Monday, August 31, 2020

Cities Need Bailouts Not More Usurious Bond Deals


August 21, 2020

Reprinted from Fighting Words (

Detroit demolition program expropriated federal funding designed to assist residents. | Photo: WXYZ

By Abayomi Azikiwe

On August 14, the final abandoned home was demolished with the more than $265 million in Hardest Hit Homeowners Funds initially designed to preserve neighborhoods as opposed to their destruction in the majority African American city of Detroit.

Over 15,000 houses have been destroyed since 2014 yet tens of thousands more dilapidated and abandoned homes, apartments, commercial and industrial structures remain in the city.

These government funds were deliberately redirected from their intended purpose to later serve as a profitable enterprise for private companies engaging in work which environmentally has endangered hundreds of thousands of people.  A corporate-imposed administration in Detroit headed by Mayor Mike Duggan has defined its mission as the exploitation of labor, resources and tax dollars for the wealthiest interests in the city and beyond. This regime was installed during an unprecedented declaration of emergency management and bankruptcy during 2013-2014.

The 2008-2009 corporate and financial institutional bailout only provided a small percentage of the overall assistance to homeowners so deeply impacted by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Toxic mortgages and urban bond initiatives played a pivotal role in the bankruptcies and near financial ruin of many of the major cities across the United States.

Detroit and other municipalities were already suffering from the vast transferral of wealth from the working class and oppressed peoples to the capitalist ruling class which expanded exponentially after the restructuring of the world system after 1975. Industrial centers such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois, among others, were turned into economic wastelands where unemployment remained astronomically high while workers fled the areas seeking work and other forms of social assistance.

In Detroit, a popular struggle emerged during the later months of 2019 over the introduction of yet another questionable municipal bond deal for $250 million, which would cost the people of the city a half-billion dollars including interest. The existing demolition program which has exhausted its funds was characterized by graft, patronage and the widespread poisoning of the affected communities through the dangerous levels of lead, asbestos and other harmful materials left after the demolition of the homes and apartment buildings.

An Auditor General’s report commissioned by the Detroit City Council took several years to complete due to the lack of transparency by the Duggan administration. The overcharges, missing documents and arbitrary actions taken against salvageable homes which were not even on the demolition lists, has tarnished the image of the program in the eyes of the public.

Consequently, due to public pressure, the bond deal went down in flames at the City Council table during November. In a 6-3 vote, the Council, although not known in recent years to take positions which support the interests of the majority Detroit population, felt the mass discontent and rejected the financial scheme.

Nonetheless, amid the economic distress of the people of Detroit, the City Council has passed by a 5-4 margin another revised bond initiative introduced by the administration. The plan on paper says that 8,000 homes will be “rehabilitated” while an equal number are slated for destruction.

There is no explanation as to how this measure, if approved in the November election, can improve the conditions of the people of the city. Detroit has been disproportionately stricken with COVID-19 infections. 40 percent of the deaths from the pandemic are among African Americans even though they only constitute 13 percent of the population of Michigan.

These actions by the bank-directed administration in Detroit are a reflection of the lack of mitigation efforts to resolve the existing crisis which is growing every month in its magnitude. There have been no resolutions, ordinances or executive orders issued to place a moratorium on evictions which are rapidly increasing. Similarly, the daily Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the city have been attacked on numerous occasions by the police resulting in more than 400 arrests and numerous injuries from pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and other crowd control tactical weapons.

A moratorium on evictions by Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer in the wake of the pandemic has been lifted. Another moratorium ordered by 36th District Court Judge William C. McConico also expired on August 17.

Nearly 100 people gathered outside the court on August 17 demanded that no eviction be carried out in Detroit and that these actions amid the current crisis should be resisted by the people in the communities. Another car caravan outside the office of Whitmer in Lansing on August 19 demanded that she reinstate the statewide moratorium.

A National Pattern of Underdevelopment of Cities

The funding allocated for the Cares Act passed by both Houses of Congress and signed by President Donald Trump in March provided the bulk of assistance to the top echelons of the capitalist ruling class in the U.S. Many firms have profited immensely from government policy at the same time granting a pitiful $1,200 per worker for the masses and an additional $600 in weekly jobless benefits.

These additional benefits have run the course as Congress is divided between the Democratic and Republican parties and therefore cannot reach agreement on even a minimal bailout for the working class and oppressed. The Heroes Act passed by the House of Representatives, which called for additional financial assistance to working families, has been completely rejected by the Senate. A series of executive orders announced by Trump on August 7 excluded the supplemental payments to workers and retirees while mandating the revocation of payroll taxes for the employers which would defund social security and unemployment insurance.

An article recently published by the Brooking Institution think tank assessed the emerging crisis prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The report says: “Legacy cities are likely to suffer more deeply from the COVID-19 pandemic. They have high concentrations of residents vulnerable to the disease itself, due to underlying health conditions, inadequate access to good health care, and other environmental factors. Legacy cities also have fragile economies with long-standing structural weaknesses that expose them to more severe initial impacts and complicate their path to recovery.”

With specific reference to Detroit, this same analysis emphasizes:

“For instance, as an urban center with a high-risk population, Detroit was an early ‘ground zero’ for COVID-19 infections and deaths. Although showing signs of recovery, the pandemic’s early economic impacts on Detroit and similar places is staggering—and in most cases, more severe than those occurring in other metropolitan areas.”

Another article on the crisis was placed in the New York Times on August 17. The writers suggest that the precipitous decline in tax revenue in many cities throughout the country will result in service cuts, educational downsizing and municipal lay-offs. These developments are a result of not only the public health, services and educational problems, they are a by-product of the unequal and exploitative nature of municipal finance which serves to subsidize private investment through the financial institutions.

Electoral Politics and the Status of the Cities

There is tremendous political and corporate media pressure being placed on working class and oppressed peoples in the U.S. to choose between the two parties of the ruling class, neither of which have advanced a program to begin to resolve the contemporary situation.

Unrest in cities such as Portland, Seattle, Chicago and others are a direct result of the failure of the municipal governments to address the demands for police accountability and the imperatives of defunding.

At this critical stage, there is a need for a comprehensive redistribution of wealth. The working people are being forced to endure unemployment, hunger, lack of education and healthcare, environmental degradation along with state repression principally implemented to guarantee maximum profits for the banks and multinational corporations.

The upcoming November elections will generate much interest and debate over the future of the U.S. However, until the workers and oppressed organize independently of the interests of Wall Street there will not be any hope for economic revival among the majority of people inside the country. 

Massive Evictions Will Compound the Public Health Crisis


August 17, 2020 

Reprinted from Fighting Words (

Eviction crisis has been a longterm problem in Detroit where this demonstration was held during 2016

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Since March of this year the United States has been plunged into the worst outbreak of an infectious viral disease since the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920.

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreaks beginning in February and March has resulted in the closure of many production and service facilities throughout the country. Consequently, these events have rendered millions of workers unemployed.

Hospitals and educational institutions are overburdened with the novel virus since it presents profound challenges on how to address the disease through healthcare and the necessity of the resumption of courses whether held in-person or online. Absent of a vaccine and effective treatment, public apprehension related to the resumption of large gatherings whether in the workplace, schools, sports, entertainment and lodging will hamper the ability of millions of working people to earn a living.

Without jobs households will be unable to pay their rents, mortgages and property taxes placing them in foreclosure and evictions statuses. These inevitable consequences of high levels of joblessness are already being witnessed around the U.S.

The Cares Act passed in March by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and later signed by President Donald Trump which was implemented purportedly to assist businesses, institutions and working families, in reality provided the bulk of this public funding to ruling class interests such as multinational corporations, banks and allied groupings. The one-time payment of $1,200 per person and even lesser amounts for those designated as dependents, was also bolstered by an enhanced payment of $600 per week for the unemployed.

However, the Senate rejected the proposed Heroes Act which would have granted additional assistance over an extended period of time. In addition, a renewal of the Cares Act has not materialized after the collapse of negotiations between the Democratic-dominated House and the Republican majority Senate. Trump’s executive orders related to COVID-19 assistance declared on August 7, raises more questions than answers since the already beleaguered state governments are required to provide a percentage of the resources needed to restore only $400 in jobless benefits, a slashing of enhanced benefits by one-third.

As the moratoriums imposed on evictions by various states and the federal government in response to the economic crisis spawned by the pandemic, are being lifted in numerous states, people are being ejected from their homes at a rapidly rising rate. The state governmental structures and the federal housing authorities have not developed programs which can avoid a socially catastrophic situation.

Princeton University has established an Eviction Lab which attempts to track the number of displacements nationwide. Although this research center provides valuable data on the quantitative growth of the evictions, they admit to being limited due to the lack of reporting by numerous municipalities, county and state governments.

Through tracking data from 17 different cities, the Eviction Lab says that since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic some 34,699 notices to vacate have been filed by landlords. The public health situation has exacerbated the existing housing crisis which stems from the structural inequalities inherent within the modern-day capitalist system.

The Eviction Lab says of the present conjuncture:

“Current policy responses to the pandemic may be insufficient to prevent a surge in evictions. CARES Act stimulus payments and unemployment insurance–when accessible–will provide families with some support, but in many cases not enough to make ends meet. Some states have passed temporary eviction moratoria, which the Eviction Lab is tracking in the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard, and localities across the country have introduced additional measures. Once these measures expire, however, millions of renters will owe significant amounts of back rent. For many, a displacement and eviction crisis will follow the public health crisis.”

From California to South Carolina and Michigan Landlords Are Throwing People Out

In the state of California, the most populous in the country, the pandemic has continued to grow particularly in the southern regions. Reports from the state indicate that landlords are locking tenants out of their homes for the failure to pay rent arrears. Even though restrictions on the ability to evict have been enacted, aggressive actions by property owners are forcing many people to move without adequate funds to find new homes.

Ananya Roy, the Director of the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) told the Guardian newspaper in late July that:

“When talking about the scale of eviction and mass displacement, it’s pretty unimaginable. This will be worse than the Great Depression.”

The state of South Carolina was highlighted during the Democratic primary elections as representing a turning point in the prospects of presumptive Democratic Party presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden of Delaware. The African American voters of South Carolina were hailed as providing Biden the necessary victory needed to continue in the race against Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Nevertheless, there is far less focus on South Carolina in recent weeks which is now a focal point for the national eviction crisis. Even prior to the pandemic, the state had the highest eviction rate of any of its counterparts by a two-to-one margin according to data from the Eviction Lab at Princeton.

These rates of evictions are clearly related to the level of poverty in the state, 16.6%, which is moderately higher than the national average, at 14.6. Among African Americans and people of Latin American descent the rates are far higher at 26.7 and 28.6 percentages of the overall population respectively.

A report published by NBC News on August 10 says of the crisis in this southern state:

“In South Carolina alone, 52 percent of renter households can’t pay their rent and are at risk of eviction, according to an analysis of census data by the consulting firm Stout Risius Ross. About 185,000 evictions could be filed in the state over the next four months.”

Michigan was one of the hardest hit states related to the housing crisis which arose during the Great Recession beginning in 2007. Tens of thousands of foreclosures and evictions occurred while successive administrations failed to impose a moratorium.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, once considered a possible Vice Presidential candidate pick for Biden, imposed strict measures related to the mitigation of the pandemic. There was a statewide moratorium on evictions along with the mandated closings of schools, universities, restaurants and all non-essential businesses.

Many of these policies served to reduce the rate of infections and deaths in the state up until June. Under pressure by right-wing elements in the State House and Senate along with their constituencies, Whitmer relented by reducing restrictions and allowing the opening of sectors of the economy. By August, the rates of infections were rapidly increasing with thousands of new cases confirmed every week.

Whitmer lifted the moratorium on evictions suggesting that a renter assistance program was adequate to prevent mass evictions and foreclosures. Yet the failure by the state to properly manage the unemployment insurance program sheds must doubt in the public mind about its capacity to provide aid for distressed renters and homeowners.

The Moratorium NOW! Coalition and other anti-eviction organizations are planning actions to demand the re-enactment of the statewide moratorium. The Chief Judge of 36th District Court imposed a moratorium covering the Detroit area, the largest municipality in Michigan which is set to expire on August 17 with the re-opening of the in-house legal proceedings downtown.

Statewide and Federal Moratoriums Imperative to Avoid Catastrophic Collapse

In the short term the only remedy to the worsening housing crisis is the imposition of a halt to all evictions as well as programs aimed at rent and mortgage forgiveness. Otherwise the large-scale displacement across the U.S. will make any effective plans to control the spread of COVID-19 impossible.

The establishment of homeless encampments already exists in California and other regions of the U.S. These makeshift settlements are growing while making mitigation efforts such as the wearing of masks, virus testing, contact tracing and social distancing even more difficult.

Under capitalism, the housing crisis has been a by-product of the growth of cities and the impoverishment of working people. These problems developed in England and the European continent in the time of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels during the 19th century.

In 1872 Engels wrote that:

“Modern natural science has proved that the so-called ‘poor districts’ in which the workers are crowded together are the breeding places of all those epidemics which from time to time afflict our towns. Cholera, typhus, typhoid fever, small-pox and other ravaging diseases spread their germs in the pestilential air and the poisoned water of these working-class quarters. In these districts, the germs hardly ever die out completely, and as soon as circumstances permit it they develop into epidemics and then spread beyond their breeding places also into the more airy and healthy parts of the town inhabited by the capitalists. Capitalist rule cannot allow itself the pleasure of creating epidemic diseases among the working class with impunity; the consequences fall back on it and the angel of death rages in its ranks as ruthlessly as in the ranks of the workers.”

Coronavirus: The K-shaped Recovery and the Rise of Zombie Capitalism

August 25, 2020

Reprinted from Fighting Words (

K-Shaped Recovery Bites the Unskilled K-Shaped Recovery Bites the Unskilled. | Image: TheStreet,comK-shape recovery Image: Vulcan Post

By Chris Fry

From an August 19 CNBC report:

Nearly 40% of Americans who lost a job or had a reduction in take-home pay due to Covid-19 can’t last more than a month on savings of any kind…

It’s a sobering reminder that many families are teetering on the edge of financial ruin.

Meanwhile, federal unemployment aid ended in July and eviction protections have expired in many parts of the country.

More alarming still, about 1 in 5 people couldn’t last more than two weeks off of their savings, such as an emergency stash or money earmarked for retirement, the company found.

Hunger stalks the land

An August 18th article in the Business Insider puts this problem in stark terms:

A pre-pandemic study by the USDA shows “37.2 million people, including 11.2 million children, did not have adequate access to nutritious food to live a healthy life.” 

Based on data from that study, Feeding America estimates the number is ” likely to grow by 17 million, including nearly seven million children.”

These disparities are drawn between strong racial and economic divides. 

In the US, Latino residents are two times more likely to suffer from food inequality than their white counterparts; Black residents are two-and-a-half times more likely. 

Millions of workers and their families face the loss of health insurance at this time of greatest need:

An estimated 5.4 million American workers lost their health insurance from February through May, one study finds. Nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that about 27 million in total are at risk of losing coverage during the coronavirus pandemic, and could be left struggling with COVID-19 or other illnesses along with a lack of income that can make paying medical bills nearly impossible. 

At the same time, federal moratoriums on evictions and foreclosures are expiring, with millions facing homelessness.

The rich are getting richer: much, much richer.

But if you listen closely, you can almost hear the champagne glasses clinking in the penthouses overlooking Manhattan and the mansions on the Hamptons shoreline. While 783,000 have died around the world, with more than 175,000 dying in the U.S. from coronavirus, billionaires have raked in $731 billion, a 30 per cent increase of their fabulous wealth, since the pandemic began.

According to Forbes, U.S. billionaires now have a total combined wealth of more than $3.65 trillion!

Reformist Senator Bernie Sanders provides some details about this in an August 11 Guardian article:

$13,000,000,000. That’s how much Jeff Bezos, the wealthiest man alive, made in one day while the companies he owns denies paid sick leave, hazard pay and a safe workplace to hundreds of thousands of his workers.

$21,000,000,000. That’s how much the Walton family, the richest family in America, made over the past 20 weeks while US taxpayers continue to subsidize the starvation wages at Walmart, the largest private employer in America.

$731,000,000,000. That’s how much the wealth of 467 billionaires increased since the Federal Reserve started taking emergency actions to prop up the stock market in March.

An August 19 New York Times article reported that:

It took Apple 42 years to reach $1 trillion in value. It took it just two more years to get to $2 trillion.

Even more stunning: All of Apple’s second $1 trillion came in the past 21 weeks, while the global economy shrank faster than ever before in the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the well-heeled minions of these parasites in Congress and the Trump White House proclaim that the meager $600 a week supplement for the unemployed was so much money that the workers had no incentive to slave for their bosses. So, they cut it off at the end of July.

This bonanza for the billionaires did not come from some fabulous innovation, some explosion in demand and sales. When a panic hit Wall Street in February and March because of the pandemic, the banker’s banker, the Federal Reserve, opened a firehose of cash into the coffers of big business to prop up their stock prices. They did this by lowering interest rates to next to nothing by flooding the market with government bonds. And then they took the unprecedented step of buying corporate bonds.

And it worked. Despite the social and economic crisis, despite a 10 per cent decline in the GDP, despite an official unemployment rate of 11 per cent, Wall Street’s share prices are right back to what they were before the pandemic hit. Big business is ecstatic over their “v-shaped” recovery, the shortest in history.

But there is no recovery for the workers and oppressed. As an August 14th article in the Nation put it:

Though recessions almost always hit lower-wage workers the hardest, the pandemic is causing especially large gaps between rich and poor, and between white and minority households. It is also widening the gap between big and small businesses. Some of the largest companies, such as Nike and Best Buy, are enjoying their highest stock prices ever while many smaller businesses fight for survival.

Some economists have started to call this a “K-shaped” recovery because of the diverging prospects for the rich and poor, and they say policy failures in Washington are exacerbating the problems.

Zombie companies, zombie markets, zombie capitalism

The concept of “zombie” arose in enslaved Haiti:

Slaves who considered committing suicide to escape their miserable lives were constantly reminded by their overseers (usually other slaves who were sometimes also Voodoo priests) that, if they killed themselves, they might become zombies, or walking dead with no souls who are bound to do the bidding of a mortal master. Zombies could never reach lan guinée (which literally means Guinea, or West Africa, the final resting place).

The slaveowners scare tactic certainly backfired, as the Haitian slaves avoided suicide by waging the most powerful slave revolution in history, and went on to defeat three colonial armies – the Spanish, the English and the French – that were sent to place them back in chains.

In economic terms, a “zombie company” is one where the cost of servicing its corporate debt is greater than the profits that it is generating. A June 15th article in Axios indicates that, because of the pandemic, one in five of U.S. companies have become zombies. More than two million workers are employed by these corporate zombies.

In a June 16th interview with CNBC, economist Mohamed El-Erian warned that watchers of the global economy should not just be worried about “zombie companies,” but also about “zombie markets.”

So far in 2020, the Fed has announced more than $3 trillion worth of monetary policy stimulus to protect markets, adding corporate debt to its balance sheet for the first time.

“The mentality of the market is if they’re willing to do high yield, they’re willing to do equities, because after all, the last thing the Fed wants is a financial crisis to make the economy worse,”The market feels very strongly that it basically is holding the Fed hostage.”

Other western countries have adopted the same desperate policy. This massive infusion of cash by the central banks into the stock market is creating a “bubble” bigger than that before the dot com crash, before even the subprime loan and derivative speculation that sparked the Great Recession in 2008, which cost 20 million people their homes and 30 million their jobs.

One effect of this “artificial” propping up the stock market is to increase the reelection chances of Boss Trump, who constantly reminds his followers that he must retain power to protect their 401-Ks.

But all of this is placing the capitalist system at the edge of a cliff.  As a July 18th Bloomberg article states:

Bubble or not, it’s an unsettling sight to watch the ranks of unprofitable companies growing while their stocks keep rallying. In the second quarter, where the number of loss-making companies are expected to increase to 43% of the Russell 2000, the benchmark jumped 25%, the best gain in nearly 30 years.

Fretful investors fear the bonanza could create pain down the road should monetary stimulus stop or the economy fail to rebound as fast as expected. Already, there are signs a V-shaped recovery may not materialize. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s CEO Jamie Dimon warned of just that Tuesday (July 14th), saying traditional recessionary effects have been masqueraded by stimulus, for the time being. Worse could still await.

“At some point the companies that are hanging on by a thread are going to declare bankruptcy,” said GuideStone’s Spika. “We’re going to have to pay the piper.”

What Does the U.S. Ruling Class Want from the 2020 Elections?

August 22, 2020

Reprinted from Fighting Words (

By David Sole

On August 11 the Democratic Party announced their candidate for Vice-President of the United States to be California’s Senator Kamala Harris. Harris, a former prosecutor and Attorney General for California, joins former Vice-President Joe Biden to complete the Democrat’s ticket challenging Donald Trump in the November 3 national elections.

Harris, whose mother was from the nation of India and whose father was Jamaican, immediately became the subject of intense discussion in the major, bourgeois media as well as social media. Biden, of course, was the establishment candidate trotted out to squash the mass movement that supported Bernie Sanders, an avowed “socialist.” Far from being progressive, Biden is widely recognized for his pro-war policies over decades and conservative positions going back to opposition to bussing for racial integration in the 1970s.

Rather than counter-balancing Biden’s conservatism, Harris was chosen to reinforce this record. Commentators in many publications hailed Harris as being a popular choice throughout Wall Street. Her “law and order” history as prosecutor and state Attorney General along with her solid record supporting imperialist U.S. foreign policy, complete the Democratic Party leadership’s commitment to completely break with the strong left wing of that party on the ground. It is assumed that progressive and even radical people will be forced to vote for Biden-Harris as “anyone but Trump.”

This thinking is precisely why the Democrats have lost so many presidential races over the past decades. Rather than inspire the masses of poor and working people, who make up an overwhelming majority of the electorate, the top leaders of the Dems select candidates who cannot and will not promote a movement that could evolve into a mass movement for social change. They rather lose to the Republicans than risk a movement that could get out of hand and develop into a serious class struggle.

It is possible that the voters will turn out in large enough numbers to defeat Trump at the polls. His revolting personality and policies make that entirely possible. A large portion of the capitalist ruling class probably would like to see that, and consider Trump to be a destabilizing factor internationally as well as domestically. The program put forward by the Democratic National Committee which everyone knows contains promises not often kept after an election didn’t even include national health care, something urgently needed, especially in face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it is entirely possible, also, that once again 50% or so of the voters, mainly poor, will stay home, seeing nothing being offered to them. This could allow Donald Trump to win another election. This may be less likely than in 2016, but cannot be ruled out.

The ruling class in the United States is perfectly willing to accept another four years of Trump. After all he delivered a tax cut to the wealthiest that some estimate worth a trillion dollars. His outrageous cuts to environmental protection, health and safety, the postal service, etc. have also fattened the corporate fat cats beyond their wildest dreams. And so far he has done that without provoking mass protests or uprisings. Even the mass demonstrations following the murder of George Floyd have generally focused on local policing policies and tactics, leaving Trump relatively unscathed.

So whether the Democrats win or the Republicans prevail the ruling class will continue to enrich themselves while workers and oppressed people will continue to lose ground.

One other possibility also should be considered. What if Trump loses but refuses to leave office? Or if he unilaterally moves to postpone the election? He has already floated the false claim that the election is suspect due to widespread mail-in balloting. And the whole country is already up in arms due to Trump’s lackey, Postmaster General DeJoy’s, sabotaging mail delivery across the land.

Who could challenge Trump if either of these scenarios unfold? The Democratic Party leadership, always subservient to the wishes of the ruling class, cannot be depended on to unleash a strong attack. Never willing to open up a mass struggle they probably would go to court. But should anyone expect the current Supreme Court of the United States to do what’s right?

People need to recall what happened in Florida in the 2000 presidential elections where George W. Bush stole the election from Democrat Al Gore. Violent right-wing gangs entered buildings where ballots were being counted. The Democrats refused to call for a complete statewide recount and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court handed the victory to Bush.

Would the military move to enforce the Constitution and oust a recalcitrant Trump? It doesn’t appear that Trump has strong support from most of the military and it is unlikely they would support such a move. However, it is also unlikely that they would be willing to intervene in a disputed election. After all, who would be in a position to give such orders? And the ruling class wants stability more than anything else in order to keep their coffers filled.

When Nixon faced impeachment it was later revealed that the Secretary of Defense, James Schlesinger worried that the President might try to use troops to hold onto power. Schlesinger admitted he told the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “ignore any White House military initiatives lacking his [Schlesinger’s] signature.”  Of course this was entirely illegal on the Defense Secretary’s part, but clearly had backing from the broadest sections of the ruling class.

It also should be remembered that Nixon and his “plumbers” were laying out a plan to murder a leading member of the [bourgeois] press, Jack Anderson. Anderson was a popular and widely published columnist who had been exposing much of Nixon’s illegal activities. Nixon operative G. Gordon Liddy “suggested poisoning Anderson’s aspirin or lacing his steering wheel with LSD to cause a fatal car accident.” [] The murder was not attempted and Liddy and others soon got embroiled in the Watergate break-in scandal.

A Trump move to overturn or prevent the elections could, however, unleash a mass movement. The millions, mainly though not exclusively youth already in the streets in cities and towns across the United States, have shown that they are against white supremacy and oppressive police. But a characteristic noted by many observers of this unprecedented uprising, now in its third month is its anti-establishment orientation, often explicitly anti-capitalist.

The gross violation of the right to vote or failure to abide by the results of the election could easily transform the Black Lives Matter movement into an even more massive and determined uprising against any fascist turn by Trump and Company. Such a development would not be welcome by the ruling class who would not be in control of it. But such a mass movement would be a real opening for revolutionary struggle and independent working class politics.

The UAE-Israel Deal Is a U.S. Strategy to Isolate Iran, Pro-Palestinian States

August 19, 2020

Palestinians burn pictures of Donald Trump, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Benjamin Netanyahu during a protest in the West Bank city of Nablus on Aug 14. | Photo: AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed

By Randi Nord, GeoPoliticsAlert

Reprinted from Fighting Words (

Abu Dhabi (GPA) – The United Arab Emirates and Israel signed what President Trump called a “breakthrough” comprehensive diplomatic agreement last week. Abu Dhabi has whitewashed the deal as a net positive for Palestinians. A deeper look, however, shows that the agreement is another move in Washington’s strategy to isolate Iran.

The United States, Israel, and United Arab Emirates released a joint statement announcing the UAE-Israel deal to normalize relations on August 13.

Under the deal, the United Arab Emirates became the third Arab state and first Gulf country to normalize relations with Israel and formally acknowledge its existence.

Jordan signed a similar deal with Tel Aviv in 1994 after the Oslo Accords. Meanwhile, Egypt’s cooperation with Israel dates back to 1979 under Gamal Abdel Nasser’s successor Anwar Sadat following the Camp David Accords.

Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi made their long-term relationship official last week with this historic “Abraham Accords.”  The UAE-Israel deal is a stab in the back for Palestinians at home and abroad.

The deal is also part of Washington’s 40-year strategy to politically and economically isolate Iran from its neighbors.

What does the UAE-Israel deal entail?

To comprehend the gravity of the Abraham Accords, it’s important to understand how typical relations between the Israeli entity and Arab or majority Islamic countries work.

An estimated 35 countries do not have official relations with Israel, such as an embassy, consulate, or ambassador. 15 countries — such as Algeria, Lebanon, and Pakistan — do not accept visitors holding Israeli passports. Some even refuse entry to anyone with an Israeli stamp in their passport.

While many of these countries have backdoor relations or trade with Tel Aviv, signing an open peace agreement with Israel like this one is a big deal.

It’s no secret the Gulf monarchies have maintained unofficial relations with Israel for trade and military cooperation for decades. However, the highly public agreement aims to set a new standard for recognizing Israel and putting Palestinian liberation to rest.

The Abraham Accords come after several years of negotiations and discussion. Here’s a snapshot of how things will change under the UAE-Israel deal:

        Establishing formal embassies

        Bilateral trade and investments

        Encouraging tourism

        Healthcare cooperation

        Cultural sharing

        Environmental cooperation

        Opening telecommunication: UAE will unblock Israeli numbers

        COVID-19 research

        Security cooperation

Abu Dhabi whitewashes the UAE-Israel deal as a net positive for Palestinians

Those in support of the deal have praised the UAE for pushing Israel to suspend its planned annexation of the West Bank.

Unfortunately, this is nothing more than a ploy to portray the UAE-Israel deal in a positive light. Patting himself on the back for betraying Palestinians, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, claimed he had stopped a “ticking time bomb” by taking a “very bold step.”

Gargash also downplayed the agreement as “badly needed realism:”

“While the peace decision remains basically a Palestinian-Israeli one, the bold initiative of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed has allowed, by banishing the spectre of annexing Palestinian lands, more time for peace opportunities through the two-state solution,”

While it’s true that Tel Aviv has delayed its planned annexation, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says plans to claim Israeli sovereignty over huge swaths of the West Bank is still very much on the table.

Palestinians call the Abraham Accords a stab in the back and total betrayal.

Mahmoud Abbas’s senior advisor said Palestinian leadership “rejects and denounces the UAE, Israeli, and US trilateral surprising announcement.” Speaking to French President Emanual Macron, Abbas said the UAE has no right to speak on behalf of the Palestinian people.

Hanan Ashrawi, a vocal member of the PLO executive committee said she felt sold out by a friend. She tweeted:

“May you never experience the agony of having your country stolen; may you never feel the pain of living in captivity under occupation; may you never witness the demolition of your home or murder of your loved ones. May you never be sold out by your ‘friends’.”

Thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip took to the streets to denounce the agreement. Meanwhile, Israel celebrated the occasion by launching fresh airstrikes and ground attacks against Gaza.

Tel Aviv has also used the COVID-19 pandemic to tighten its grip around Palestinian necks by shutting down improvised testing centers, restricting medical supply shipments, and continuing arrests. For reference, most countries released hundreds or thousands of prisoners to prevent the spread of COVID-19 including Iran and the United States.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said the UAE-Israel deal only encourages occupation and human rights violations against Palestinians. Qassem points out the absurdity of claiming to support the Palestinian cause while signing cooperation accords with its occupier:

“What is required is to support the legitimate struggle of our people against the occupation and not to establish agreements with this occupier, and any annexation we will face by a Palestinian confrontation that is supported by the Arabs and internationally, and not by signing normalization agreements with them [Israel].”

In 2010, Mossad agents assassinated Hamas operative Mahmoud al Mabhouh. The UAE responded by banning Hamas affiliates from entering the country.

Regardless, the Abraham Accords make it clear that both the UAE and Israel have reduced the West Bank to a bargaining chip in current and future negotiations.

What are people saying about the UAE-Israel deal?

Unsurprisingly, many world leaders, pundits, and diplomats have lauded the deal.

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi — a longstanding ally of both the UAE and Israel — celebrated the joint statement between the UAE-Israel and United States.

A former US ambassador to Israel and esteemed warhawk at the Council for Foreign Relations, Martin Indyk, couldn’t contain his excitement. Indyk cheered on the UAE for what he somehow believes is a strike against Israel’s dominant right-wing political bloc. Talk about hot takes!

Infamous friend to Palestine in public and ally to Israel behind closed doors, Turkey lambasted the UAE-Israel deal quite dramatically:

“History and the conscience of the region’s peoples will not forget and never forgive this hypocritical behavior of the UAE, betraying the Palestinian cause for the sake of its narrow interests.”

Turkey hosts both an Israeli consulate and embassy, accepts Israeli passports, and has bilateral trade agreements with Israel.

Iran flatly condemned the agreement and plans to take “dramatic” steps to rework its current relationship with the UAE in response.

Tehran’s highest-ranking military commander, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, said it’s not acceptable for the UAE to establish relations with a regime that violates the rights of Muslims.

Baqeri urged Abu Dhabi to rethink the normalization plan, explaining that such a plan could be detrimental to the UAE’s national security.

“Under the circumstances that all free-thinking nations in the world express their hatred toward and avoid establishing friendly relations with the Zionist regime, one of the Islamic Republic’s neighbors is brazen enough to announce the establishment of ties with this child-killing regime, which is a cause for great regret” Baqeri said.

Iranian businesses and firms operating in the United Arab Emirates control roughly $300 billion in assets. Previous rounds of sanctions slashed the Emirates’ trade with Iran in half, amounting to about $10 billion lost each year. An estimated 600,000 Iranians live or own property in the UAE.

Yemen’s Ansarullah spokesman, Mohammed Abdulsalam, criticized the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation for their silence on the UAE-Israel deal. Abdulsalam pointed out that these organizations managed to draft a harsh response after Yemen launched defensive strikes on Riyadh, yet now remains silent.

UAE-Israel deal as US strategy to further isolate Iran and the pro-Palestine bloc

Since the Trump regime took office, it has worked to build a regional coalition against Iran. 

Iran is no doubt the strongest and most genuine voice for Palestine on the world stage. It’s no secret, however, that the idea of a free Palestinian state is off the table for most of the international community. This is evidenced in the lack of a Palestinian voice in US politics, AIPAC lobbying efforts, and failure to enforce dozens of UN resolutions against Israel’s war crimes.

The long-term goals of the Abraham Accords are to eliminate the voice for a free Palestine from the international stage, and to make Iran the pariah state stuck in the past.

Washington is hoping the dominos will start to fall. As Trump told reporters in the Oval Office:

“Now that the ice has been broken I expect more Arab and Muslim countries will follow the United Arab Emirates.”

Israel’s Intelligence Minister, Eli Cohen, voiced his expectations for other Gulf and African countries such as Bahrain and Oman to follow the UAE’s lead and begin their own normalization plans:

“I think that Bahrain and Oman are definitely on the agenda. In addition, in my assessment, there is a chance that already in the coming year there will be a peace deal with additional countries in Africa, chief among them, Sudan.”

Cohen’s statement regarding Sudan is ironic considering Saudi Arabia and the UAE played an active role in shaping Sudan’s political future following last year’s toppling of Omar al-Bashir.

They no doubt have the same strategy in mind for Lebanon: wiping out Hezbollah’s political influence and installing a completely Israeli-friendly government.

It’s no coincidence that the UAE chose to announce this deal just a week after the Beirut explosion as Lebanon’s government collapses and the Lebanese nation faces a political turning point. Anyone would be foolish to assume the Saudis, UAE, and Israelis aren’t salivating at the thought of capitalizing on Lebanon’s turmoil.

In another coincidence, the deal was revealed just days before the anniversary of Lebanon’s victory over Israel in 2006.

The central-African country of Chad also recently normalized relations with Israel in December of 2019.

Chadian President Idriss Déby and his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu signed a series of bilateral agreements regarding trade and security cooperation.

In 2018, during a visit from Saudi King Salman, Washington set up a “supreme committee” consisting of the US, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. Part of this involves continuing the Saudi coalition war against Yemen to wipe out Ansarullah, which Washington wrongfully considers a proxy of Iran.

The UAE has already started expanding its foreign presence across the horn of African through military bases.

The UAE-Israel deal aims to politically and economically isolate Iran.

The United Arab Emirates is one of the wealthiest countries in the region and the world. Together, Saudi Arabia and the UAE can use their oil-backed capital to sway politics across the world — including the United States.

The long-term goal isn’t necessarily to eliminate Iran’s current government. Of course, that’s Washington’s pipedream. However, the United States would be content with an Iran that doesn’t throw its power behind oppressed groups around the world — specifically, Palestine, Yemen, and Lebanon.

But the Trump regime did face a defeat just a day after the Abraham Accords were announced, when the U.N. Security Council overwhelmingly voted down the U.S. proposal to extend indefinitely the arms embargo against Iran. Only the Dominican Republic voted “yes” on the U.S. proposal.

What’s next?

Some governments might be ready to recognize Israel, but they’ll no doubt face blowback at home. Take Saudi Arabia for example. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a long history of cooperating with Israel — recently even openly.

However, Riyadh has yet to sign a formal agreement. Yemeni missiles and drones certainly pose a hurdle should Mohammed bin Salman sign a similar agreement with Tel Aviv. However, Saudi Arabia is also home to religious fanatics: a catastrophe of Riyadh’s own making.

Expect to see more tectonic political shifts in Africa and the Gulf region.

Reprinted with permission from

Hundreds Protest Trump – the Anti-Worker Racist Bigot – in Oshkosh, WI


August 19, 2020

Fighting Words (

Hundreds protest Trump in Oshkosh, WI August 17, 2020 Hundreds protest Trump in Oshkosh, WI August 17, 2020. | Photo: WI BOPMHundreds protest Trump in Oshkosh, WI August 17, 2020 Hundreds protest Trump in Oshkosh, WI August 17, 2020. | Photo: WI BOPM

By Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement

OSHKOSH, WISCONSIN AUGUST 17, 2020 — A diverse crowd of people’s fighters from across Wisconsin rallied and marched here to protest the racist, anti-worker bigot and war criminal Donald Trump.

Assembling in a parking lot, protesters gathered and then marched through the neighborhood near where Trump spoke.

A participant describes the scene of the march:

“Trump supporters today threatened us with weapons, stalked us with vehicles and drove aggressively through the crowd, followed us with giant graphic photos of dead fetuses, showed up with a loudspeaker to attempt to derail our speeches by yelling “Black lives don’t matter.” They called Black marchers the n-word, harassed people for gender presentation and used degrading and explicit terms to scream about people’s genitals and LGBTQ+ status. They also followed us the entire march heckling people and making threats. Didn’t stop us. Won’t stop us,” said Mary B of the Food Not Bombs Appleton Chapter.”

The Green Bay chapter of Voces de la Frontera along with United Action Oshkosh, the African People’s Socialist Party, the Coalition to March on the DNC, Wisconsin FRSO, Our Wisconsin Revolution and Wisconsin Bail Out the People Movement helped organize the protest actions.

“Trump’s recent attacks on the essential postal office workers are obviously an attack on our communities and our people, to prevent people from voting,” said Danielle Gutierrez, DACA recipient and member of the Voces de la Frontera relational voter program Vocero por el Voto, in a news release. “This dismantling of the post office is a sign of his inability to see the reality that he is not above the law. We must hold him accountable for his actions.”

Gutierrez was one of numerous speakers to address protesters.

A wide range of people’s demands were put forth on signs, banners and from speakers at a street rally. These included: An end to police murders/terror, a moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and utility shutoffs, an end to all attacks on migrants and the undocumented, an end to attacks on women and LGBTQ people, an end to environmental destruction and money for people’s needs such as public education, housing and union jobs not jails, cops, bank bailouts and war. Information about upcoming events was shared including a August 20 Coalition to March on the DNC‎ protest in Milwaukee, an MLK/BLM Event and Protest in Appleton August 30 and a United Black Lives 4th Annual Celebration & Education Supplies Drive Event in Green Bay August 30. (Information on these events are posted to this blog, type in the city in the search engine:

The Oshkosh anti-Trump protest is a part of the growing Black Lives Matter related events sweeping across Wisconsin this summer, most led by youth and students. Besides the police murders of Black, Brown, Indigenous and poor white workers in the state, in the past decade Wall Street forces (especially the bankers) and their political servants – has pummeled the poor and working people of Wisconsin with unrelenting anti-worker racist austerity. Despite this, the people are in motion in the thousands across the state fighting back against the cruelty and barbarity of the capitalist system – especially during the present COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of protests have taken place across the state since the police murder of George Floyd including in the Fox Valley (Fon du Lac, Oshkosh, Appleton), Waupaca and in numerous other cities in Northeastern Wisconsin and beyond.

Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, September 2, 1945

"All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness" This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America m 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free. The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen also states: "All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights." 

Those are undeniable truths. Nevertheless, for more than eighty years, the French imperialists, abusing the standard of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity, have violated our Fatherland and oppressed our fellow-citizens. 

They have acted contrary to the ideals of humanity and justice. In the field of politics, they have deprived our people of every democratic liberty. They have enforced inhuman laws; they have set up three distinct political regimes in the North, the Center and the South of Vietnam in order to wreck our national unity and prevent our people from being united. 

They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots- they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood. They have fettered public opinion; they have practised obscurantism against our people. 

To weaken our race they have forced us to use opium and alcohol. In the fields of economics, they have fleeced us to the backbone, impoverished our people, and devastated our land. They have robbed us of our rice fields, our mines, our forests, and our raw materials. They have monopolised the issuing of bank-notes and the export trade. They have invented numerous unjustifiable taxes and reduced our people, especially our peasantry, to a state of extreme poverty. 

They have hampered the prospering of our national bourgeoisie; they have mercilessly exploited our workers. In the autumn of 1940, when the Japanese Fascists violated Indochina's territory to establish new bases in their fight against the Allies, the French imperialists went down on their bended knees and handed over our country to them. 

Thus, from that date, our people were subjected to the double yoke of the French and the Japanese. Their sufferings and miseries increased. The result was that from the end of last year to the beginning of this year, from Quang Tri province to the North of Vietnam, more than two rnillion of our fellow-citizens died from starvation. On March 9, the French troops were disarmed by the lapanese. 

The French colonialists either fled or surrendered, showing that not only were they incapable of "protecting" us, but that, in the span of five years, they had twice sold our country to the Japanese. On several occasions before March 9, the Vietminh League urged the French to ally themselves with it against the Japanese. 

Instead of agreeing to this proposal, the French colonialists so intensified their terrorist activities against the Vietminh members that before fleeing they massacred a great number of our political prisoners detained at Yen Bay and Cao Bang. Not withstanding all this, our fellow-citizens have always manifested toward the French a tolerant and humane attitude. 

Even after the Japanese putsch of March 1945, the Vietminh League helped many Frenchmen to cross the frontier, rescued some of them from Japanese jails, and protected French lives and property. From the autumn of 1940, our country had in fact ceased to be a French colony and had become a Japanese possession. 

After the Japanese had surrendered to the Allies, our whole people rose to regain our national sovereignty and to found the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. The truth is that we have wrested our independence from the Japanese and not from the French The French have fled, the Japanese have capitulated, Emperor Bao Dai has abdicated. 

Our people have broken the chains which for nearly a century have fettered them and have won independence for the Fatherland. Our people at the same time have overthrown the monarchic regime that has reigned supreme for dozens of centuries. 

In its place has been established the present Democratic Republic. For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government, representing the whole Vietnamese people, declare that from now on we break off all relations of a colonial character with France; we repeal all the international obligation that France has so far subscribed to on behalf of Vietnam and we abolish all the special rights the French have unlawfully acquired in our Fatherland. 

The whole Vietnamese people, animated by a common purpose, are determined to fight to the bitter end against any attempt by the French colonialists to reconquer their country. We are convinced that the Allied nations which at Tehran and San Francisco have acknowledged the principles of self-determination and equality of nations, will not refuse to acknowledge the independence of Vietnam. 

A people who have courageously opposed French domination for more than eighty years, a people who have fought side by side with the Allies against the Fascists during these last years, such a people must be free and independent. 

For these reasons, we, members of the Provisional Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, solemnly declare to the world that Vietnam has the right to be a free and independent country and in fact it is so already. The entire Vietnamese people are determined to mobilise all their physical and mental strength, to sacrifice their lives and property in order to safeguard their independence and liberty.

Note, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam has been renamed The Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

Ho Chi Minh: Appeal Made on the Occasion of the Founding of the Indochinese Communist Party

First Published: Delivered at Hong Kong, February 18, 1930

Source: Selected Writings of Ho Chi Minh (1920-1969)

Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House

Transcription/Markup: Roland Ferguson and Christian Liebl

Online Version: Ho Chi Minh Internet Archive ( 2003

Workers, peasants, soldiers, youth and school students!

Oppressed and exploited fellow-countrymen!

Sisters and brothers! Comrades!

Imperialist contradictions were the cause of the 1914-1918 World War. After this horrible slaughter. The world was divided into two camps: one is the revolutionary camp which includes the oppressed colonial peoples and the exploited working class throughout the world. Its vanguard is the Soviet Union. The other is the counter-revolutionary camp of international capitalism and imperialism, whose general staff is the League of Nations.

That war resulted in untold loss of life and property for the peoples. French imperialism was the hardest hit. Therefore, in order to restore the forces of capitalism in France, the French imperialists have resorted to every perfidious scheme to intensify capitalist exploitation in Indochina. They have built new factories to exploit the workers by paying them starvation wages. They have plundered the peasants' land to establish plantations and drive them to destitution. They have levied new heavy taxes. They have forced our people to buy government bonds. In short, they have driven our people to utter misery. They have increased their military forces, firstly to strangle the Vietnamese revolution; secondly to prepare for a new imperialist war in the Pacific aimed at conquering new colonies; thirdly to suppress the Chinese revolution; and fourthly to attack the Soviet Union because she helps the oppressed nations and the exploited working class to wage revolution.

World War Two will break out. When it does the French imperialists will certainly drive our people to an even more horrible slaughter. If we let them prepare for this war, oppose the Chinese revolution and attack the Soviet Union, if we allow them to stifle the Vietnamese revolution. This is tantamount to letting them wipe our race off the surface of the earth and drown our nation in the Pacific.

However, the French imperialists' barbarous oppression and ruthless exploitation have awakened our compatriots, who have all realized that revolution is the only road to survival and that without it they will die a slow death. This is why the revolutionary movement has grown stronger with each passing day: the workers refuse to work, the peasants demand land, the students go on strike, the traders stop doing business. Everywhere the masses have risen to oppose the French imperialists.

The revolution has made the French imperialists tremble with fear. On the one hand, they use the feudalists and comprador bourgeoisie to oppress and exploit our people. On the other, they terrorize, arrest, jail, deport and kill a great number of Vietnamese revolutionaries. If the French imperialists think that they can suppress the Vietnamese revolution by means of terror, they are grossly mistaken. For one thing, the Vietnamese revolution is not isolated but enjoys the assistance of the world proletariat in general and that of the French working class in particular. Secondly, it is precisely at the very time when the French imperialists are frenziedly carrying out terrorist acts that the Vietnamese Communists, formerly working separately, have united into a single party, the Indochinese Communist Party, to lead the revolutionary struggle of our entire people.

Workers, peasants, soldiers, youth, school students!

Oppressed and exploited fellow-countrymen!

The Indochinese Communist Party has been founded. It is the Party of the working class. It will help the proletariat lead the revolution waged for the sake of all oppressed and exploited people. From now on we must join the Party, help it and follow it in order to implement the following slogans:

1. To overthrow French imperialism and Vietnamese feudalism and reactionary bourgeoisie;

2. To make Indochina completely independent;

3. To establish a worker-peasant-soldier government;

4. To confiscate the banks and other enterprises belonging to the imperialists and put them under the control of the worker-peasant-soldier government;

5. To confiscate all the plantations and property belonging to the imperialists and the Vietnamese reactionary bourgeoisie and distribute them to the poor peasants;

6. To implement the 8-hour working day;

7. To abolish the forced buying of government bonds, the poll-tax and all unjust taxes hitting the poor;

8. To bring democratic freedoms to the masses;

9. To dispense education to all the people;

10. To realize equality between man and woman.

Ho Chi Minh: Report On The National And Colonial Questions At The Fifth Congress Of The Communist International

First Published by The Fifth Congress of the Communist International July 8th, 1924

Source: Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh Vol. 1

Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House

Transcription/Markup: Roland Ferguson and Christian Liebl

Online Version: Ho Chi Minh Internet Archive ( 2003

Comrades, I only wish to put forward some suggestions about Comrade Manuilsky’s criticisms of our policy on the colonial question. But before entering upon the matter, it is desirable to give some statistics in order to help us to see its importance more clearly.





Great Britan 151,000 45,500,000 34,910,000 403,600,000

France 536,000 39,000,000 10,250,000 55,600,000

The United States 9,420,000 100,000,000 1,850,000 12,000,000

Spain 504,500 20,700,000 371,600 853,000

Italy 286,600 38,500,000 1,460,000 1,623,000

Japan 418,000 57,070,000 288,000 21,249,000

Belgium 29,500 7,642,000 2,400,000 8,500,000

Portugal 92,000 5,545,000 2,062,000 8,738,000

Holland 32,500 6,700,000 2,046,000 48,030,000

Therefore, nine countries with a population of 320,657,000 and an area of 11,470,300 square kilometres, are exploiting colonies embracing dozens of nationalities, with a population of 560,193,000 and covering an area of 55,637,000 square kilometres. The whole area of the colonies is five times greater than that of the mother countries, and the whole population of the mother countries amounts to less than three-fifths of that of the colonies.

These figures are still more striking if the biggest imperialist countries are taken separately. The British colonies taken as a whole are eight and a half times more populous and about 232 times bigger than Great Britain. France occupies an area 19 times bigger than her own. The population of the French colonies exceeds that of France by 16,600,000.

Thus, it is not an exaggeration to say that so long as the French and British Communist Parties have not brought out a really progressive policy with regard to the colonies, have not come into contact with the colonial peoples, their programme as a whole is and will be ineffective because it goes counter to Leninism. I will explain myself more clearly. In his speech on Lenin and the national question Comrade Stalin said that the reformists and leaders of the Second International dared not align the white people of the colonies with their coloured counterparts. Lenin also refused to recognize this division and pushed aside the obstacle separating the civilized slaves of imperialism from the uncivilized slaves.

According to Lenin, the victory of the revolution in Western Europe depended on its close contact with the liberation movement against imperialism in enslaved colonies and with the national question, both of which form a part of the common problem of the proletarian revolution and dictatorship.

Later, Comrade Stalin spoke of the viewpoint which held that the European proletarians can achieve success without a direct alliance with the liberation movement in the colonies. And he considered this a counter-revolutionary viewpoint. But if we judge from practice to make our theoretical examination, we are entitled to say that our big Parties, excepting the Soviet Communist Party, still hold the above-mentioned viewpoint because they are inactive in this matter.

What have the bourgeois class in the colonialist countries done towards oppressing so many people enslaved by them? They have done everything. Using the means given them by the State administrative machine, they have carried out an intense propaganda. They have crammed the heads. of the people of the mother countries with speeches, films, newspapers, exhibitions and every other means, so that they have a colonialist outlook; they have displayed before their eyes pictures of the easy, honourable and rich life which seems to await them in the colonies.

As for our Communist Parties in Great Britain, Holland, Belgium and other countries - what have they done to cope with the colonial invasions perpetrated by the bourgeois. class of their countries? What have they done from the day they accepted Lenin’s political programme to educate the working class of their countries in the spirit of just internationalism, and that of close contact with the working. masses in the colonies? What our Parties have done in this domain is almost worthless. As for me, I was born in a French colony, and am a member of the French Communist Party, and I am very sorry to say that our Communist Party has done hardly anything for the colonies.

It is the task of the communist newspapers to introduce the colonial question to our militants to awaken the working masses in the colonies, win them over to the cause of Communism, but what have our newspapers done? Nothing at all.

If we compare the number of columns devoted to the colonial question in the bourgeois newspapers such as The Times, Figaro, Evre or in those of different opinions such as Le Populaire, or Liberty, with those devoted to the same question in l´Humanite, the central organ of our Party, we are bound to say that this comparison will not be favourable to us.

When the Ministry of Colonies worked out a plan for transforming many African regions into large private plantations, and turning the people of these regions into veritable slaves attached to the new employers’ land, our newspapers still remained silent. In the French West African colonies, forcible measures for enlistment unknown for centuries were carried out, and yet our newspapers maintained a close silence. The colonialist authorities in Indo-China turned themselves into slave traders, and sold the inhabitants of north Viet Nam to planters in the Pacific islands; they lengthened the natives’ military service from two to four years; they sold the greater part of the colonial land to financier sharks; they increased taxes by a further 30 per cent in spite of the natives’ inability to pay the old ones. And all this was done while the natives were being driven to bankruptcy and dying of hunger through flood. However, our newspapers still maintained silence. Thus, it is no wonder that the natives are inclined to side with organizations for democracy and freedom such as the Society for the Rights of Man and the Citizen together with other similar organizations which take care of them or pretend to take care of them.

If we go even further, we shall see incredible things, making everybody think that our Party has a disregard for all that concerns the colonies. For instance: I‘Humanite did not publish the International Peasants’ Appeal to the people of the colonies issued by the Communist International.

Prior to the Lyons conference, the items listed for debate covered all political programmes except that on the colonial question. L‘Humanite carried many articles on the Senegal boxer Siki’s success, but did not raise its voice when the dockers at Dakar port, Siki’s brothers, were arrested in the middle of their work, tied hand and foot, hauled on to lorries and taken to jail. Later they were sent to the garrisons to be turned into ‘defenders of civilization’, that is to say, into soldiers. The central organ of our Party daily informed our readers of the feats of the pilot Uadi, who flew from Paris to Indo-China. But when the colonial administration pillaged the people of ‘Dai Nam’, robbed them of their fields to give them to the French profiteers, sent out bombers with orders to the pilots to teach reason to the pitiful and despoiled local people, the organ of our Party did not find it necessary to bring this news to the knowledge of its readers.

Comrades, the press of the French bourgeoisie has realized that the national question cannot be separated from the colonial question. In my opinion, our Party has not thoroughly understood this. The lessons of the Ruhr, when the native troops who were sent out ‘to comfort’ the starving German workers, encircled the suspected French regiments; the example of the Eastern troops, in which the native forces were given machine-guns ‘to mobilize the spirit’ of the French troops worn out by the hard and protracted war; the events which occurred in 1917 at places where Russian troops were stationed in France; the lesson of the strike of agricultural workers in the Pyrenees where native troops were forced to play the shameful part of saboteurs; and finally the presence of 207,000 colonial troops in France itself - all these have not made our Party think, have not made our Party find it necessary to lay down a clear and firm policy on colonial questions. The Party has missed many good opportunities for propaganda. The new leading organs of the Party have acknowledged that the Party is in a corner over this question. This is a good sign, because once the leaders of the Party have realized and recognized this weak point in the Party’s policy, there is hope that the Party will do its utmost to rectify its errors. I firmly believe that this Congress will be the turning point and will urge the Party to correct its past shortcomings. Although Comrade Manuilsky is quite right in his remarks on the elections in Algeria, to be objective, I must say that it is true that our Party has committed errors here but has corrected them by nominating colonial representatives as candidates in the elections for the Seine department. Though this is still too little, it is fairly satisfactory as a beginning. I am very happy to see that at present our Party is again filled with the best intentions and enthusiasm, and that it needs only to be strengthened by practical deeds to be brought to a correct policy on the colonial question.

What are these practical deeds? To work out long political programmes and pass high-sounding resolutions which are, after the Congress, sent to the museum as has always been done in the past, is not enough. We must adopt concrete measures. I propose the following points:

1 - To publish in l‘Humanite a new feature of at least two columns weekly devoted to regular coverage of colonial questions.

2 - To increase propaganda and choose Party members among the natives of the colonial countries in which there are already branches of the Communist International.

3 - To send comrades from the colonial countries to study at the Eastern Communist University in Moscow.

4 - To come to an agreement with the United General Confederation of Labour on the organization of working people from colonial countries working in France.

5 - To set Party members the task of paying more attention to colonial questions.

In my opinion, these proposals are national, and if the Communist International and delegates of our Party approve them, I believe that at the Sixth Congress, the French Communist Party will be able to say that the united front of the masses of the metropolitan country and colonies has become a reality.

Comrades, as Lenin’s disciples, we must concentrate all our forces and energies on colonial questions as on all other questions in order to implement Lenin’s teachings.

Comrade Douglas (an English delegate)...

Comrade Smeran...

Comrade Nguyen Ai Quoc:

The French colonies occupy an area of 10,241,510 square kilometres with 55,571,000 inhabitants scattered over all four continents. In spite of the differences in races, climates, customs, traditions and economic and social development, there are two common points that make them alike and can later bring about unity in the common struggle.

1 - The economic situation: in all the French colonies, industry and commerce are little developed and the majority of the population are engaged in agriculture. Ninety-five per cent of the population are peasants.

2 - In all the colonies, the native peoples are unremittingly exploited by French imperialist capital.

I have not enough time to make a thorough analysis of the situation of the peasants in each colony. Therefore I shall take only a few typical examples to give an idea of the peasants’ life in the colonies.

I shall begin with my country, Indo-China, which naturally I know better than the other colonies. When France occupied this colony, the war drove the peasants away from their villages. Later, on their return they found their lands occupied by the colonists who had followed in the wake of the victorious army. They had shared among themselves the land the native peasants had cultivated for generations. In consequence the Annamese peasants were turned into serfs and forced to cultivate their own lands for foreign masters.

Numerous unfortunates who could not suffer the extremely hard conditions imposed by the occupiers, left their lands and wandered about the country. They were called ‘pirates’ by the French, who sought every means to prosecute them.

The lands thieved in this way, were allotted to the planters. They needed merely to say a word in order to get tracts of land sometimes covering more than 20,000 or 25,000 hectares.

These planters not only occupied lands without any payment but also obtained all that was necessary to exploit those lands including labour. The administration allowed them to make use of a number of prisoners without any payment, or ordered the communes to supply them with manpower.

Besides these wolves and the administration, the Catholic Mission is to be mentioned. The Catholic Mission alone occupied one quarter of the areas under cultivation in Cochin-China. To secure for itself all those lands it used every imaginable and unimaginable method, including bribery, fraud and coercion. Here are a few examples. Availing itself of crop failures it gave the peasants loans, with their rice-fields on mortgage. The interest rates being too high, the peasants were unable to get out of debt and had to cede their mortgaged fields outright to the Mission. Using all kinds of underhand methods, the Mission did its utmost to find out secret information that could be harmful to be authorities. It used this information as a threat to force the authorities to comply with its will. Together with the big capitalists the Mission founded companies for the exploitation of the plantations which were occupied without any payment and the lands stolen from the peasants. The henchmen of the Mission held high positions in the government. The Mission exploited believers no less ruthlessly than the planters. Another of its tricks was to get together poor people and force them to reclaim waste land with promises that once the land was cultivated it would be divided among the peasants. But as soon as the land was. reclaimed and the crops about to be harvested, the Mission declared that the land belonged to it and drove out those who had toiled to make it productive. Robbed by their ‘protectors’ (Catholic or non-Catholic), the Annamese peasants were not even left in peace to work on their remaining tiny plots of land. The land registry service carried out a fraudulent cadastral survey to make the peasants pay more taxes. These increased every year. Recently, after occupying thousands of hectares of land belonging to the Annamese highlanders to give them to the profiteers, the authorities sent airplanes to the place so that the victims dared not think of rebelling.

The despoiled peasants, ruined and driven away, again found ways and means to reclaim virgin land. But once it was under cultivation, the administration would seize it and oblige them to buy it at prices fixed by the administration. Those unable to pay would be driven out pitilessly.

Last year, the country was devastated by floods; however, land taxes increased 30 per cent.

In addition to the iniquitous taxes that ruin them, the peasants still have to go on corvee, pay poll-tax, salt-tax, buy government-bonds, subscribe to various funds and many other things, and sign unequal contracts, etc.

French capitalists in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco have carried out the same policy of robbery and exploitation. All the good irrigated land was kept for the French. The natives were driven away to areas at the foot of the mountains or to arid spots. The financial companies, profiteers and high functionaries divided the land in the colonies among themselves.

Through direct and indirect operations, the banks in Algeria and Tunisia in 1914 made 12,258,000 francs profit from a capital of 25 million francs.

The Bank of Morocco, with a capital of 15,400,000 francs, made 1,753,000 francs profit in 1921.

The French Algerian Company has occupied 324,000 hectares of the best land.

The Algerian General Company has occupied 100,000 hectares.

A private company has occupied 50,000 hectares of forest without any payment, while the Capziere phosphate and railway company has occupied 50,000 hectares of land rich in ores, and in addition has secured priority rights over 20,000 hectares of land in its neighbourhood.

A former French deputy has occupied a plantation covering 1,125 hectares of land, with mines to the value of 10 million francs, producing a yearly income of four million francs. The natives, the real owners of these mines, receive annually only one tenth of a franc per hectare.

French colonial policy has abolished the right of collective ownership and replaced it by private ownership. It has also abolished small ownership to the advantage of big ownership of the plantations. This policy has incurred for the native peasants the loss of 5 million hectares of their best land.

In 15 years, the peasants in Kabylia were robbed of 192,090 hectares.

From 1913, each year the Moroccan peasants were robbed of 12,000 hectares of land under cultivation. Since France was victorious in the war ‘for Justice’, that figure has risen to 14,540 hectares.

At present, there are in Morocco only 1,070 French people, but they occupy 500,000 hectares of land. Like their Annamese peasant brothers and sisters, the peasants in Africa lead an unbearably hard life, going on corvee all the time and paying heavy taxes. Their misery and sufferings are indescribable. Due to shortage of food they have to eat wild vegetables and grasses or rotten rice and consequently are affected with typhus and tuberculosis. Even in good harvest years, peasants are seen turning up rubbish heaps, disputing food-remnants with dogs. In lean years, the corpses of peasants dead of starvation are seen everywhere in the fields and on the highways.

The peasants’ life in West Africa and French Equatorial Africa is still more frightful. These colonies are in the hands of about 40 companies. They occupy everything: land and fields, natural resources and even the natives’ lives; the latter lack even the right to work for themselves. They are compelled to work for the companies, all the time, and only for the companies. To force them to work for nothing, incredible means of coercion are used by the companies. All lands and fields are confiscated. Only those who agree to do the farming required by the companies are allowed to have some tiny plots of land. People are affected with all kinds of diseases through malnutrition, and the death rate especially among the children is very high.

Another method is to make old people, women and children work as servants. They are lodged in small huts, ill-treated, beaten, ill-fed and sometimes murdered. In some localities the number of permanent servants is kept about equal to the number of workers in order to discourage the latter from running away. So that work in the plantations shall not suffer, the natives are forbidden to work their own land in good time. Therefore, famine and epidemics occur very often, wreaking havoc in the colonies.

The few tribes who have fled to the forests and succeeded in escaping the planters’ exploitation, live like animals, feeding on roots and leaves, and die from malaria and the unwholesome climate. Meanwhile the white masters are devastating their fields and villages. The following is an excerpt from an officer’s diary describing briefly but clearly the repression of the colonial peasants:

“Raid on Colover village.”

“Raid on the Fan tribe at Cuno. Villages and gardens. destroyed.”

“Raid on Becanit village. Village burnt down; 3,000 banana-trees cut down.”

“Raid on Kwa village. Village destroyed. Gardens and farms razed to the ground.”

“Raid on Abimaphan village. All houses burnt down, all gardens and farms destroyed.”

“Raid on Examphami village. Village destroyed. The whole commune along Bom river burnt down.”

The same system of pillage, extermination and destruction prevails in the African regions under Italian, Spanish, British or Portuguese rule.

In the Belgian Congo, the population in 1891 was 25 million, but it had fallen to eight and a half million by 1911. The Hereros and Cama tribes in the former German colonies in Africa were completely exterminated. 80,000 were killed under German rule and 15,000 were killed during the ‘pacification’ period in 1914. The population of the French Congo was 20,000 in 1894. It was only 9,700 in 1911. In one province there were 10,000 inhabitants in 1910. Eight years later there remained only 1,080. In another province with 40,000 black inhabitants, in only two years, 20,000 people were killed, and in the following six- months 6,000 more were killed or disabled.

The densely populated regions bordering the rivers were turned into deserts within a matter of 15 years. Bleached bones were scattered throughout the ravaged oases and villages.

The life of the survivors was atrocious in the extreme. The peasants were robbed of the tiny plots of land allowed them by the companies, the artisans lost their crafts, and the breeders their cattle. The Matabeles were cattle-breeders: before the arrival of the British, they had 200,000 cattle. Two years later only 40,900 were left. The Hereros had 90,000 cattle. Within 12 years the German colonists had robbed them of half. Similar cases are numerous in all the black countries which came into contact with the Whites’ civilization.

In conclusion, I quote the African writer Rene Maran, author of Batuala who said: “Equatorial Africa was a densely populated area, rich in rubber. There were here all kinds of gardens and farms with plenty of poultry and goats. After only seven years everything was destroyed. Villages were in ruins, gardens and farms laid waste, poultry and goats killed. The inhabitants grew weak because they had to work beyond their strength and without any payment. They were thus not sufficiently strong and lacked the time to work their fields. Diseases broke out, famine appeared, the death rate increased. We should know that they are the descendants of strong and healthy tribes imbued with an enduring and tempered fighting spririt. Here, there is nothing left that can be called civilization...”

To complete this tragic picture, I want to add one point: French capitalism has never hesitated to drive each region in turn to famine if it might be of advantage to them. In many colonial countries, e.g., the Reunion Islands, Algeria, Madagascar, etc... the inhabitants are no longer allowed to grow cereals but have to grow other crops required by French industry. These crops are more profitable to the planters. And this has caused the cost of living in the colonies to rise and often brings about famine.

In all the French colonies, famine is on the increase and so is the people’s hatred. The native peasants are ripe for insurrection. In many colonies, they have risen many times but their uprisings have all been drowned in blood. If at present the peasants still have a passive attitude, the reason is that they still lack organization and leaders. The Communist International must help them to revolution and liberation.

Ho Chi Minh on Lenin And The Colonial Peoples

First Published: Pravda, January 27, 1924

Source: Selected Works of Ho Chi Minh Vol. 1

Publisher: Foreign Languages Publishing House

Transcription/Markup: Christian Liebl

Online Version: Ho Chi Minh Internet Archive ( 2003

‘Lenin is dead!’ This news struck the people like a bolt from the blue. It spread to every corner of the fertile plains of Africa and the green fields of Asia. It is true that the black or yellow people do not yet know clearly who Lenin is or where Russia is. The imperialists have deliberately kept them in ignorance. Ignorance is one of the chief mainstays of capitalism. But all of them, from the Vietnamese peasants to the hunters in the Dahomey forests, have secretly learnt that in a faraway corner of the earth there is a nation that has succeeded in overthrowing its exploiters and is managing its own country with no need for masters and Governors General. They have also heard that that country is Russia, that there are courageous people there, and that the most courageous of them all was Lenin. This alone was enough to fill them with deep admiration and warm feelings for that country and its leader.

But this was not all. They also learned that that great leader, after having liberated his own people, wanted to liberate other peoples too. He called upon the white peoples to help the yellow and black peoples to free themselves from the foreign aggressors' yoke, from all foreign aggressors, Governors General Residents, etc. And to reach that goal, he mapped out a definite programme.

At first they did not believe that anywhere on earth could there exist such a man and such a programme. But later they heard, although vaguely, of the Communist Parties, of the organization called the Communist International which is fighting for the exploited peoples, for all the exploited peoples including themselves. And they learned that Lenin was the leader of that organization.

And this alone was enough to make these peoples — though their cultural standard is low, they are grateful folk and of goodwill — whole-heartedly respect Lenin. They look upon Lenin as their liberator. ‘Lenin is dead, so what will happen to us? Will there be other courageous and generous people like Lenin who will not spare their time and efforts in concerning themselves with our liberation?’ This is what the oppressed colonial peoples are wondering.

As for us, we are deeply moved by this irretrievable loss and share the common mourning of all the peoples with our brothers and sisters. But we believe that the Communist International and its branches, which include branches in colonial countries, will succeed in implementing the lessons and teachings the leader has left behind for us. To do what he advised us, is that not the best way to show our love for him?

In his life-time he was our father, teacher, comrade and adviser. Nowadays, he is the bright star showing us the way to the socialist revolution.

Eternal Lenin will live forever in our work.