Barack Obama: Child Murderer?

The Obama administration's controversial predator drone technology

The Obama administration’s controversial use of Predator Drone technology

President Obama said that: “any time bombs are used to target innocent civilians it is an act of terrorism.”(5) Is that why the Obama administration “in effect counts all military age males killed in a strike zone as combatants”? (1)

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports that, from 2004 to 2013, the total Predator Drone strikes performed by the United States in Pakistan were 371. The strikes that belonged to Obama and his administration were 314. Accordingly, this implies that under George Bush’s “war hungry” administration, a minimum of only 52 strikes were fired. In terms of Predator Drones, more blood is on the hands of the media’s “anti-war” president than on the hands of the “war-like” George Bush and his administration. It continues to report that the number of people injured by these strikes in Pakistan, which primarily belong to the administration of Barack Obama, are 1,465; number of civilians killed by these strikes, 884; children reported killed, 197. (1)

Going even further, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism gives these 197 children names, and ages. Thus, giving them identities, making them tangible entities; living, breathing human beings – children, no different from the English speaking ones here, no different from your own.

Some of the children and teenagers named were:

Noor Aziz, 8, Abdul Wasit, 17, Noor Syed, 8, Wajid Noor, 9, Syed Wali Shah, 7, Ayeesha, 3, Qari Alamzeb, 14, Shoaib, 8, Hayatullah KhaMohammad, 16, Tariq Aziz, 16, Sanaullah Jan, 17, Maezol Khan, 8, Nasir Khan, Naeem Khan, Naeemullah, Mohammad Tahir, 16, Azizul Wahab, 15, Fazal Wahab, 16, Ziauddin, 16, Mohammad Yunus, 16, Fazal Hakim, 19, Ilyas, 13, Sohail, 7, among many others. (18)

Afghan Children Killed by Drones

If, rather than being foreign, “Arab sounding” names, they were named Sarah, Tom, Bobby, Christian, Anna, or any other “western sounding” name, would a different reaction be elicited from you? These children are collateral damage because anti-Arab racism dehumanizes them, and their suffering. Furthermore, this kind of racism retards our ability to empathize with those the institutions we are subject to says are “less than human,” even and especially when they say this in the most indirect ways.

In Afghanistan, NATO air strikes on April 7th, 2013 left 11 children dead. Huffington Post writer Kim Gamel reports the following:

“A fierce battle between U.S.-backed Afghan forces and Taliban militants in a remote corner of eastern Afghanistan left nearly 20 people dead, including 11 Afghan children killed in an airstrike and an American civilian adviser, officials said Sunday.” (19)

In total, 3,461+ civilians have been killed by Drone Strikes in the Arab world (1).

Barack Obama’s administration has repeatedly tried to brush off the reality of drone strikes, saying that the primary aim is to “take out terrorists” and secure tensions in the middle-east with “the Taliban and Al-Qaeda” which pose little to no threat to the vast majority of Americans. But the illusion that they do persists.

In a February 2012 poll of 1,000 US adults, 83% of them (77% of them liberal Democrats) replied that they support the drone strikes (3).

Salon reports that Barack Obama’s administration has effectively lied about the victims of drone strikes:

Investigative reports and on-the-ground testimonies have made it public knowledge that far more people than al-Qaida leaders are killed by drone strikes. The U.K.’s Bureau of Investigative Journalism (BIJ) estimates that in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia over 1,000 civilians may have been killed by U.S. drone strikes. (4)

One must ask – what if the tables were turned? What if, instead of the United States having the blood of dozens of Arab children on its hands, it was the Taliban? What if the Taliban had the blood of American children on its hands? How then would the world react?

Drones in Pakistan

The reality, however, is to the contrary. The United States has the blood of dozens of Arab children on its hands. The populaces of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and other Arab countries subject to the aggressive policies of the United States are frightened, and angry. Militant factions of these countries have already geared up for war.

Why does the United States fight its wars? Overwhelmingly, for profit, for natural resources, to appease its regional corporations.

Russ Baker, writer for whowhatwhy, has this to say concerning the reasoning of the United States in its war in Afghanistan:

“When the United States decided to invade Afghanistan to grab Osama bin Laden—and failed, but stayed on like an unwanted guest—could it have known that the Afghans were sitting on some of the world’s greatest reserves of mineral wealth?” (20)

I’d wager they did. Mr. Baker and his associate writers would agree:

“We’ve raised this topic before —where we noted the dubious 2010 claim, published by the New York Times, that “the vast scale of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth was [recently] discovered by a small team of Pentagon officials and American geologists.” Other evidence, and logic, point to the fact that everyone but the Western public knew for a long time, and before the 2001 invasion, that Afghanistan was a treasure trove.” (20)

A Map of Afghanistan’s Resources

In Baker’s essay, uncovered from the BBC, is an article published on May 13, 2002 that reports not only on the vast amount of natural resources encompassed within Afghanistan, but also discusses American-Afghan trade agreements on the countries oil. The BBC article in question reported the following:

“Mr Razim said US energy company Unocal was the “lead company” among those that would build the pipeline, which would bring 30bn cubic meters of Turkmen gas to market annually. Unocal – which led a consortium of companies from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Japan and South Korea – has maintained the project is both economically and technically feasible once Afghan stability was secured. (21)

Clearly, the reasoning for the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was to secure the situation in the favor of American financial interests. Getting back to the article by Mr. Baker, just how much does Afghanistan have to offer to American corporations? Baker scoffs at a comment from Time magazine, which said the following:

“If there is a road to a happy ending in Afghanistan, much of the path may run underground: in the trillion-dollar reservoir of natural resources — oil, gold, iron ore, copper, lithium and other minerals — that has brought hopes of a more self-sufficient country, if only the wealth can be wrested from blood-soaked soil.” (20)

If anything, as he suggests, these trillion-dollar reservoirs of natural resources will be a road to chaos, war, and subservience to the financial interests of the United States, rather than a means of Afghanistan sustaining itself, or a means of maintaining peace regionally within the country; the opposite will be true if the current economic structures of the world persist.

What to a million dead Iraqis, including five hundred thousand children as a result of U.S. sanctions, is your Fourth of July? It is “rejoice that is empty and heartless.”

What to the tortured and raped prisoners of Abu Ghraib, or Guantanamo, is your Fourth of July? It is “mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy — a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”

What to Palestinian families living under Israeli state terror, to Palestinian hunger strikers, is your Fourth of July? It is “cries of liberty and justice, hollow mockery.”

Reflecting upon the legitimacy of the United States in the Arab world, little Shakira comes to mind. Only one years old, she was severely mutilated by predator drones in Pakistan’s swat valley, left to die in a trash can (16). What to little Shakira is your Fourth of July? It is “unholy license, swelling vanity.”

No matter how these facts are interpreted, one thing is clear, and cannot be debated: the United States has the blood of children on its hands.

 Fireworks and Carpet Bombings

Massacre in Fallujah, Iraq

From the onset of 1945, the United States has invaded over fifty foreign countries. (22) In the process, it has displaced and destroyed the lives of whole millions of people in the dependent and underdeveloped parts of the world.

From the Korean war (1950-1953) that killed an estimated 2.5 million Korean civilians (23), to the Vietnam War (1963-1975) that killed an estimated 3.4 million civilians (24), to the U.S. bombing of Laos and Cambodia (1969-1975) that killed an estimated upwards of 150,000 civilians (25), to the U.S. backed Pinochet dictatorship in Chile (1973-1990) that killed an estimated 3,197 civilians and tortured an estimated 29,000 (26), to the U.S. backed massacre of communists in Indonesia under the Suharto regime (1965-1966) that killed an estimated one million civilians (27), to the Iraq war (2003-present) that killed an estimated 654,965 civilians (28), to the Afghanistan war (2001-present) that has killed an estimated 30,000 civilians (29).

In modern history, corporations have been decisive in the policies of aggressive, Imperialist countries and the wars they have waged. The hegemonic policies of these countries have been wholly influenced by national corporations and their vested interest in profit, in territorial hegemony, in natural resources.

Adam Tooze says in his book Wages of Destruction:

“.. Too often the preoccupation of Hitler and his followers with problems of Lebensraum, food and agriculture is seen as prima facie evidence of their atavism and backwardness. This could not be more wrong. The search for greater territory and natural resources was not the outlandish obsession of racist ideologues…” (30)

U.S. Soldier in Vietnam

Adam Tooze also goes deeper in regards to the discussion of natural resources. Nazi Germany’s corporations were almost entirely dependent upon one particular natural resource: oil, something they had in common with today’s United States and its corporations. He notes that Reichswerke Hermann Goering, a German corporation, had become the largest industrial conglomerate in the world. Such is the nature of corporate Imperialism. He mentions that Germany, “..with both limited territory as well as limited natural resources…” under Nazism sought to seize many of the territories of Eastern Europe and Northern Africa, particularly for the seizure of untapped resource reserves.

When Germany conquered the Soviet caucasus, it was also importing Russian oil at the rate of at least one million tons per annum. (30)

Exxon Mobil, the 2nd largest corporation in the United States, is seizing more than 500,000 barrels of oil per day by mid-2013 in the war torn, occupied Iraqi Qurnan oilfields. (31)

In the year of 2003, the United States conducted an invasion and consequent occupation of Iraq, in which there were an estimated 654,965 direct civilian casualties. That means that there were regularly 15,594 Iraqi deaths per month, over the course of 42 months. (6)

The invasion and occupation of Iraq has been, in effect, devastating on the countries infrastructure, and is massively unpopular among the Iraqi population. According to a poll taken by the British Ministry of Defense, more than 82% of Iraqis, “Strongly oppose the presence of United States and Coalition troops,” Iraqis who believe the invasion has increased security in the country is less than 1%, and Iraqis who have no faith or hope in the invading forces is more than 72%. (32)

The sanctions, and the war that the United States has waged against Iraq, and against the people of Iraq, has been disastrous to the extent that it could be viewed as an act of genocide. 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 Iraqi civilians died of malnutrition or inadequate health care as a result of sanctions. Truly, in the words of former UN official Dennis Halliday, “an act of systematic genocide.” (15)

Take Fallujah, where it has become reportedly common for:

“..newborns to come out with massive multiple systemic defects, immune problems, massive central nervous system problems, massive heart problems, skeletal disorders, babies being born with two heads, babies being born with half of their internal organs outside of their bodies, cyclops babies literally with one eye — really, really, really horrific nightmarish types of birth defects.” (12)

This is a result of the chemical weaponry being used on heavily populated Iraqi cities and towns, places where whole families live. The article continued:

Depleted Uranium and Newborns

Depleted Uranium and Newborns

“Between October 1994 and October 1995, the number of birth defects per 1,000 live births in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital was 1.37. In 2003, the number of birth defects in Al Basrah Maternity Hospital was 23 per 1,000 livebirths. Within less than a decade, the occurrence of congenital birth defects increased by an astonishing 17-fold in the same hospital.” (12)

Depleted Uranium – that is patriotism. Acting upon one’s judgement to do what is right – to face the consequences alone, at personal cost – like Bradley Manning? That is treachery. Thus is the murderous logic of American militarism.

Take the massacre in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. Strikes from a 30mm cannon were fired at a group of civilians, among which there were children. Twelve of the people killed were civilians, two children were wounded. (9) The soldiers firing the weapon at the group of innocents have dehumanized any Iraqi they lay eyes on, to the point that they may disregard the killing of children merely as “collateral damage.” As though they are playing a video-game, they beg for a chance to shoot, they praise one another’s aim, when it is precise, and show no empathy, nor mercy, for the people they are attacking. (10)

As Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, said concerning the massacre:

“And you can see that they also deliberately target Saaed, a wounded man there on the ground, despite their earlier belief that they didn’t have the rules of engagement — that the rules of engagement did not permit them to kill Saeed when he was wounded. When he is rescued, suddenly that belief changed. You can see in this particular image he is lying on the ground and the people in the van have been separated, but they still deliberately target him. This is why we called it Collateral Murder. In the first example maybe it’s collateral exaggeration or incompetence when they strafe the initial gathering, this is recklessness bordering on murder, but you couldn’t say for sure that was murder. But this particular event — this is clearly murder.” (11)

Take another example not unlike the war in Iraq: the Vietnam war.

A Third Generation of Vietnamese Children Suffering from Agent Orange

Birth Defects as a result of Agent Orange

To put things into perspective, let’s look at the bombings of Vietnam during the war. The US flew 1,899,688 sorties and dropped 6,727,084 tons of bombs on Indo-China, comparable perhaps with that of the 2,700,000 tons of bombs dropped on Nazi Germany during the Second World War. (33)

Between 1961 and 1971, U.S. forces sprayed more than 111,000 tons of toxic chemicals on highly populated areas of Indo-China (34). Roughly 65 toxic chemicals were used, including those that are already prohibited to be used as military poisons by international conventions and laws of various nations such as dioxin, hexachlorobenzene, chlordane, dieldrin, 2,45T, and DDT (34).

Agent orange was sprayed from 45-68 million liters, roughly 59,000 tons (34).

The International Conference of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin Hanoi, 28-29 Mar.2006 continued to report that:

“In this war, the U.S unquestionably intended to attack civilians. It used 4.7 million liters for destroying 33.339 hectares of crops and directly spraying on 3.138 hamlets/villages while overwhelmingly effecting 20.585 ones [1]. To poison civilians and destroy crops of population became one characteristic of this chemical warfare conducted by the U.S in Vietnam (during the First World War, there were 1.3 million victims of chemical poisoning..” (34)

Why did the United States get involved in Vietnam in the first place? Contrary to claims of “response” to “communist aggression,” the United States itself admitted its reasoning in the war: a State Department adviser said the following:

“We have only partially exploited South-East Asia’s resources. Nevertheless, South-East Asia supplied 90% of the world’s crude rubber, 60% of its tin and 80% of its copra and coconut oil. It has sizeable quantities of sugar, tea, coffee, tobacco, sisal, fruits, spices, natural resins and gums, petroleum, iron ore and bauxite.” (35)

A year previous, February 1950, the New York Times stated:

“Indo-China is a prize worth a large gamble. In the north are exportable tin, tungsten, manganese, coal, lumber and rice, rubber, tea, pepper, and hides. Even before World War II, Indo-China yielded dividends estimated at $300 million a year.” (35)

Similarly, and more recently, George W. Bush’s father, George H.W. Bush, drew a “line in the sand” to let it be known to Iraq, which invaded Kuwait in 1990, that it would take measures, in the words of editor Rebecca Nelson, to “.. protect U.S. oil supplies in the country, the president mobilized U.S. forces…” (13) The logic of capitalism in decay is the securing of spheres of influence and the resources they contain by any means necessary, even if it means complete disregard for the lives of millions in the developing world.

Many of us already know the Democratic Party to be nothing more than a corporatist organization (the Democratic National Convention, for example, relied on at least $5 million dollars worth of corporate “donations,” (7) or rather, investments) one having a vested interest, a stake, in securing the needs of the state. It may be that it exists to give the illusion of social-change without inflicting any substantial alterations to the system – the same system that brought Vietnam and Indo-China to the brink of destruction for the benefit of corporate monopolies; the same system that has so recently done the same to Iraq, to Afghanistan, perhaps eventually to the people of Iran.

I implore the reader to gather from the facts and observations they have seen laid out here this: Vietnam was not Nixon, Korea was not Truman — Vietnam was Imperialism; Korea was Imperialism.

References:

(1) http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2013/01/03/obama-2013-pakistan-drone-strikes/

(2) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terrorism

(3) http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/poll-finds-broad-support-for-obamas-counterterrorism-policies/2012/02/07/gIQAFrSEyQ_story.html

(4) http://www.salon.com/2013/04/10/obama_administration_lied_about_drone_targets/

(5) http://www.davidicke.com/headlines/82896-obama-any-time-bombs-are-used-to-target-innocent-civilians-it-is-an-act-of-terrorism-exactly-so-why-are-you-still-at-large

(6) http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/02/09/300037/-654-965

(7) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/democratic-convention-corporate-donations_n_1975623.html

(8) reuters.com/article/2013/03/25/iraq-exxon-iduslsnoch27f20130325

(9) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/July_12,_2007_Baghdad_airstrike

(10) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0

(11)  Al Jazeera English (2010-04-19). “Collateral Murder?”

(12) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/iraq-war-anniversary-birth-defects-cancer_n_2917701.html

(13) The Handy History Answer Book, Rebecca Nelson, p. 138

(14) http://www.commondreams.org/views/070700-103.htm

(15) http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/explainer/2001/10/are_1_million_children_dying_in_iraq.html

(16) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/27/shakira-us-drone-attack_n_1171047.html

(17) http://www.nytimes.com/1995/12/01/world/iraq-sanctions-kill-children-un-reports.html

(18) http://www.policymic.com/articles/24164/a-list-of-children-killed-by-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-and-yemen

(19) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/07/nato-air-strike-kills-children-nato-afghanistan_n_3033407.html

(20) http://whowhatwhy.com/2012/09/10/the-real-reason-for-the-afghan-war/

(21) http://whowhatwhy.com/2011/05/30/how-do-you-support-your-troops%E2%80%94regular-special-or-super/

(22) http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html

(23) http://www.imhc.mil.kr/imhcroot/data/korea_view.jsp?seq=4&page=1

(24) http://linuxbeach.net/book/export/html/961

(25) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Menu#cite_note-1

(26) A Green Light for The Junta? New York Times. 28 October 1977

(27) http://www.workers.org/indonesia/chap1.html

(28) http://web.mit.edu/CIS/pdf/Human_Cost_of_War.pdf

(29) http://fcnl.org/issues/afghanistan/Cost_of_the_Afghanistan_War_By_the_Numbers_13_FEB13.pdf

(30) http://www.scribd.com/doc/20986873/Adam-Tooze-The-Wages-of-Destruction-The-Making-and-Breaking-of-the-Nazi-Economy

(31) http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/03/25/iraq-exxon-iduslsnoch27f20130325

(32) http://www.brusselstribunal.org/Polls260307.htm

(33) http://www.103fieldbatteryraa.net/documents/74.html

(34) http://www.ffrd.org/Lawsuit/VAVA/Thu.pdf

(35) http://www.greenleft.org.au/node/36970

There is No Democracy in the United States

Capitalism is a pyramid scheme

Capitalism is a pyramid scheme

The language employed when referring to internal United States politics by American media outlets themselves, is often as rigid and shortsighted as it is authoritarian. If not praising the democratic and free nature of the American “way of life,” media outlets will attempt to give the viewer a sense of neutrality – a neutrality that panders only, and specifically to the immediate concerns of the American reader, who on average is surviving somewhere within wage slavery, that is to say, that their survival is dependent upon their employable status, the wages of their employers, and so, their interests become concerns, which are restricted overwhelmingly to the task at hand; in other words, getting by.

I say “viewer” because, on average, Americans watch more often than they read, which is necessarily good, at least for the system, because a population that shuts off its critical thinking capacities right before they’re ready to go to bed for work or inculcation or whatever role one’s placed in in this society in the morning is easier to manipulate and control than a population of the well educated and empowered, the thinking.

CBS reports that:

“..the National Endowment for the Arts as a follow-up to a 2004 NEA survey, “Reading at Risk,” that found an increasing number of adult Americans were not even reading one book a year.” (1)

It continued, in regards to the reading habits of children and of employed high school graduates, saying:

“The new study examined data on everything from how many 9-year-olds read every day for “fun” (54 percent) to the percentage of high school graduates deemed by employers as “deficient” in writing in English (72 percent).” (1)

Almost 50% of children around the age of 9 do not read, unless they are forced to read. That is to say, unless the grade school they attend makes them read. The result is, information, learning new things, the beauty of curiosity for Americans at a young age is associated with inculcation, as something that only happens in the school-house, or work-place, something you get done with as quickly as possible. The television, an excellent medium of propaganda which also funnels information into the minds of the young and the old conversely, is seen as fun, as entertainingYoung people return to their homes to watch the television, to play video games that glorify war and specifically the American position in war, the American foreign policy. The message our society is imposing upon the future generations is clear: killing generic depictions of foreign populations is fun; knowledge is to be forced, to be authoritarian, to be instilled, rather than something to be sparked in each individual, to be nurtured.

Democracy is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

“..government by the people; especially: rule of the majority” (2)

In light of this definition, my aim in writing this article is to ponder a few questions, namely:

1. Can it be called democratic if public opinion is influenced by manipulation, facilitated by ignorance, and determined by ruling elites?

2. Is their any room within the American voting system for change or dissent against the social-structures it produces and embellishes? 

3. To what degree is public opinion influenced, or determined, by those whom are empowered by the economic and social-structures of the United States political and economic system?

Manipulation and the Illusion of Freedom

Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr.

The system necessitates that a majority of the population be either employed, or employable in order to maintain its economic structure. Under the conditions of monopoly capitalism, the number of employers grows smaller and smaller, yet richer and richer. As Vladimir Lenin says in Imperialism, the Highest stage of Capitalism:

“..Tens of thousands of huge enterprises are everything; millions of small ones are nothing.” (3)

What this means is, social-power, overwhelmingly, is usurped into the hands of businessmen, who are constantly at war with one another, reducing their numbers gradually, while rapidly making conditions for those they affect more dependent, while simultaneously bringing their money flow to a steady rise.

The role of powerful, large-scale corporations in American politics is not only substantial, it’s decisive; the interests of corporations pervades the nature of foreign policy, it manipulates the views of the media, it entirely affects public opinion.

Adam Tooze says in his book Wages of Destruction:

“.. Too often the preoccupation of Hitler and his followers with problems of Lebensraum, food and agriculture is seen as prima facie evidence of their atavism and backwardness. This could not be more wrong. The search for greater territory and natural resources was not the outlandish obsession of racist ideologues…” (5)

Adam Tooze also goes deeper in regards to the discussion of natural resources. Nazi Germany’s corporations were almost entirely dependent upon one particular natural resource; oil, something they had in common with today’s United States and its corporations. He notes that Reichswerke Hermann Goering, a German corporation, had become the largest industrial conglomerate in the world. Such is the nature of corporate Imperialism. He mentions that Germany, “..with both limited territory as well as limited natural resources..” under Nazism sought to seize many of the territories of Eastern Europe and Northern Africa, particularly for the seizure of untapped resource reserves.

When Germany conquered the Soviet caucasus, it was also importing Russian oil at the rate of at least one million tons per annum. (5)

Exxon Mobil, the 2nd largest corporation in the United States, is seizing more than 500,000 barrels of oil per day by mid-2013 in the war torn, occupied Iraqi Qurnan oilfields. (6)

Exxon Mobil is among some of the largest corporations in the United States. Its average revunue is 449.9 billion dollars. Walmart’s revenue is 469.2, just ahead of Exxon Mobil. Then there’s Chevron, another oil corporation. Its revenue is 233.9 billion. Then there’s Phillips 66, which has an average revenue of 169.6 billion dollars. (7)

The owners of these corporations will never spend a good 80% of that money. To them, hundreds of billions of dollars isn’t our idea of spending money, or money for the purpose of leisure; to them, money means power, a place in the greater structure of society, and power is almost always a manifestation of politics.

In other words, oil expropriation for the United States is doing rather well, considering a fair amount of the Arab world is under the heel of the United States, and along with it all of its oil.

What does this have to do with democracy in America and public opinion? Well, it’s almost decisive. Being that the majority of America’s population is either employed or employable, its concerns will almost always be on a short-term basis. Everything from the rate of wages to the price of oil can determine the political orientation of working-class people.

The working class is essentially on the bottom rung of society. They work for others, they own virtually no property, they’re survival is entirely dependent on the fluctuating wages of their employers, whose wealth they themselves end up generating, and the position of their job is never set in stone; that is to say, they live under the threat of unemployment, which itself is a machination of capitalism, that is, unemployment is natural to capitalism as a system, especially under its monopoly phase.

What makes all this worse is, the working class isn’t even aware of these realities its under. It’s too distracted by the short-term goal of surviving that it doesn’t realize that getting by itself under capitalism is merely a social-construction of the greater economic structure. That, by tolerating the irrational machinations of the capitalist system itself, is what creates the conditions of survival that wage slavery produces. That by allowing the system to exploit us, we are sacrificing the greater pie for a few crumbs; literally.

So, in other words, it’s in the system’s overall interest that we remain complacent, and ignorant of the conditions around us. Either that, or that we feel helpless to resist it. If the system does show that it doesn’t care about our well-being unless it’s concerning our ability to produce capital, the system will resort to brute force to make examples out of anyone who does resist it.

A pool of knowledge, a parched mind

A pool of knowledge, a parched mind

The television, which is the finest medium of propaganda to ever be created, helps facilitate this ignorance and complacency. On average, Americans ages 15 to 24 spend almost two hours a day watching TV, and only seven minutes of their daily leisure time on reading. In 2002, only 52 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24, the college years, read a book voluntarily, down from 59 percent in 1992. (1)

Corporate America is well aware of the capabilities of the television, and it’s why, of US companies surveyed in 2011, 100% said that they were placing an increasing importance on social media as a marketing tool. (8)

It was also reported that 79 out of the Fortune 100 are using social media as major channel for their marketing and communications. 88% of surveyed US companies say that their budget will increase for social media in 2011. (8)

Advertising and corporate propaganda isn’t just restricted to pesky commercials in between your favorite television shows. If a 30 second commercial for fast food can make you eat a hamburger, what will a 2 hour long film do? A character that is depicted as “cool” who also happens to smoke, can influence you to smoke. If Fox news says you need to support the troops because Arabs are coming to blow us all to tiny bits and pieces, Americans just might believe it, because to them, it is apparently in their short-term interests to get by, at any cost, even subservience, or complacency with what is easily condemnable, and viciously immoral.

But this kind of manipulation isn’t just restricted to the extreme news outlets like Fox news, which respond to pleas for ethical treatment of humans with deafening shouts of patriotism, pictures of mutilated Afghan children with blinding flashes of red, white and blue. Seemingly “neutral” news outlets, that give an “objective” view of things are influenced by the interests of corporations and certainly whole nations.

Brushing off armed resistance in the Third-World to United States militarism as “senseless, directionless terrorism” itself confirms the United States social-system. Talking about irrelevant American celebrities, or flashy commercial culture, hardly puts the United States general system into question.

So, in other words, manipulation and coercion is not always direct – in fact, it is more often indirect.

From the day we’re born, we’re conditioned into specific roles, roles that play certain and specific roles in the larger economic and social-system. If a white, middle-class family produces us, we will be conditioned into marriage, and into roles that are productive to the larger, collective society – but more importantly, roles that are conducive to profit, to capital.

Ruling elites are engaged in the system, and are empowered by it’s functioning. We’re, too, engaged in the system, but we are degraded and put into roles of subservience by it’s very functioning. Because the ruling classes control virtually every inch of the media, of television broadcasting, and other forms of social-manipulation and influence, and because we’re so dependent on these things, it’s only logical that our short-term concerns would be subject to the long-term concerns of those who benefit from, and are empowered by the socio-economic structures of this society.

What are the consequences of our dependency on the corporate media, and dishonest ideologues?

Soldiers on the streets of Kabul

Soldiers on the streets of Kabul

One of the consequences is that 88% of 510 Americans polled could not point out Afghanistan on a map of Asia (9), while around 42% of Americans support the war, and their countries occupation of that country (10). What that means is, most Americans can’t even point out the countries our federal Government invades on a map, but a substantial portion of them support occupying them; and that’s a good thing, at least for the system.

CNN also reported that:

“Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.” (9)

Overwhelmingly, Americans are concerned with America. Why is that? Because the welfare of America is determinant, in their perception, to their own welfare. For some, it determines survival; for others, affluence. Americans care about the rest of the world insofar as it affects them, that it persuade their short-term interests, much of which are financially related – debt; bills; more debt. They don’t need to be able to find the country on a map that the news is saying we should support, and even facilitate in its invasion, say three out of ten Americans; that kind of vital information, to the powerful, is not for us to know.

Wage dependency means that American workers aren’t concerned with the conditions of life, for the time being, but are more concerned with things related to functional living, that’s to say, staying alive in a house of some sort, consumable, afforable food in the fridge, plates on the dinner table. They don’t have time to ponder the fact that a little over 20,000 children alone die of hunger each day, that world agriculture is able to provide every human being on the planet with 2,720 calories a day at a minimum (11). That’s immaterial. That’s isolated tragedy. That’s a charity commercial.

Nor will they be concerned about the 654,965 Iraqi civilians who died directly as a result of United States occupational policy; nor will they care about the 15,594 Iraqi civilians who died almost annually each month over a period of 42 months. (12)

How could they care? Their concerns over the Iraq war are restricted to how it affects that “primary goal.” They can’t comprehend the reality of half-a-million dead Iraqi civilians, especially not under these conditions of extreme desensitization, of oversensitization, and even if they could, unless it affects them as a whole, as a category or class of people, they’ll be left powerless over it. War propaganda also also doesn’t hurt in its assisting in facilitating measly, nationalistic, inhuman justifications for these atrocities.

So, to answer the questions asked in the beginning of the article:

1. Can it be called democratic if public opinion is influenced by manipulation, facilitated by ignorance, and determined by ruling elites?

Given the conditions of American society, real, authentic democracy on the part of the American voter is restricted by calculated ignorance, systematic desperation, and the threat of destitution.

2. Is their any room within the American voting system for change or dissent against the social-structures it produces and embellishes? 

By the very machinations of the United States political, economic and social-system, which manipulates public opinion to its own interests, facilitates ignorance to the realities the system itself creates, and deludes the voter into false promises, the system maintains itself. If voting could meaningfully alter the realities of embellishment enjoyed by the propertied classes, it’d be restricted. The only way to affect the propertied classes in any meaningful sense is to go outside the rules of engagement the system legally presents us; and to do that would certainly be met with legal repression.

3. To what degree is public opinion influenced, or determined by those whom are empowered by the economic and social-structures of the United States political system?

In this article, we explored the connection between the media and corporate monopoly capitalism as a necessarily corporate connection, in which their role was more than just decisive; it’s manipulative. Because of American dependency on instruments of media, the general American population are put in positions of subservience, and especially ignorance by it, and for its benefit. Most Americans can’t point out Afghanistan on a map, but they have an opinion on the war we created there. If we’re virtually ignorant to a thing’s realities, we have no reason to doubt information given to us by substantial sources. If the news tells us the Taliban is “bad” and our armed forces are “good,” we’re likely, even more, expected, to accept with little doubt. If we do doubt, we do so in a way that’s, for the most part, harmless. When every conscious action on the part of average Americans is determined by the concerns of the Government, and/or by groups of individuals, it becomes farce.

Plutocracy is defined by Merriam-Webster as:

“..government by the wealthy; a controlling class of the wealthy…” (13)

References: 

(1) http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-3520163.html

(2) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/democracy

(3) http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ch01.htm

(4) http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/

(5) http://www.scribd.com/doc/20986873/Adam-Tooze-The-Wages-of-Destruction-The-Making-and-Breaking-of-the-Nazi-Economy

(6) reuters.com/article/2013/03/25/iraq-exxon-iduslsnoch27f20130325

(7) http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune500/

(8) http://www.thesocialpenguinblog.com/2011/04/08/the-state-of-corporate-social-media-in-2011-stats/

(9) http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/05/02/geog.test/

(10) http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/01/rel12a.pdf

(11) http://crimesofcolonialism.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/why-change-why-now/

(12) http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/02/09/300037/-654-965

(13) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/plutocracy

We Stand with Deep Green Resistance

Primarily among the Left that is centered on “activism” that only manifests itself on the internet, Deep Green Resistance, a group dedicated to resisting corporate greed’s effects on the planet, an organization that is also equally dedicated to the liberation of women, is being accused of transphobia. In reality, female Deep Green Resistance activists were assaulted; by males. For the males who assaulted these female activists, gender is an identity. For the female Deep Green Resistance activists, gender is a shackle. We believe that all oppressed people, especially women, have the right to smash all shackles that bind them to the oppressive society.

Environmental Activists from Deep Green Resistance

Environmental Activists from Deep Green Resistance

By transphobia, these e-activists mean to insinuate that Deep Green Resistance is an organization that shares the same dedications of those who continually make life ever more difficult for individuals who identify as transgender. Employers who discriminate against transgender employees, “tough guys” who spend their afternoons brutalizing, beating and raping people who do not fit into the gender identity their biology socially prescribes for them, and other, real, authentic, physical threats, physical forces that seek to harass and harm transgender-identified individuals.

Deep Green Resistance partakes in none of the above. What Deep Green Resistance did do, is the following:

a.) Make a class based analysis of gender as a structurally induced social-construction, manifesting itself as the organized control and restriction of men and women to sets of actions to empower one sex over the other, and subjugate the other sex to the dominant sex’s control

b.) Make a distinction between women and ‘trans-women,’ and analyze the political connotations of the transgender phenomena

In this post, we’ll be exploring both the “abolitionist” approach to gender taken on by Deep Green Resistance, and the distinction made between women and transgender-identified individuals by Deep Green Resistance.

Gender, Sex, Class & Restriction

DGR Women’s Analysis of Their Particular Oppression

Lets take a look at what Deep Green Resistance actually said about gender and transgender people. First, lets take a look at their political summary of gender, and gender abolitionism:

Firstly, they make the comparison of gender to race – or rather, the set of actions that are associated with specific races:

“The point is that race is not biologically real. Politically, socially, economically, race is, of course, a brutal reality around the globe. But the concept of race is a creation of the powerful. If we want a just world, the material institutions that keep people of color subordinate need to be dismantled. And the concepts of “whiteness” and “blackness” themselves will ultimately be abandoned as they make no sense outside of the realities of white supremacy.” (1)

Basically, They’re arguing that race seeks to tie whole groupings of human beings into collective, unabridged classes that manifest themselves as power-relations between one another. This can be biologically confirmed. It’s reported, for example, that:

“Possibly only six genes determine the color of a person’s skin,” Graves, a professor of evolutionary biology and African-American Studies at Arizona University, said in the Times interview.” (2)

Six genes out of the 30 to 40,000 genes that make us human determine the color of our skin. Something that can seem so important, so relevant, so determinant of whole historical events, is in reality a non-factor. Whole economic systems, wars, and even spiritualities have been developed on the basis of, or have been developed off of, the perceived color of one’s skin.

The article, published by Fox News titled Biologically Speaking, Race Doesn’t Exist, continued to say:

“Black, white, Asian—all are artificial, really. A black man and a white man from Manhattan, for example, are likely to be more genetically similar than a black man from Manhattan and a black man from Nigeria.” (2)

“Artificial,” that is to say, socially-constructed. If race is socially-constructed, as the biological as well as historical evidence seems to suggest so overwhelmingly, that must mean that it is the result of a certain society, or rather, specific kinds of societies that are connected historically and structurally to one another. For example, the transformation from slave society to industrial capitalist society in the Southern regions of the United States. America had shed the old form of slave holding society for industrial and post-industrial capitalism, while remaining, in terms of American infrastructural power as it relates to the black population, the same.

In regards to gender, the writers for Deep Green Resistance continue:

“A lot of people get confused when asked to apply the same radical analysis to gender. But from a feminist perspective, the parallels are obvious. Are there differences in skin tone across the human species? Yes. Why do those differences mean anything? Because a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power needs an ideology called racism. Are there differences in the shapes of people’s genitals? Yes. Why do those differences matter? Because a corrupt and brutal arrangement of power—patriarchy—needs an ideology called gender.” (1)

In this case, what they are arguing is that whole sets of human interactions, emotions, and perceptions are relegated to classes of interaction, reserved for people who biologically meet society’s’ ‘requirements’ for these actions; in the 1800’s, pink for boys, blue for girls; today, pink for girls, blue for boys. Socially, this color-class dynamic becomes football for boys, ballet for girls; dresses and high-heels for girls, pants and boots for boys; etc. Deep Green Resistance, as an organization, feels that any description of gender as a binary is a reformist viewpoint. Its analysis of gender is that of gender being an oppressive structure, one they seek to do away with, to alleviate the particular kinds of oppression they, as women, face.

Anarchist activist and Feminist Emma Goldman

Anarchist activist and Feminist Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman commented on this reality, referencing the Christian religion and the Bible’s role in enforcing gender:

“Religion, especially the Christian religion, has condemned woman to the life of an inferior, a slave.” (3)

What substantiation is there for this claim? We need only look at the Bible itself. The Bible has quite an amount to say about woman and her place in the family unit. This quote, from verses Titus 2:1-5, is telling:

“But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (4)

Here we see the ways in which the Bible enforces what Deep Green Resistance calls the “gender-structure.” In regards to “femininity” and “masculinity,” the writers for Deep Green Resistance say the following:

“What of femininity? Femininity is a set of behaviors that are in essence ritualized submission. Female socialization is a process of psychologically constraining and breaking girls—otherwise known as “grooming”—to create a class of compliant victims. Across history this breaking has including so-called “beauty practices” like FGM (female genital mutilation) and footbinding as well as ubiquitous child sexual abuse. Femininity is really just the traumatized psyche displaying acquiescence.” (1)

What Deep Green Resistance is directly implying is, gender manifests itself as a restrictive classing of men and women into sets of actions that seek to dominate, or submit, men and women to one another. There is an idea, there is a concept of “femininity,” but in reality, it does not exist, it is not something that we can touch. Its physical manifestation may be a dress, or a pair of high-heels that damage the foot’s bone-structure not unlike that of Chinese foot-binding, but this manifestation is merely symbolic; an outgrowth of the idea, the conceptual understanding we undertake of “feminine.”

What did Deep Green Resistance say about transgender in regards to their analysis of gender? Lierre Keith has said a number of things concerning the transgender phenomena, one of which is this:

“Gender is no different. It is a class condition created by a brutal arrangement of power. I can’t fathom how mutilating people’s bodies to fit an oppressive power arrangement is frankly anything but a human rights violation. And men insisting that they are women is insulting and absurd.” (5)

Interestingly enough, the article that claims that Deep Green Resistance is transphobic refers to the group as “Derrick Jensen’s Deep Green Resistance” in the title. Nowhere is Lierre Keith mentioned.. until it becomes convenient to the effect of labeling the group as “transphobic.” I suppose the sexist e-left considers Lierre Keith to be nothing more than a female counterpart to Derrick Jensen, despite the two being co-founders. My question now is, where did Lierre Keith incite violence towards transgender-identified people? How did this statement physically affect transgender-identified people? If women cannot offer any structural, class-based analysis of gender because the identities of those affected by gender are much more precious, even moreso than the bodies and minds of these women, then women cannot in any way contend with the system’s coercive nature. Women have the right to theorize on these issues, and to confront the particular types of oppression, especially and particularly the ones that cohabit the social-structure of this society, and by all means this right must be respected. Another claim by the same article attempts to make the case that Deep Green Resistance discriminated against transgender members of the organization:

“I left the organization at the beginning of 2012 after a trans inclusive policy was cancelled by Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith. Many good people and good activists left the organization for that reason.” (5)

While the author does not substantiate this claim in any way, I’d like to take a moment to comment on the pressure queer-activists make for “inclusion.” Inclusion into what? Women’s spaces? Feminism? In the context of transgender activism, the term “transphobic” has become a sort of misused scare-word. Rather than identifying real threats to transgender people, sections of e-activist circles hurl the word at radical women – feminists, in particular, as they did against comedian and feminist Roseanne Barr (6), for her insisting that women’s bathrooms be female-only spaces. For Deep Green Resistance, words weren’t the only thing hurled:

Lets call it what it is; assault

“Two women were tabling, handing out DGR literature and selling books. A group of five transgender/queer activists came up to the table. One of the male queer activists began shouting at the women, using aggressive language. This man made threatening gestures toward the women. He grabbed and defaced table materials. When one of the women went to protect the materials, he marked her arm and hand as well.” (7)

Is this the kind of inclusion that queer-activists demand? Inclusion that disrupts the activity of female-only spaces? That drives women to the wall, having the very word “woman” seized violently from their grasp, forced to hold tightly onto the only thing left, a biological fact; female? If anyone resorted to physical attacks, it is the queer-activists who swarmed onto the Deep Green Resistance activists, who were peaceably distributing materials. The Deep Green Resistance article continues:

“A half an hour later, a male DGR member tried to engage in respectful conversation with these queer activists. They began chanting at him and insulting him, culminating in them throwing trash and food at his head.” (7)

Immature, unacceptable behavior. Apparently, women standing up against their social-constraints is violence, but assaulting peaceful Deep Green Resistance organizers isn’t.

‘Queer’ Politics and Feminism

Germaine Greer, Feminist Writer

Germaine Greer said in her book The Whole Woman:

“Governments that consist of very few women have hurried to recognize as women men who believe that they are women and have had themselves castrated to prove it, because they see women not as another sex but as a non-sex. No so-called sex change has ever asked for a uterus and ovaries transplant, if uterus and ovaries transplants were made mandatory for wannabe women they would disappear overnight. The insistence that man-made women be accepted as women is the institutional expression of the mistaken conviction that women are defective males.” (8)

The 78-year old veteran feminist writer and activist was also attacked by self-described queer activists (organized on the internet) for this paragraph. It seems that these post-structuralist, queer-activist types only express themselves with the rage of testosterone; through physical force against women: male-on-female violence.

That isn’t to say that violence is specific to males; but overwhelmingly, male violence is directed against women, often institutional or as a result of institutional influence, through the functioning of the larger society as a whole. An example: for the male, the loss of a job could eventually entail the entering into crime; anything from a legal means of keeping one’s head above ground to illegal means, like drug dealing. For the woman, the loss of a job potentially entails the selling of the only commodity she has left: her vagina.

That also isn’t to say that men cannot enter into prostitution, that they cannot be exploited as prostitutes. But overwhelmingly, this reality is faced by women: the ones who grew up as girls, who were conditioned into patriarchal notions of femininity, who have penetrable vaginas, who normally have the ability to become pregnant with a child, and all the economic hazards that come with that in this society. If the woman grew up in the Third-World, she may have, as a young girl, been subject to clitoral mutilation. For the majority of women who enter-or should I say, are forced into-prostitution, the nightmare begins with childhood. It’s reported that 75% of women who are involved in prostitution started as children. In a society that views women as the property of men, how can anyone be surprised without being disingenuous? (9)

It is also reported that women are threatened on the basis of their biology according to the following statistics: 74% of women cite poverty as the primary motivator for entering into prostitution, up to 70% of women in prostitution spent time in care, 45% report sexual abuse and 85% physical abuse within their families; up to 95% of women in prostitution are problematic drug users, including around 78% heroin users and rising numbers of crack cocaine addicts; more than half of UK women in prostitution have been raped and/or seriously sexually assaulted, at least three quarters have been physically assaulted, 68% of women in prostitution meet the criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the same range as torture victims and combat veterans undergoing treatment. The mortality rate for women in prostitution in London suffer is 12 times the national average, and a global study of prostitution found that 9 out of 10 women in prostitution would like to exit if they could. This is substantiated by object.org. (9)

The Feminist proposition is that women, in this society, constitute a sex class, not unlike that of the classing of individuals as being white, black, or otherwise. This is why Feminist women object to the notion of transgender individuals who “identify” as females, being females; and there are transgender people who understand why Feminist women feel that way, who have reached out over the internet to express their understanding of this, and who have acted on the whole in a very courteous, mature manner. (10) I should admit that, on the whole, I consider much of the queer-activism prevalent on the internet today, such as privilege theory, to merely be a result of the larger post-structuralism rampant in today’s late-capitalist social-formations. On that note, I should also admit that I’m not greatly interested in dealing with the topic, other than my support for individuals who identify as transgender to the right to self-defense, and security in their lives. I’m much more concerned with why the psychological and medical establishment would seek to normalize much of the arguments of queer-activism to the greater society. I think this is because it is less threatening to the larger, oppressive establishment to struggle with individual identity, rather than to identify with collective struggle.

References:

(1) http://www.deepgreenresistance.org/faq/dgr-a-feminist-organization/

(2) http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,43298,00.html

(3) http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/goldman/works/1911/woman-suffrage.htm

(4) http://www.openbible.info/topics/gender_roles

(5) http://www.decolonizingyoga.com/how-derrick-jensens-deep-green-resistance-supports-transphobia/

(6) http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/183gi9trxj13mpng/ku-medium.png

(7) http://www.deepgreenresistance.org/incidents-this-weekend/

(8) http://anntagonist.wordpress.com/2013/05/15/that-time-i-met-germaine-greer/

(9) http://www.object.org.uk/the-prostitution-facts

(10) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yC0UR9C0dJk

Femen: Shirtless Women Insensitive?

1338460986-femen-take-part-in-a-protest-stunt-against-euro-2012_1246574

A woman being arrested for not wearing a shirt

My writing is generally centered around economic and military Imperialism and its excesses. Given the misunderstandings and ignorance abound about the anti-Imperialist anti-authoritarian tendency and criticism of the United States, you may be surprised to know that I consider the struggle against Imperialism waged in the colonial countries a women’s struggle just as much as it is an anti-Imperialist one. That, to divorce the struggle against Imperialism as capital’s principle manifestation from the women’s question, is to negate the ABC’s of basic leftist thought-form. Anti-Imperialist struggle is relegated to Islamic fundamentalist chauvinism by the media.

“They hate us because we allow women in the workplace.”

That is what we hear. But we never hear of the women and girls who suffer and die in Afghanistan from drone strikes; nor do we hear of, as the book Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism reports, the up to 25,000 women and girls who have been trafficked into brothels in Kabul since the onset of the invasion and military occupation of Afghanistan in 2001. (1)

That women are allowed to be exploited not just at home, but in our factories and places of work here in America too, is sufficient. They “hate us” hundreds of thousands of miles away, never to see us, all because we allow women to work. Nevermind the power-structure at play that has women making less than men in the workplace, and never getting so much as a “thank you” let alone a wage for the work they do in the household.

Muslims in the United States are a persecuted minority. And so, the Left has a priority in America to defend the rights of this group of people. But in Tunisia, where these topless protests originated, Islam is the overwhelming majority, ranging 98% of the population. Tunisia is also an ally to U.S. militarism.

This is where the American Left has confused its priorities.

As a writer on the blog Eagainst wrote:

“To claim that Islam is not political, or only political in a certain framework, does not force women to become unquestionably and brutally subordinated to their husbands, is not just wrong but also ahistorical, unless one is referring to a secularized, modernized sect, which either attempts to rationalize Islamic ethics or even adopts a less religious-centric approach, by embracing other values and norms.” (5)

Simply because Muslims can play a role against economic and, specifically, in more cases, military Imperialism in the Third-world, does not mean that we should simply consider Islam an ally at every turn. If the Left’s goal is anti-Imperialist realism, than realist it should be. The Left would find itself almost uncritical of Islamic theocracy, even if that Islamic theocracy is backed up by US Imperialism, simply because it is Islamic, and that our immediate goal is not to stifle the interests of US Imperialism in the Arab regions, but rather, to “humanize” and adapt, in a sense, Islam for Euro-Christian eyes. So the Left likens Islam to Christianity, or Judaism. Therein lies the mistake. We have no interest in the doctrines and dogmas of Christianity, or Judaism, and neither Islam for that matter. Its members we may take an interest in, but a proportionate amount of Leftist thought and theory comes down to criticism of religion and metaphysical dogmas.

Why the Topless Protests Started

"my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour"

“my body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone’s honour”

This “obscene” photograph is a picture of Amina. Amina posted a topless picture of herself on the internet. Amina is a Tunisian Feminist activist. It is being reported that Amina has:

“..been effectively detained incommunicado by her family with the help of the police, and the latest reports say she has been drugged and beaten.” (2)

In Tunisia, Islam is followed by nearly 99% of the entire population. The state is not only conservative and, in a number of ways theocratic, but that because of this, oppression of the nuclear family, and with that the systematized oppression of women are exacerbated.

Amina challenged a conservative, backwards society, and its patriarchal values; and rightfully so. But instead of feedback, positive or negative, she was imprisoned, not just by the state, but by her family; all because she showed her chest on the internet.

The Guardian reports that Amina “fears for her life”:

“I’m afraid for my life and the lives of my family,” she said, adding that she doesn’t think it possible to return to school in Tunisia and wants to study journalism abroad.” (3)

You must understand that women are not your property. You have no right to tell women they ought to cover up, simply because you’re insecure about your breast fetishism. There is nothing inherently sexual about the female breast. Because our society retains a sexual dialectic of sexual conservatism/sexual liberalism, men in this society and the establishment itself feels both uncomfortable and aroused seeing female breasts in public. But simply because the male in western society views breasts as a sexual object does not mean that breasts are a sexual object, that they should be “covered up.”

A fetish is defined by merriam-webster as:

“..an object or bodily part whose real or fantasied presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression” (4)

The object’s inherent sexual character to the fetishist is not itself inherent; rather, it is projected onto the object by the individual with the fetish. So the object that is fetishized is not itself the character projected on it, merely symbolic of that character. What does the female breast represent? It represents the half-covered/half-naked on-the-TV female body. It represents, for the American male, the mother, the wife, the sex-object.

Of course, toplessness does not entail liberation of the female. In the words of Germaine Greer, “As long as men think of women’s bodies as commodities offered only and solely for their consumption, there is no liberation to be had either in taking clothes off, or keeping them covered.”

The oppression of the female is both economic and socio-political; cultural as it is capitalistic, going back to feudalism and feudal property relations. As Ulrike Meinhof wrote in her column for Konkret titled False Consciousness (1968) it is impossible to pursue equal pay for men and women without also pursuing a redistribution of social wealth; impossible to liberate women without displacing capital, capitalism, and from that the capitalist who is engaged in and benefits from that system.

But to say that women cannot take off their tops in the streets is a reduction of the female to her breasts, and what her breasts psychologically and politically symbolize in the eyes of the American male. It is to, as Greer says, restrict women’s actions on the basis of man’s thinking of women’s bodies “as commodities” offered “only and solely for their consumption.”

Topless Solidarity and Politics

img_606X341_0404-femen-belgium

Women in solidarity around the world

So far, the criticisms of Femen made by the Left have been cataclysmic. Femen is either entirely black and without virtue, or the greatest thing since the 1960’s for women’s liberation. The truth is, it is neither.

Any criticism of Femen must be a dialectical one. It has to view Femen as a movement sprouting from a bourgeois society, and view it as a movement that lacks any serious class analysis of the women’s question, gender oppression and women’s relationship with society in light of capitalism and the ownership of women. It needs to remember that Femen is not perfect, nor is it utterly evil and chauvinistic. Femen is women, angry with the current order, striking out at the oppression they experience, and, as was said before, rightfully so.

There is nothing inherently wrong with toplessness, for either men or women. Because we exist within patriarchal social-relations, women are told that their breasts must be hidden, that they are something so powerful that if they were to reveal them everywhere, their power as a woman would be reduced to nothingness; because the female breast represented to them the female, and therefore female sexuality; they had found that something hidden, yet representative of their blooming sexual interest in the female.

Pornography, and the reproduction of a functioning rape culture are not liberatory, by any stretch; but it is not that the west experiences “softer” oppression, and that the middle-east experiences “harsher” oppression in regards to the female, but rather that this oppression manifests itself in different forms, through different social and cultural variants; that the basis, that of the ownership and subjugation of women, stands intact. To say that the woman in the west is “better off” than the woman in the middle-east, is to say that the African slave was “better off” than the Greek slave. Oppression is oppression, and so the goal of resistance to oppression is not simply to settle for proverbial crumbs. Not concessions, but power. Proletarian revolution is but a women’s revolution, it is but a shift of power dynamic, between those on the bottom, and those on top.

So to say that the middle-east should adopt strip clubs and start filming porn, that middle-eastern women are “dimwitted” to not throw away the hijab and put on the bikini, is to ignore the larger, economic aspect of women’s oppression, and, more importantly, the strategic implications of female emancipatory action.

But that is not the point of Femen – surely, among Femen’s members, these false mentalities may be adopted; but that is beyond the point. The point is not that we will “liberate women overnight by taking off our shirts collectively,” but that a message of broad solidarity is echoed from the west to the east, a message of solidarity to Amina, and to all the women and girls living under conservative patriarchy in the Arab world.

References:

(1) Feminism and War: Confronting US Imperialism, p. 169

(2) http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie/2013/04/05/our-day-defend-amina/

(3) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/07/tunisian-feminist-fears-for-life

(4) http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fetish

(5) http://eagainst.com/articles/islamic-apologism/

Why America Should get out of Korea

war korea

An Anti-War Demonstration

It would be in the best interest of Korea, and in the best interests of the Korean people as a whole, that Korea govern itself by its own standards; that is to say, it use its own resources for its own benefit; that the Northern half of the country be able to develop its war-torn agriculture and countryside on its own terms. In regards to North Korea, it would not be in the peninsula’s best interests to “open itself up” to the western powers, simply because of the fact that these powers base their immense wealth and economic prosperity on the barefaced exploitation of the underdeveloped, resource rich territories that make up the “Third-world” – Korea is part of that “Third-world.”

I want to clarify that my aim in writing this article is not to go about defending the administrating forces of North Korea: nor is my aim to apologize for their many shortcomings, to deny the rampant authoritarianism of that particular society, the reactionary Confucius ideas that pervade its politics, human rights abuses perpetuated by that country’s governing forces, etc.

My aim is to say that it would be in the best interests of the Southern peninsula of Korea to be free of domineering foreign power politics. To say that it would be in the best interests of the people of South Korea to free themselves from economic subjugation and exploitation, or in other words, robbery, by the large, powerful reigning empires of the day – or, to be specific, to be free from United States Imperialism. Many Third-world leaders are cowardly in their negotiations and relations with the First-world. They sacrifice independence for consumer goods. They sacrifice development on their own terms – even if it is made difficult by world power-play – for “easy” development, or, to be frank, they sacrifice independent development of their resource rich territories for sweatshop labor, for the fruits of their labor to go to the, already rich, world powers.

North Korea’s Problems are Because of America

Due to the series of bombings by the United States military during the three year Korean war, only about 18% of North Korea’s land is agriculturally arable (1).On the 12th of August, 1950, the United States Air Force dropped 625 tons of bombs on heavily populated regions of North Korea; two weeks later, the daily tonnage increased to some 800 tons. American war planes dropped more napalm and bombs on North Korea than they did during the whole Pacific campaign against Japan during World War II (7). What the land arability means is, it means agricultural, and therefore food shortages. It means there is hunger. It means that, considering the loss of its greatest partner in trade, the Soviet Union, which made up a predominant amount of North Korea’s trade in food and products of necessity for human survival, North Korea survived the 1990’s while maintaining its independence only through intense struggle and endurance.

What did the Korean war mean? It mean’t a large and powerful empire was bullying a small and dependent territory, crippled by a pre-existing anti-Japanese independence struggle. It mean’t the destruction of Japan as an empire, which was progressive to be sure, by Allied forces, however, it also mean’t the seizure of the Japanese empire’s stolen territories for the American empire. It mean’t that America was getting its first real tastes of conquest. Everything else previous to Korea was minor for America’s newborn Imperialist economy. But this… This was America’s first taste of blood. And when it got that taste, it went into a frenzy.

A frenzy that even America and South Korea admit cost the lives of at the very least an estimated 2.5 million Korean civilians (6).

Concentration camps were set up, with the intent of executing suspected Communists or North Korean sympathizers living in South Korea. An estimated 200,000 – 1,200,000 civilians were executed and tossed into mass graves, among which were children. At each execution site, a United States soldier was present to sanction the mass killings. I wrote about this tragic act of genocide more extensively in my revealing article Death Camps on the Korean Peninsula .

Pablo Picasso’s depiction of the massacre

In Sinchon, North Korea, 30,000 civilians in total were massacred over a period of 52 days. The terror of these near two months is well documented. Torture of civilians was common place. Sharon Ayling of the Worker’s World Newspaper wrote the following:

“There was well-documented evidence of 2,000 people pushed off the Sokdang Bridge, 1,000 women thrown into the Sowon Reservoir, 600 others found in the Pogu Reservoir, 1,200 stuffed in an icehouse and then burned to death. Over 900 people perished in an air-raid shelter when U.S. soldiers poured gasoline into the ventilation hole and ignited it.” (10)

“Regard Koreans as animals. Kill them without mercy thinking as if you are killing animals.” This was an order of MacArthur at the beginning of the war. America’s track-record certainly isn’t clean. The crimes are many, the effects still very much real. That American media would open its audacious and pretentious mouth to criticize other countries for its same ills is ludicrous. That America would expect itself to be well received by the Korean people, or the leading administrative forces of North Korea, is simply out of the question. The cuts are far from healed – in fact, they will never, really, truly heal. For any calming between Korea and America to occur, America would need a radical change of power-structure. America would need to leave Korea for good. America would need to pay the necessary reparations to those groups of people, especially Koreans, whom they have collectively devastated.

Korea is Better Off Independent

Kim Il Sung delivering a speech

Korea would do better without interference and sabotage by world powers against its economy. Three-and-a-half decades previous to the Soviet Union’s demise, Kim Il Sung, who participated in wars for sake of national sovereignty against both the former Japanese empire and the United States, as well as founding leader of N. Korea, compiled a speech titled ‘On Socialist Construction and the South Korean Revolution in the DPRK’ in the year of 1965. The parts of the speech that detail economic and social-development are particularly interesting, although they do not reflect on our politics, nor do they entail reverence for Kim Il Sung.

In section III. ‘On Socialist Economic Construction,‘ he remarks the following:

“Light industry was one of the most backward sections of our country.”, he continues to say that “We have made great efforts to build up our own basis of a light industry which is capable of meeting the needs of the people.” (11)

He says concerning the growth of industrial production in North Korea:

“The annual rate of growth of industrial production in the ten post-war years from 1954 to 1963 averaged 34.8 percent. Our country’s industrial output in 1964 was about eleven times that of the pre-war year of 1949 and more than thirteen times that of the preliberation year of 1944.” (11)

These facts are actually quite substantial. The growth experienced in North Korea under the socialist economy was unprecedented under the rule of the Japanese empire. Such growth would have also been impossible under the wing of America’s eagle.

He continues, saying:

“As a result of this rapid growth of industrial production, the proportion of industry in the total value of industrial and agricultural output jumped from 28 percent in 1946 to 75 percent in 1964″ (11)

The capabilities of North Korea’s independent economy are clearly shown. The socialist economy is capable of production adequate for a sustainable society – even more, it has the capacity for a thriving society and people. Contrary to the claims that North Korea was, at that time, simply a territory under the thumb of the Soviet empire, and therefore, did momentarily well because of the Soviet Union, Kim Il Sung’s defiance towards the Soviet leadership on the question of Korea’s development and industrialization is mentioned:

“The (Soviet) revisionists, talking about “international division of labor,” opposed our Party’s line on the building of heavy industry and maintained, among other things, that our country did not need to develop a machine-building industry but would do well to produce only minerals and other raw materials. Of course, we could not follow their view.” (11)

He continues to say, concerning the immense growth of heavy industry in North Korea:

“Our heavy industry now possesses all its key branches, is equipped with new techniques, and has its own solid raw material bases. In 1964 our country’s heavy industry produced 12,500 million khw of electricity; 14,400,000 tons of coal; 1,340,000 tons of pig and granulated iron; 1,130,000 tons of steel; more than 750,000 tons of chemical fertilizers; 2,600,000 tons of cement; and large quantities of machinery, equipment, and various other means of production.” (11)

Kim Il Sung notes what he terms a ‘technical revolution’ occurring in the “underdeveloped” countryside, remarking:

“In the past our country’s agriculture was based on backward medieval technique. And in our country cooperativization was realized with practically no technical reconstruction of agriculture. Thus the technical revolution in the countryside posed itself as the most urgent problem for the development of socialist cooperative agriculture.” (11)

Concerning the realization of technical development, he notes the following:

“No little successes have been attained in mechanization, electrification, and chemicalization. Our countryside now has 20,000 tractors for every 15 hp units. This is equal to one tractor per 100 hectare of crop area, and about 300 kilograms of chemical fertilizers are applied to each hectare.” (11)

In regards to electricity in the formerly unlit countryside, Kim Il Sung notes the spread of electricity under the socialist economy:

“In the preliberation days our countryside had no electricity, but now electricity is supplied to 95.5 percent of all the rural villages, and 81 percent of all the farmhouses.” (11)

This kind of development is considerable, and would have never been thinkable, let alone possible, under the rule of Japanese Imperialism. Neither would it be under American Imperialism. A socialist economy is capable of sustaining the livelihood of Korea’s people, but is made impossible to implement without excess under the threat and sabotage of world Imperialism.

Korea’s struggle to be free from the former Japanese empire and the American empire have been very difficult ones, occurring almost in unison. It was America’s three year all-out-war, complete with bombings, biochemical warfare, concentration camps, collective civilian massacres, and other atrocities, atrocities that in a very real way have had devastating effects on the territory; effects that have brought average Korean people hardship and destitution, that have created very real problems for North Korea, in particular; but these problems are overwhelmingly the fault of war and isolation.

American Media’s Double Standards

Media manipulation

To risk repeating myself, my aim is not to go about defending the administrating forces of North Korea, nor is my aim to apologize for their (many) shortcomings, to deny the rampant authoritarianism of that particular society, the reactionary Confucius ideas that pervade its politics, etc. However, the criticisms of North Korea made in and by the media, on average, only amount to a series of despicably chauvinistic and ignorant double standards; petty justification for the first Korean war; the facilitation of another.

A criticism leveled against the administrating forces of North Korea is that there is a sort of “top echelon” in North Korea, one that is centralized in the industrial Pyongyang as a kind of “show city.” The accusation is that Pyongyang is a front that, in actuality, disguises the lived realities of most Koreans who suffer and even die from starvation, and live in utter poverty and destitution. Essentially, the argument is that North Korea has the capacity to “feed its starving population,” but that “they refuse” due to the current leadership’s stubbornness towards “opening up” and “reform.”

In actuality, the irony cuts deep; what of the 24,000 children who die of hunger every day (2) in nations that embrace market capitalism and cooperation with the United States? Africa is abundant in its resources. Africa has the capacity to feed its starving and emaciated populations – but its leaders and governments don’t.

It is as Malcolm X said: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

Why aren’t we invading and “liberating” these African territories? Because we have a stake in their destitution. North Korea? We don’t have a stake in any of their economy. “If they’re gonna suffer, we should at least profit off of it.” There are bureaucratic power-structures that exist in North Korea, but if we are to talk of power, we ought to look to the home of the free itself.

Some statistics on poverty and wealth disparity in America:

(1. 17.2 million households were food insecure as of 2010. (3)

(2. In 2010, 46.9 million people were in poverty, up from 37.3 million in 2007.  This is the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty rates have been published. (3)

(3. 36.3 million people – including 13 million children–live in households that experience hunger. (4)

(4. A CEO working for UnitedHealth average’s a pay of 101,965,000 dollars, whereas their median worker’s pay is 58,700 dollars. That is a pay ratio of 1737:1. A CEO working for Walmart average’s a pay of 16,270,000 dollars, whereas their median worker’s pay is 22,700. That is a pay ratio of 717:1. (5)

Talk about inequality. More money than any of us would ever even dream of seeing, let alone having access to. How is an individual to spend all of that in his or her lifetime?

It’s as Thomas Paine, author of America’s token “Common Sense” said, “Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich”.

I’ve always felt that the criticisms of North Korea made by the American media have been carbon-copies of America’s own experienced problems. Disparity between the poor and the wealthy, bureaucracy and power-elitism, close-mindedness towards foreign systems other than the American system, the ability to solve the existing problems of hunger and poverty, but the lack of action against these realities, etc. It is my assertion that, as Americans, we have no right to tell North Korea what social-system they should take on – this kind of pretentiousness of the “yankee military” has been seen before in Vietnam, and we know how that ended.

Korea belongs to the Korea. Not to Japan. as history has shown, Japan’s empire, although mighty, eventually fell, as all empires do. Korea also does not belong to America – something that will eventually be shown to be true. America, as it stands now, in its current form as an empire, is pretentious, arrogant, dependent on the dependent, preying on the life forces of those who are weak and vulnerable, thirsty for bloodshed, blind to its own inconsistencies and incapabilities, birthing war-monger after war-monger, decade after decade. It victimizes the children abroad, it victimizes the poor at home. It alienates the students here in its own universities, it fails to provide sufficiently for its own working.

Korea is but one of many empire has sunk its teeth into. We ought to do our part against the expansion of empire. In the long-run, no one will benefit from its oil an ounce.

References:

(1) http://countrystudies.us/north-korea/49.htm

(2) http://crimesofcolonialism.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/why-change-why-now/

(3) http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/Learn/us_hunger_facts.htm

(4) http://www.worldhunger.org/articles/04/editorials/hungry_us_children.htm

(5) http://www.payscale.com/ceo-income

(6) http://www.imhc.mil.kr/imhcroot/data/korea_view.jsp?seq=4&page=1

(7) http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2010/11/25/walkom_north_koreas_unending_war_rages_on.html

(8) http://article.joinsmsn.com/news/article/article.asp?total_id=915799&cloc=

(9) http://www.themilitant.com/2002/6620/662053.html

(10) http://www.workers.org/ww/2000/korea0323.php

(11) On Socialist Construction and the South Korean Revolution in the DPRK

Imperialism and the Concentration of Capital (by Klaas Velija)

Imperialism and Capital

In his book Imperialism, Lenin remarked: “The concentration of production; the monopolies arising therefrom; the merging or coalescence of the banks with industry – such is the history of the rise of finance capital and such is the content of that concept”.

This quote encapsulates the dynamic of capitalism in the past century and is vindicated by modern research. Three systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have taken a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, pulled out all 43,060 multinational corporations and the share ownerships linking them to construct a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The model revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships. Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms, the “real” economy, representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a super-entity of 147 even more tightly knit companies (all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity) that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

The results can be seen here:http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/arxiv/pdf/1107/1107.5728v2.pdf.

The top 20 multinational corporations are Barclays plc, Capital Group Companies Inc, FMR Corporation, AXA, State Street Corporation, JP Morgan Chase & Co, Legal & General Group plc, Vanguard Group Inc, UBS AG, Merrill Lynch & Co Inc, Wellington Management Co LLP, Deutsche Bank AG, Franklin Resources Inc, Credit Suisse Group, Walton Enterprises LLC (holding company for Wal-Mart heirs), Bank of New York Mellon Corp, Natixis, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, T Rowe Price Group Inc and Legg Mason Inc.

The romantic dream of the self-made, hard-working industrial capitalist is thus shattered by the hammer of reality. This heroic figure is exposed as no more than a shareholder in gargantuan corporations, the motor force of capitalist imperialism. The profits of large-scale production and international exploitation of the resources of oppressed nations guarantee that capital breaks out from the shell of individual property.

The investments required by large (and especially multinational) companies go beyond the accumulated capital of any single individual, and banks become necessary to mobilize the capital needed by productive enterprises. Capitalism is hence provided with a mobilization of credit which keeps the quantity of idle money to a minimum and mobilized the largest amounts for productive purposes. The increasing mass of credit leads to a change in its very nature, which goes from the provision of short-term finance, or circulating credit, to long-term investment projects, or investment credit, which provides banks with higher interest in enterprises’ long-term prospects. This of course ends up cutting into entrepreneurial profits, and increases finance capital’s share in the economy, as can be seen in the following graph:

bank-assets-to-gdp

On top of this, banks and their role as capital mobilizers reinforce the tendency towards growing concentration and centralization of capital. Banks come to dominate companies, increasing their stake in productive enterprise through the acquisition of share capital (it is no coincidence that the top companies in the global network of capital are banks or financial services corporations, like Barclays, Capital Group Companies and FMR Corporation). As capital centralizes and banks push up the profit rate on their investments by sponsoring larger and monopolistic companies, free competition is thwarted. “Not real capitalism” is indeed the purest expression of the laws of motion of capitalist society and the product of the logic of this mode of production.

As financial capital is transferred from competitive enterprises to multinational oligopolies, the rate of profit is systematically pushed up for big businesses and the three primary contradictions of global imperialism, outlined by Joseph Stalin, are brought to their highest point under the existing conditions of social polarization, where capital, concentrated in the hands of few giant capitalist associations manifests itself in direct opposition to the world proletariat.

Imperialism is then nothing else than the highest stage of capitalist development, where gargantuan concentrations of capital compete for dominance over the world, and especially over the oppressed people. It is a capitalism that is forced to admit its own contradictions and its own desperation, as sweat-stained profits become blood-stained profits.

Willie Manning and Assata Shakur

Willie Manning is innocent. His innocence is supported by DNA evidence, and an FBI admission to error. According to the ACLU:

Willie Manning, Innocent, on Death Row

“Much of the key evidence that led to Manning’s murder convictions and sentence of death has turned out to be a sham. One witness has admitted that he lied in his testimony, and another confessed that she never revealed what she was promised for her words against Manning. The FBI has conceded that it wrongly testified about a “match” between a hair found in the victim’s car and Manning when science supported no such thing.” (1)

The only commonality with the hair of Willie Manning and the hair found in the victim’s car, was that the hair belonged to an African-American. So, it cannot be argued that this case is not about race, specifically when such a gross legal facilitation of injustice had occurred in Mississippi; a state with a notorious history of racism.

Despite these glaring discrepancies, Willie Manning was scheduled to die today. I’m writing this article on May 7th, 2013, at 6:00 PM Eastern Time. The time I am writing this is an hour before which Manning was scheduled to be executed. Despite arrogance on the part of prosecutors in Mississippi, and the legal system of Mississippi, his execution has, thanks to the persistence of activists, been delayed. But only delayed. This is not a victory.

That the Mississippi supreme court would come to this decision only hours before he was scheduled to be executed is itself a gross injustice. (2)

That such a miscarriage of justice could and more, that it would occur in America, shows the “color scheme” of the “justice” system. When, as of every 40 hours, a black person is killed, or should I say, executed, by a police officer (3), is evidence of the structural, and indeed, the violent manifestations of racism that pervade the American political system, that pervade the American economic and judicial systems.

Indeed, it would be illegal for Willie Manning to break out of prison, out of death row. Would it be ‘immoral’ if the Supreme Court decided that, tonight, rather than postponing his execution, they continued with it as planned. Would it be ‘moral’ to stop it from happening, even by illegal force? If anything, it would certainly be illegal.

Assata Shakur, Innocent and Pursued

Assata Shakur, Innocent and Pursued

For Assata Shakur, it was the only way. Assata Shakur was subject to, while in prison, vaginal and anal searches. She was confined in an all men’s prison, and she lived in solitary confinement for half the time she remained in prison. She was under 24 hour surveillance, during her most intimate functions, without any adequate medical service, or exercise, or even seeing the sun, in some cases. (4) An international panel of seven jurists representing the United Nations Commission on Human Rights concluded in 1979 that her treatment was “totally unbefitting any prisoner.” (4)

Assata Shakur is pursued for supposedly shooting a New Jersey state trooper. The New Jersey Crime Laboratory shows that the fingerprint analysis of every gun found at the scene showed there were no fingerprints from Assata, on any of them. Neutron Activation Analysis taken immediately after Assata was taken to the hospital that night for three bullet wounds (two to the arm, one to the back, while she was wounded on the ground) showed that there was no gunpowder residue on her hands, effectively refuting the possibility that she shot a gun. As a pathologist also testified that “There is no conceivable way that the bullet could traveled over to the clavicle if her arm was down. That trajectory is impossible.” The most damning evidence of all, is the testimony of a surgeon who worked on Assata while she was wounded by the police officer she supposedly shot. The surgeon said,“It was anatomically necessary that both arms be in the air for Ms. Chesimard (Assata Shakur) to have received the wounds she did.” (5)

It was also reported that the testimony of New Jersey state trooper James Harper was false. James Harper admitted, under cross-examination, that he had lied in all three of his official reports and in his Grand Jury testimony. (5)

It is clear that Assata Shakur is not guilty. If anyone is guilty, it is the legal powers, the inculpable ones; the state; the police: in a word, and in a physical, breaking sense, the agents of repression, and, with them, those who facilitate it. It’s clear that, in New Jersey, she was not going to be given a fair, non-racist trial. In fact, the entire jury that condemned her was comprised of white New Jerseyans. (5)

What does this mean? It means that, sometimes, to do what is right, one must break the law, and to do what is morally reprehensible, what is inconsistent with the sustaining of human beings, is to follow the law in complicity. It was Martin Luther King’s point that, if one’s law is moral law, it is sometimes necessary to break the law to prevent a crime of an ethical sense from occurring. This is why Assata Shakur was broken out of prison. This is why Assata Shakur is living free, in Cuba.

The FBI has recently featured Assata Shakur as the primary “terrorist” to which they feel they must capture. Assata Shakur is on the front of the FBI’s website, and she is being pursued, in what is a political attack on Cuba. They are continuously claiming that Assata Shakur needs to “be brought to justice” and that she “needs to finish her time behind bars.”

The same people who, just hours before Willie Manning was executed, finally decided to postpone this innocent man’s execution; who killed Troy Davis in cold-blood; want Assata Shakur to return to the institutionally racist United States to “face justice.” It is akin to saying that Jews who escaped Hitler’s camps should “be returned” to “do their time,” because they will kill her, as surely as they had committed human rights violations against her during her previous stay. America’s policies towards black people are effectively genocidal. They take lives in what can only be called a systematic offense on the lives of black people as a whole.

Freedom? for America’s exploitation. Liberty? to exploit, and plunder. Justice? for white America. Restriction – for those who are exploited by America. Incarceration – for those who resist American exploitation and plunder. Injustice – for black people in America.

References:

(1) http://www.aclu.org/capital-punishment/case-against-death-penalty

(2) http://tinyurl.com/c592h8a

(3) http://bossip.com/609434/study-shows-that-police-kill-black-person-every-40-hours3920/

(4) Browder, 2006, p. 159

(5) Evelyn A. Williams: New Jersey Crime Laboratory in Trenton, NJ;FBI crime laboratories in Washington D.C.

Political Music and Musicians

Rage Against the Machine

Rage Against the Machine has always been a radical band dedicated to political consciousness and solidarity with workers struggles and the anti-war movement.

In the music video for Bombtrack “Chairman Gonzalo,” leader of the Shining Path in Peru, is referenced multiple times. The first reference to Chairman Gonzalo is not so obvious, the cage the band is performing in. It makes a reference to Chairman Gonzalo’s famous ‘Speech From the Cage’ which was delivered after Gonzalo was arrested by the Peruvian state.

Along with this, clips of Chairman Gonzalo raising his fist inside of his prison cell are flashed during the video at certain points, as the lyrics go:

“Blood in the trench, couldn’t shake the toxic shot Maize, was all we needed to sustain Now her golden skin burns, insecticed rain, Ya down with DDT? Yeah you know me, I’ll rape for the grapes and a profit for the Bourgeoisie,”

Around 3:19 minutes into the music video, Shining Path soldiers can be seen brandishing a golden hammer and sickle, as they march with automatic rifles and red flags.

Paul Robeson

Paul Robeson was a renowned Black singer, actor and political activist. Among his covers was an English rendition of the anthem of the Soviet Union recorded during the 1940’s. Among the lyrics he sung were:

“Through days dark and stormy where Great Lenin lead us, Our eyes saw the bright sun of freedom above, And Stalin our leader with faith in the people, Inspired us to build up the land that we love.”

In 1953, when Stalin died at the age of 74, Paul Robeson wrote the following eulogy, titled ‘To You Beloved Comrade’ where he said the following:

“And arrayed against them, the combined powers of the so-called Free West, headed by the greedy, profit-hungry, war-minded industrialists and financial barons of our America. The illusion of an “American Century” blinds them for the immediate present to the clear fact that civilization has passed them by – that we now live in a people’s century – that the star shines brightly in the East of Europe and of the world. Colonial peoples today look to the Soviet Socialist Republics. They see how under the great Stalin millions like themselves have found a new life. They see that aided and guided by the example of the Soviet Union, led by their Mao Tse-tung, a new China adds its mighty power to the true and expanding socialist way of life. They see formerly semi-colonial Eastern European nations building new People’s Democracies, based upon the people’s power with the people shaping their own destinies. So much of this progress stems from the magnificent leadership, theoretical and practical, given by their friend Joseph Stalin.”

Paul Robeson’s saying these things stirred up a significant controversy. At one point, during an interview, Robeson was asked why he ‘didn’t go live in Russia’ if he ‘loved it so much’. Robeson responded, saying:

“(I stay) Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you. And no Fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear? I am for peace with the Soviet Union, and I am for peace with China, and I am not for peace or friendship with the Fascist Franco, and I am not for peace with Fascist Nazi Germans. I am for peace with decent people.”

When confronted about his relationship to communism and Stalin in the past, Paul Robeson said the following:

Arens: Tell us whether or not you have changed your opinion in the recent past about Stalin.

Robeson: I have told you, mister, that I would not discuss anything with the people who have murdered sixty million of my people, and I will not discuss Stalin with you.

Dead Prez

Dead Prez is a hip-hop group dedicated to African people and African culture, their slogan ‘RBG’ standing for Red, Black and Green, the colors that represent Africa.

Performing songs dedicated to political consciousness, the Liberation of Black people, health and fitness, and in some songs specifically the goal of women’s Liberation and empowerment of Black women.

In their music video ‘These are the Times’, Dead Prez plays on the legacy of the Black Panther Party and its leader in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Huey P. Newton, who is depicted in the video imprisoned. The Black Panther Party was a Marxist-Leninist political party founded in Oakland California in the 60’s at the height of pressures both at home and abroad perpetuated by the United States.

Huey P. Newton, Black Panther leader, had said in an interview with a journalist:

“What are the important inspirations to the Black Panther Party? Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh, Mao Tse-Tung and Kim Il Sung, and not only them, but also Guerrilla bands operating in Mozambique and Angola, and the Palestinian Guerrillas who are fighting for a socialist world. I think they have all been great inspirations to the Black Panther Party.” 

Around 4:02 minutes into the music video, shown above, Che Guevara, Kim Il Sung, former leader and ideologue of North Korea, and Mao Tse-Tung are depicted from a Black Panther Party zine cut out. As this image flashes, the lyrics go:

“I read Mao Tse-Tung,”

Along with this, in their music video ‘Root of all Evil’, copies of Mao’s Little Red Book are waved, as Mao is paraphrased:

“Politics is war without guns, war is politics with guns, know what I mean? You better get one”

Bambu

Bambu, who is a hip-hop artist with the group ‘Native Guns’ performed this song, titled ‘Chairman Mao’.

“I study Mao Tse-Tung’s tongue,” he says in the song, referencing the Chinese Revolutionary. He continues to reference Ho Chi Minh who led the Vietnamese, and Malcolm X.

He also mentions the New People’s Army in the Philippines, which is the military wing of the Communist Party there.

The Coup

The Coup is a Marxist hip-hop group based in Oakland, led by Boots Riley who’s worked with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine, and who also takes great inspiration from the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton, who he often references in his songs. ‘Dig it’ is a heavily political and catchy song with a creative and rebellious music video style. As the lyrics go in the beginning of the song as they board a bus in Oakland:

“Presto, read the Communist Manifesto, Guerillas in the Mist, a Guevara named Ernesto, so, What a brother with an afro know?, Yo, go and flow for the mack and be the hoe so grow cause the lynchin brothers might get hung, Better rip through em from the tip of my Mao, Tse-Tung”

In the song, Boots also mentions Dialectical-Materialism, the Mau-Mau uprising and the video ends with a demonstration in Oakland which Boots and his trio had been heading to the duration of the song

Pablo Hasel

Pablo Hasel is a Communist hip-hop artist from Spain. He was arrested for his involvement with GRAPO which is an Anti-Fascist Revolutionary Marxist-Leninist organization in Spain modeled after Mao Tse-Tung’s Revolutionary experience in China.

In this music video, titled ‘No Hay Bozal’ the Red Army Faction of West Germany is referenced, flags representing multiple Socialist countries are on the walls of what we can presume to be Pablo Hasel’s apartment, while his Marxist related books, Marx’s Capital, and others are tossed around by a depiction of Spanish police.

Pablo Hasel has released two other albums which reference the leaders and founders of Germany’s Red Army Faction, which include “Writing with Ulrike Meinhof” and “Coffee with Gudrun Ensslin.”

Immortal Technique

Immortal Technique is a politically conscious hip-hop artist who’s songs focus on global injustice and poverty, war and Imperialism, and corruption in American politics.

In his album ‘Revolutionary’ a microphone and sickle are depicted spray-painted onto a wall to represent the Communist Hammer and Sickle, as dead NYPD officers are depicted.

In the cornerstone song of the album, ‘Revolutionary’,  a squad of Revolutionaries can be heard talking about their strategy as a police officer tries to break into their hiding place and is shot, under the direction of Technique. Subversive indeed, Immortal Technique’s style is gruff, and doesn’t hold back.

Country Joe and The Fish

Country Joe and the Fish made many references to Marxism in their anti-war songs, and truly represented the counter-culture and wrath of the youth at home during the tumultuous Vietnam war.

Very radically Marxist, the ‘Country Joe’ in their name being a reference to Joseph Stalin, of which the term was an old nickname for the former Bolshevik revolutionary and statesman, and ‘The Fish’ being a reference to Mao Tse-Tung, who had said: “The Revolutionary must move through the people like the fish does through water.”

Lowkey

Lowkey has performed a number of Anti-Imperialist songs and performances against the Obama administration, United States Imperialism and U.S. Military involvement in the third-world.

In this song, Lowkey is playing the part of a kidnapped and interrogated activist deemed by intelligence officials to be a “terrorist.” In it, he makes references to Revolutionary Latin-American leaders Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chavez. Around 3:04 minutes into the music-video, Lowkey also references the Irish Republican Army and the ANC. Along with this, he has filmed multiples of his videos in Cuba.

A Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

mlk-in-birmingham-jailI should clarify before I say anything that I am, in fact, a white youth. Upon reading this observation of myself, I imagine you’re expecting some sort of apologetic, fluffy mini-speech about “how far we’ve come,” or to talk about the fact that our President’s skin is darker than that of most Presidents.

Well, if that’s what you came for, go somewhere else. Sorry if I disappointed you.

No, I’m not here to talk about the past. Well, maybe I am, but not in the context in which you’re all so reminiscent over. I’m not here to talk about how far we’ve come from where we were when Reverend King was being beaten, brutalized and imprisoned, and I’ll be damned if I use his memory as some sort of amnesiac for the ongoing, relentless suffering subjugated against black people in America and around the world today. No, I refuse to be that dishonest. Not while Trayvon Martin is in the ground, while Troy Davis was injected with poison which flowed through his veins destabilizing the natural functions of his organs, and not while Mumia Abu Jamal, probably one of the greatest intellectuals of our society today, performs his radio shows.. from a cage.

We don’t owe black people an apology, not a day in January,  not even a month, either. We white people owe black people their long sought but never reaped reparations, alleviation from strategically placed poverty, and more than anything else, we white people owe the black youth of our society security. Security in the years to come, security when they walk down the street with their friends, and security from “white heroes” like Zimmerman, the man who shot Trayvon Martin for supposedly “stopping him from robbing a neighborhood home” as he called Trayvon a ‘coon’ as he chased after him, gun in hand. Trayvon Martin was only 17 years old.

This is how white capitalist society responds to property crime, and the reality of lack of property, severe poverty and destitution that black people and especially black youth face in this society that they are made to contend against, but not with. As I pointed out in my article The Police and their Relationship to Crime the cops kill a black youth, woman or man every 40 hours.

I also pointed out the connections between property crime, poverty and continued segregation by comparing demographics on crime and race in the richest and poorest counties in the United States.

So it begs the question, how should we treat this day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day?

Today, we remember a man whose image was wrongfully used to “put aside” and “forget” about the suffrage of black people across this territory of North America, where over a hundred million black people were enslaved, exploited and murdered. But tomorrow, do we forget his prophetic words concerning the brutality and violence subjugated against the Vietnamese people by the United States?

“…the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home…We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem.'”

Tomorrow, we remember Martin Luther King Jr. not as a magical name with no connection to the suffering he endured at the hands of the defenders of this power structure, that gives us some sort of amnesia to the horrible injustices black people in America suffered through at the hands of white police officers, fire-hoses, calculated poverty, exploitation and violent apartheid that made South Africa look like a haven for civil rights. Tomorrow, we remember the times that brave, valiant and unbreaking man was beaten, brutalized, arrested and eventually assassinated in an event speculated to be implicated with the Central Intelligence Agency of the Empire. We remember his defiance to the senseless violence in Indo-China perpetuated by the United States military, which continues today in other territories of the dependent world. We remember his struggle, which goes on today.

I leave you all with a quote from his prison letters, where Reverend King denotes that perhaps peace can only be secured through forced action against the oppressor, saying:

“It doesn’t matter whether or not we are extremists. What matters is, what we are extremists for. Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice, or for the extension of justice?”

I express my solidarity with black people in their struggle for security, freedom, and self-determination.

24,000 Kids Died of Hunger Today, By The Way

Capitalism’s inability to meet the needs of the world’s poor is more than a catchy political slogan; it is a reality faced by Third-World people each and every day.

Here are some facts on poverty in the Third-World & its connection to prosperity in the First:

We could stop this right now

1. 24,000 people die of hunger every day.

2. 6 million children die of hunger every year.

3. Undernourishment contributes 53% to 9.7 million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries.

4. Wealth in the First-world is due to poverty in the Third-World. An example: Great Britain purposely underdeveloped India back in the 18th Century by sabotaging their textile industry so India would be forced to import from the similarly developing British textile industry. The British also destroyed Indian crops, which caused a disastrous famine near the end of the 18th century so that they could create cash-crops to their own benefit.

5. In the words of Salvador Allende, who was assassinated by the CIA in a US backed coup that brought a Fascist and mass-murderer into power in Chile: “.. there are 600,000 children who can never enjoy life in normally human terms, because in the first eight months of their existence they did not receive the elementary amount of proteins. My country, Chile, would have been totally transformed by these US$ 4,000 million (which is the amount of money expropriated by American industry in US corporations in Chile). Only a small part of this amount would assure proteins for all the children in my country once and for all.”

6. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per person per day, yet 925 million people are without food, 99% of which reside in the Third-World.

The world is in some deep shit — and it wasn’t always like this.

I. Land Fertility and Territorial position

The Third-World constitutes territory rich in abundance, contrary to popular opinion. If we were to categorize the wealth of nations by the standard of abundance they experience in natural resources, our viewpoint of the world would be altered quite radically.

Take Japan for example. For quite some time, Japan had been considered to be one of the richest countries in all of Asia, despite its extremely limited array of natural resources. Not coincidentally, Japan is formerly an empire, bringing to its submission all territories surrounding it — including abundances of formerly untapped resource reserves.

But this is not the standard of measurement we indulge.

Wealth, in this society, is not defined by who has the resources first, but by who can access them. Not by who works the land, but by who expropriates it, and with it, the labor of those who do the cultivating.

If one section of the world is developed, and itself developed by people who maintain the means of production ‘owned’ by a small-and-smaller clique, satisfying the needs of an increasingly parasitic and expansive system – who, before the unions came along, had saw it fit to work eight-year-olds to the bone in North America for 18 to 19 hours at a time – it would only make sense that these bastards would seek to expand their workforce where the population is immense, desperate and capable, the exploitation veiled to that mass of white collar consumers, being that the place of manufacture is a ways across the planet, and the minds of these potential workers are basically under or even uneducated, their requested wages hardly a portion of a week’s pay here. We consider that industry on this side of the world has developed to the point where one maintained machine can produce twice of what 100 workers with mere needle and thread can produce in a faction of the time socially necessary for cheap labor forces, with a rate of output that makes the sweatshop labor of 200 Asian 9-year old children look arbitrary — but oh, how it isn’t.

II. Underdevelopment, Access to Natural Resources & the Market

There are over 925 million people in the world who are starving. 578 million of these starving people live in Asia and the pacific, 239 million in Sub-Saharan Africa, 53 million in Latin America, 37 million in North Africa, and 19 million of them live in the developed territories, like North America. The world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories per person per day — yet 925 million people are without food, 24,000 of which die every day, and of which six million children die yearly. Six million, equivalent to the number of Jewish Europeans Hitler worked to the bone and exterminated in his camps — that was a single case; but this happens every year, not even counting the number of adults. We’re in a pretty sorry state of things.

Nelson Mandela famously asserted that poverty is man-made.‎ If poverty is man-made, is starvation that is the result of poverty not a form of genocide? If starvation is genocide, and derives from poverty (being man-made), perhaps it is much less violent to remove these institutions from power than to passively receive their domination.

The War in Afghanistan; carnage

Some of us are more conscious of these realities than others. Sophie Scholl grew up in Germany under the rule of Fascism. She was, in a word, an anti-war activist. She objected to the invasion of European and African nations by the Government that presided over her, she wrote, and she advocated sabotage against Nazi armaments. She took part in organized resistance, in the universities in particular.

It is not a coincidence that 822 people die of excess in the First-world, while 24,000 die of hunger in the Third-World, on a daily basis; nor is it a coincidence that the United States holds a stake in natural resources, control, or some form of financial benefit in the countries that it deploys its troops.

III. Prevailing methods of Food and Resource allocation

As we wrote in our article The Police and their Relationship to Crime:

‘WorldHunger.org asserts that “Poverty is the principal cause of hunger.” It goes onto talk about whether or not the issue of hunger is related to lack of resources, remarking the following:

“The world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day”

Clearly, the issue at hand is not the amount of food produced, nor the agriculture that creates food. We have more than enough to provide everyone on Earth with more than adequate means of subsistence. So, what exactly is the problem? The thing that causes 25,000 people to die every day of hunger or hunger-related causes, that causes one person to die of hunger every three-and-a-half seconds? The problem is the prevailing methods of resource allocation.

The United States, according to an article from the Washington Post, wastes around 165 billion dollars worth of food every year, which amounts to around 40% of all the food produced in the North American continent. The territory of North America consists of a large concentration of resources, resources exploited from other territories in “unfortunate continents,” of which the allocation of resources on the North American continent, too, is illogical. Billions of dollars worth of resources concentrated into the hands of a small percentage of the population, while the rest works to survive.

We’ve compiled these facts and distributed them multiple times here on our website.

‘Cheap’ In More Ways Than One

The majority of clothing is made in China

Some 98% of clothes purchased in North America are made abroad. (1) Why does this happen? ABC reports that:

“A worker at the Chinese sock factory makes just $14 a day, or $270 in a month. In America, a clothing worker makes $88 a day, or $1,760 a month.” (1)

The reasons are obvious. The desire for profit is said to “equalize” the playing field. Its true affects are anything but mutually beneficial. Capitalists are in a position of power over the rest of humanity, while their concern is anything but humanity. It is, then, in their class interest to see produced the largest amount of capital feasible, even at the expense of human lives and, in the case of Asian cheap labor, children.

In conclusion, a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. illustrates the point we’ve been getting at this entire time:

“Capitalism has outlived its usefulness.”

References:

(1) http://abcnews.go.com/Business/MadeInAmerica/made-america-clothes-clothing-made-usa/story?id=13108258