Saturday, October 31, 2020

Decisive Victory of MAS in Bolivia: A Blow to Anti-Indigenous and Anti-Socialist Coups in the Americas

October 29, 2020

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Luis Arce, MAS candidate for President. | Photo: Alina Duarte

Reprinted from Orinoco Tribune

By William Camacaro

The decisive electoral victory of the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) in Bolivia may be a point of inflection on the continent that advances the construction of a new South American socialist bloc.

After having been removed from power by a military coup with fascist, anti-Indigenous, and neoliberal elements a year ago, ex-president Evo Morales, with his allies, presidential candidate Luis Arce and vice-presidential candidate David Choquehuanca, declared victory in the elections that came to a close on the evening of October 18. According to an exit poll, Arce, who served as Minister of Finance in the Morales administration, was leading in the presidential contest with 52.4 percent of the vote and ex-president Carlos Mesa came in second place with 31.5 percent. The right wing candidate Luis Camacho, allied with the de facto president Jeanine Añez, follows in a distant third place, with only 14.1 percent of the vote. Añez and Mesa have both recognized the outcome of the election.

Once the MAS victory is officially ratified in Bolivia in the next few days, it will represent a huge blow to the international right. It will be a political defeat for other conservative leaders in the region, among them Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and Iván Duque in Colombia, both of whom supported the dictatorial regime of Jeanine Añez. Without a doubt, the MAS triumph provides oxygen for the Bolivarian revolution which in this moment is besieged by illegal United States sanctions, an economic war, and the possibility of military aggression. At the same time, it offers breathing room for Cuba and Nicaragua, countries that are also harassed by illegal United States measures.

A MAS win in Bolivia can also nudge Argentina towards the left without ambiguities. The government of Alberto Fernández now will not be so quick to maintain tepid positions in the international arena as it did a few days ago when it allied itself with the countries of the right wing Lima Group which continues to disparage Venezuela within the halls of the United Nations. The success of the MAS could inspire the social forces that have organized around the plebiscite in Chile that seeks to reform the Pinochet-era Constitution. And it fortifies the electoral option of Ecuador’s presidential candidate Andrés Arauz against the neoliberalism of the formerly leftist politician, Lenín Moreno. A victory of this magnitude will make life difficult for the conservative and pro-militarist government of Colombia and gives more energy to the candidacy of Gustavo Petro in the next elections.

This new scenario shows that the United States is no longer the great liberal nation of the world.  The independence of Spanish South America was due, in great part, to the fact that Spain was invaded by Napoleanic forces. Spain found itself fighting for its own survival against Napoleon at the very moment that the war for independence was developing in South America. In a similar process, the United States will begin a complicated period from the economic, social, health, and political points of view and in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis after the coming presidential elections.

The cost to the country since the arrival of Donald Trump to the Presidency has been enormous. After the US election the nation will have to implement a series of damage control measures and repair multiple wounds at the national and international levels.  This process could take some years at a moment when China has emerged as the preeminent economy in the world. We are entering a new period, another era, in which, without a doubt, one can observe push back against the ex-hegemonic power, especially from social mobilizations in Latin America by groups that have been historically excluded.

In Bolivia there has been a historic popular victory in which the citizens of a poor nation have succeeded, by means of an electoral process, to overcome a military dictatorship backed by the United States. They have defeated the military forces that supported a coup d’etat, the big national and international corporations that were preparing to strip the country once again of the public character of its energy and mineral resources. It is really an impressive triumph, given the difficult conditions within which the MAS and their candidates had to conduct their electoral campaign: Illegal persecutions, fake lawsuits, arrests, political repression, and violent attacks.

This election in Bolivia will have ramifications and consequences across the continent at a time when the United States shows signs that it has entered a process of decline. The Bolivarian bloc continues to survive despite blockades, economic sanctions, military threats, media wars, and all of the hunger and suffering of millions of Latin Americans provoked by the illegal sanctions of the United States. Indigenous Bolivians have given, this 18 of October, an enormous example of dignity, sovereignty, and independence.

Reprinted from Orinoco Tribune

Community Groups, Unions Taking Fascist Threats Seriously

October 26, 2020 

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The AFL-CIO labor federation, headed by Richard Trumka, is seeing the terms general strike and resistance against tyranny, bandied about.

By David Sole

With less than two weeks left before the November 3 U.S. elections there are signs that some sectors of the population are taking Donald Trump’s threat seriously to refuse to recognize an unfavorable outcome to the vote and are organizing for the worst.

Of course the main effort of those in and around the Democratic Party continues to be their “get out the vote” campaigns for their lackluster nominee, former vice-president Joe Biden. But a significant development has begun to emerge organizationally to deal with the possibility that Trump will carry out a “coup” in one form or another, creating a constitutional crisis. This current includes both supporters of Biden, but also forces that are not tied to the Democrats, including some socialist organizations.

Richard Trumka, president of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO, warned in a speech on September 25 that the U.S. labor movement would take strong measures against any move by Trump to hold onto power should he lose the election. The Council of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.AFL-CIO  published a statement on September 21 that “any attempt to obstruct, sabotage or otherwise undermine the integrity of the 2020 Presidential election” would result in “immediate collective action, by any means necessary, among our united membership.”  But neither Trumka nor the D.C. body laid out any concrete program.

On September 30 an extensive article was published in the online journal calling for the formation of “People’s Committees to Defend Democratic Rights” to start well before election day. The article warned that it would be foolish and dangerous to assume that the U.S. courts or military would protect the people against Trump or his right-wing minions. This article went into great detail on how labor and community groups ought to form united front committees and prepare for a possible General Strike if conditions necessitated such action.

On October 8 the Rochester (NY) Labor Council passed a powerful resolution denouncing the threats openly voiced by Trump. A long list first outlined the dangers posed by Trump, his administration and his “white supremacist and fascist militias” supporters and warned of the danger of “the potential rise of a tyrant Dictator.”

The resolution went further, however, in calling upon

“the National AFL-CIO, all of its affiliate unions, and all other labor organizations in the United States of America to prepare for and enact a general strike of all working people, if necessary, to ensure a Constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 Presidential Elections.”

During the past few weeks a number of radical and progressive groups have begun discussion designed to prepare for the possibility of united front actions that might be needed. The Freedom Socialist Party has been holding virtual meetings from around the country with the aim of a united front.

Activists in Baltimore put out a call to “Occupy the Streets” that also included reference to a possible general strike and a link to the Detroit Moratorium Now Coalition’s appeal. Their effort has garnered quite a few endorsements from the Baltimore area.

In Michigan united front type meetings have begun spearheaded by Detroit Will Breathe, the local leadership of mass Black Lives Matter demonstrations. Participating organizations include representatives of Democratic Socialists of America, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, Moratorium Now Coalition, the General Baker Institute among others.

At the same time religious leaders gathered around the Central United Methodist Church in downtown Detroit have been building plans for daily demonstrations starting at the church the day after Election Day. The theme is for a “peaceful transition of power” in contrast to Trump’s threats of violence and refusal to recognize himself losing.

Most interestingly are efforts being carried out by labor and labor affiliated groups in Michigan.  Aside from normal campaigning for their candidate, these forces report setting up “action councils” around the state in both urban and rural areas. They aim to ensure they have solid local leadership that are kept in touch statewide that could respond to local, statewide or national events. Activists from the other nascent coalitions are working to improve communications among themselves and also further reach out and unify with other like-minded forces that can be mobilized in a fascist-like crisis.

Perhaps sensing the movement on the ground, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka issued a call for top union leaders to meet on October 23. quoted AFL vice-president Tefere Gebre on October 21 that the labor federation was planning for any resistance to a peaceful transfer of power.

Mass Rebellion in Nigeria Sparked by Police Brutality


October 28, 2020

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Nigerian youth carry end sars banner Nigerian youth carry End SARS banner

By Abayomi Azikiwe

A series of incidents involving the notorious Special Anti-Robbery Squad police unit (SARS) in the Federal Republic of Nigeria has brought to the surface underlying societal contradictions which have been simmering for many years.

This year represents the 60th anniversary of national independence in Nigeria from Britain.

Moreover, 2020 marks yet another commemoration being the 1960 “Year of Africa”, where 18 former colonies won recognition and statehood amid a continental resurgence in resistance to colonialism. Events during the immediate post-World War II period throughout the continent took place at the same time as former colonies and semi-colonies in Asia and Latin America as well, experienced a yearning for genuine political power and economic liberation.

Nonetheless, the declaration of independence by numerous African colonies prior to and proceeding 1960 has been thwarted by the advent of neo-colonialism. Although most African states have been recognized by the United Nations, the former Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU), founded in 2002, along with both capitalist and socialist states, the economic dependency of these post-colonial nations is  continuing to hamper their ability to achieve genuine development and the consequent sovereignty required to determine the destiny of its people.

#EndSARS Mass Demonstrations Met with State Repression

In Nigeria, with its population of 206 million, the initial demonstrations beginning on October 5 were largely peaceful. Young people held mass rallies and demonstrations in the commercial capital and financial hub of Lagos which eventually spread to other regions of the country.

Later in Abuja, the political capital and home to the national legislative structures, were the center of demonstrations as well that were brutally repressed by the police forces. After days of unrest, the military publicly threatened to intervene to restore order.

A Reuters news dispatch on the situation in Abuja on October 9 quoted participants as saying:

“They poured teargas on each and every one of us, it’s so hot I had to put water on my face. This is what Nigeria has turned into. We just got there with our placards and decided, they started throwing us teargas. That was it.”

At the Lekki Toll Plaza in Lagos, youth and their supporters had been blocking the area in order to make their voices heard in the demands being put forward to the All-Progressive Congress (APC) government of President Muhammadu Buhari. On the evening of October 20, it is reported in many accounts that armed units of the military entered the area, shutting off the street lights only to suddenly open fire on the people engaged in the occupation.

The atmosphere prior to the evening of October 20 at Lekki Toll Plaza was one of a cultural festival where young people engaged in musical presentations, speeches, the waving of the Nigerian flag, the singing of the national anthem and other patriotic songs. Therefore, it was a shock to many when the military engaged in repressive tactics in order to clear the area of protesters.

A report documenting the reaction of demonstrators quoted them as saying:

“We never imagined they would start shooting at us because we were peaceful and not carrying weapons. The worst we expected was for the soldiers to throw tear gas to disperse us.”

There are contradictory claims related to the number of casualties and deaths on October 20 and the early morning hours of the 21st. However, events in response to these acts of state repression were swift and violent.

Several governmental institutions and private properties including the Nigerian High and Appeals Court, prisons in several areas of the country, the family home of the Lagos state governor, 25 police stations, the ports authority, transport vehicles at the BRT, the Nation newspaper and the leading satellite television network in the country, TVC Nigeria, were attacked and set a light by roving groups of youth. Lagos State Governor Sanwo-Olu visited victims of the shootings by the security forces at the hospitals yet did nothing to restrain the actions of the police and military units deployed in the commercial capital city Lagos home to some 20 million people.

The governor’s social media posts calling for calm and the announcement of a commission of inquiry were sharply criticized by youth and others from various political tendencies. Nigerian Human Rights lawyer Femi Falana was interviewed over Arise Television on October 22 where he accused the government of failing to seriously address the legitimate grievances of the #EndSars Movement.

President Buhari delivered a televised address on October 21 where he urged calm while strongly suggesting that the youth and community people halt their demonstrations while threatening even more repressive measures. There was no mention of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 69 people, including 51 civilians along with 18 members of the police services and the defense forces.

Buhari’s statement was condemned by a broad array of political forces for its lack of compassion and strategic vision for the immediate future of the country. Some of the protesting youth have called for the resignation of the president and the state governor of Lagos.

 Neo-Colonialism and the Economic Crisis

Undoubtedly the mass demonstrations against police brutality were influenced by events in the United States since the police execution of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis. Historically, there has been an intersection between the struggles for civil rights and self-determination among the tens of millions of people of African descent in the West and their allies, where political convergences during the 1950s and 1960s linked the movements against racism in North America with the independence campaigns to end colonialism on the African continent.

Nigeria is a vast oil-producing state where multinational firms such as Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total, among others, are involved with the extraction of petroleum and natural gas resources. Despite its tremendous wealth in energy, the character of the neo-colonial system of dependency has deprived the majority of people from benefiting from its advances in the economic sphere.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic during the early months of 2020, the world capitalist system has undergone a significant downturn. In the U.S. and Western Europe, millions of confirmed cases of the virus have forced the partial shutdowns and attempted restructuring of economies. Millions are losing their jobs placing them in danger of food deficits, foreclosures and evictions.

With states such as Nigeria being dependent upon the sale of its energy resources to capitalist corporations for national consumption, when there is a drastic decline in demand for oil, natural gas and other export commodities, the foreign exchange earnings of these African nations are negatively impacted. Some countries such as Zambia in Southern Africa, have already reported the threat of financial default as it relates to their obligations to international financial institutions.

On October 22, the S&P rating agency declared Zambia’s bond holdings as being in what they describe as “selective default.” According to a news article:

“We view the nonpayment of debt service and the statement that the government will not make debt service payments as a default on its commercial debt obligations….With most debt denominated in dollars, sharp kwacha (Zambian currency) depreciation has exacerbated Zambia’s fiscal problems and pushed debt from around 36% of GDP in 2014 to 92% by the end of 2019.”

In specific reference to Nigeria, a financial publication has cited a recent statement by the African Department of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which accurately views the current unrest as a by-product of the economic crisis. The IMF has acted as a major impediment to African development since the 1960s through the conditionalities placed on governments, limiting their capacity for the strengthening of state institutions and a more equal distribution of income generated by the export of national resources.

This article stated in reference to the IMF report that:

“The Board blamed the civil unrest and the social instability in the Nation on the economic difficulties in the country as well as Nigeria’s low growth prospect. IMF reiterated that the protest in the country is not just against police brutality, but also unemployment, poverty. The Department explained that the difficult event that followed since the wake of the decline in oil prices in 2015-16 in Nigeria, has made economic prospects low in the country, and this dislocation has exerted pressure on standards of living, which fueled the protest.”

Therefore, the long-term objectives in African mass struggles is to wrestle control of the resources of the countries in order to develop the states based upon the interests of the majority of working people, youth and farmers. These efforts must take place on a continental basis through the breaking of the stranglehold of economic dependency imposed by imperialism.

Voter Suppression and Right-wing Threats Fail to Keep Millions Away from the Polls


October 27, 2020

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By Abayomi Azikiwe

Efforts aimed at thwarting the fundamental bourgeois democratic rights of the majority of people in the United States are well underway.

President Donald J. Trump has said repeatedly that mail-in voting and early opportunities to cast ballots are inherently fraudulent and designed to deny him a second term in office.

Trump and his allies are encouraging their supporters to prevent others from voting in large numbers prior to election day and on November 3. Incidents have been reported of right-wing militia groups and zealots engaging in attempts to intimidate voters.

The current administration has flooded the airwaves with campaign commercials which largely ignore the existence of the worst public health crisis in more than a century. These political ads focus on what are considered wedge issues which have almost nothing to do with the COVID-19 pandemic, the worsening economic downturn and the burgeoning racial unrest which has swept the U.S. since the police execution of African Americans Ahmed Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, along with many others.

These expensive advertisements are designed to sway people to either vote for the Trump-Pence ticket or to stay away from the polls altogether. Within the African American community, the Republican presidential candidate and others from the same party running for congressional and senatorial seats, are emphasizing issues related to opposing gender equality, the rights of women in regard to reproductive health and purported threats to religious freedom.

None of these talking points from the right-wing say anything about guaranteeing health insurance for all residents of the U.S. Absent from their narrative is any reference to the need to end police brutality, racism, national oppression, gender discrimination and to guarantee jobs at a living wage, quality education, environmental justice, affordable housing and safe running water for people across the country.

In the South, North, West and East of the country voter suppression tactics utilizing numerous methods are creating an atmosphere of political uncertainty. Earlier in the year, administration attacks on the U.S. Postal Service were designed to hamper the capacity of the system to deliver ballots in a timely fashion.

African American tenant farmers evicted after registering to vote in Fayette County, Tennessee, Winter 1960

Voter Suppression and the Legacy of the Jim Crow South

Of course, a major concentration of voter suppression is in the South due to the history of African enslavement and the resurgence of African American voters in the aftermath of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Over the last four decades or more, it has been nearly impossible for Democratic presidential candidates to win a majority of votes in these states.

Repeatedly Republican candidates work in conjunction with local business interests and political officials to ensure the maintenance of the status-quo. Obstacles to voter registration such as previous criminal convictions has disenfranchised hundreds of thousands in Florida.

Georgia along with Florida have been notorious for purging thousands from voter registration lists on spurious allegations of criminal records and failure to prove residency in the states. Two major gubernatorial elections in 2018 for Georgia and Florida were marred by concerted and well-organized voter suppression techniques.

A report published recently by the group Public Integrity said of the situation in a major Southern state that:

“Georgia was infamous in the last century for its Jim Crow-era poll taxes and other intimidation tactics used to suppress Black citizens’ right to vote. This century, the state is known as an epicenter for battles over restrictive policies that civil-rights activists denounce as modern-day voter suppression.”

The State of Georgia through cooperation with local officials disenfranchised 54,000 people during 2018 when then Secretary of State Brian Kemp ran for governor against former Democratic legislative leader Stacey Abrams. Although the Abrams campaign held out for several weeks without conceding, the state government bureaucrats and politicians prevailed placing Kemp in the governor’s seat. Since his assumption of office, Kemp has been a major obstacle to the mitigation efforts aimed at controlling the pandemic in the state, which has disproportionately impacted African Americans in both rural and urban areas.

Voter registration among African Americans, people of Latin American ancestry, Asians and other people of color communities accelerated during the first decade of the 21st century. This was in part due to the candidacy of former President Barack Obama.

This same above-mentioned article from Public Integrity also says:

“Controversy over purging and other practices hangs over the Nov. 3 general election as a record number of Georgia residents are lining up for in-person early voting, which started Oct. 12 and ends Oct. 30. With its fast-growing population, Georgia voter registration has surged. And the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a record number of voters requesting mail-in ballots.”

Building Resistance to the Escalating Threats to Democratic Rights

Electoral suppression efforts have been bolstered by the 2013 Shelby County v. Holder Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the enforcement provisions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act was a concession granted by the administration of former President Lyndon B. Johnson in the aftermath of mass demonstrations in Alabama and other Southern states.

Yet despite these setbacks, many African Americans and other oppressed peoples are determined to drive Trump from the White House and the Republican majority from the Senate. Events of the last seven months have provided impetus for not only electoral initiatives notwithstanding mass actions requiring independent organization aimed at mobilizing millions to end police brutality and other forms of racist state violence.

Although the Democratic Party is attempting to ride the tide of discontent and the yearning for fundamental change, it will take the workers and oppressed utilizing their own organizational capacity to deliver a decisive defeat to the right-wing. Beyond the elections on November 3, the threat of neo-fascist violence directed at the oppressed and others designated as potential threats to the Trump administration, could very well result in mass arrests, serious injuries and loss of life.

Several organizations from various regions of the U.S. issued an appeal during September calling for the formation of People’s Committees to Defend Democratic Rights. This campaign, launched by the Moratorium NOW! Coalition in Michigan, the Wisconsin Bailout the People Movement (BOPM) and the Bay Area People’s Alliance in California, represents a growing trend among the working class and the oppressed.

An article published in Fighting Words in late September emphasized:

“The aim of People’s Committees should be very clear. They must prepare to shut the entire country down if Trump tries to steal or ignore the election. They must popularize the idea of, and prepare for, a General Strike. Some will argue that such an action is illegal. But it is the only serious answer to the outrageously illegal actions of the president. We will be told that general strikes are not done in the United States. Perhaps not recently, but there are a host of examples of general strikes going back into the 1800’s to contradict that claim.”

These mass organizations are not alone in their quest to prepare for the potential of post-election confrontations involving millions. Statements have been issued by various AFL-CIO metropolitan councils including their national leadership. Groups of various progressive, liberal, socialist and community-based groups are meeting and making plans for mounting a formidable resistance to the threat of a political coup by the Trump regime and its allies.

Even beyond the possible resolution of the election crisis, such formations as People’s Committees will be needed to ensure that the interests of the masses are upheld. The Democratic Party leadership represents the powerful corporate forces on Wall Street and at the Pentagon. Working people and the oppressed need independent organizations in order to speak and act in their own names.

There can be no solution to the crisis of governance in the U.S without a total transformation of the racist-capitalist system. Socialism provides the only solution for the survival and well-being of working people in the U.S. and around the world.

Africa Battles COVID-19 Pandemic Effectively


October 17, 2020 

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Photo: John ManzongoAfrica CDC Director coordinates efforts across the continent Africa CDC Director coordinates efforts across the continent. | Michael Tewelde / AFP

By Abayomi Azikiwe

During the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic there was much concern about the impact the virus would have on the African continent.

Predictions focused on the underdeveloped healthcare, transportation and educational sectors of the 55 African Union (AU) member-states stemming from their dependent neo-colonial economies, suggesting that this would prove disastrous once the virus penetrated the region.

The major outbreaks of COVID-19 infections are centered in the more developed economies within the AU. South Africa, the continent’s most industrialized state with a population of close to 60 million, has borne the brunt of the pandemic with approximately 700,000 cases and 18,000 deaths.

Other states reporting high numbers of cases include Ethiopia, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria and Morocco, all of which are major hubs for urbanization, tourism, international trade and strategic resources extraction. Early on in the beginning of the pandemic, the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ACDC) began to track the spread of the potential deadly illness and strengthened cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international public health agencies.

A daily update published by the ACDC, an affiliate of the AU, reports as of October 14, that 1,593,472 cases have been confirmed on the continent while the death toll from the pandemic stands 38,884 with 1,319, 118 classified as recovered from COVID-19. There are approximately 1.3 billion people living in the AU member-states and therefore in comparison to other geo-political regions, the infection rate overall remains low.

Western corporate and governmental media agencies are perplexed by the situation in Africa which has undergone numerous public health crises over the last two decades. Most recently, the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in three West African states during 2014-2015, resulted in the deaths of more than 11,000 people.

Over the last year, there was an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which has been contained through the courageous efforts of Congolese healthcare personnel and research scientists working in collaboration with international groupings such as the WHO. Vaccines to prevent Ebola, along with sophisticated contact tracing mechanisms, have served to prevent a wider proliferation of the disease both domestically and in other contiguous states in Central and East Africa.

Africa Attempts to Coordinate Responses to the Pandemic Unlike the U.S.

Various projects are underway to maintain vigilance against the pandemic. A workshop was held during September on the need to rapidly increase the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the AU member-states.

According to a report on the enhanced efforts aimed at producing PPE within the region, the ACDC says that:

“The Infection Prevention and Control Technical Working Group of the Africa Task Force for Coronavirus Response (AFTCOR) held a special virtual workshop to promote manufacturing of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Africa on Thursday, 3 September 2020. Over 300 participants representing policymakers, regulatory agencies, the private sector, government and non-government institutions, manufacturers and distributors of PPE, PPE technical experts, multilateral and bilateral organizations, attended the workshop.”

The lack of PPE is by no means exclusively an African problem. In the United States, this was one of the major complaints leveled against the privately-owned healthcare industry which failed its own workers and patients by not providing adequate protections. Healthcare workers in the U.S. have stated that within the senior convalescent facilities, managers often told employees not to wear masks because it could alarm the residents and patients. Such disregard for protocols and the safety of employees and patients undoubtedly lead to many unnecessary deaths.

President Donald Trump deliberately minimized the threat of the pandemic in the critical months of February and March. After the economic consequences of the rapid spread of infections and consequent deaths, the stock market fell precipitously prompting the appointment of a now-defunct White House Task Force and the eventual passage of a stimulus package in April. Trump was reluctant to evoke the Defense Production Act and instead sought to bailout large corporations, banks and institutions which experienced drastic declines in revenues and profits. Today in the U.S., tens of millions remain jobless while facing the potential of foreclosures and evictions in equally as great numbers.

The ACDC stressed during the September workshop the need for the continent to be self-reliant  in PPP production, saying:

“In his opening address, Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, said with a population of about 1.3 billion Africa cannot continue to import over 95% of its PPE requirements. He said adequate and continuous supply of PPE is needed to protect vulnerable healthcare workers from being infected while caring for others…. Key issues discussed included the need for uniform continental standards for PPE manufacturing (including domestication of international standards), enforcement of the standards, greater collaboration between national regulatory agencies for sharing best practices, resource mobilization, procurement of raw materials, post-marketing surveillance, and the protection of intellectual property rights and patents.”

Anyone observing the public health crisis in the U.S. would note the lack of a national policy related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each state, county and municipality has largely been left to its own devices related to mitigation efforts.

Although the White House has issued guidelines through the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Trump routinely ignores the wearing of masks and the necessity of social distancing. After contracting the virus, the president was given an early detection test and experimental treatments which are not available to the majority working and oppressed peoples in general.

Statistical Comparisons and the Need for Socialized Medicine

Considering the population and economic status of Africa in comparison to other regions of the world, medical experts, social scientists and journalists are seeking explanations of the disparity in rates of infection and deaths. Some of the analysis centers on the relative youthful nature of the African people where those under 30 years of age make-up a substantial portion of the population in most AU member-states.

Others have attempted to claim that the low numbers are a result of the lack of testing capability across the continent. Also there is the notion that the number of cases is being underreported due to lack of access to testing locations within clinics, hospitals and public places.

Yet, in Zimbabwe, for example, the number of infections remains low particularly when compared to neighboring Republic of South Africa. Zimbabwe remains under the yoke of western imperialist sanctions from Britain and the U.S. and has undergone labor difficulties in the healthcare sector. Nonetheless, the government has been able to keep the number of infections to 8,000 with less than 250 deaths for a population of nearly 15 million people

An article published on October 14 in The Hill by Dr. Steven Phillips, an epidemiologist formerly employed by the CDC, raised the questions:

“How can the earth’s poorest continent by almost any health, income, or education measure, including the UN’s Human Development Index, lead the world? How can a continent where 56 percent of its urban population is concentrated in non-social distanced slums, and where only 34 percent of households have access to basic handwashing facilities, largely avoid this viral scourge? These conditions have resulted in Africa having the highest rates of malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS and measles deaths in the world. Not only does COVID not follow this dismal trend, but it has reversed it — demonstrating a dramatically lower toll than any other continent.”

Contrasting the African situation with the U.S. and the world illustrates the dangerous social conditions under which people are living in the most advanced industrialized state in the world, where the number of infections and deaths are continuously climbing. The U.S. remains the most dangerous place to be in the world with more than 7 million infections and 215,000 deaths from COVID-19. This worldwide pandemic has revealed the vulnerability of the U.S. capitalist and imperialist system. These lessons must be learned by the working class and oppressed in order to re-energize the struggle for national health insurance and socialized medicine. Quality healthcare is a fundamental human right despite the avoidance of this pertinent issue within the 2020 U.S. presidential debates.

Racism and the Death Penalty


October 11, 2020

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Christopher Vialva and his mother Lisa Brown just days before his execution in Indiana. | Photo: WTUI

By Abayomi Azikiwe

Christopher Vialva, 40, was executed by the United States government on September 24, 2020 in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Vialva was the first Black person put to death by the federal criminal justice system since the resumption of executions by Washington earlier this year.

The now deceased Vialva committed his crimes in the state of Texas as a youth. His offenses were designated as a federal crime due to the fact that it took place in an area considered under the control of the Fort Hood military base. Vialva’s mother, Lisa Brown, who is Caucasian, pleaded with President Donald Trump to commute the death sentence of her son, to no avail.

Six others faced the same fate in rapid succession during 2020. These events, overshadowed by the presidential elections, the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread mass demonstrations and rebellions fueled by racism and national oppression, represent the continuing unjust treatment of people of color communities, working and poor people in the most advanced capitalist state in the world.

The death penalty was reinstated in 1976 after being suspended for four years. Nonetheless, only three federal executions were carried out between 1976 and the beginning of 2020, after a 17 year hiatus.

The escalation in federal executions is a direct result of the policies of the administration of President Donald Trump. Attorney General William Barr was instrumental in facilitating the renewal of capital punishment on a federal level.

Even within the state criminal justice systems in the many areas where the death penalty remains legal there has been a notable decline in the utilization of this outmoded and barbaric form of punishment.

However, the current administration in Washington is seeking to illustrate that it is committed to the maximum sentencing of prison inmates despite its claims of prison reform directed towards African Americans. Barr was quoted as saying “we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system.”

Racism, National Oppression and the Death Penalty

A recent study released by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC) further exposes the link between race and criminal justice. The study comes at a critical conjuncture in the U.S. when millions have demonstrated and spoken out against the arbitrary use of lethal force involving police and vigilante contacts with African Americans and people of Latin American descent.

The recrudescence of federal capital punishment is a ruthless by-product of the ideological racism of the current administration.

Trump built his 2016 presidential campaign through the targeting and denigration of immigrant workers, African Americans, women and other oppressed groups. Yet this stiffening of overt national discrimination and bigotry has prompted widespread opposition both domestically and internationally.

This report by the DPIC was issued prior to the November 3 national elections. The findings reinforce the narratives related to the expanding prison-industrial-complex which is inextricably linked to the disproportionate profiling, arrest, sentencing, imprisonment and execution of oppressed people in comparison to whites in the U.S.

DPIC entitled its study “Enduring Injustice: the Persistence of Racial Discrimination in the U.S. Death Penalty”. The research report looks at the application of the death penalty historically and draws striking parallels to events taking place in the 21st century.

According to Ngozi Ndulue, lead author and Senior Director of Research and Special Projects for DPIC:

“The death penalty has been used to enforce racial hierarchies throughout United States history, beginning with the colonial period and continuing to this day. Its discriminatory presence as the apex punishment in the American legal system legitimizes all other harsh and discriminatory punishments. That is why the death penalty must be part of any discussion of police reform, prosecutorial accountability, reversing mass incarceration, and the criminal legal system as a whole.”

In the U.S. in 2020, there are approximately 2.3 million people incarcerated in numerous jails, juvenile detention centers and prisons. Millions more are under some form of judicial and law-enforcement supervision. African Americans and other people of color make up over half of all those locked up while these communities constitute less than 40% of the overall population of the U.S. combined.

The Executive Director of DPIC and the editor of the report, Robert Dunham, said of the study that:

“If you don’t understand the history — that the modern death penalty is the direct descendant of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow-segregation — you won’t understand why. With the continuing police and white vigilante killings of Black citizens, it is even more important now to focus attention on the outsized role the death penalty plays as an agent and validator of racial discrimination. What is broken or intentionally discriminatory in the criminal legal system is visibly worse in death-penalty cases.

Exposing how the system discriminates in capital cases can shine an important light on law enforcement and judicial practices in vital need of abolition, restructuring, or reform.”

Movements Aimed at Prison Abolition and National Liberation Are Needed Today

Consequently, the system of national oppression and institutionalized racism in criminal justice requires consistent work and political struggle. Those incarcerated and targeted by the correctional system are also the victims of super-exploitation.

Many prisoners and those threatened with imprisonment are forced to work under slave-like conditions. In California, inmates are being utilized to fight forest fires which are a direct outcome of the failure of the capitalist and imperialist system to place adequate focus on the environmental impact of climate change.

Other inmates are brutalized by guards and administrators, many of whom are racists. The prison system is both public and private. There has been a dramatic increase in the proliferation of private correctional facilities. Migrant workers in greater numbers are being imprisoned, including children. Recent reports indicate that these inmates are being molested by guards and subjected to unwanted medical procedures related to their reproductive health.

Mass incarceration and the death penalty are also forms of social containment. Millions over the last four decades have been removed from society away from families, neighborhoods and workplaces. The growth in the prison industry has contributed immensely to the destruction of Black, Brown and working class families.

The new DPIC report points to the insidious character of the federal executions by noting that the renewed process of capital punishment was begun with six white death row inmates. Nevertheless, the report states emphatically:

“Although the first set of executions scheduled by the federal government in 2020 have been strategically directed at white people, the federal death penalty has long been plagued by the same racial bias present in state death penalty systems. Thirty-four of the 57 people currently on federal death row are people of color, including 26 Black men. Some were convicted and condemned by all-white juries. In an action widely regarded as an assault on Native sovereignty, the sole Native American on federal death row was executed for an offense on tribal lands over the repeated objection of his tribe and Native American leaders across the country.”

Any analysis related to the emancipation from national and class oppression must include a critique of the criminal justice structures in the U.S. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, a large-scale movement among prisoners themselves surfaced leading to protests, strikes, rebellions and the takeover of correctional institutions.

In 1971, thousands of inmates at the Attica State Prison in New York seized the facility and made militant demands on the warden and then Governor Nelson Rockefeller. Instead of negotiating in good faith with the African American-led insurrection, Rockefeller ordered the state police to retake the prison, resulting in the killing of dozens of inmates and most of the guards held by the prisoners.

Since the early 1970s, periodic eruptions of resistance have occurred in the prison system. These efforts include petitioning for better treatment, hunger strikes and work stoppages which demand an end to brutality and harassment. These actions are occurring in California, Georgia, Michigan, among other states.

The struggles inside the prison system are part and parcel of the movement to end racism, national and class oppression. With no end in sight of the prison-industrial-complex under capitalism, only the building of a socialist society can guarantee equal protection under the law.

Widespread Condemnation in Kentucky Grand Jury Cover-up of Breonna Taylor Police Killing


October 2, 2020 

Fighting Words (

By Abayomi Azikiwe

A grand jury in Louisville, Kentucky has legally absolved of criminal responsibility the police officers, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cogrove, involved in the shooting death of 26-year old Breonna Taylor, who was gunned down in her home on March 13.

A Republican state attorney general, Daniel Cameron, called a press conference to inform the world that as of September 23 no one would be indicted for the death of Taylor.

The attorney general suggested that her friend in the apartment with Taylor, Kenneth Walker, was responsible for her death due to the fact that he fired in self-defense against the police. Only in relation to a neighbor in the building at another unit, where no one was injured, was a charge of reckless discharge of a firearm leveled against another police officer, Brett Hankinson, who was already terminated from the Louisville Police Department (LPD).

This action by the authorities in Kentucky was met with immediate condemnation in Louisville and across the United States. The family of Taylor immediately rejected the grand jury decision and demanded the release of all deliberations of the panel in order to uncover the actual evidence presented.

Bianca Austin, an Aunt of Taylor, read a statement at a September 25 press conference in Louisville saying:

“Know this: I am an angry Black woman. Angry because our Black women keep dying at the hands of police officers … you robbed the world of a queen…. I never had faith in [State Attorney General] Daniel Cameron to begin with. I knew he was too inexperienced with a job of this caliber. I knew he chose to be at the wrong side of the law. My hope was that he knew he had the power to do the right thing. That he had the power to start the healing of this city, that he had the power to help mend over 400 years of oppression. What he helped me realize is that it will always be us against them. That we are never safe,” she said.

Attorney General Cameron made the claim that the testimony from one witness asserting that the police had announced themselves prior to the raid on the apartment was compelling enough to discount that the raid was unannounced.  Many other witnesses refuting the allegation saying there was no warning by police of an imminent breaking down of the apartment door.

Prior to this statement by Cameron, many reports indicated that the police entered the complex on the basis of a “no knock” warrant. Such police intrusions have been frequent for many decades particularly related to the so-called “war on drugs” waged against the African American communities nationally.

On September 28, a judge ordered that the proceeding of the grand jury be made public. The Attorney General’s office requested additional time to release the materials in order to cover over, or redact what they described as “personal information.”

One report on the order read in part as follows:

“Attorney General Daniel Cameron wants more time before releasing grand jury recordings to redact personal information. A judge ordered Monday (September 28) that Kentucky’s attorney general must release recordings of proceedings in the Breonna Taylor case, in which one officer was indicted, but not for her death. Cameron’s office said Monday that it would release recordings by Wednesday at noon, but newly obtained court documents show a motion for extension was filed sometime on Tuesday. In the motion, Cameron asks for another week in order to redact personal information. He says it will help protect private citizens and witnesses.”

Nationwide Response to the Grand Jury Whitewash

Demonstrations erupted almost immediately in Louisville and other cities after news of the grand jury decision reached the public. Many of these marches and rallies were led by African American women. Two days later on Saturday, September 26, the March for Black Women (M4BW) held rallies in many cities including Denver and Detroit.

In Louisville on September 23, the police declared an unlawful assembly after marchers wanted to demonstrate in the streets and not on the sidewalks. A curfew was imposed on the city while many people were beaten and arrested on false charges. Additional marches, civil disobedience and other actions were held from New York to California bringing thousands into the streets and highways.

Denver, Colorado and Buffalo, New York witnessed attacks on demonstrators by motorists plowing into the crowds just hours after the announcement of the grand jury decision. Over the last few weeks in the U.S. there have been mobilizations by right-wing supporters of President Donald Trump, some of these manifestations resulted in violence due to provocations by the neo-fascists groups claiming  they are present to defend the police and private property.

A television news story reported on the situation in upstate New York saying:

“Graphic video taken by ABC affiliate station WKBW-TV in Buffalo showed a maroon and white king-cab pickup truck drive directly into a group of demonstrators who pounded on the side of the truck and yelled for the driver to stop just before a protester on a bicycle was hit. The footage shows the truck speeding away as protesters on foot chased after it.”

Georgia state troopers and National Guard soldiers fired teargas at demonstrators in Atlanta as they expressed their anger at the failure of the Louisville authorities to indict the police in the Taylor execution. 11 people were taken into custody in Atlanta which has seen numerous incidents of police violence after the killing of George Floyd on May 25 and later the gunning down by a white patrolman of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendy’s restaurant on June 12. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) announced that it has completed its investigation involving the case on September 29. Former police officer Garrett Rolfe has been charged with felony murder in the killing of Brooks.

State officials in Georgia are known for the deliberate disenfranchisement and disregard for the city of Atlanta and other municipalities highly populated by African Americans. Governor Brian Kemp, who came into office after a contested and controversial 2018 election against former state legislative Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, has nullified any mitigation efforts imposed by municipalities to stem the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a devastating impact on the state.

For two days in the motor city, the Detroit Will Breathe (DWB) coalition called emergency demonstrations to denounce the vindication of police in the death of Breonna Taylor. On the evening of September 23, hundreds gathered outside Detroit police headquarters downtown for a rally and then march through the streets while chanting the name of Breonna Taylor and other anti-racist, Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality slogans. There was another similar demonstration again on September 25.

Police Killings of African Americans Documented

A mapping website which chronicles the number of African Americans and others killed by police in the U.S. has revealed the stark reality facing at least 40 million Blacks along with millions more belonging to various races and nationalities. In most cases the police involved are never investigated let alone prosecuted.

Black Enterprise magazine noted in a September article that:

“For its analysis, CBS News used data from Mapping Police Violence, a comprehensive database of killings by police officers and The Washington Post. The data, featured in a slideshow, described the killings of 85 Black people this year between January and April. The data also showed that at least one Black person was killed by police every week from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31.”

Many more African Americans are joining gun clubs as their security becomes even more jeopardized by the racist social atmosphere in various regions of the U.S. Irrespective of the outcome of the national elections on November 3, undoubtedly these racial incidents will increase.

Authoritarianism: the U.S. Versus the People’s Republic of China

October 17, 2020

Fighting Words (

Federal law enforcement separating families at the southern border with Mexico

Federal law enforcement separating families at the southern border with Mexico. | Photo: John Moore

By Chris Fry

On September 23, both Boss Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping presented virtual speeches to the UN General Assembly. An analysis by CNN, one of the most “liberal”, most anti-Trump of the corporate media outlets, compared the two speeches with an online article titled “UN General Assembly: Contrast between Trump and Xi couldn’t be greater, but Chinese leader is the true authoritarian”.

The article begins by quoting President Xi:

In a speech to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the world to “join hands to uphold the values of peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom shared by all of us.”

After hailing China’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, Xi said Beijing wants to “continue to work as a builder of global peace, a contributor to global development and a defender of international order.”

The article then gives a brief description of Trump’s speech:

The difference between the two leaders was made neatly by Trump himself, who spent much of his UNGA speech attacking China, which he blamed for having “unleashed this plague onto the world.”

So why does CNN proclaim that Chinese President Xi rather than Trump is the “true authoritarian”? Here are the reasons that this corporate mouthpiece used to bestow this label on the Chinese government and its Communist Party leadership:

But the rhetoric doesn’t always match the facts on the ground: for all Xi’s talk of free trade — at Davos and the UN — access to the Chinese market remains exceptionally difficult for many foreign companies…

And while he may wax lyrical about world peace, under Xi, China is expanding its military and making increasingly aggressive moves in the South China Sea, in the Taiwan Strait, and along the country’s Himalayan border with India…

This week saw the jailing of prominent Xi critic Ren Zhiqiang for 18 years. The 69-year-old property tycoon and former senior party member was convicted on a raft of corruption charges, which appeared soon after he allegedly penned an essay criticizing Xi and calling the Chinese leader a “clown.” …The heavy sentence appears designed to send a message to other members of the Chinese elite: either fall in line or face the consequences.

So that’s what makes Peoples China “the true authoritarian” to CNN and the rest of the ruling class and their minions, both Republican and Democratic – it is making it harder for giant U.S. corporations to make big bucks in China, it is defending its land and sea borders against massive U.S. naval forces provocations, including parades of aircraft carriers and missile cruisers, and it is daring to arrest its corrupt billionaires, “to send a message to other members of the Chinese elite”, something that the U.S. “injustice” department would never do.

And what does CNN say about Boss Trump that makes him not “the true authoritarian”?

Yet for the many problems with the US system exposed by Trump’s time in office, a democratically elected president ultimately does not and cannot wield as much power as his authoritarian counterparts. For all that Trump might wish to lock his rivals up when they insult him, he is constrained institutionally from doing so.

To CNN, the ICE and Border Patrol atrocious separation of children, even babies, from their migrant parents does not meet the definition of authoritarian. As the NY Times stated in an October 6 article titled

“’We need to Take Away Children, No Matter How Young, Justice Dept. Officials Said”, “We have now heard of us taking breastfeeding defendant moms away from their infants,” one government prosecutor wrote to his superiors. “I did not believe this until I looked at the duty log.”

On September 30th, Professor Xiaoxing Xi gave a webinar presentation on the wave of racist McCarthy-like attacks waged by the FBI and Justice Department against Chinese scholars and students for supposedly “stealing” scientific and technical “secrets”. Trumped up charges against these academics are being used to intimidate and even prosecute them based on their national origin, all part of a viciously racist anti-Chinese and anti-immigrant campaign by the U.S. repressive agencies and Trump regime officials. Is that not the very definition of authoritarianism?

And neither the knee-to-the-neck cop murder of George Floyd nor the six shots fired into the sleeping body of Breonna Taylor, not the thousands of other oppressed people murdered by unpunished police, not the millions of prisoners rotting in jails, many for months or years before their trial, not the brutal attacks on demonstrators by club-wielding uniformed thugs and their allies, armed fascist gangs, backed to the hilt by Trump and his chief henchman, Bill Barr, none of these seem to meet CNN’s definition of a “true authoritarian” system.

Of course, CNN’s assurance that Trump is “constrained institutionally” from overturning the election and locking up his rivals is plainly empty. He has already pronounced the election to be illegitimate unless he is declared the winner. He has called on Barr to arrest Biden and Obama “FOR THE BIGGEST OF ALL POLITICAL SCANDALS (IN HISTORY)!!!” He has boasted of his support from all the police forces in the country.  He told the fascist Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by!”

And now a fascist militia group, armed with automatic weapons and bombs, has been caught preparing to kidnap the Michigan governor. Does not all this sound like a prelude to a Trump “authoritarian” coup attempt?

The CNN article did get one thing right:

This discrepancy between Xi’s international and domestic personas is perhaps a reminder that differences between the two leaders — and the political systems they represent — run deeper than mere style.

So there it is: the different political systems between the U.S. and the People’s Republic of China unites CNN with Fox News, Donald Trump with Joe Biden, the Democratic politicians with their Republican counterparts, the entire ruling class and all their minions in their hatred of China, its government and its people.  Ever since the victory of the Chinese Communist Revolution in 1949 led by Mao Zedong, this has spawned Wall Street’s and the Pentagon’s dream of regime change in China.

Marxist foundation of the People’s Republic of China

In their 1848 pamphlet “the Communist Manifesto”, after the part about a “spectre haunting Europe”, Marx and Engels explicitly stated the goal of the workers struggle, which would soon explode all over the European continent:

We have seen above that the first step in the revolution by the working class is to raise the proletariat to the position of [the] ruling class to win the battle of democracy.

The proletariat will use its political supremacy to wrest, by degree, all capital from the bourgeoisie, to centralize all instruments of production in the hands of the State, i.e., of the proletariat organized as the ruling class; and to increase the total productive forces as rapidly as possible.

Some have opined that Marx focused entirely on Europe, but that is just not true. As a foreign correspondent for the New York Tribune, Marx wrote lengthy articles about the infamous Opium Wars waged by the British Empire, aided by the French and the U.S., against the Chinese monarchial government. Marx condemned these wars of conquest and capitalist market expansion, describing in detail for his U.S. readers the devastation, the massive suffering imposed on the Chinese peasants, from the destruction of the Chinese craft industry to the huge population trapped in addiction and the taxes imposed for the wars and reparations to the West.

Hong Kong was a “prize” England won in the first Opium War, where it was held for more than a hundred years as a British colony until it regained status as part of China. Now it is the stage for the city’s rich to try to violently separate itself from People’s China, to  attach itself as a neo-colony of the U.S., no matter what the suffering imposed on the working class there. Of course this movement has won the support of the U.S and British ruling classes, who dream of this sparking a wider counter-revolutionary movement in the rest of China.

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the Paris Commune, where the workers and soldiers seized power from the capitalist government who had fled the city away from the besieging Prussian army. Although led by French anarchists, the Communards quickly established what Marx called a “workers state”, the first of its kind in the world. Although it  lasted only months before it was crushed, its lessons have echoed through history, through the Russian October Revolution and then, in 1949, in the victory of the Chinese Revolution, which ended the “century of humiliation” that the Chinese people had suffered at the hands of Western imperialism.

The Korean Revolution, the Vietnamese Revolution, the Cuban Revolution, all the national liberation struggles, all of these are rooted in that heroic Commune’s two-month struggle that proved that the working class and poor could seize and hold on to state power, to make laws and decisions that favored the workers, such as equalized pay, an end of “night work”, “working” representatives, suspension of rent, rights of women, and much, much more.

The hatred and fear of the Paris Commune by the capitalist class reached the U.S. shores. In his book “Reconstruction – America’s Unfinished Revolution”, Eric Foner described its effect when the Wall Street panic of 1873 created a depression that lasted more than 20 years: “The [workers] movement for ‘Work or Bread” also helped propel the urban bourgeoisie to the right, as newspapers of both parties joined in denouncing the idea of public employment, raised anew the specter of the Paris Commune, and praised New York’s police for effectively defending law and order.” Foner points out how this was a key factor in the capitalist class withdrawing support of Black Reconstruction, the removal of Union troops from the South in 1876 and the onset of Jim Crow.

In 1875, four years after the Paris Commune, Marx wrote what was for him a brief response letter to an emerging workers’ party called the United Workers Party of Germany. This was an ancestor of the Social Democratic parties in Europe and today’s Democratic Socialists of America. Then as now, their program for the workers was to make the various capitalist and hybrid capitalist/aristocratic governments “more democratic” by extracting reforms. Marx titled his letter the “Critique of the Gotha Programme”.

Marx explains how the “advanced” governments of the time, while they came in different forms, had (and have today), a common foundation:

“Present-day society” is capitalist society, which exists in all “civilized” [European] countries, more or less free from medieval admixture, more or less modified by the particular historical development of each country, more or less developed…

Nevertheless, the different states of the different “civilized” [capitalist] countries, in spite of their motley diversity of form, all have this in common: that they are based on modern bourgeois society, only one more or less capitalistically developed. They have, therefore, also certain essential characteristics in common. In this sense, it is possible to speak of the “present-day state” in contrast with the future, in which its present root, bourgeois society, will have died off.

Then Marx goes to the heart of the matter, as he describes what the lessons of the heroic Paris Commune drew for all the revolutionary workers and their organizations to come:

The question then arises: What transformation will the state undergo in communist society? In other words, what social functions will remain in existence there that are analogous to present state functions? This question can only be answered scientifically, and one does not get a flea-hop nearer to the problem by a thousand-fold combination of the word ‘people’ with the word ‘state’.

Between capitalist and communist society there lies the period of the revolutionary transformation of the one into the other. Corresponding to this is also a political transition period in which the state can be nothing but the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat.

From the Manifesto’s “the proletariat as the ruling class”, Marx was now able, thanks to the Paris Commune, to describe the substance of every socialist country and its government to come: the dictatorship of the proletariat. Each may have different forms and quite different policies, but this foundation they have in common: the dominance, the rule, the dictatorship of the capitalist class, however disguised behind a “democratic” facade, is ended. The socialist state belongs to the workers and oppressed. The means of production is wrested from the hands of the capitalist class, to now be owned by the workers and oppressed to be used and expanded for the benefit of our class. No capitalist government is more democratic than that. The socialist state itself becomes the owner.

Vladimir Lenin expanded this notion in his seminal work, “The State and Revolution – the Marxist Theory of the State and the Tasks of the Proletariat in the Revolution”, written at the cusp of the October Russsian Revolution in 1917.

That was the meaning of the victory of the Chinese Revolution, led by Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party, who since 1949 have developed themselves through public control of the means of production from a war-ravaged peasant-based economy where millions upon millions faced homelessness and starvation, to a modernized industrial giant with health care, free education, retirement benefits and so much more, and who are on the verge of eradicating poverty itself within their country, something the U.S. ruling class has no intention of ever doing.

And that difference has inflamed Western Imperialism’s hatred of these countries that have turned to revolutionary socialism to create their “workers state” or aspire to do so, a hatred that has burst into open war against Korea and Vietnam, and could do so again against the People’s Republic of China, whether under Trump or Biden.

On October 13 the Trump regime announced the sale of three new weapons systems to Taiwan, breaching past agreements with the U.S. Newsweek reports:

The equipment involved was said to include a Lockheed Martin-developed multiple launch weapon called the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, Boeing-made long-range air-to-surface cruise missiles called SLAM-ER and external sensor pods for F-16 fighter jets.

The workers and the oppressed peoples of these countries are asserting their “authority”, their “authoritarianism” through their workers and communist parties, their national liberation organizations, rather than the authoritarianism of the bankers and corporation owners, the wizards of high finance, the parasitic class of billionaires and their minions in Washington and the Pentagon.

The capitalist system is today devolving into a deepening crisis with the pandemic, and its rule based on white supremacy is being challenged by millions of people in the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. In this dangerous period of deepening struggle, it is time to mark and defend the achievements of those countries and those people who, like the People’s Republic of China, through revolutionary organizations and heroic struggles, have overturned the rule of profit in their countries.

Long live the struggle by the global oppressed nations and working class!

Long live the People’s Republic of China and all the socialist countries!

Long live revolutionary socialism!


October 16, 2020 

Fighting Words (

Chinese aid arriving in Italy, quoting the Roman poet Seneca . | Photo: Galileo Galilei Italian Institute

By Lee Ross

When someone is called “gung ho” in English it generally means enthusiastic and dedicated, often with military connotations.

This is ironic, because “gung ho” is actually Chinese and Communist in origin, meaning ‘to work together’.  Back in World War 2 a US Marine Major in China was liaison with both the Nationalists and Communists fighting the Japanese.  He noticed that Nationalist ranks were rife with corruption, soldiers were cruel to civilians, regularly stole from them and had low morale.  Among the Communists he noticed the total opposite: no noticeable corruption, soldiers were taught to respect civilians and everyone worked together both to drive out the Japanese and to take care of each other.  A Chinese Cooperative association’s motto summed up this spirit as gung ho, which he learned meant “Work together—work in harmony”. He brought this back as an ideal to the US, where the concept first spread through the Marine Corps.

Moving from World War 2, in which China and the US were allies, to today’s pandemic, which some have called World War C…

When the novel coronavirus was first noticed in Wuhan, China last December, medical personnel didn’t know what they were up against.  In the first few weeks this meant the virus spread freely as proper countermeasures weren’t utilized, and many doctors and nurses themselves died from the disease—including Dr. Li Wenliang, who first recognized this was something new, highly contagious, highly dangerous.  Once Chinese healthcare workers realized the nature of the virus and alerted the national government to the scope of the crisis, the Chinese state, Communist Party and Center for Disease Control sprang into action in a way never before seen in human history—hearkening back to the People’s War waged against the Japanese invasion 83 years earlier. Chinese President Xi Jinping declared a People’s War to defeat the growing pandemic.  The entire population, economy and healthcare system were mobilized.  The novel coronavirus was even named a gweilo or “foreign devil”—exactly the term used to describe Western and Japanese invaders, and the first time the word has been utilized since World War 2.

Dr. Bruce Aylward of the World Health Organization team that visited China in February described the all-out effort:

“I talked to lots of people outside the system—in hotels, on trains, in the streets at night. They’re mobilized, like in a war, and it’s fear of the virus that was driving them. They really saw themselves as on the front lines of protecting the rest of China. And the world…. They actually changed the course of a respiratory-borne outbreak without a vaccine, which was extraordinary…”

What China did:

Government and health officials notified the Chinese people and the World Health Organization about a novel coronavirus on December 31, less than three weeks after unexplained pneumonia symptoms were first noticed on x-ray

Completed a full genome of the virus within two weeks, releasing it to the world to help in the search for treatments and a vaccine

Imposed a 76-day lockdown of approximately 60 million people in Wuhan and other cities in Hubei province, including shutting down both urban mass transit and nationwide intercity rail lines during the Chinese New Year, when families coming together create the largest short-term human migration on Earth

Mobilized medical personnel from all over China to aid Wuhan, which had lost many of its own healthcare workers to the virus in its early days.  Doctors and nurses from the Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army led by example, volunteering by the thousands

Built a complete hospital with 1000 bed capacity within a week

Built a second complete hospital with 1600 bed capacity the following week

Saw to it that no one needed fear about losing their job or income—paychecks still came regardless of quarantine

Through the above they saw to it that no one needed fear eviction or piling up of rent debt

Saw to it that testing and treatment were free, so no one needed fear medical bankruptcy due to the pandemic

Expanded production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), testing materials, ventilators and other medical equipment as if for war: from January 28 to March 31 there were increases of 20 times the production of PPE and 6 times of testing materials, with comparable increases in ambulances, blood gas analyzers, air disinfectant machines, and more

Ensured that food, fuel and other necessities of life remained in steady supply at normal prices, and offered financial support for small and medium sized businesses (which in turn if deemed essential and kept open were obligated to provide a safe working environment)

Created temperature checkpoints throughout society—especially transportation portals—to catch as many pre-symptomatic carriers of the virus as possible

Saw to it that everyone was tested at the first sign of symptoms, and if shown positive evacuated to separate quarantine away from their families (family spread of the virus being a prime vector)

Converted public buildings into temporary hospitals to house those quarantined, saving the main hospitals for severe cases

Traced contacts of everyone who tested positive to follow up with testing those individuals, regardless of whether they were symptomatic

Directed Neighborhood Committees to conduct daily rounds of every residence, asking if anyone was symptomatic, if any food, fuel, medicines or other supplies were running low, and to generally check in—anything needful was delivered within hours.  In these demanding and dangerous daily surveys 53 committee members were lost to the virus in the first six weeks of lockdown in Wuhan, 49 of them Communist Party members

What was this like to live through?  On YouTube you can watch the Chinese documentary One Month in Wuhan.

And not only all this to defeat the pandemic at home—as soon as different strains of the virus manifested in other countries, China sent brigades of coronavirus-experienced medical volunteers to help treat patients, as well as donated immense quantities of PPE, ventilators, testing materials and other supplies to 16 countries in Europe, 28 in Asia, 26 in Africa, 10 in the South Pacific, 9 in Latin America and even to New York City in the US itself.  China’s New Silk Road global trade project has a health component, the Health Silk Road, developing dozens of countries’ health infrastructure to enhance development and safe trade—the Health Silk Road has been expanded, moved to forefront priority and updated specifically for the novel coronavirus.

The pandemic had gone global and China rose as an ally to all humanity.  In beleaguered Italy the quarantine-empty streets were filled in gratitude with the sound of the Chinese national anthem, The East is Red.  Tedros Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, described China as “setting a new standard for outbreak response” that heroically bought the rest of humanity six to eight weeks’ time to prepare for its spread.

This is gung ho in practice: “work together—work in harmony”.  This is human beings rising to a deadly challenge and working in global solidarity to end it—a People’s War on a deadly foe.

As of the end of April China began reopening its locked down cities, provinces and national transportation systems.  While it has had local resurgences of the virus, these have been successfully met with immediate quarantine and testing and tracing of contacts that have allowed reopening affected cities within days—as we speak 9 million people are being tested over five days to quell an outbreak in Qingdao.  They have reopened international borders—with stringent testing requirements for incoming travelers as at least two of the resurgences were imported by international travelers rather than from domestic transmission.  While it took a significant hit from the lockdown of the first four months of this year, China’s economy is on track to post modest 2-3% growth (as opposed to their normal 6-8% growth/year).  Allowing for strong anti-pandemic measures remaining in place, life is more or less returning to normal: as capitalist Europe gets ready to quarantine again for the pandemic’s second wave—and in the US the first wave hasn’t even crested yet—in China schools, theaters and theme parks are all open, and in Wuhan itself a water park has hosted what can only be described a massive pool party.

I’m sure we remember how all through January and February the US corporate media couldn’t stop grinning with schadenfreude as it reported the news from China:

It was “the beginning of the end” for Xi and the Communist Party

Lockdown was not for public health but a totalitarian move for more power

When China reported hundreds of deaths per day it was a sign of their incompetence; when death counts decreased it was proof they were lying

When global health organizations say anything remotely critical about China it was proof China must be isolated and sanctioned; when they said anything positive it was proof they were bought off by the Chinese

When China was still reeling from the first onslaught of the virus and it was first appearing in Italy, Iran and other countries, China was held to blame and vilified for not sending aid; when they did send aid it was portrayed as a propaganda stunt

When Chinese citizens complain about their government it’s a sign the state is on the verge of collapse; when they praise the government it’s called brainwashing or asserted to be under duress

When China isolated the first novel coronavirus strain US media sources promptly accused Beijing of having created it as a bioweapon, else how could they have such knowledge of it so quickly

Well, well, well… On March 21 US government guidelines were leaked specifically instructing how to use all pandemic news to attack China!

China’s response to this baiting was restrained, cautionary and clearly coming both from their socialist perspective and their very long view on history.  On March 2 in China’s Global Times a viewpoint appeared titled, “Gap between rich and poor in the US laid bare in face of virus”.  Its author Li Qingqing wrote:

”Some Americans like to compare the US system with those of other countries. These people tend to describe how other systems are inferior to theirs, as if the US system is the standard in the world. But what really tests a country’s system? It is whether the government has the ability to let all people receive equal and timely assistance.

”…. Currently, many Western media and experts are judging China’s system through China’s epidemic prevention. In fact, countries are also closely watching how the US will react next and observing the US system, because it provides us a chance to compare.

”This is a test of the US system, and it remains to be seen whether the country can adjust its policies in time. Based on China’s experience, we want to kindly remind the US that more attention should be paid to the poor. The epidemic is a challenge faced by all human beings and hollow bragging about its own system cannot help the US overcome the difficulties.”

Li wrote this at the beginning of March.  Over the past 7 months and counting we have had no end of chances to compare.

There is but one stroke difference between the Chinese character for danger and the character for opportunity.  Because of capitalism’s intrinsic contradictions we are now on the brink of great risk and danger.  Enter the novel coronavirus, a foe so small it’s arguably not even alive, and that billionaires can’t bomb, bribe or sanction into submission.  In less than a year it has ripped the veils from the contradictions of capitalism, exposing them for all to see, giving us an opportunity to make history.

But there’s something we need.  Something we can learn from China: to work together—work in harmony.

Gung ho.


Some background quotes and sources:

PLA’s 3 Rules of Discipline & 8 Points for Attention

One Month in Wuhan:

Chinese national anthem (The East is Red) rings through Italy’s streets:

WHO: China bought the world six to eight weeks time:

US anti-China guidelines leaked:

Global Times article by Li Qingqing:

This Marxist Answers Detroit’s Police Chief Craig

October 2, 2020

Fighting Words (

Detroit Police Chief James Craig denounced “Marxists” as being behind Black Lives Matter protests.

By David Sole

On September 23 Detroit’s Police Chief James Craig went on TV’s Fox & Friends to denounce the demonstrations against police brutality and terror that have continued almost daily since May 29 after the murder of George Floyd. “They have another agenda and we know what that agenda is” explained the Chief. “I believe it’s a Marxist ideology.”

Black Lives Matter protesters are being funded by communist outsiders intent on undermining the government’ was another claim spouted without any evidence. “They embed themselves in peaceful protests.” [].

Of course the political persuasion of the hundreds and thousands of Detroit protesters, indeed the millions who have marched and rallied across the nation, are of all stripes and varieties. No one is polling the demonstrators and no surveys are distributed.

What is clear, however, is that very real and disturbing issues like police terror, wanton murder of African American people, unjust courts and police immunity are the real driving force wherever these protest are found.

This Marxist who has been out in the streets many of the days in the past three plus months feels compelled to answer the garbage coming from the mouth of Detroit’s top police official.

I have been an activist protester since 1964 when I was just 15 years old. I didn’t know much about Marx, socialism or communism and was more hostile to them than favorable. I joined a New York City-wide boycott of the public schools in February of that year to protest the reports of unequal funding of Black versus mostly white schools. My mom was afraid that they would put my name on a list – a fear generated by the fanatic Senator Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist crusade in the 1950s.

The Civil Rights movement was sweeping the country, especially drawing in the youth who were less set in our ways and had less fear than our cautious elders. I was working as a waiter for the summer at Camp Equinunk located north of Honesdale, PA. Our bunk house had no screens on the windows and I helped organize a strike which quickly won us modest improvements in working conditions.

I can’t say that I was much of an activist until it became clear that the U.S. government was carrying out genocide in Vietnam. I joined the March on the Pentagon on October 21, 1967 and helped found the Queens Anti-Draft Union at Queens College, City University of New York where I was studying biology and chemistry. The issues of racism and imperialist war had drawn me into action not any abstract theory.

Here is where Marxist ideology comes in, Chief Craig. In the thick of one protest after another something was missing. Black people were denied the right to vote and were victims of segregation and racism and U.S. foreign policy led to wars in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic (1965). What connected these seemingly separate issues? Not to mention the mistreatment of Native peoples, Latinx minorities, women and LGBTQ+ folks?

There was all of this injustice, lots of facts of history, but nothing to make sense of it all. As a student of biology there was the theory of Darwinian evolution and modern DNA science that made that field wonderfully understandable. Chemistry made sense once the discovery of quantum mechanics unified that field.

In the same way scientific socialism, what you called Marxist ideology, made sense of history and politics. Marxism, simply put, focused on the economic underpinnings of society so one could begin to explain the political world around us. It allowed us to connect the dots, so to speak.

But in addition to having a theory, one also needs a will to change things. Those who have both want to participate in one or many of the struggles that inevitably break out in an unjust society. We don’t “embed” ourselves in a movement for some nefarious, secret goal. We are organically part of every and all fights for justice. Our theory allows us to understand that fundamental, structural changes must take place for serious improvements to be won and secured. And we don’t hide our ideology. Rather we look for platforms to explain to others caught up in the immediate struggle that racism, police terror, economic hardship, etc. are, at root, caused by the capitalist system.

Sometimes we talk about the Wall Street bankers and corporate bosses as the problem. When we organized against the phony Detroit bankruptcy we said from the start that it was only a scam to steal the pension money from 30,000 city retirees. That’s exactly what happened. The big banks paid nothing while the retirees (myself included) lost up to 40% of our pensions.

But, Chief Craig, you chose the path in life that makes you a paid agent of the capitalist system. You may not think so, but that is precisely what you are. And please don’t deny that you have a secret agenda. Didn’t you meet on August 18 with Trump’s Attorney General William Barr? Are we to believe that Barr’s influence had nothing to do when only four days later you launched your riot police against peaceful protesters on Woodward Avenue. Those cops clearly had orders to cause injury, more so than to arrest people. Trump and Barr had publicly announced on June 1 they wanted officials to overwhelmingly “dominate the streets” and to target “professional activists” and “leaders of protest groups.”

You were willing to do this work. And you glowed with pride when the White Supremacist in Chief, Donald Trump, publicly praised you. But a Federal judge saw it differently and has ordered your police force to stop using violent crowd control weapons.

Just like me over 50 years ago, young people are coming out into the streets to march, rally and protest one injustice after another. They know things are messed up. Perhaps some of us “elders” can help them understand the system. Or maybe they will be able to figure it all out on their own with the help of the internet.

But your anti-communist ranting, just like that of former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover against the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is disgraceful and will never stop a struggle for justice.

You need to resign.