April 30, 2016
The Idea of May Day on the March
April 30th, 1914
original material by Rosa Luxemburg on the origins and history of May Day.
In the middle of the wildest orgies of imperialism, the world holiday of the proletariat is repeating itself for the twenty-fourth time. What has taken place in the quarter of a century since the epoch-making decision to celebrate May Day is an immense part of the historical path. When the May demonstration made its debut, the vanguard of the International, the German working class, was breaking the chains of a shameful law of exception and setting out on the path of a free, legal development.
The period of the long depression on the world market since the crash of the 1870s had been overcome, and the capitalist economy had just begun a phase of splendid growth which would last nearly a decade. At the same time, after twenty years of unbroken peace, the world breathed a sigh of relief, remembering the period of war in which the modern European state system had received its bloody baptism. The path seemed free for a peaceful cultural development; illusions, hopes of a reasonable, pacific discussion between labor and capital grew abundantly like green corn in the ranks of socialism. Propositions like “to hold out the open hand to the good will” marked the beginning of the 1890s; promises of an imperceptible “gradual move into socialism” marked its end. Crises, wars, and revolution were supposed to have been things of the past, the baby shoes of modern society; parliamentarism and unions, democracy in the state and democracy in the factory were supposed to open the doors of a new, better order.
At the end of the 1890s, in place of the promised, smooth, social-reforming cultural development, began a period of the most violent and acute sharpening of the capitalistic contradictions – a storm and stress, a crashing and colliding, a wavering and quaking in the foundations of the society.
The course of events has submitted all of these illusions to a fearful test. At the end of the 1890s, in place of the promised, smooth, social-reforming cultural development, began a period of the most violent and acute sharpening of the capitalistic contradictions – a storm and stress, a crashing and colliding, a wavering and quaking in the foundations of the society. In the following decade, the ten-year period of economic prosperity was paid for by two violent world crises. After two decades of world peace, in the last decade of the past century followed six bloody wars, and in the first decade of the new century four bloody revolutions. Instead of the social reforms – conspiracy laws, penal laws, and penal praxis; instead of industrial democracy – the powerful concentration of capital in cartels and business associations, and the international practice of gigantic lock-outs. And instead of the new growth of democracy in the state – a miserable breakdown of the last remnants of bourgeois liberalism and bourgeois democracy. Specifically in the case of Germany the fate of the bourgeois parties since the 1890s has brought: the rise and immediate, hopeless dissolution of the National Socialists; the split of the “radical” opposition and the reunification of its splinters in the morass of the reaction; and finally the transformation of the “center” from a radical peoples’ party to a conservative governmental party. The shifting in the development of the parties was similar in other capitalist countries. In general, the revolutionary working class sees itself today standing alone, opposed to a closed, hostile reaction of the ruling classes and their malicious tricks.
The sign under which this whole development, both economic and political, has been consummated, the formula back to which its results point, is imperialism. This is no new element, no unexpected turn in the general historical path of the capitalist society. Armaments and wars, international contradictions and colonial politics accompany the history of capitalism from its cradle. It is the most extreme intensification of these elements, a drawing together, a gigantic storming of these contradictions which has produced a new epoch in the course of modern society. In a dialectical interaction, both cause and effect of the immense accumulation of capital and the heightening and sharpening of the contradictions which go with it — internally, between capital and labor; externally, between the capitalist states — imperialism has opened the final phase, the division of the world by the assault of capital. A chain of unending, exorbitant armaments on land and on sea in all capitalist countries because of rivalries; a chain of bloody wars which have spread from Africa to Europe and which at any moment could light the spark which would become a world fire; moreover, for years the uncheckable specter of inflation, of mass hunger in the whole capitalist world — all of these are the signs under which the world holiday of labor, after nearly a quarter of a century, approaches. And each of these signs is a flaming testimony of the living truth and the power of the idea of May Day.
The brilliant basic idea of May Day is […] the political mass action of the millions of workers. […] In this moment of armament lunacy and war orgies, only the resolute will to struggle of the working masses, their capacity and readiness for powerful mass actions, can maintain world peace and push away the menacing world conflagration.
The brilliant basic idea of May Day is the autonomous, immediate stepping forward of the proletarian masses, the political mass action of the millions of workers who otherwise are atomized by the barriers of the state in the day-to-day parliamentary affairs, who mostly can give expression to their own will only through the ballot, through the election of their representatives. The excellent proposal of the Frenchman Lavigne at the Paris Congress of the International added to this parliamentary, indirect manifestation of the will of the proletariat a direct, international mass manifestation: the strike as a demonstration and means of struggle for the eight-hour day, world peace, and socialism.
And in effect what an upswing this idea, this new form of struggle has taken on in the last decade! The mass strike has become an internationally recognized, indispensable weapon of the political struggle. As a demonstration, as a weapon in the struggle, it returns again in innumerable forms and gradations in all countries for nearly fifteen years. As a sign of the revolutionary reanimation of the proletariat in Russia, as a tenacious means of struggle in the hands of the Belgian proletariat, it has just now proved its living power. And the next, most burning question in Germany — the Prussian voting rights — obviously, because of its previous slipshod treatment, points to a rising mass action of the Prussian proletariat up to the mass strike as the only possible solution.
No wonder! The whole development, the whole tendency of imperialism in the last decade leads the international working class to see more clearly and more tangibly that only the personal stepping forward of the broadest masses, their personal political action, mass demonstrations, and mass strikes which must sooner or later open into a period of revolutionary struggles for the power in the state, can give the correct answer of the proletariat to the immense oppression of imperialistic policy. In this moment of armament lunacy and war orgies, only the resolute will to struggle of the working masses, their capacity and readiness for powerful mass actions, can maintain world peace and push away the menacing world conflagration. And the more the idea of May Day, the idea of resolute mass actions as a manifestation of international unity, and as a means of struggle for peace and for socialism, takes root in the strongest troops of the International, the German working class, the greater is our guarantee that out of the world war which, sooner or later, is unavoidable, will come forth a definite and victorious struggle between the world of labor and that of capital.
April 26, 2016 Dan Sanchez
The Scourge of Africa and Her Savior Complex
In Batman Vs. Superman, the intrepid reporter Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams), tries to expose a dastardly villain and gets herself into a deadly predicament from which Superman must save her. This has been the Lois Lane formula since 1938. But in this case, the rescue has blowback. The villain in question was an African warlord/terrorist. And the intervention of Superman (and the CIA) somehow precipitates a massacre of local civilians. Lois’s efforts end up leading to the very kind of atrocity she was crusading against.
This also aptly describes the Africa policy of Samantha Power, the most strident “humanitarian interventionist” in the Obama administration. Power’s career was encapsulated in a single awful moment last week. A New York Times story relates that:
“As the convoy barreled through a village in northern Cameroon on Monday, a 7-year-old boy darted to the road, excited to see the chain of white S.U.V.s carrying Samantha Power, the first cabinet-level American official to visit the country since 1991.
Distracted by a thundering noise, the boy glanced up at the helicopter providing security from above. Suddenly, he was struck dead — killed by the same convoy that had brought officials to showcase American efforts to help protect West Africa’s women and children.”
Running over one of those children with a car may seem a botched “showcase.” However it quite accurately, if tragically, exemplified the sort of “protection” that the U.S. government, and Ms. Power in particular, has provided the people of the African continent. The Times continues:
“…Ms. Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, had come to West Africa to help raise awareness and win people over. It was planned as part of an effort to convince residents who are terrorized by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram — but who are also disenchanted by the heavy-handed tactics of their governments — that their paths lie with the American-backed state, not with the militants.”
While stumping for the region’s brutal and predatory presidents-for-life, Power probably failed to mention that Boko Haram was boosted by her own policy. As The New Yorker recalled in late 2014:
“Power was ‘the first and most decisive advocate for aggressive actions in Libya, and she was a consistent voice before anybody else was,” a senior official involved in the Libya actions told me.
“She really put on the agenda the use of military power to respond to what was happening there, at a time when the President wasn’t sure.’ Dennis Ross, then Obama’s top Middle East expert, said…”
Power, then a National Security Council official, was quickly joined in her interventionist agitation by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, her predecessor at the UN. The Valkyries Three persuaded POTUS, and the Libyan ruler Moammar Gaddafi was soon overthrown. Following the intervention, jihadi groups conquered large swaths of territory, rebels committed massive anti-black pogroms, and a whole country was shattered, with a proliferation of militias warring over the fragments.
Gaddafi’s arsenals were looted by Islamists and other militants. The arms and fighters were then disseminated far and wide, destabilizing countries and fueling wars throughout north-west Africa (and Syria too). Many weapons ended up with the butchers of Boko Haram, who are famous for kidnapping little girls.
The Libyan intervention blanketed much of the continent with atrocity. Yet Power’s sold it as necessary to prevent atrocity. She lead the chorus that claimed a massacre in the rebel-held city of Benghazi was imminent. As it turned out, there was no substantial basis for this claim.
Atrocity prevention has been the defining cause of Power’s career from the very beginning. Shortly after graduating from college, she, like Amy Adams’s Lois Lane, was a fair-haired intrepid war correspondent. Instead of the Daily Planet, she wrote for the Boston Globe, as well as other outlets, covering the war in Bosnia from Sarajevo. There, she and her like-minded colleagues became known as the “Bomb the Bastards Bunch.” As the Globe related in 2013, “…she called the Clinton administration immoral for not using military strikes to halt ethnic cleansing.”
As The New Yorker tells it:
“In 1995, the same year Power enrolled at Harvard Law School, NATO bombed Serb forces, and she rejoiced. She told me, ‘These guys who had been terrorizing these people were going to be stopped!’ Until then, she had been dismayed that nothing she and her colleagues wrote about—Srebrenica, rape camps, torture—seemed to have much effect. ‘Then, suddenly, not only do we care but we’re prepared to put something very meaningful and difficult on the line!’ She added, ‘Your average journalists knew that they should not admit that was their longing. But you see that much terrorization of people and you’re just a human being in that context, and people were rooting for that outcome and that intervention.’”
A Serbian-perpetrated massacre in Srebrenica was a chief justification for subsequent US/NATO interventions, which only led to more death, suffering, and chaos. It is worth noting that many advocates for the Libya War warned of Benghazi otherwise becoming “another Srebrenica.”
The New Yorker tells the next step in her journey:
“In her second year of law school, Power took a class on the just use of force. ‘I began looking at the historical cases of genocide, looking at the Armenians, the Khmer Rouge, and Saddam Hussein’s Al Anfal campaign and Rwanda,’ she said.”
A paper she wrote for that course evolved into the book that would be her ticket to fame and power: “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide, published in 2002. In the book, Power analyzed the deliberations within the Clinton administration that led to what she regarded as a failure to fulfill America’s “responsibility to protect” (R2P), especially in Rwanda. After the book won the Pulitzer Prize, she became a sought-after public intellectual.
One fan of the book who sought her out was a senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. From then on, she has been one of Obama’s closest advisors. Obama has been her vehicle for translating her obsession with humanitarian intervention from the world of ideas to the realm of policy. The power of his office turned a relatively harmless activist into what Isabel Peterson called “the humanitarian with the guillotine.” She is the Obama inner circle’s chief champion of hyper-paternalism in foreign policy. She also happens to be married to Cass Sunstein, the Obama inner circle’s chief champion of hyper-paternalism in domestic policy.
Besides the Libya intervention, Power has also pushed for military intervention in Syria, American support for French military intervention in the Central African Republic, and pervasive, if lower-grade, intervention throughout Africa.
After all this meddling, Africa has only descended deeper into chaos. As journalist Nick Turse wrote:
“…Washington is increasingly involved in the growing wars for West and Central Africa. And just about every move it has made in the region thus far has helped spread conflict and chaos, while contributing to African destabilization. Worse yet, no end to this process appears to be in sight.”
And yet Samantha Power presses on for more intervention.
H.L. Mencken wrote that, “The urge to save humanity is almost always only a false-face for the urge to rule it.” This may or may not be the case for Power herself. Yet, her careless crusading has certainly been useful for those in the war party who are primarily motivated by a lust for power and plunder.
Power’s savior complex has provided a patina of righteousness to obscure the cynical avarice driving the U.S. empire’s rapacious scramble for Africa. This new scramble has been effected through a stealth invasion of the continent. Saving African women and children from terrorists, warlords, ebola, and poverty is the cover story for the drone bases, troop deployments, and built-up proxy armies. But, as always, resource extraction and military dominance are the real motivations.
But Power is to blame for more than merely being a useful idealistic naif. To soldier on with her crusades in spite of so much disastrous failure indicates a staggering degree of self-absorption. To be so oblivious to the men, women, and children who have been run over (sometimes literally) by her do-gooder campaigns speaks of an overwhelming concern with her own “heroic story” at the expense of the actual impact she is having on the lives of others.
Satirists have lampooned “voluntourists” who join programs like the Peace Corps chiefly for the “experience” and the photo ops with Third World villagers, and not for actually doing any lasting good. See for example the piece in The Onion titled, “6-Day Visit To Rural African Village Completely Changes Woman’s Facebook Profile Picture.” Power is a case of this kind of narcissism gone to deadly extremes thanks to her access to state power. After she learned that her motorcade had crushed a child to death en route to photo ops with African refugees, she said:
“Oh, my God. I want to go see his family.”
She probably did, and I’m sure it was a memorable, poignant experience. Maybe the moment will be an emotionally complex scene in the movie of her life, starring Amy Adams or Jessica Chastain.
Power’s time in power is reminiscent of a quote by C.S. Lewis:
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Samantha Power has dedicated her life to combating genocide, to solving “a problem from hell.” Yet she has only succeeded in turning much of a continent into a hell on earth, paved with her good intentions.
April 29, 2016
For two years, Ukraine’s U.S.-backed regime has balked at investigating dozens of arson deaths in Odessa and now is doing little as far-right nationalists rally for another confrontation, writes Nicolai N. Petro.
By Nicolai N. Petro
May 2 will mark the second anniversary of one of the most horrific, politically inspired tragedies in modern European history — the fire in the Odessa trade union building that killed 48 people and wounded another 200.
Numerous pleas by the United Nations and the European Union for an objective investigation into the causes of this tragedy have gone unanswered. Multiple government commissions, both local and national, have been unable to move the case forward, partly because some of the evidence has been marked secret.
Screen shot of the fatal fire in Odessa, Ukraine, on May 2, 2014. (From RT video)
Last November, the International Consulting Group, set up by the Council of Europe, issued a scathing report about this lack of progress, and the government’s apparent disinterest in bringing those responsible to trial.
Now, as we approach the second anniversary of these tragic deaths, and the commemoration of Soviet victory in the Second World War on May 9, some of the same groups involved in the first tragedy are openly preparing for a second round.
To this end, the leading nationalist spokesman, Dmitro Yarosh, the former leader of the Right Sector, was recently invited to Odessa. There he explained his credo to his followers: “I am just not a democrat. My worldview is that of a Ukrainian nationalist. I believe that popular national government is very good, but only when democracy does not threaten the very existence of the state. We sometimes play at democracy with the likes of Kivalov [a member of parliament from Odessa — NP], with [Odessa’s mayor] Trukhanov . . . but in war time this is never good” he said, adding “the enemy needs to be dealt with as he is always deal with in wartime–neutralized.”
Later, local Euromaidan activist Arsen Grigoryan gave authorities just one week to prevent any commemorative gatherings from taking place on May 2, especially ones that might include government officials, or “fake parliamentarians from Europe.” If the authorities refuse to heed these warnings, he said, the consequences will be on the head of Odessa’s mayor, Gennady Trukhanov.
The event that has inspired this sudden concern among radical nationalists seems to have been the groundswell of participation during this year’s commemoration of the liberation of Odessa from Nazi occupation on April 10. Traditionally, this is a rather low-key event, that concludes with a ceremonial wreath-laying at the monument to the Unknown Sailor in Shevchenko Park.
This year, however, several thousand people joined the wreath-laying ceremony, some of whom even added Russian colors to the wreaths. This outrage caught the attention of vigilant nationalists, who then moved to disrupt the ceremony. In an unexpected twist, however, local police intervened to defend the participants against the now customary assault by radicals.
The nationalists blamed state prosecutor, Georgy Stoyanov, for this debacle and proceeded to block entry to the state procuracy building until he was removed. After succeeding in this effort, they promptly moved their protest to Odessa’s City Hall, where they are now seeking the resignation of the popularly elected mayor, Gennady Trukhanov.
Uncharacteristically, the region’s appointed governor, Mikheil Saakashvili, (the former president of Georgia) has yet to voice his opinion on this confrontation. On the one hand, he stands to gain considerable political clout if he can shift the blame for these disturbances to Mayor Trukhanov, whom he bitterly resents for ostensibly thwarting his reform efforts.
On the other hand, however, he surely knows that the radical nationalists view him as just another by-product of the corrupt and treacherous Poroshenko regime; moreover, one whose only loyalty is to his own political ambitions. Perhaps most unforgivably, for radical nationalists, he is also a foreigner.
President Barack Obama and President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine talk after statements to the press following their bilateral meeting at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
All sides are now mobilizing in what is shaping up to be a decisive test of wills between government authority and the radical nationalists. The city is being flooded by radical activists, while the Ministry of Internal Affairs is telling Odessans to prepare for “hot May holidays.” The stage is nearly set for the next bloody confrontation between the “patriots” and the “fascists.”
This time, however, the West need not stand by helplessly and watch. There is still a chance of averting another tragedy, if the Western media draws timely attention to the current preparations for it. A significant Western media presence on the ground during the critical week from May 2 to May 9, could conceivably lead the radical nationalists to reconsider their violent strategy.
Turning a blind eye to the gathering storm, however, will only embolden the most radical elements in society and further erode respect for law and order in Ukraine.
Nicolai Petro is an academic specializing in Russian and Ukrainian affairs, currently professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island. He spent 2013-2014 as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar in Ukraine.
April 28, 2016
Winston Churchill 'ordered assassination of Mussolini to protect his letters praising Italian Fascism
Winston Churchill 'ordered assassination of Mussolini to protect compromising letters’
Winston Churchill ordered the assassination of Benito Mussolini as part of a plot to destroy potentially compromising secret letters he had sent the Italian dictator, a leading French historian has suggested.
Churchill once wrote Mussolini saying: 'Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world... If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely’.
Churchill chose to holiday under a false name only a few miles from the spot Mussolini was seized Photo: GETTY
By Henry Samuel, Paris
02 Sep 2010
Pierre Milza, an expert on fascist Italy, theorizes that the wartime prime minister may have wanted Mussolini dead to prevent the letters, in which Churchill expressed his admiration for his Italian counterpart before the outbreak of the Second World War, coming to light.
“There is no doubt, judging by his public declarations back in the 1920s and early 1930s, that Churchill was a fan of Mussolini. Roosevelt too,” Mr Milza said.
“Churchill even once said: 'Fascism has rendered a service to the entire world... If I were Italian, I am sure I would have been with you entirely’.
“But that was understandable in 1927, as then a fascist did not mean a friend of Hitler and accomplice to genocide. But when you are head of state and legitimate war hero of the British people, you don’t really want all that put up in lights.”
Officially, Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci, were seized by Italian Communist partisans near Dongo on Lake Como as they tried to flee to Switzerland in April 1945.
Despite disguising himself as a drunk German officer in a mixed Italian and SS convoy, he was spotted. Both he and Petacci were shot and their bodies subsequently trussed up in a square in Milan the following day.
Writing in his book, The Last Days of Mussolini, Mr Milza says that this may explain why Churchill chose to holiday under a false name only a few miles from the spot where Mussolini was seized.
“Perhaps he went there just to paint. It is credible, however that he was there for other reasons, as one now knows a certain number of trunks were thrown into the lake with documents and booty and perhaps the services had a look for them. We cannot completely eliminate this theory,” he said.
An Italian documentary released in 2004 included an account by former Italian partisan Bruno Lonati, who says he was part of a two-man team tasked with getting rid of the couple.
April 27, 2016
PM Trudeau: Canada doesn't have "the baggage that so many other Western countries have — either colonial pasts or perceptions of American imperialism"
Did Prime Minister Justin Trudeau say that Canada has no history of colonialism? Yes and no.
In an article on the National Observer website about Trudeau's visit to New York University in New York City on Thursday, he was quoted talking about Canada's ability to offer support for UN peacekeeping missions "without some of the baggage that so many other Western countries have — either colonial pasts or perceptions of American imperialism."
The quote raised a lot of eyebrows online — especially among Indigenous peoples — who took to social media to express their outrage.
However, during that same Q&A session with NYU students, Trudeau also spoke critically of Canada's relationship with Indigenous people — and specifically mentioned "colonial behaviours" — in comments that were not in the National Observer article.
"We have consistently marginalized, engaged in colonial behaviours, in destructive behaviours, in assimilationist behaviours, that have left a legacy of challenges to a large portion of the people who live in Canada who are Indigenous peoples," Trudeau said, in answering a question from a student.
MP raises comment in House
NDP MP Niki Ashton raised Trudeau's first comment in question period in the House of Commons on Friday.
"The prime minister yesterday in New York told a group of American students that Canada doesn't have the 'baggage' of colonialism.
"Maybe that explains why, six days after taking office, this government signed a deal to let the Catholic Church off the hook in terms of their financial obligations to residential school survivors," Ashton said.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett seemed to be about to address the PM's comments, but ran out of time after first addressing Ashton's reference to the federal government's agreement with the Catholic Church. Bennett said that agreement was signed on Oct. 30, five days before the Liberals took office, and said the church has a moral obligation to "pay the money that it promised to pay."
Cameron Ahmad, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister's Office, told CBC News on Friday that Trudeau's comments referred to Canada's history outside its borders, and was in reference to diplomacy and Canada's role as a peacekeeping nation.
"He was talking about two different things," Ahmad said, adding that the Liberals have committed to implementing the UN Declaration on Indigenous Peoples and the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and to building a "nation-to-nation" relationship with Indigenous peoples in Canada.
In 2009, then-prime minister Stephen Harper also sparked controversy with comments about this country's history, saying that "Canada has no history of colonialism" while he was speaking at the G20.
Why Solidarity in the 21st Century Means Understanding Race and Class as One Entity, not Two, by Danny Haiphong on Tue, 04/26/2016
Capitalism is the scourge of the planet. “The basis of solidarity, then, should ultimately derive from an internationalist perspective. It means mutually working together with the peoples of the world in the struggle against the common enemy of imperialism.” Malcolm X understood that Vietnamese and Algerian freedom fighters provided “a great service to Black people in the US by weakening the international influence of the US capitalist state.”
“White supremacy justifies such oppression through the dehumanization of ‘non-white’ life and the humanization of ‘white’ life.”
White supremacy and capitalism were constructed for the same purpose: to exploit humans, turn them into commodities, and enrich private owners of capital. This remains true in the 21st century. The Black working class of this era's post-industrial, crisis-ridden US capitalism has been made disposable by a system that once required its free, slave labor to develop and thrive. Endless neo-colonial wars rage throughout the planet. These wars are justified by the same white supremacist ideology that preconditions Black life to the economic margins. On this basis, solidarity between oppressed peoples can only be achieved when a movement strikes against race and class as one entity, not two.
The question of solidarity must be approached from an objective analysis of present day society. The US is a class society. It is ruled by dictates of capitalist profit and private property. Large US monopoly corporations and banks accumulate exorbitant profits from the labor of workers all over the world. At the same time, the majority of people in US society suffer from impoverishment due to capitalist exploitation. This cuts across racial lines.
However, the US is also a racist society. Black Americans, indigenous Americans, and self-identified Latinos are the most impoverished communities in the country. These communities also face levels of repression, segregation, and state violence that White Americans do not experience. White supremacy, as the ruling ideology of US capitalism, justifies such oppression through the dehumanization of "non-white" life and the humanization of "white" life. This permeates throughout every social, political, and economic institution in US society.
“All forms of exploitation are ultimately ruled by the class that controls the dominant political economy of this period: capitalism.”
So while it is important to understand the layers of US society, it is just as important to possess consciousness of the source of the oppression. All forms of exploitation are ultimately ruled by the class that controls the dominant political economy of this period: capitalism. The extreme concentration of wealth, where 62 individuals alone own more capital than half of the planet's population combined, lays bare just what is responsible for the disease of capitalism. And the capitalist class that owns all of this wealth has built a global system of Empire to facilitate large-scale theft.
What unites all oppressed people, then, is their relationship to the capitalist state. The state mitigates and manages the affairs of the US capitalist class. For example, it is Washington that ultimately enforces "free trade" deals such as NAFTA to create a more friendly "investment" environment for multinational corporations. Washington also facilitates arms deal contracts with countries like Saudi Arabia to ensure that its allies continue to fund terrorism and repress independent development throughout the world to the benefit of oil and arms corporations. Everything the capitalist state does thus revolves around enriching the capitalist class at the expense of oppressed and working class people.
This does not mean that Black workers in the US have the same experience as workers in Bangladesh or Somali workers fending off starvation from US-sponsored sanctions. There are variations to how workers experience exploitation based on their social and economic relationship to capital in a given moment of history. However, all of them face the same enemy in one degree or another. This is what Malcolm X realized after his travels throughout the African continent just prior to his assassination in 1965. Malcolm X identified with the national liberation struggle in Algeria because he saw the Algerians (and Chinese, Vietnamese, Cubans among others) as providing a great service to Black people in the US by weakening the international influence of the US capitalist state.
“There are variations to how workers experience exploitation based on their social and economic relationship to capital in a given moment of history.”
The basis of solidarity, then, should ultimately derive from an internationalist perspective. It means mutually working together with the peoples of the world in the struggle against the common enemy of imperialism. This will take work and much education. While much of the world is no stranger to white supremacy and colonialism, some may not completely understand the intricacies of racism against Black people in the US. At the same time, many Black Americans and oppressed peoples of color may not fully understand the importance of standing with Libyans, Cubans, and all oppressed people against US-backed imperial warfare. Eight years of the Obama era and nearly a generation of counterinsurgency does have its negative consequences, after all.
But this should not deter us from upholding a banner of internationalism and solidarity in our day to day work. Reactionary conditions should harden and strengthen our orientation to these important principles. Millions of people continue to perish or starve because of the US and its imperial allies. And the system of capitalism that dictates what this alliance does abroad continues the assault on Black people and peoples of color within its artificial borders. Solidarity will make us stronger in the quest for political power. The question shouldn't be whether people around the world elevate the struggle of Black Americans, but how we can organize on an internationalist basis to confront our common enemy.
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