Sunday, February 25, 2007

Dumber Than A Sack Of Hammers!

It takes a perverse talent to be this moronic. (See below) Every statement given about socialism is factually wrong. Even the laziest, party animal, freshman Poli-sci student would do better. I wonder though, if Conservapedia is not a spoof. I checked their article on Marx and found it to be equally idiotic. But it does say a lot about the intelligence of right-whiners that I am unsure whether it is real or not. This is understandable after years of having lunkheads telling me Pierre Trudeau was a “communist”, that Canada is a “socialist country” and the NDP, bless their pale pink little hearts, are “extremists and hard leftists.” Please make your own decision on this...

Socialism is an economic system that requires public ownership and government control over the production of goods. Government is supposed to make decisions about what and how much to produce in an attempt to increase the common welfare. Socialism is common in most parts of the world outside of the United States.

Socialism is described by this saying: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs." Socialism allows private property in the form of wages to workers, but not in the form of ownership of large companies.

Karl Marx considered socialism to be a transitory strage between capitalism (full private property rights) and communism (almost no private property rights).


Friday, February 23, 2007

The Problem Of Social Democracy.

One does not have to be extreme to be radical. One does not have to be dogmatic to be principled.

I do not believe “one size fits all”. Any society with any pretense of being democratic will have a range of political opinions within it. This is the way it ought to be. Thus, along with populists, anarchists, greens and socialists, there are also social democrats. All well and fair. There is also another factor here that is of importance to those of us who seek greater freedom and equality within society. In a non-revolutionary situation, and I want you to remember this qualification, each of the different political groupings and ideologies plays its role in virtually an organic manner. Those who work at the base of society – the radicals, the anarchists and left-socialists – help to create the movements in the communities and work places that seek to transform the society. The parliamentary left - the greens and social democrats then take these ideas, adapt and then convert them into reforms. (1) We have seen this occur in the recent past with the environmental, women's and gay movements.

First problem – Social democracy is no longer playing its role. It is no longer a “legitimating” force or transmission belt for new ideas. In many ways it has ceased to play its role as parliamentary reformer at all. Or with the Blairites, even worse, becoming outright reactionary. I would like to see Social Democrats act like social democrats and not like the smiley-face wing of corporate capitalism. There are a wealth of new movements that could be drawn upon and they are being ignored. (2) Such ideas growing out of these movements as direct democracy, consensus politics, subsidiary, decentralization, self-management, worker-cooperatives, critiques of the banking system, seriously attacking the problem of peak oil and global warming, all could be help re-vitalize social democracy, but so far they have been ignored. (3) Some ideas of the older social democracy like the Meidner Plan deserve to be dusted off and applied.

Second Problem – And this applies mostly to the “Anglosphere,” is the failure of social democracy from the 1950's-on to maintain a mass media and an educational approach. What progressive media we now have came about almost exclusively through the radicals - “underground” and alternative papers, coop and campus radio, alternative video, Indymedia etc. It took the New Left radicals to promote labor history, to expose the crimes committed against Native People, the Doukhabors, and the racism against immigrants. Media and education are not frills. A population that lacks information is one that is open to right-wing propaganda. A working population that is unaware of its long history of suffering and struggle can be manipulated.

The roots of problem lie in 1950's “revisionism.” Nothing wrong with revisionism, everything ought to be reviewed from time-to-time, but the baby was thrown out with the bath.

The “revisionists” were “ ...those who believed that the capitalist system could be retained but simply needed adjustments and improvements such as the nationalization of large businesses, the implementation of social programs (public education, universal healthcare, etc.) and the (partial) redistribution of wealth through a welfare state and progressive taxation. Eventually, most social democratic parties have come to be dominated by the latter position and... have abandoned any real commitment to abolish capitalism. For instance, in 1959, the Social Democratic Party of Germany adopted the Godesberg Program which rejected class struggle ...”

The theories of this new social democracy were based upon a brief moment in history – the post-war prosperity and the social democratic consensus, a consensus that soon fell apart, a mere 15 years later. And when the consensus broke up they were left seemingly with no where to go and no ideas of how to challenge the new capitalist consensus of neoliberalism, other than, as is the case with Blair, pandering to it. Indeed, limited nationalization was dropped quite early on. Here lay a failure to understand that other forms of social ownership beside statist nationalization exist. (4)

Social democracy gave up on the notion of class and opted to become “a party for all the nation”. Now it was very true that the vulgar Marxist concept of class (workers only, and worker meant blue collar exclusively) needed chucking onto the garbage pile. But it was wrong to go to the other extreme and reject a class position entirely. Around the same time social democracy was getting de-classed, new sophisticated concepts of class were being developed, which could have been adopted. Concepts like Mill's Power Elite, Castoriadis and his concept of “order givers and order takers”, Andre Gortz and his white collar-professional New Working Class. The failure to adopt a sophisticated class perspective may well be the reason why social democracy abandoned its attempts at education and mass media. (Since class no longer matters, one should abandon class-based media and education and let the schools and newspapers handle it.)

Lacking a notion of transformation, social democracy thus abandoned hope and inspiration. Daily life was not to be changed. Society was only to be tinkered with. Little wonder a New Left arose! Lacking a realistic notion of societal structure, it held out its hand to a ruling class that has never “played fair”, and never will. The rulers saw such an opening as a weakness to be exploited. When indeed, have the media ever given the NDP a fair shake? When has a daily ever supported the NDP? When have the rulers not tried “salami tactics” (or worse) to take back our gains?

Note. A slightly different version of this essay appeared in the blog Freedom of

(1) NDP members recognize this, for example Des Morton once described that role as “a conveyor belt of ideas to the political system...” Gerry Caplan, What's Left?, p.97 The post-War social contract... was really forced on the political and business establishment by the CCF's [predecessor of the NDP] popularity and the growing strength of the industrial union movement. Caplan, p. 99

(2)For some the very best evidence that the... [NDP] has become irrelevant is the degree to which the... new mass movement against Globalization ignore the Part... [they]... don't hate the NDP. They just don't think about it at all. Chris Watson , What's Left?, p. 115. ...two of the great dilemmas that have affected the NDP over the past 30 years. The first is the disconnect between the party and Canada's social movements... the strength of the early CCF came from its strong base in the socio-economic movements of Saskatchewan – the cooperatives and credit unions, the farmers organizations and women's groups etc. David Langille, What's Left?, p. 38 It should be pointed out that the New Politics Initiative of Jim Stanford and Svend Robinson did call for taking ideas from the new movements, but they were largely ignored by the party establishment.

(3) The NDP's Pierre Ducasse has promoted worker coops, mutualism and the social economy. But the party establishment? No takers! See Pierre's web site excellent ECODEMA

(4) Such as the stake-holder coop, invented by French syndicalists just after WW1 See the section, “A Neo-Proudhonist Program” in “Reform and Revolution”

Friday, February 16, 2007

Global Warming And Social Evolution

I want to first point out that I believe that global warming involves two different aspects; The first is that it is a natural process, that, along with its opposite, global cooling, has occurred many times in the life of our planet. The second point is, that even if warming is natural, human activity is greatly exacerbating this trend, and prudence, (a good old fashioned, but long forgotten conservative virtue) should force us to do something to abate the problem. That said, I would like to examine the relationship between global warming and human social evolution.

Millions of years ago the savannah areas of East Africa began to dry due to warming. This forced our primate ancestors to descend from the trees and become bipedal, tool-using proto-humans. These proto humans, about one and a half million years ago, left Africa and expanded into Asia. They may well have done so because of climate change. More than 200,000 years ago, our people, Homo Sapiens developed, once again in Africa and at some point crossed over into Europe and Asia. Perhaps again, climate change was the push.

Then we had the long Ice Ages. After that, about 12,000 years ago, the world began to heat up again. The ice melted and vast areas of the world, most importantly the rich coastal plains, were flooded, giving rise to the universal legend of The Flood. About the same time the great prehistoric animals like the mammoth disappeared. The people, now crammed into a smaller land mass sought other means of food production, so horticulture, agriculture and domestication of animals progressed.

Global warming leveled off and a moist period ensued. This was ideal for the neolithic farmers who prospered, multiplied and built large villages. These peasants continued the egalitarian practices they had inherited from their paleolithic ancestors. Such was the situation in Eastern Europe. The Sahara at this time was not a desert, but a series of large lakes or shallow inland seas which supported fishing and farming communities. Herders roamed the plains and savanahs.

Then 6000 years ago the climate warmed radically, and was to do so, in an undulating pattern, for the following 2000 years. The result was devastating for the people on the plains and the Sahara Lakes. These areas quickly became deserts and the people fled en mass to the lush valleys where they conquered the farmers. The conquering minority became the Masters, the conquered, the Serfs, and thus class society was born. In order to maintain this inequality and to extract taxes and forced labour, the Masters needed to terrorize the conquered through a permanent military force. Thus the State was born. This was a disaster for the vast majority of humanity. Most of the suffering that was to follow, up to and including the present; the wars, enslavements, famines and genocidal conquests, have their origins in these horrific events, the climate-induced birth of class and state.

For the next 4000 years, the climate would cycle between warmer and colder periods, but generally with more of an emphasis on the colder. Some civilizations would rise and fall with the swings of the climate. The warming trend that enabled the Vikings to settle Greenland, destroyed the Anasazi of New Mexico and the Tiahuanacans of Bolivia. The Mini-Ice Age beginning about 1300 made the marginal lands of Europe unproductive and helped precipitate the Black Death. The world remained in cool mode until the 20ieth Century.

Now the cycle has shifted to the warming trend. In the meantime, over the last 200 years class division and the state have created a wasteful, unsustainable economy that greately exacerbates the warming tendency. The authoritarian system, born from global warming, is creating the conditions to destroy itself, ironically through global warming.

What next? One means to curtail the warming trend would be to shift to an economy that was human scale, decentralized, did not depend upon warfare – that ultimate polluter – nor a lot of wasteful long-distance carriers. This would mean the break up of that class divided, hierarchical, authoritarian structure. Put simply, state and class got us into this mess, state and class have to go so we can clean up the mess. Climate change may be the quite literal "hot house" of our next stage of social evolution!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Two Important Articles

* Time Thief Blog examines the proposed “super highway” to link Canada and Mexico. Now this is either the ultimate in foolishness due to impending Peak Oil, or one of the world's great boondoggles, but read about it at

* A major and unprecedented strike wave has hit Egypt and is threatening to change the politics of that nation. See

Free Anarchist Prisoners in Oaxaca

Among the many prisoners being held in jails around Mexico are anarchist activists Oscar Santa Maria. Anarchists and anti-authoritarians have played a vital role in the struggle against the government of Ulisses Ruiz Ortiz in Oaxaca. From Magonistas like the CODEP and CIPO-RFM to the Bloque Autonomo (Autonomous Bloc) and the Ocupacion Intercultural en Resistencia, anarchists and anti authoritarians have had an important presence in maintaining barricades in the face of attacks from paramilitaries and police... Story Continued at

Oaxaca, the Great Mexican Social Volcano Rumbles

Two quotes from this excellent article by George Salzman;

The real news of the current struggle in Oaxaca is precisely the news that the governments — Oaxaca State, Mexican Federal, U.S. and Canadian — and the overwhelming part of the corporate media — TV, radio, newspapers and news magazines — have done their utmost to ignore, hide and distort. They have simply told outright lies about what has been happening. ... In calling for an end to hierarchical government in Oaxaca, for its replacement by a system of multiple popular assemblies based on direct face-to-face democracy at the local level, with no political parties, and for a maximum of local autonomy, the APPO has challenged the ruling power structure, not simply to reform itself, but to totally give up its power, that is, its control of the entire state. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that the majority of wealthy, privileged, powerful beneficiaries of this abysmally unjust system cannot even begin to accept losing their special status. They’ll fight like hell to prevent it from happening.

Entire Article at

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oaxaca Libre

Oaxaca Libre is the voice of Oaxaca's Popular Assembly Movement, also called the APPO. There is an English language section with a fairly extensive range of articles. SEE

Sunday, February 04, 2007

How And Why We Struggle (CODEP)

CODEP,   is the
Committee of the Defense of the Rights of the People based
in Oaxaca. It is part of the popular assembly movement (APPO)
and appears to be Magonista (anarchist) in thinking. At least
Ricardo Flores Magon (1) is on their banner and the following
statement seems very Magonist in content. They are also linked
with a nation wide grouping, the National Popular Power
Organization which appears to be made up of independent
trade unions and anti-corporate globalism groups. Translation
below by Larry Gambone

We are associated with the line of democratic organizations
which do not reject any form of struggle, where the organized
and conscientious mobilization of the working people can
obtain the solution to our immediate demands. (1) We
want the transformation of this regime of misery and
oppression, to one where equality, justice, democracy
and freedom are really practiced. For us the alliance with
other organizations of the working people is fundamental
and for this reason we struggle for the greatest unity of
the democratic forces so as to push forward social

 Our struggle was incited from the  beginning by the
injustices and atrocities we suffered at the hands of
the political bosses and by the impoverishing policies
of the government. We struggle for justice, democracy,
the equality of opportunity and conditions of development,
freedom and brotherhood between human beings, men
and women. These values take body and form in the
construction of popular power and the autonomy that
is the exercise of self-management by the oppressed,
operating in the economic, political, social, and cultural
self- determined to end inequality and social injustice.
The base of popular power is the self-organization of
the towns, creating a network of economic and social
relations opposed to those of the present authoritarian
regime, becoming thus, within the capitalist society,
a germ of a new humanized society. To the extent to
which people's power is strengthened, the power of
the oppressors is worn away.

We aspire that these ideas will take over as much as
possible in the economic, political, social and cultural
activities of the territories where our organizational
work is developing, in this long and permanent struggle
against the political bosses and their government.
As previously mentioned, we have tried to make in reality
such impelling productive projects as markets, ecological
recovery and restoration of lands, traditional medicine,
resuscitation of culture, credit unions, the defense and
promotion of human rights and the rights of Native Peoples,
recovery of traditional forms of government (2) and an
impulse toward a new system of education.

1. Magon is the major figure of Mexican anarchism and an
important actor in the Mexican Revolution of 1910 2.CODEP
has been involved in non-violent mass movements.
By “reject[ing] any form of struggle” they do not
mean “anything goes” or terrorism for example. 2.
These are of the local village council form and thus highly


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