Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs Fakery re-the LNG Project


Consider that if all the billions of $$$ that are going to be spent on pipelines were to be spent in job creation in the areas effected. The propaganda, is of course, that the pipelines will create jobs – most of which will only be for the duration of the construction – (3 years?) and with the LNG site some permanent jobs. Not a big bang for the buck by any means. How many million dollars per job will it cost? Now suppose instead the people of the areas effected – who plainly do need jobs, it should be pointed out – got together and figured out what their area needed, and were funded to do these projects. Now I don't live in those areas, so cannot say what is needed. (Nor should I) But I do live on Vancouver Island and can easily come up with a list of things that ought to be done, but are not done due to an alleged lack of cash..
My List
Building of affordable housing, clean up and restoration of streams and lakes, beach clean up of plastics and other rubbish, reforestation/rewilding, elimination of invasive species, restoration/extension of rail service, encouragement of local food production, fish-farming in tanks, not in the oceans, encouragement of selective logging and value-added wood products.
Much of this would become long-term employment, and even the clean up would take many years. There would also be a spin-off effect.
So if I can do it for my region, surely the folks up North can come up with their own list


Pipeline Supporters - Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is - Or Shut UP!

How supportive would the politicians, fossil fuel companies and their supporters be if they were on the hook for any disasters? As it stands now, it is the typical racket, the corporation gets any profits, and we are on the hook for the clean up. So instead – everyone who wants these pipelines signs a legal binding document. If there is a problem, they are responsible for it. There will be no limited liability nor will bankruptcy law preside. Like student loans in the USA the debt will follow you to your grave. Watch the support for these projects melt away like snow in April!


Thursday, January 16, 2020

FOR AN INTERSECTIONAL MOVEMENT


An excerpt translated by me from “Pour un Antipatriarcat Intersectionnel” by Anna, Beryl and Sarah of the Union Communiste Libertaire – appeared in Alternative Libertaire, Jan 2020.

Coming out of 1970s black feminism, intersectionality is a conceptual tool revealing the plurality of discriminations of class, sex and “race.” It seeks to make visible the multiple forms of domination, discrimination or stratification that a society can force an individual to submit to. There is recognition that the historical dominations of sex, class and “race” intersect in a manner more or less powerfully for individuals at the intersection of these forms of domination... If intersectionality permits us to make visible the phenomena of domination, this does not take into consideration all oppressions at all times, but to evaluate how certain oppressions influence the ability for one to control their existence. Angela Davis points out that this is not a simple addition of oppressions, but generates specific forms of oppression... BUT IN NO CASE MUST ONE DENY THE OPPRESSION EXPERIENCED BY AN INDIVIDUAL AND EVEN LESS MAKE A HIERARCHY OUT OF THEM. (My emphasis)

A MATERIALIST APPROACH...
We must use intersectionality through the prism of materialism. We must not forget the preponderant weight of class and therefore capitalism in these modes of domination. This enables us to not brandish in a simplistic manner a theory of privilege without reference to class. Our discourse is not to stick individuals with a label that assigns them their privileges and oppressions without taking into account whether it corresponds to their reality or not. [The notion of class] ... is too often absent in the application of intersectionality. Social class so often determines the choice of education and social development...

The same time we will not support the claims of certain religions or identities, nor like certain feminists aid those who are oppressors. * We struggle against all forms of domination, we will not struggle along side oppressors nor be complaisant toward nationalisms, ethnic identities and religions who oppress women and LGBTL people...

AND LIBERTARIAN...
Our libertarian input brings an anti-statist critique of the intersectional dominations. The State, because it is patriarchal, racist and capitalist, is the origin of intersectional domination. The State decides the laws, education, freedom of movement, access to work, medical care, housing, the right of contraception, abortion and a politics that is nativist, ethnocentric and heterocentric... “

MY COMMENT – I am sure if intersectionality had been approached in this manner here in North America, it would have caused far less conflict and misunderstanding. But then French radicals are less indoctrinated with liberalism and more rooted in the general working population. A lack of understanding of class, liberal guilt masquerading as radicalism and a culture steeped in puritanism has contributed to the extreme and divisive identity politics of some of the US left.

(*) Probable reference to two tendencies within liberal and ML feminism. One tendency, denounced by anarchists refuses to confront misogyny and homophobia within Islamism out of a fear of “Islamophobia”. There are those feminists who fear men transgendering to women. It has been claimed that some have allied with right-wing elements in common opposition to the trans-gendered.



Friday, December 20, 2019

The Labour Party and “Social Democracy in One Country”


It is not up to me to tell social democrats what to do (or anyone else for that matter!), but here is my two-bits worth, anyway. I am sad that Labour lost to the Tories. One can only imagine how much British working people are going to suffer as a result. But a small part of me wonders if this result, as frightening as it is, might not be a better choice in the long run.

Considering how vicious the attacks were upon Labour before the election, imagine what would happen if they had been successful. It would have been all-out war. Every means would be applied by the British, EU and American ruling classes, to prevent Labour from carrying out its program. Had they not been able to enact their reforms, the result would have been cynicism and the party would have been crushed for another decade or more. On the other hand, had they been able to carry out their program, you can be assured that they would have been Venezuela-ed. Economic warfare, both internally and internationally, would have been combined with subversion and terrorism. Britain would have been wrecked (in order to save it for the ruling class) and the hyper-inflation, lack of consumer goods and chaos would be touted in the media as the result of “socialism.” (See, socialism doesn't work!)

The Labour Party and social democracy (I mean REAL social democracy, not neoliberalism in pink tights) is still oriented toward the nation state. This was fine for most of the twentieth century when capital was mainly national and industrial. In 1948, it simply wasn't possible to rip up an auto plant in Dagenham, Oshawa or Detroit and move to some Third World country. Nor was it all that easy to move finance capital about. The cappies had little choice but to go along with reforms, albeit doing their best to water them down. Since the 1970s capital is international, yet social democracy is not. This means that with capital flight, off shore accounts and currency manipulation they can ruin any country that dares not march in time to the neoliberal goose step.

Social democracy's capitulation to the nation state goes back a long way – to August 1914, to be exact, so this is nothing new. In doing so, it pandered to, or at least waffled over the chauvinistic and xenophobic sentiments found equally among the working and professional classes. As long as social democracy was oriented toward the nation state, it only reinforced those sentiments, whether it wanted to or not. That the older generation of Labour supporters should be for Brexit and turn against the party for its ambiguity on the question should come as little surprise. Rather than pointing out that the source of their problems was found in Thatcher's neoliberalism, the party under Blair become Thatcher-lite. Imagine the education that could have been done had they not capitulated to the religion of greed and austerity. It seems that reversing course and returning to social democracy under Corbyn a couple of years ago was not enough to allay the fears of the EU boogy man and win back the betrayed Labour voters.

What is needed is definitely not the utopian “social democracy in one country.” Rather they should build a European-wide movement against neoliberalism. Capital can destroy a single country, but taking on a bloc – the second or third largest economy in the world, depending on how you measure it, is another matter entirely. A social democratic Europe – allied with progressive movements in Latin America, could prove victorious against neoliberal absolutism.

The potential for such a movement exists among the younger workers. The working classes are always in a state of flux, artisans, the first working class, were replaced by industrial workers and they in turn by white collars and lately the precariate. While the older workers were tied to the nation state, the youth are not, their outlook is much more international and multicultural. Though their awareness of the climate crisis, they know the only successful solutions must be those that cross borders. An entire generation has grown into adulthood with a background of international struggles such as the anti-corporate movement, Occupy, Extinction Rebellion and Climate Strike. Needless to say, they rejected Brexit, hands down. As for the older generation, the Grim Reaper will have his final say and those fortunate enough to escape the scythe until after the next election, will have to deal with the consequences of Brexit. Finding themselves worse off than ever, they may return to the fold, if Labour is sensitive to their qualms.

Saturday, November 30, 2019

EAST GERMANY - History of an Annexation-


EAST GERMANY - History of an Annexation- (information taken from article of the same name, Monde Diplomatique, November 2019)

East Germans had little interest in joining West Germany or in re-establishing corporate capitalism. According to a poll taken on December 1989, 71% of East Germans were not seeking unification with West Germany but democracy. As one pastor, an activist in the pro-democracy movement stated, “We 'other Germans' have a responsibility to show that real socialism is possible.” Dissident writer Christa Wolf had a similar viewpoint, “We have the possibility of developing an alternative socialism.” At the round table discussion set up on December 7 1989, a meeting uniting both the democratic opposition and traditional political parties agreed on the necessity of preserving the East German state and sketched out a design for a democratic and ecological socialism.

At the same time, those in charge of West Germany had different plans, “launch (ing) an electoral conquest of the neighboring country,” which led to the liquidation of its economy and institutions. Meanwhile in E. Germany political parties had formed and an election called. The E.German Social Democratic Party (SD) – which favoured the round table report was well in advance in the polls compared with the new E.German Christian Democrats (CD). What happened next was what SD leader Egon Bahr called “...the dirtiest election I had ever seen in my life.” W. German Chancellor Helmut Kohl talked up the possibility of a monetary union. East Germans were to get a very good exchange rate for their old money. The CD won the election by a wide margin.
The election in the bag, the W. German government used an obscure law from 1957 which had allowed the Saar to become part of W. Germany. In other words, the East was annexed outright. Cheap products flooded in from the West causing the collapse of many Eastern businesses – the entire economy them went into contraction. Industrial production fell by 70% and 1.4 million Easterners were without jobs by 1991. The West refused any counter-measures to help the people.
What they did do, however, was to create “Treuhand”, an intitution set up to seize and privatize the East German economy and real estate. This task was completed by 1994, 2.5 million jobs were destroyed and the total losses were M256 billion – out of a previous M600 billion worth of industry and property. 85% of the privatized wealth went to West German companies. 80% of the work force faced temporary or permanent unemployment.

But the workers did not take this lying down – there were a number of huge factory occupations and in March 1991, 60,000 workers answered the call of the IG Metal union, the Evangelical Church and the former dissident groups in a demonstration against the ruin of their economy. All groups involved were plain that their demand had been for democracy and not a neoliberal economy. Economic ruin was not the only result of this neoliberal “shock doctrine.” Free cultural activities, kindergartens, free higher education and day care were abolished. As well as “structural” unemployment there was also a vast purge of East German society – a million government employees and 70,000 teachers were forced from their jobs.

As for Treuhand, it was no secret that one of the reasons it was set up was to prevent possible competition from East German business.

My Thoughts – Since about 30% of East Germans – according to the 1989 survey – neither wished to maintain that state nor develop democratic socialism, we might assume they preferred western consumerism. This did not occur, and one can imagine the bitterness. This group may well be the one most attracted to immigrant-scapegoating and far-right forces like Alternative for Germany.
The mass unemployment and cut-backs of social services would have had an effect upon mortality rates. The neoliberal shock doctrine would have killed thousands, since mass unemployment can cause heart attacks, strokes, substance abuse, and suicide. Those responsible for the imposition of this doctrine ought to be charged with mass murder.
The desire to replace Stalinism with democratic socialism or social democracy may well have been universal with the populations of the USSR and the Eastern Bloc. The neoliberals in charge of the West would have seen this as a threat to their plans to grind down their own populations. A social democratic East would have encouraged the Western social democrats and perhaps dissuaded them from adopting the neoliberal dogma, which they were beginning to do at this time. Hence the need to impose the shock doctrine, not just to steal the wealth of those countries, but also to prevent the possibility of social reform anywhere else.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

What I Noticed in France


No giant pick up trucks. I guess not at $2.25 a litre! The only PU's are small and owned by farmers, trades or a business. There seemed to be more obese people this time than 10 years ago, though still far fewer than in N America. Americanization continues a pace, especially with Macaronie and his neolib pals. Shopping malls are killing the businesses in villages, which are now becoming that oxymoron, the “bedroom community” for the larger cities. High real estate prices in the down towns have driven working people to the periphery. This combined with a cut back in rural bus and train service has forced them to buy beaters to get to work. When Macaronie added the extra gas tax, these folks revolted, giving rise to the Gilets jaunes – a movement which soon went way beyond the demand for abolition of the gas surtax and began attacking the ideology of neoliberalism in total.

In spite of years of neoliberal reaction, the old social France still exists. Some villages are subsidizing local businesses by giving them free rent. This way the village keeps its necessary (and family-owned) businesses and one can still cheerfully walk to the boulangerie, epicierie and the bistro. As we passed through a village, I noticed a sign that said “Maison des Associations”. Many towns have these. (including large cities like Dijon) In France democracy tends to be taken seriously, unlike here in North America where it is paid lip service, but the reality is more like “go to Hell” if you aren't wealthy and powerful. The “maison des associations” is owned by the town and provides a small office space, meeting hall and post box for small organizations that cannot afford to do this privately. This way, organizations can spend their time doing what they set out to do, and not like in this country, have to spend much of their effort in coming up with rents.

Many of the streets in Dijon were torn up and large insulated pipes were being installed. This is a very positive and ecological move. 55,000 dwellings in the city (more than half the population) are to be heated from a central heating plant by 2023. Heating costs will be reduced up to 30%, and it will cut back CO2 production by 20%. Three-quarters of the energy needed to provide the heat will come from renewable sources. There will be a further long-term cost reduction as furnace repair and replacement will become unnecessary.
That democracy thing again. Virtually every town in France has either a rue Jean Jaures or Place Jean Jaures. For those of you unaware of the name, Jaures was a famous Socialist leader murdered by a member of the proto-fascist Action Francaise for his opposition to the First World War. I also noted a Proudhon Street in the city of St Denis, a Metro Stop Louise Michel in Paris and a Lycee Angela Davis – once again in St Denis. To go from the sublime to the ridiculous, there is also a Jean Jaures Shopping Centre in Dijon! (I wonder how he would feel about that?) When I think of the trouble we have had maintaining the existence of a short section of the Island Highway called Ginger Goodwin Way.”

Of course, this democratic attitude, was not a gift from on high, but was the result of struggle. The French working class have not forgotten their history of struggle. It is kept alive by the great number of progressive unions, parties and movements that exist here. As of two weeks ago the newly formed Extinction Rebellion France had 8000 members. The Federation Anarchist (FA) has about 70 groups and the newly formed Union Communist Libertaire about half that. The FA has 14 groups in Paris alone. The anti-neoliberal Left Party has tens of thousands of members and supporters.
I also learned something about the Solidaires unions. It seems like many of the members came out of the social democratic CFTD union federation. Anarchists had been influential in this union in the 1960s, pushing it to supporting worker-self management. The right-wing regained control in 1973 and the libertarians and right-social democrats continued in an unhappy marriage. In the mid 1990s the libertarians and other class struggle militants left the CFTD to form Solidaires. Effectively, it is a revolutionary syndicalist union promoting local control, self-management and class unionism. I have no figures on its membership, but its support in the work place elections is about one quarter that of the much bigger Force Ouvrier union with its 300,000 membership, so maybe 80,000 members???

Sunday, October 13, 2019

GUSTAV COURBET AND THE GILETS JAUNES


I translated this excerpt from "Le Loi des Peintures" on p. 25 of FAKIR of Sept 2019 , an anti-capitalist newspaper from Amiens. The article had to do with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Courbet's birth at Ornans.

" A Gilets jaunes spotted me... 'Macron came here in June to pay homage to Courbet. Twice he called him "Gaston" .. a highly cultured president, it seems. We distributed a leaflet'
He found the leaflet. It was entitled "Macron the Versaillais, Courbet the Communard!" 1. It asked the question, "For the 200th anniversary of his birth, a second death for Courbet? NO! The Gilets jaunes are here to honor him!" 


1. Gustav Courbet was a socialist, a supporter of the Paris Commune and Pierre Proudhon's best friend. The Versaillais were the politicians in charge of the French state located at Versailles during the Commune. They were responsible for murdering 25,000 Parisians and exiling an equal number to Cayenne and New Caledonia
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