airlines has succeeded in cutting wages by 25%. On a different front, the number of American deserters from the Iraq war over the last two years has grown to 8,000, and is still growing. Far away, across the Atlantic Ocean, in several European countries the working class has staged massive struggles...

Imperialist Tensions Sharpen in the Far East

On March 14th 2005, the Chinese parliament passed a law against secession, authorizing Peking to use military means against Taiwan in case the latter opted for independence. The day before, the Chinese president Hu Jintao, dressed in military uniform, had publicly called on Chinese army officers to “be ready for armed conflict”. The message was clear: the Chinese bourgeoisie will not tolerate the separation of Taiwan, and is prepared to go to war to stop it.

Report on the National Situation in the US

In order to intervene effectively towards the political milieu and the class struggle, it is necessary for revolutionary organizations to closely follow and analyze the development of the economic crisis, imperialist tensions and the class struggle internationally and in the particular country in which organization or the section of the organization is located...

EU referendums: workers can't win in the democratic fraud

First in France, and then the Netherlands, the vote against the European constitution was presented as a popular movement against politicians and bureaucrats. A typical left wing claim was that “Above all this is a victory for workers, employees, youth, the unemployed who have rallied to the ballot box to reject this neo-liberal straitjacket”...

Editorial: Elections in the USA and the Ukraine

With slaughter continuing in Iraq and elsewhere across the planet, two elections took place in the spotlight of the world’s media, one in the United States and one in the Ukraine, the former remaining in the news for many weeks. As is the case with all elections, neither of these will provide any solution to the poverty and growing barbarism into which capitalism is plunging the proletariat and the exploited masses. But each, in its own way, demonstrates the impasse in which world capitalism finds itself.

The capitalist election: a no-win situation for the workers

The following article was written before election day by a comrade of the ICC's section in the US.

The capitalist propaganda barrage that accompanies each electoral circus always promotes the democratic mystification, the capitalist political swindle that tries to convince the working class that its participation in choosing the particular politician who will formally preside over the capitalist class dictatorship for the next few years means that it is free. While it is fashionable this year for journalists, politicians, pundits, professors, and clergymen to proclaim that this is the most important election in a generation or in our lifetime, one must note that similar claims were made in many previous elections. From the perspective of the democratic mystification, there is no such thing as an 'unimportant' election.

9/11 commission plays games with the truth

There should be no confusion about the purpose of the 9/11 Commission. The last thing that the current circus orchestrated by the ruling class is designed to do is uncover the truth about the period leading up to 9/11 and the terrorist attacks that killed over 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. While the hearings perhaps have undermined the credibility of the Bush administration and revealed some embarrassing details, the major thrust of the hearings will be a proposal to bolster yet again the repressive apparatus of the capitalist state, strengthen the CIA and the FBI, facilitate domestic surveillance, relax restrictions on searches and seizures at home, and unleash a new round of CIA covert activities abroad. To the extent that the hearings have been critical of President Bush, it is more because of discomfort within large sections of the ruling class about the administration's handling of the situation in Iraq, than because of errors made about the 9/11 attacks. This was made abundantly clear by the remarks, for example, by Commission member and former Democratic Senator from Nebraska, Bob Kerrey, when he prefaced his questioning of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice with a critique of the administration's Iraqi policy.

Impact of Iraq Quagmire on Domestic Politics

Recently the American bourgeoisie finally gave up on one of the biggest lies it used to justify its war against Iraq. In January David A. Kay, the Bush administration's chief advisor on the search for weapons of mass destruction, publicly acknowledged that he did not believe that Iraq had possessed large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons in the period prior to last year's American military invasion. So, it seems that the butcher of Baghdad was, after all, the one who was telling the truth - he no longer had so-called weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a "few months away," as the American government claimed, from producing a nuclear bomb - a key prop for the administration's case for the urgency of a pre-emptive war.

Iraq: American occupation in crisis

One year after the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the American occupation of the country is in deep trouble. The burst of intense violence in April in Central and Southern Iraq has sent any semblance of political stability and military gains achieved during the last year down the drain. The death toll among the American soldiers is mounting. In fact, more soldiers have died in the last weeks than during the official war period that led to Saddam's removal from power. The brand new American trained Iraqi security forces have routinely "dropped out of sight" during these last weeks of fighting, or, worse, joined the anti-American forces. The circle of violence against the Americans has grown from Sunni Muslims identified with the old regime and foreign terrorist groups to include a faction of Shiite Muslims -the majority religious group in Iraq that was often the worst victim of Saddam's repression- led by cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr. In fact, the US and its supporters are increasingly isolated. Today, anybody identified as being on the American side has become a target of the rising anti-American violence. Iraqis working for the US at any level, do so at the risk of losing theirs lives at any moment, while foreigners working for the so called "reconstruction" effort are facing a wave of kidnappings and killings. A year after the "conquest" of the country the American media can't show anymore flower-bearing children thanking the occupation army for their "freedom". On the contrary, the youth of Baghdad are more likely today to be on the side of the hysteric mob, celebrating the last killing of one more American soldier. In sum, it seems that the so-called "liberated" population of Iraq has turned against its "liberators".

Statement on the War in Iraq and the Crisis of American Imperialism

The situation in Iraq this spring has become a total disaster for US imperialism. The highlights of this mess include:

  • The highest number of casualties for American military forces since the official end of the war, which had been triumphantly, if prematurely, marked by President Bush's "mission accomplished" theatrics on an American aircraft carrier at sea last May.
  • Simultaneous armed uprisings by both Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq, neither of which the American military was able to put down by force. In both cases the US military command had to back down from publicly stated operational goals and negotiate compromises. For example, the American punitive expedition against the Sunni city of Falluja, where four American mercenaries (officially called security "contractors" by US authorities) had been killed and their corpses mutilated, became bogged down in a nearly month-long siege that inadvertently provoked a momentary unity between Sunnis and Shiites against the American occupation, ended in a stalemate. The negotiated settlement to the siege of Falluja put the city under the military control of a Sunni militia commanded by a Baathist general of Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard. After embarrassing revelations about their new ally, the Americans replaced him with another general from Saddam's regular army.
  • The American crackdown against the militant Shiite cleric, Sadr, who the American authorities had vowed to "arrest or kill," provoked a 7-week rebellion by Sadr's militia, the Mahdi army. By early June, the Americans were again forced to back down, negotiating a truce with Sadr, whose militia was allowed to withdraw, but not disband or surrender its weapons, and the warrant for his arrest was withdrawn.
  • Supporters of the US have been under attack, including regular terrorist attacks near the entry to the American occupation government headquarters, which resulted in the assassination of the head of governing council in May, and at least 3 high ranking officials in June.
  • The scandal around the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison was the final nail in the coffin for the Bush administration's ideological justifications for the war. Already all the propaganda about Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) and Saddam's alleged links to al Qaeda as reasons for invading Iraq had been thoroughly discredited. Now the torture, brutalization, and even murder of prisoners eliminated the last vestige of ideological justification - the "defense of human rights." The prison scandal turned that particular "reason" into a sick joke.
  • The main US ally in Iraq, Chalabi, a favored client of Vice President Cheney, and Pentagon confidant has been dumped, cut off from his $400,000 per month US subsidy, and accused of ties to Iran.
  • US authorities suffer increasing difficulties in manipulating its hand-picked governing council, which rejected the US choice for interim President of the provisional government.
  • The costs for waging the war in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, are completely out of control. The administration has requested an additional $75 billion from Congress, giving the lie to its pre-invasion claims that the occupation and reconstruction of Iraq would be self-financed through the sale of Iraqi oil on the world market. In fact, the Iraq oil industry, which was not seriously damaged during the invasion, had been so weakened by ten years of US-imposed economic sanctions, that the occupying authority has been compelled to import oil into Iraq.
  • With its political authority eroding badly, the US has been forced into a series of abrupt policy about-faces. For example, the US has abandoned:
    • its policy of banning Baathist party members and military officers from government posts in the "new" Iraq
    • its policy of dismantling the private militias loyal to the various religious and ethnic factions in Iraq
    • its policy of ultra-unilateralism, appealing to the previously vilified United Nations for political cover for the occupation of Iraq.
A Weakening of American Imperialist Leadership

It is important to be clear that this is a crisis, not of the Bush administration, but of American imperialism as a whole. The strategy to block the rise of any potential rivals, and even the use of unilateral military action to support the implementation of that strategic goal is an orientation shared by all major factions of the American ruling class. Despite recent criticisms of Bush's unilateralism from certain factions within the bourgeoisie, the fact is that US imperialism has always acted unilaterally on the international arena since the end of World War II. However, during the Cold War when the US acted unilaterally, making major imperialist policy decisions that effected the entire western bloc, whether it was war in Korea, or in Vietnam or the deployment of intermediate range nuclear missiles in Europe without prior consultation with its "allies," it could count on the discipline of the bloc to force its partners to go along with its decisions. In the post-Cold War period, the disappearance of the imperialist confrontation with a rival bloc, which was the basis of that international discipline, has made it more difficult for the US to get other imperialisms to sacrifice their own interests and submit to American diktat. The first Gulf War against Iraq in 1991 was designed precisely to get the European powers to support American imperialism, even against their own interests, and remind them that the US was still the dominant power. The ideology of human rights was used repeatedly by the Clinton administration during the 1990s to justify its military actions in the Balkans and Iraq. The current criticism of Bush's unilateralism is premised on the contention that his administration has used the wrong tactics and abandoned prematurely efforts to get the European powers to endorse the US invasion.

The false debate on gay marriage: Personal emancipation impossible under capitalism

The clamor over gay marriage has become a virtual obsession of the bourgeois media in the United States over the past several months. Television talk shows have been replete with impassioned debate between liberal reformers and conservative Christians arguing the pros and cons of granting same-sex couples the right to a legally sanctioned marriage. From the Marxist perspective, while the often bigoted and hate-inspired arguments of the conservative foes of gay marriage-which claim that homosexuality is a perverse lifestyle whose legal recognition will further erode the moral fiber of the nation-are easy to reject, the often inspired and passionate arguments of liberal reformers for granting the right to same sex marriage are not so simple to evaluate

Jayson Blair and the Myth of the Free Press

For more than a month the prestigious New York Times, and the media in general, have been shaken by the Jayson Blair scandal, which has put into question the veracity of the mass media that the ruling class relies upon to manipulate and mold mass consciousness in contemporary society. Blair was exposed for plagiarizing and even fabricating more than 73 national news stories over the past year. To repair the damage to its credibility, the Times devoted four full pages of its May 11th edition to detailing Blair’s transgressions. This “coming clean” by the self-styled American newspaper of record was supposed to reassure the public that the New York Times was more than capable of cleaning its own house. The whole thing was very reminiscent of the New York police department’s self-investigations of police brutality complaints. Journalists around the country rushed to the defense of the Times, praising the newspaper for confronting the scandal head-on. As one apologist put it, “the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post are dedicated to reporting the truth.”

Floundering of American Imperialist Hegemony

Six months ago when US imperialism began its invasion of Iraq the ICC predicted that "far from resolving the crisis of American leadership, the current war can only take it to new levels"(Resolution on the International Situation, Point 11, 15th Congress of the ICC, March 2003). We said that the war in Iraq would lead to growing instability in the Middle East - in Iraq and Israel/Palestine in particular, that Iraq would become a quagmire for US imperialism, that far from solving the problems of the challenge to its imperialist hegemony, the US would face increasing difficulties throughout the world, and that the war would aggravate the economic crisis facing the American bourgeoisie at home. Events in Iraq (see Iraq: A Quagmire for US Imperialism, p.4), in Israel/Palestine (see p.5) have amply confirmed these predictions. Because events happen so quickly in the current period, it is critically important to understand the framework in which these events occur. There are perhaps six key elements to keep in mind: the impct of capitalist decomposition on imperialist tensions; the strategic response of US imperialism to the growing challenges to its hegemony; the contradictory impact of this strategy; the irrationality of war in the period of capitalist decadence, particularly in its phase of decomposition; the simultaneous existence of a tendency towards the formation of new blocs and the countervailing tendency of capitalist decomposition hindering the formation of blocs in the current period; and the acceleration of history.

Austerity in New York City: Bourgeois Legalism is a Dead-End for the Working Class

In our last issue, we reported how the American bourgeoisie is making full use of the pretext of the "war on terrorism" to ram through unprecedented attacks on the working class' living and working conditions (see "War is a Pretext for Austerity," Internationalism #125). Utilizing the federal structure of its state apparatus, the American ruling class seeks to obscure its policy of generalized austerity at the level of the national capital itself by portraying the measures as the result of particular local and state officials' policy choices.

Iraq: A Quagmire for US Imperialism

Iraq has indeed become a quagmire for American imperialism, perhaps even worse than might have been expected. The relatively quick military victory achieved by the US military has proven impossible to consolidate. More American troops have been killed after an end to hostilities was triumphantly decreed by Pres. Bush in May than during the open warfare itself. US occupying forces have proved incapable of rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure or restoring any semblance of security, or vital services such as water, electricity or petroleum supplies to the population. The occupation and reconstruction of Iraq, which was supposed to be funded by profits from the renewed flow of Iraqi oil under American control, now requires an emergency budget allocation of an additional $87 billion that will send the US budget deficit soaring.

Response to Goldner on the Los Angeles supermarket strike

The following letter to the editor was sent to Red & Black Notes in response to an article by Loren Goldner analyzing the California grocery workers strike which was published in issue #19 of that publication. Internationalism.

While we wouldn't use the same words or formulations, there are certainly many things in Loren Goldner's 'Notes on Another Defeat for Workers in the US: The Los Angeles Supermarket Strike of 2003-2004,'

Latin America: US faces imperialist challenge in its own backyard

The US war of independence, 1776-1783, helped unify the new bourgeois class in North America, defined the nation-state and, therefore, sped up the development of capitalism. The consolidation of capitalism as a system, along with the extension of the market, shaped the American bourgeoisie?s perception of the European colonial powers, then present in the American continent as dominant forces, as enemies to fight on the economic and military terrains. This aspect of the dynamic of capitalism led the US to develop the Monroe doctrine (1823), which it used to shape the diplomatic argument in support of the national independence movements in the Latin American countries. In fact, though, it would be a threat to the old colonial powers of Europe, insofar as the declaration of ?America for the Americans? presented by the Doctrine, served a mechanism for the American bourgeoisie to define the American continents as territory under its own domination, and thus designated Latin America as its own ?backyard?.

Iraq: despite the fine speeches a war without end

On the 1st of May 2003, President George Bush - the cowboy turned fighter pilot-landing on an aircraft carrier under a banner that read "Mission Accomplished", announced with great fanfare the end of the military phase of the war against Iraq. Saddam Hussein's regime, confronted with the overwhelming military superiority of the US war machine, had collapsed in a few weeks of war without presenting any meaningful resistance. In the celebration that followed, the American bourgeoisie, full of itself, announced the beginning of a new era of peace and democracy for the "liberated" Iraqi population and for all the countries of the Middle East. Today, seven months after, there is not much to brag about it. The new free Iraq is so dangerous a place that the man behind the army that liberated it, Mr. Bush, had to sneak into the country in the middle of the night-protected of course by a lot more than just darkness - to share Thanksgiving dinner with his "brave warriors." The Middle East is not much better a place than before the war, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is still very much alive, while the chaos and instability of Iraq are spreading to Saudi Arabia and Turkey, where there have been recent brutal terrorist actions that have left dozen dead and hundreds of people wounded. A War Without End

Workers' Strikes in the US

The turn in class struggle discussed in the accompanying article on this page has been echoed here in the US, demonstrating the international character of the struggle between the working class and capitalism.

'Son of Star Wars': US imperialism flexes its muscle

The Bush administration has been very assertive in pushing its plan to build a National Defense System (NDS). Not one day passes without the bourgeois media mentioning this issue, and during the second week of June, George W. Bush made his first diplomatic trip to Europe, trying to persuade the "allies" that the American missile defense system would help the US protect them from potential missile attacks by rogue powers. What's going on? Why does the US want to scrap the 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty (ABM) -the treaty made with the old USSR in the height of the cold war? What's new in the imperialist, geopolitical scenario of the post-Cold War period?

Workers must return to the class struggle

It is no surprise that the worst impact of the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the ensuing ideological campaign would be found in the US, where the events were particularly traumatic for a working class that had not experienced war on its own national territory since the Civil War (1861-65), except for Pearl Harbor – which had occurred in Hawaii, some 2,000 miles from the American mainland. Prior to Pearl Harbor the last significant foreign attack on the US was the British burning of the White House and the Capitol during the War or 1812-15. The success of US imperialism's ideological campaign in the first weeks after the attacks is difficult to exaggerate. Whatever its confusions and disorientations since the revival of class struggle at the end of the 1960s, the proletariat in America has been defiant and distrusting of the state, willing to undertake militant struggle, to confront the police if necessary, and even, at an elementary level, to put the unions into question. The American proletariat, despite its historical and political weaknesses, has consistently echoed the struggles of the international proletariat over the past 33 years. The overnight transformation of this battalion of the world proletariat into a patriotic, flag-waving mass, susceptible to the worst racist attitudes and manipulation by the state was an unnerving phenomenon, and for weeks, made the defense of proletarian internationalist principles in the face of this barbaric ideological onslaught completely against the current.

US Ratches up Imperialist Strategy

In the wake of Stalinism's collapse, the end of the XX century was celebrated by the dominant class all around the world as the beginning of a new era of peace and prosperity in the life of capitalism. The disappearance of the division of the world in two major imperialist blocs was supposed to end the bloodshed and the potential thermonuclear obliteration of human beings and any other form of life in the planet. The chronic state of economic crisis and the poverty suffered by most of humanity was said to be finally on the way to being resolved thanks to economic globalization and other marvels of democratic capitalism.

US shifts to war strategy in the Middle East

For more than a year now not a day has passed without a new act of barbarism in the Israel-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. The age-old ideologies of Palestinian nationalism and Israel Zionism, more than half a century after the inception of Israel and the first Arab-Israeli war, continue to fuel havoc in this region. The spectacle is absolutely appalling. On one side, radical Palestinian militants blow themselves up together along innocent victims in suicidal terrorist attacks; suicidal armed confrontations against an adversary thousands of times better armed and organized; children, women and desperate young Palestinians aiming to kill at random, so long as the victim is a Jew. On the other hand, rubble, destruction and death caused by all-powerful Israeli state terror displayed with cynical impunity and total disregard for human life. On both sides populations living in fear, hating each other and ready to kill, poisoned to the core by the nationalist ideologies of their respective dominant classes.

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