United States

United States

The State Beefs-up Its Repressive Apparatus, The Better to Confront the Working Class

A central element in the current ideological offensive of the ruling class is the aggressive effort to gain public acquiescence in the strengthening of the repressive apparatus of the state, and the erosion of “civil liberties.”Of course this isn’t totally new.The Clinton administration had already presided over the greatest repressive offensive in a generation.The strengthening of the police forces around the country by the transfer of 100,000 laid off soldiers to local police agencies during the 1990s; the increase in the number of criminal offensives punishable by death; the closing of the doors to political exiles from oppressive regimes in South America and the Caribbean; repressive rulings by the Supreme Court that expanded police search and seizure powers, limited appeals by defendants; the explosion in the percentage imprisoned in the nation’s jails -- are all examples of this strengthening of the repressive apparatus overthe past decade.

Squabble with China: the continuity of US policy in Asia

The 11-day stand-off between American and Chinese imperialism in April was the first international crisis weathered by the new Bush administration, and it gave a glimpse of what lies ahead for American imperialism. The crisis with China should not be seen as a surprise or anomaly. Just as the election of George Bush has set off alarms bells in European capitals (see Internationalism 116), so too the tensions with the Chinese bourgeoisie have been exacerbated, as both the Chinese and American regimes are feeling each other out now that a new foreign policy team is in place in the US. For the Chinese, the central foreign policy concerns at this juncture include continuation of the strategic partnership in Asia between the US and China brokered during the Clinton years, attempts to influence the US not to sell sophisticated weaponry to Taiwan, continued integration of China into the World Trade Organization, and maintenance of most favored nation trade status with the US. Once the accidental collision of the American spy plane and a Chinese jet fighter, it was inevitable that the Chinese would seek to test the mettle of the new Bush administration foreign policy team.

Remembering the 'Greatest Generation'

There has been a lot of hype in the mass media about the so-called 'Greatest Generation' -- the generation that fought in World War II. First there was "Saving Private Ryan," the Hollywood blockbuster starring Tom Hanks, which glorified the sacrifices of those who fought in the war. More recently, there has been a media campaign to erect a monument to the soldiers and sailors who "made the world safe for the American way of life." Tom Brokaw, one of the most prominent television news reporters/broadcasters in the United States, has published two books on this generation, both those who fought in the war. The television news has been inundated with "heart-warming" stories about "long overdue" medals and citations being awarded to aging veterans. Various tributes have been made to the factory workers who worked long and hard to produce the weapons and materials needed to prosecute the war. A strong dose of gratitude is handed to those men and women who were not sent into combat but who worked under often dangerous and difficult conditions to keep production for war going at a fierce pace. There has been homage to all the women who worked as nurses or factory workers or truck drivers to keep war production going.

Democratic Campaigns of the Ruling Class Divert Attention from the Class Struggle

In the last few months the ruling class has unleashed an incredible barrage of democratic campaigns to confuse and disorient the working class. The democratic mystification is used skillfully by the bourgeoisie in diverting political discontent within the working class into harmless traps that keep workers tied to the state and dilute the working class within a broader "civic movement" (interclassist people’s movements). Notable democratic campaigns in recent months include not only the union reform campaigns and the ongoing presidential campaign mentioned above, but also those centered on anti-police brutality and corruption movements, the ideological campaign around investing in the stock market, the Elian Gonzalez affair, and the anti-globalization movement.

The "economic boom" is a bluff:The Condition of the Working Class Continues to Worsen

The U.S. government continues to boast about its "unprecedented, longest running economic expansion in history." And it is true that the anticipated bursting of the "bubble economy," which we had anticipated was just around the corner has not occurred, and this despite the fact that the elements for open rececession seemed to be in place in 1998 following the collapse of the Asian tigers. State capitalism has demonstrated the resiliency to postpone its economic day of reckoning. On the one hand, much of this economic wonder is based on deception – the manipulation of economic data to paint an artificially rosey picture – and on policies designed to foist off the worst aspects of the global economic crisis on the peripheral countries of world capitalism. On the other hand, the degree to which there is economic growth in the U.S., or, more accurately, the absence of open recession, it hardly makes a difference from an historic perspective. The global economic crisis of world capitalism, a crisis of chronic overproduction, continues to deepen inexorably, regardless of the vicissitudes of the trade vicissitudes of the traditional business cycle that the bourgeoisie focuses on in its propaganda.

Revitalization of the Trade Unions: A Key Element in Capitalist Strategy

Prior to the 1930s, only the AFL, organized in craft unions, represented a significant organization, though it represented only a small minority of the working class and pursued conservative policies. Industrial unions, organizing workers in mass production industries, such as auto, steel, rubber, electrical, aviation, etc., were created only in the 1930s, by the CIO, under state sponsorship, as part of the New Deal run-up to World War II, for which they were needed to assure a reliable, disciplined workforce.

Presidential Campaign: An electoral circus to mystify the workers

They want us to buy into the electoral swindle – the phony myth that the people decide their own political fate. Of course all this is just a capitalist propaganda ploy -- the last thing that capitalism could tolerate is for everyday working people to make any of the decisions about how society is run. The campaign hoopla is all part of how the ruling class manipulates society for its own political and economic ends, how it obscures the real power relationships in society, how it assures the desired outcome, and makes sure that the correct ruling team is in power. Despite the horse race metaphor that the media is so fond of, the election campaign more resembles a World Wrestling Federation wrestling match – where all the action is scripted in advance.

New Democracy - Vehicle of bourgeois ideology

What is New Democracy?

Reading the extensive propaganda published by this group (if it is really a group) in Discussion Bulletin and on its Web site, one would hope to find some references regarding its origins, political evolution or some claim of political affiliation. Wishful thinking! ND actually seems to have come from nowhere with some ready-made ideological remedies to the problems of today’s society. This political attitude of hiding one’s past, or pretending to be discoverers of political principles, is already quite suspect about the real political motivations of this group, mistrust that only grows as one goes to the essential content of its printed materials.

Transit struggle in NYC: Workers confront union sabotage

The movement by 33,000 transit workers in New York City in December, resisting renewed austerity and fighting for a significant wage increase, was clearly a genuine workers struggle, a significant moment in the revival of class struggle. In the anger and combativeness of the workers, in their distrust of the union, in the embryonic reflection on how to struggle, this movement was fully inscribed in the recovery of the international class struggle, we have discussed in previous articles. Simultaneously, however, this movement shared all the weaknesses and confusions that illustrate how difficult it is for the workers to reclaim the lessons of past struggles.

US electoral campagin: Capitalism readies new ruling team

By the end of the first Super Tuesday primary elections, the campaigns of Bill Bradley and John McCain were stopped. Gore and Bush, the front runners from the beginning, had each reached the point where the two ‘also-ran’ candidates, made of show of deciding that it was not likely that anyone could block their more ‘popular’ respective candidacies. What was most probable in the primary campaigns of the two major parties, was that Bill Bradley and John McCain both ran without the expectation or even the intention of winning their parties’ respective nominations for the presidency. The fact that there was competition in the early races, appearing to make it a ‘horse race’, allowed for a better and more interesting show for the general population and a reinforcement of the credibility of the electoral system in the US. In reality, most of the decisions as to who becomes cisions as to who becomes the candidates of the major parties, are routinely determined outside the glare of public scrutiny and the elections will be manipulated by politicians in concert with the media.

NYC Contracts: Unions Lay the Groundwork to Defeat NYC Workers

In an atmosphere of growing worker militancy, contracts for hundreds of thousands of municipal workers in New York City are scheduled to expire in the coming months. The bosses – in this case the city government -- and the unions are preparing to impose new belt-tightening concessions on the workforce and to defeat any attempt by the working class to fight back against this new assault to their living and working conditions. Workers need to prepare themselves to confront their enemies on their own terrain, the terrain of the working class struggle.

Martial Law in Seattle

As this issue of Internationalism was being prepared for publication, news of violence in Seattle, with police clubbing and aiming tear gas at demonstrators outside the meeting of the World Trade Organization, was brought to us by the mass media. The bourgeois press raised the specter of the 1919 Seattle general strike, but this demonstration was not the awakening of a working class movement. It was an inter-classist movement involving many student activists. Nonetheless, we cannot let this moment pass without some comments.

Historical legacy of the working class -- History Demonstrates the Power of Workers’ Struggles

The ruling class has long gone out its way to give American workers an inferiority complex, to give the working class the false impression that they are powerless to change things, and that struggle is useless. A key ingredient in this bourgeois ideological campaign is the attempt to hide its own history from the working class, in order to prevent workers from building upon the lessons of their experience. In the last issue of Internationalism, we discussed the revolutionary heritage of the U.S. working class as demonstrated by events in 1919, with the tremendous support shown by American workers for the Russian Revolution, the General Strike in Seattle, and the massive strike wave involving four million workers including, miners, transport workers and steel workers. It is important to understand that the struggles of 1919 did not come out of the blue, but were part and parcel of a long history of militant struggle in the U.S.

Weakening grip of US power

Since the collapse of the Russian bloc at the end of the 80s, and the resulting disappearance of the western alliance, the US, the world's only remaining superpower has been permanently forced to take the initiative on the military level, where it enjoys a crushing superiority over all its rivals, with the aim of defending its global leadership from the growing challenge from France, Germany, Russia and China. Since the first Gulf war, all the major conflicts have been the result of a pre-emptive policy by the USA, aimed at forestalling the emergence of a new imperialist bloc. But the US is in the grip of an insoluble contradiction: each new offensive, while it momentarily puts a brake on the challenge to American leadership, at the same time creates the conditions for further challenges, by increasing feelings of frustration and anti-Americanism. The whole escalation since September 2001, which has seen the USA, under the pretext of the struggle against terrorism and 'evil dictators', carrying out the military occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq without the least concern for the role of NATO and the UN, is bound up in this logic. Nevertheless, none of the conflicts which preceded Afghanistan, and above all Iraq, have engendered such a difficult situation as the US is now in.

Iraq war sows the seeds of new conflicts

The euphoria of victory didn't last very long. The images of happy crowds lining the streets to greet their British and American 'liberators' are already a distant memory. Since the fall of Baghdad we have seen enormous Shiite demonstrations chanting slogans like 'No to Saddam, No to Bush - Yes to Islam' and calling for an Islamic state. In Mosul, within the space of two days in late April, American troops fired on two marches of Iraqi civilians demanding that the Americans pull out. Nearly 20 people were killed and many more injured. This will add to a death toll from the war which will certainly run into thousands, especially when we include the as yet unknown numbers of conscripts obliterated by the carpet bombing of Iraqi military positions. The collapse of the Saddam regime resulted in widespread looting in which much of Iraq's priceless archaeological heritage was stolen or destroyed. To restore order, the occupying armies have had to recall Saddam's old police force, or allow local clerics and their newly formed militia to come to the fore. The USA's attempts to fabricate some kind of 'interim government' are coming against all the political, ethnic and religious divisions which have always existed in Iraqi society and which were only kept underground by Saddam's reign of terror. Meanwhile the hospitals are still completely incapable of coping with the masses of horrific injuries caused by the coalition's bombardments, and large parts of the population have been without decent drinking water for weeks, exposing them to the risk of epidemics which would only further reveal the breakdown of health services throughout the country.

Crisis of US leadership

In order to mount a real opposition to imperialist war, revolutionaries have to be able to look beneath all the false explanations for this or that conflict. The media and the politicians from left to right have certainly provided enough of these in the war in Iraq: it's all down to the evil Saddam, or to the no less evil George Bush and his cronies in the oil business, and so on and so forth. Our article 'What is imperialism?' in this issue shows why imperialist wars are the inevitable product not of this or that state or leader, but of the entire capitalist system at a certain stage of its development. But the revolutionary analysis of war does not only provide a general theoretical understanding of the drive to war. Like Rosa Luxemburg in her Junius Pamphlet, written during the First World War, it is also necessary to examine in depth the particular strategies of the various imperialist powers engaged in a conflict. In the article that follows we are therefore putting forward a broad framework for uncovering the real aims and policies that lie behind the actions and phoney justifications of the competing imperialist powers today. From Gulf War One to Gulf War Two

What’s behind the US war plans?

One year after September 11, what balance sheet can we draw of the USA's 'war against terrorism'?

It is first of all clear that the overthrow of the Taliban regime and the operations against Al Qaida in Afghanistan have resolved nothing: the broad anti-terrorist coalition set up by the White House last year no longer exists - a reality confirmed by Bush's desperate efforts to create a new coalition for the proposed assault on Iraq.

The real role of oil in imperialist strategy

The looming war against Iraq, coming after the wars in ex-Yugoslavia and Afghanistan is causing great concern, particularly in the working class. Young men and women, dragooned into the armed forces by economic conscription, are being sent to the Gulf, while the rest of the working class pays the cost of the war through increased taxes and exploitation. Much of the concern and unease is focused on the aims of the war, particularly the idea that the US is going to war in order to gain control of Iraq's oil supplies. This is an idea encouraged by the Left, particularly in the Daily Mirror, which has consistently linked the war to oil: through TV advertisements, on its front pages etc. Left-wing groups such as the Socialist Workers Party, also say the same thing, in more 'radical' language.

The real motivations for the US offensive

The anti-terrorist crusade that the American ruling class has been carrying out for the past 6 months has been a considerable success.

The USA has installed its military headquarters at the heart of a new strategic region, Central Asia, not only by directly occupying the former military bases of the former USSR republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kirghizstan, but also, more recently, by sending US military advisers to Georgia. This country, still run by Gorbachev’s former minister Shevardnaze, is thus totally outside of Russia’s control at the precise moment when Russia had envisaged intervening in Georgia, which has been accused of acting as a base for ‘Chechen terrorists’. We are also beginning to see America’s attempts to take control of Yemen, which occupies a key position between the African and Asian continents via the Gulf of Aden which links the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Pearl Harbor, the Twin Towers and the Machiavellianism of the bourgeoisie (part 1)

From the very first moments, American bourgeois propaganda has likened the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941. This comparison is laden with considerable psychological, historical and political impact, since it was Pearl Harbor that marked American imperialism’s direct entry into the Second World War. Like all bourgeois ideological myths, whatever the elements of truth that offer superficial credibility, this propaganda barrage is laced with half-truths, lies, and self-serving distortion. But this is no surprise. The politics of the bourgeoisie as a class are based on lies, deception, manipulation, and maneuver. This is particularly true when it comes to the difficult task of mobilizing society for all out war in modern times. There is considerable evidence that the bourgeoisie was not taken by surprise by the attacks in either case, that the bourgeoisie cynically welcomed the massive death toll in both cases for the purposes of political expediency in regard to implementation of its imperialist war aims, and other long range political objectives.

Peace is impossible under capitalism

With the ‘liberation’ of Kabul, Kunduz and other Afghan cities, the ruling class is trying to paint the war in new colours. We are now being told that, thanks to American bombs, we can celebrate the fall of the Taliban regime and the arrival of Northern Alliance troops in these cities. The systematic bombing of Afghanistan is supposed to be a small price compared to the benefits obtained: women can throw off the burka (although very few have actually done so) and men can cut their beards and go to the pictures. This is the compensation the population is offered for the hundreds, perhaps thousands of ‘collateral’ deaths, the destruction of homes and of the already collapsing infrastructure, the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands who still face a winter of misery and starvation not to mention the political oppression that will undoubtedly be imposed upon them by the new gang that has taken over.

Bush, Blair, Bin Laden - they are all terrorist gangsters

The ruthless slaughter of thousands of civilians in New York and Washington, the majority of them workers, in the very heart of the USA, of capitalism's number one economic and military machine, was not only an abominable war crime. It also marks a giant step in the decomposition of the existing social order.

Britain defends its own imperialist interests

The American bourgeoisie has exploited the catastrophe of 11 September to try and reassert its imperialist power on an unprecedented scale. The British bourgeoisie has also not missed the opportunity to play its own imperialist game, to advance its own military, diplomatic and political position on the world arena at the expense of its rivals, cynically exploiting sympathy for its ‘own’ victims in the terrorist attacks.

Middle East: Spiral of nationalist hatred

At the time of writing, the latest atrocity in Israel/Palestine is the suicide bombing at a Tel Aviv disco, which left at least 17 young people dead and scores more injured. By the time this paper comes back from the printer, it is more than likely that the Israeli state will have exacted its revenge � perhaps another air raid on a refugee camp charged with harbouring the terrorists of Islamic Jihad who have claimed responsibility for the Tel Aviv bombing. Sharon will pretend that this is an attack on a military target, but as ever it will be defenceless civilians who will die or see their homes reduced to rubble. This in turn will provoke new acts of revenge by the Islamic groups or even by hapless, despairing individuals, like the Palestinian bus driver who drove his bus into a line of Israeli passengers.

Seattle and the myth of 'globalisation'

And what a victory it was. Who would have thought, even a year ago, that sixty thousand people would turn up to greet delegates of the World Trade Organisation. Who'd have thought that trade unionists would be marching with environmentalists people dressed as turtles marching with sacked steelworkers, the topless lesbian avengers mingling with farmers. Churchgoers with the anarchist black-block. The mass protests helped focus world-wide attention on what the WTO really stands for and it crumbled under the pressure. Forget all their talk about 'free trade', the WTO is nothing more than a nasty little organisation fighting for the rights of multinational organisations to dismantle every country's labour and environmental laws" SchNEWS website bulletin, 10.12.99


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