By Ricardo Alarcón
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
On Monday, September 12, at 96 years of age, Stanley K. Sheinbaum died in his California home. I want to add these lines to the tribute that he will surely receive from many everywhere. Despite his advanced age and ill health his friends will never find comfort for his departure. Because Stanley belongs to the category of those Bertolt Brecht called the essential who struggle all their lives.
From his New York childhood during the Great Depression until the era of the global dominance of US plutocracy he walked a long path that led him not only to travel across his country but also to know the rest of the world. He learned to be interested, as were few of his countrymen, in the conflicts and problems of others and to get involved and take sides, “trying to create a little peace and justice in this unjust world” as he wrote in his memoirs published five years ago (A 20th Century Knight’s Quest for Peace, Civil Liberties and Economic Justice).
He discovered in 1959 that the program he led at Michigan State University was a covert CIA activity, and became the first person who publicly denounced the illegal actions of the CIA inside the United States.
In the 1960s he articulated the campaign for the release of Andreas Papandreou, imprisoned by the military junta in Greece. He led the movement for raising the necessary funds for the defense of Daniel Elsberg, arrested in 1971 for revealing the so-called Pentagon Papers on the aggression to Viet Nam. This was an iconic fight with the outstanding participation of Leonard Boudin and his disciple the young Leonard Weinglass, both brilliant human rights and civil liberties activists. If it were not for Stanley, according to Ellsberg, “the trial would have been over, Nixon would have remained until the end of his term and the war would have continued.”
He promoted the work of the American Civil Liberties Union in Southern California to end racial segregation in schools and to combat the repressive methods of the LAPD as he led efforts against the apartheid regime of South Africa.
1988 he organized a group of American Jewish leaders who, on 6 December, met with Yasser Arafat in Stockholm, Sweden to start a process towards mutual understanding and peace in Palestine. The gesture won him many enemies. “For a while I was the most hated Jew in America … by other Jews” he wrote in his Autobiography.
He took a courageous stand in confronting police brutality and the Rodney King beating. He did so from his position on the Los Angeles Police Commission of the LAPD and on the streets of the city. “He was” –in the words of Afro-American Congresswoman Maxine Waters– “an extraordinary human being.”
He also addressed Cuba. He visited us here and we kept communication at a distance to the end. He opposed the blockade, fought for the normalization of relations, and was decisive in the battle for the liberation of our Five antiterrorists whose situation he helped publicize in the United States. What was announced on December 17, 2014, was also the result of his solidarity commitment that had rarely reached the major media headlines.
At the end of his life he could say: “I’m still interested; I still get involved; I still believe that tomorrow will be better. And so, I’m still very optimistic. If I have learned something over the years it is that it is not so important whether or not we win the battles. What is really important is that we continue waging the battles for justice, for equality, for fairness. “
Stanley keeps riding on.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily Por Esto! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
We live in a world with all provisions set for the benefit of the owners of money: from electoral procedures and government structures to the smallest details of public and private relations. Everything has been oriented to the buying and selling mechanisms so they favor the owning classes who have the wealth.
In Latin America, not even Cuba –with its socialist revolution but also heir to countless of the methods, traditions and practices of capitalism– escapes this global reality. Except that in Cuba, by virtue of the deep socialist revolution that began half a century ago, the role previously held by the dominant wealthy classes is now exercised by society as a whole.
In the case of Cuba, a political organization –based on the most advanced revolutionary doctrine humanity has produced: Marxism– as society’s vanguard, protects its unity and ensures the legitimacy of truly democratic relations in all areas of society.
If we fail to consider that the mechanisms which freed Cuba from the evils of capitalism are still being created, tested, or waiting to be instituted to serve a social system that is also in the process of emerging fully, we are at risk of making serious mistakes. The Cuban revolution is not a copy of any other and, like other models that proclaim themselves Socialist, Cuba to find its own way.
Globally, journalism has become –for a long time now– an essential element of power, along with the three classic powers of the State (legislative, executive and judicial). Hence the media is often identified as the fourth power.
With this as its starting point, the ruling classes have succeeded in making the mainstream media (in print, radio, television and, more recently the Internet) a commodity and a tool aimed at convincing people and promoting compliance with capitalist ideas. They have done this with such effectiveness that they have succeeded in imposing their media dictatorship worldwide.
Advertising has become the lawful resource for those with money to defray cost of operating the media and thus controling it or exercise influence over its content proportional to the potential of their own economic and political interests.
Historically, big capitalists have not been satisfied with the ascendency they can get through their ads and have moved to partial or wholly ownership of the media, often using more or less publicly-identifiable fronts.
The ideological domination of oligarchies in Latin America –who often act as figureheads for the hegemonic domination of large US corporations– has been acquiring such a high level on the continent that no one doubts that a social revolution is not feasible without destroying the counterrevolutionary control of the media.
Confirmation of this conception is the fact that today in Latin America, the media under control of the ruling classes are playing the role that, in the last century, was played by the Latin American military hierarchy. The military carried out the coups –promoted by the United States– which plunged the region into the most nefarious situation of inequality, crime and misery.
However, according to recent experiences in the hemisphere, we could say that a coup may occur with the military or without it, with parliament or without it, with the media or without it, but always with the financial resources that move the wheels.
Although the laws of technological development tend to make the media increasingly social, the owners of capital have managed to always put communications and the media in a place outside the control of centers of democratic power. Thus, they facilitate their control by the owners of financial resources: the capitalists.
The Cuban experience –with its virtues and its many flaws that today are hotly debated by journalists in the island– shows that the social ownership of communications and the media with the widest popular participation, in a society with social ownership of the major means of production and distribution, opens the possibility of the use and effective enjoyment of these media by the majority… and safeguards it from the insatiable greed of capital.
Other mechanisms could be valid, but are yet to be tested and confirmed by practice.
September 19, 2016.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
Later this morning I’ll be off to Havana via Interjet, a Mexican airline which flies regularly. “Father, forgive me, for I have sinned:” It’s been nine months since my last time down, in December 2015. I’m looking forward to seeing whatever changes have taken place. I’m hoping to spend another three months, and plan to post regular reports of things done, places seen and people met.
Therefore my reports and the CubaNews translations will continue to go out through the Yahoo News group to which I’ve posted most materials for over fifteen years. You can subscribe, to the news group here: https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/CubaNews/info
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
On September 11th, the anniversaries of multiple misdeeds by the US government in recent years coincide.
On that date in 1973, the coup d’état against the constitutional government of Salvador Allende in Chile took place. It was organized, financed and led by the Pentagon and the CIA, in a conspiracy with the worst elements of the Chilean armed forces.
Between that fateful day and March 1990, Chile lived under a horrible dictatorship headed by General Augusto Pinochet (1915-2006), who led the coup against Allende’s legitimate government and headed the military junta that ruled the country. Pinochet was proclaimed president of the republic in 1974 and, in 1981, was confirmed in that position by the pseudo-constitution designed by the tyrant.
In 1988, after being defeated in a plebiscite, Pinochet announced he would retain the presidency until 1990. Although the 1989 elections forced him to give up the presidecy, the dictator remained as supreme commander of the army. In 1998 a warrant was issued for him by Spain’s judicial system for his crimes.
Between 1973 and 1990, human rights in Chile were systematically violated by the fascist military dictatorship, with the support of the country’s upper classes. Repression included arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, imprisonments, killings, forced disappearances, exile and clandestine cemeteries. Torture was both physical and psychological. The used electric shocks, sexual violence, beatings, drugs, burns, waterboarding, and even the rape of women by trained dogs.
Between 1973 and 1975 there were some 42,500 political arrests. In addition, there were 12,100 individual arrests and 26,400 mass arrests between 1976 and 1988. Then there were more than 4000 harassment and intimidation situations between 1977 and 1988 with a balance of a thousand missing prisoners and 2100 assassinated for political reasons.
Some 3200 people died or disappeared between 1973 and 1990 in the hands of repressive state agents. Of these, about eleven 1100 people are considered missing apart from the above-mentioned 2100 dead.
On September 11, 1980, in New York City, Cuban diplomat Felix Garcia, accredited to the Cuban Mission to the United Nations, was gunned down in the street by a member of a group of Cuban exiles organized, financed and directed by the CIA. The Cuban diplomat became the first foreign representative accredited to the United Nations to be killed in the United States.
According to an FBI report, hours after the crime, the Cuban-born counterrevolutionary gunman Pedro Remon made a call to New York media and took responsibility for the murder on behalf of “Omega 7”, one of the Cuban exile terrorist organizations operating in the United States under the umbrella of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Despite his long terrorist record, the murderer was not taken to trial until the mid-1980s. Meanwhile, the Cuban UN mission, its officers and families remained systematically harassed.
But for the US people the most painful September 11th was the one of the attack on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001. It left a balance of about three thousand deaths, including firefighters and other participants in the immediate rescue, who were affected by the toxic gases.
The definition of this act remains pending, given the inappropriateness of classifying the action as a classic terrorist attack due to the abundance of evidence suggesting it could have been an act of official self-aggression.
Evidence refuting the official version that was presented and used to justify the passage of USA PATRIOT Act is unquestionable. The PATRIOT Act has been seen as a state terrorism project derived from the attack which has brought horrible consequences worldwide reaching to the present.
Finally, as Néstor García Iturbe, A Cuban journalist and expert in the fight against terrorism, has rightly pointed out, the US government seemed interested in linking the date of September 11th with ignominious acts, President Barack Obama chose that very day, in 2015, to renew the inclusion of Cuba in the list of nations it sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act –enacted by Washington in 1917– to punish countries whose relations are incompatible with US foreign policy. This absurd list today has a single member in the whole world: Cuba.
August 27, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Leonardo Boff, is a Franciscan monk who was one of the main creators of the liberation theology-until he decided in 1992 to leave the priesthood. On August 12, he granted an interview to journalist Martin Granovsky, from the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, in which he analyzed the course that Brazil and Argentina have taken due to their subordination to transnational capital.
Asked about the reasons for the advance of neo-conservative processes in Latin America –by means of a coup, as in Brazil, or by the ballot box, as in Argentina– Boff linked them to a new cold war that is being waged between the United States and China.
The Asian giant, now part of the BRICS bloc, has been gaining presence in Latin America and this contradicts the US purpose to control the continent. By attacking Brazil, the US attacks China and its huge investments in Latin America that only last year meant $54 billion for the railway that would link the Atlantic with the Pacific.
Latin Americans are frightened by the U.S. negotiations with Argentine president Mauricio Macri regarding two new military bases, one on the border between Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, and another in Patagonia, near the world’s largest freshwater aquifer, says the leader of liberation theology, who is already 77 years old.
Regarding the coup process in Brazil, Boff reported that the Movimiento Sin Tierra [Landless Movement] has the support of Pope Francisco who got very enthusiastically close to President Dilma Roussef; so much so that she has greeted him on her every trip to Europe.
In one of her trips she was accompanied by the Brazilian actress Leticia Sabatella who gave the Pope a first-hand description of the situation. She let him know that the main issue was defense of democracy, because attacking Dilma would bring violent forms of social repression. After listening to her, the Pope said: “It is the work of capitalism: of Brazilian capitalism and transnational capitalism.”
Boff believes the Pope has seen that neo-liberalism, which gives more value to the market than to the common good for people, produces great marginalization and great poverty. The forty million Brazilians who were rescued from hunger in the country are now begining to return to their previous situation.
“As is known, the deputy who remained as interim president dismissed Dilma´s cabinet and attacked the Ministry of Social Welfare and the agrarian reform. Social projects are increasingly underfunded, attention to culture was scaled down from a ministry to an undersecretary, and Michel Temer cut the subsidies to public universities by half “.
According to Boff, the Pope considered that the parliamentary coup without bayonets seeks the same effect as military coups did before: to reinforce a group of big national capitalists together with transnational capitalists aimed at a greater accumulation of capital by privatizing national assets.
There is a project to recolonize Latin America and increasingly turn it into an area that only exports pure raw materials without adding value to its products. Brazil itself has more than 70 million hectares to produce and satisfy hunger worldwide, and has more than enough water, said Boff.
“Everything would fall under the control of the privatized or internationalized capital. The Pope is aware of this phenomenon and of the fact that the poor would return to misery and hunger.”
In Argentina, the state caries out a policy of privatization. It talks to the companies. There is no society but individuals. Wealth accumulation is concentrated in a shrinking group. You cannot analyze the situation in Argentina or Brazil separately or assess the attempt by the United States to align the two countries within the imperial strategy in isolation, Boff said.
“In the 13 years when the Workers Party (PT) in power, it was shown that there are two projects at stake. The two want to be democratic, but neo-liberal democracy is for the few and makes rich policies for the rich and poor policies for the poor.”
Boff recalled that there are 210 million people in Brazil and 71,440 superrich who control more than half of the gross domestic product. The World Bank has said that the greatest accumulation of capital in the world is in Brazil, where the most anti-popular and anti-social capitalists reside. They keep much of their fortunes abroad in tax havens and operate through offshore companies. This is definitely an example of the two types of democracy.
The other type of democracy, that of Lula in Brazil, is the inclusive democracy, open to all. The global correlation of forces makes it impossible to prevent the accumulation of capital. But at least we can put some limit to it. In his interview with the Argentine newspaper Pagina 12, Leonardo Boff concluded, “We must do it.
August 22, 2016.
La próxima semana regresaré a Cuba. Este ha sido mi mayor tiempo lejos desde 1999, cuando comencé visitas regulares. Ha sido un año y medio. ¡Tanto ha cambiado desde entonces! Los Cinco son libres y caseros. Las relaciones diplomáticas, rotas por Washington en 1961, han sido restauradas y el proceso que los cubanos llaman “la actualización de su modelo económico” continúa, como lo describió Raúl Castro, “sin prisa, pero sin pausa” Pero sin parar “. Hay mucho que aprender y decir sobre el proceso, que incluso el observador más atento del extranjero apenas puede comenzar a comprender. Así que ahora estoy esperando con gran anticipación a ser capaz de ponerse al día con amigos y colegas allí, y para compartir con los lectores lo que puedo ver, oír y comenzar a tratar de entender. Abajo un enlace a mi primer comentario extenso sobre Cuba, escrito después de mi segunda visita, hace quince años. Algunos siguen siendo válidos, algunos han sido resueltos desde hace tiempo). Bueno, suficiente por ahora.
Los Angeles, California
8 de septiembre de 2015.
Dos Meses en Cuba
Notas de un activista de solidaridad con Cuba de visita
por Walter Lippmann
Estos son algunos apuntes de mi visita a Cuba realizada desde Noviembre de 2000 hasta Enero de 2001. Algunas cosas en Cuba son muy parecidas a los Estados Unidos, pero muchas otras cosas son muy, pero que muy diferentes.
Este trabajo no pretende ser un análisis en gran escala sobre Cuba. Eso estaría más allá de su alcance. Se trata de mis observaciones, reflexiones y comentarios acerca de cosas que vi, escuché e hice personalmente. Antes y después de viajar a Cuba pasé algún tiempo visitando a México para ganar perspectiva y hacer algunas comparaciones. Espero que lo encuentre útil.
En la página final de este trabajo, encontrará enlaces con algunas otras fotos que tomé y una página con referencias sobre fuentes útiles en inglés para que pueda profundizar en su investigación sobre Cuba de manera independiente.
¿POR QUÉ CUBA? ¿POR QUÉ YO?
Mi interés por Cuba tiene raíces familiares profundas. Mi padre y sus padres vivieron allí desde 1939 hasta 1942. Como refugiados judíos procedentes de la Alemania Nazi no pudieron entrar en la Gran Bretaña o los Estados Unidos, a pesar de tener familiares cercanos en ambos países. El gobierno de Roosevelt mantuvo de manera estricta una cuota restringida a la emigración judía. Mi padre y abuelos tuvieron que esperar en Cuba hasta 1943 para obtener permiso para entrar en los Estados Unidos. Yo nací en la ciudad de Nueva York en 1944. (Una buena historia de la experiencia judía en Cuba esTropical Diaspora de Robert M. Levine (1993) (ISBN:0-8130-1218-X). Hay otra novela que evoca de manera elocuente la época en que mi padre vivió en Cuba Passing Through Havana, por Felicia Rosshandler (ISBN: 0-312-59779-7).
Mi padre me llevó a Cuba en agosto de 1956.Visitamos la casa donde vivió y conocí a algunos de sus antiguos amigos. No recuerdo mucho de esa visita excepto que Cuba era un lugar muy caluroso y pegajoso (Tenía solamente 12 años en aquel momento). Nos hospedamos brevemente en el Hotel Nacional y después nos mudamos a un hotel más pequeño. Viajamos a Pinar del Rio con un viejo amigo John Gundrum que también era un inmigrante alemán pero de los que nunca se fueron de Cuba.
En noviembre de 2000 hice mi segunda visita a Cuba como adulto. A fines de 1999 había pasado tres semanas allí con una delegación de alumnos y maestros de yoga que nos reuníamos y practicábamos con nuestras contrapartes cubanas. Sabía bastante más que la mayoría de la gente en los Estados Unidos sobre la nación caribeña. Había leído bastante historia de Cuba y seguía los asuntos cubanos con atención. Ahora quería ver las cosas de cerca.
¿Cómo es que viven los cubanos el día a día? Deseaba tener una visión de cómo trabajan, de las cosas que les agradan y desagradan, y así sucesivamente. Una cosa es escuchar y leer en los medios sobre un lugar (¡Cuba es un lugar horrible! ¡La gente está desesperada por dejar el país!), o por otra parte versiones positivas nada críticas en los pocos medios favorables a Cuba.
Mi español es limitado por lo que frecuentemente tenía que depender de amigos y conocidos bilingües para obtener respuestas y direcciones. Durante mis 31 años de trabajo como trabajador social para el Distrito de Los Ángeles había adquirido un poco de “español callejero” elemental, pero no lo suficiente para mantener una conversación. Conocí a muchas personas que hablaban inglés y que querían practicarlo, por lo que pude obtener respuestas a mis muchas preguntas.
En La Habana me alojé con una familia cubana que había conocido en 1999. Uno de los miembros de la familia acababa de dejar su trabajo de 13 años en el sector estatal para dedicarse al trabajo por cuenta propia. Traduce guiones de televisión cubanos del español al inglés por contratos independientes. Cuba espera vender algunos de esos guiones a distribuidores tales como el Discovery Channel. También hace traducciones para periodistas y cineastas visitantes. Unas semanas antes de mi llegada había trabajado con Barbara Kopple, documentalista ganadora de Oscar, en la filmación de la visita del Ballet de Washington D.C. a Cuba. Su madre es una ingeniera que trabaja en un Ministerio del Gobierno y es miembro del Partido Comunista de Cuba. No pagué alojamiento, pero compré alimentos y algunas otras cosas para la familia. Con frecuencia iba de compras y a veces cocinaba para la familia. ¡Creo que no habían comido tanto ajo en su vida! (Por suerte les gusta el ajo…)
LOS OBJETIVOS HISTÓRICOS DE CUBA:
INDEPENDENCIA Y UNA SOCIEDAD JUSTA
Para entender la Cuba de hoy es esencial conocer la amarga historia de sus relaciones con los Estados Unidos. Ambas naciones tienen una larga, estrecha y tensa conexión. Los políticos norteamericanos del Siglo XIX consideraron anexarse la Isla. Trataron de evitar su independencia y de obstaculizar sus esfuerzos por lograr una sociedad justa en la cual los intereses nacionales cubanos tuvieran la prioridad. Aún hoy la mayoría de los políticos norteamericanos hablan y actúan como si tuvieran el derecho de decirles a los cubanos como administrar Cuba. La Revolución dirigida por Fidel Castro y sus compañeros ha sido el más exitoso de los esfuerzos independentistas cubanos.
Los partidarios del derrocado gobierno del dictador Batista fueron bienvenidos en los Estados Unidos. Washington se opuso a los esfuerzos cubanos para asumir el control de sus recursos nacionales que estaban en manos de compañías extranjeras (mayormente norteamericanas). Se ha opuesto y tratado de revertir la Revolución a cada paso. Washington y sus seguidores llaman a esta política “el embargo”, pero los cubanos la llaman “el bloqueo”. Esto se debe a que Washington trata denodadamente de empujar a los demás países a apoyar sus actividades anti cubanas.
A PARTIR DEL COLAPSO DE LA UNIÓN SOVIÉTICA
Durante la alianza de Cuba con la Unión Soviética y los Estados de Europa Oriental, la Isla mantuvo convenios estables y a largo plazo por sus productos, en ocasiones con precios superiores a los del mercado mundial. Eso suministró la base militar y económica para que Cuba pudiera sobrevivir los esfuerzos de Washington mantenidos durante décadas para rendirla por hambre. La política y la economía de la Isla tuvieron una fuerte influencia del modelo soviético.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The main utility of presidential elections in the US is simply that it’s a weapon of mass distraction –creating a fiction that presidents actually rule and that voters actually determine the country’s destiny.
In truth, presidents and their minions in Congress and the Supreme Court may govern, but they certainly don’t rule. Elections serve to transfer power from one set of elites to another set of elites, cloaking the spectacle in democratic legitimacy, as the ruling class watch from their corporate suites, pleased with the quadrennial national consensus-building bread & circus event.
This is how Gerald Sussman, a sociologist and Professor in the Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University, defines the US electoral system in his essay “American Elections: Weapons of Mass Distraction”.
If Bernie Sanders had managed to capture the largest number of delegates, the nomination, and the election, it simply would have left a democratic socialist in the White House with all the levers of power intact to discipline him back to what Noam Chomsky has called “the spectrum of thinkable thought.”
“Indeed –wrote Sussman– if the ruling class were a bit wiser, they would have backed Bernie instead of Hillary for the nomination and the presidency just to crush the hopes of the left. The real value of the Sanders campaign was to incite courage in young people to confront the establishment. A Clinton victory in November might bring thousands of protesters into the streets, but a Trump victory would probably bring millions.”
The designation, in recent conventions, of two of the presidential candidates most despised by the activists and supporters of their own parties –Democratic and Republican respectively– has placed millions of voters between the proverbial rock and a hard place before the presidential election on November 8th.
They are equally forced to choose between Donald Trump (R) and Hillary Clinton (D), the lesser of two evils.
Driven by the fallacy that democracy consists of choosing between the two options offered by the two-party system (duopoly) there must be many in the United States today who believe that the small number of options offered is to be blamed for this situation, and think a multiplicity of parties would be the solution.
But soon enough they learn of the existence of many countries where there are multiple parties (dozens and even hundreds), and the situation is the same: power always remains in the hands of rich, who govern for the benefit of the rich.
Historically in the US, whenever an upstart candidate has emerged, having somehow managed to infiltrate the system to the point of seriously jeopardizing the duopolistic control of power (as happened with Jesse Jackson in 1988, Ross Perot in 1992, Ralph Nader and Howard Dean in 2004 and to some extent Bernie Sanders in 2016), they have been confronted by the money, the means and the Machiavellian methods of pressure which, in the end, prove insurmountable, although for some time they serve as a distraction for their followers.
As journalist Barbara G. Ellis has noted on the Truthout website, Bernie Sanders became a monumental threat to the Democratic nomination with demonstrations of tens of thousands of potential voters across the country. Volunteers, mostly young people, vastly outnumbered those of Clinton.
Simultaneously, Trump, with his rallies and wins in the primaries, seemed to be in the same situation with respect to the Republican machinery.
Just as anguish and despair become increasingly pressing for the destitute masses in the world and foreshadow an inevitable popular uprising at a global scale, within the US, the contradiction between the 1% that dominates everything and the 99% who can no longer be fooled by the myths and tricks of representative democracy controlled by the rich becomes more acute.
The experience gathered from the ongoing electoral process in the US clearly shows that small cosmetic changes are not enough to make the current system work. Neither new parties or structural changes in the existing ones, nor unstable coalitions will be able to save the system. The problem lies in the unjust nature of the capitalist system itself that, by its current imperialist nature, hinders the democratic development of the nation and oppresses its citizens.
August 16, 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, México.
The surprising successes of Bernie Sanders on the left flank and Donald Trump on the right flank –in part, believed to owe something to the new positions of the “white working class” in the US– have sparked new interest within the political outlook of the nation.
So writes Zoltan Zigedy, a prominent American Marxist political commentator in his “ZZ” column.
The Wall Street Journal calls them the “forgotten Americans.” Others see them as racist and xenophobic. In 2008, then-aspiring-President Obama characterized them way: “And it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration.” Whether they are forgotten, dismissed, or demonized, the “white working class” has been discovered this election season.
Even a decade ago, it was widely believed that there was no working class in the US –only a vast middle class and the poor. Fostered by social scientists, mainstream politicians, and trade union functionaries, the fiction prevailed that, apart from the very rich, everyone was either middle class or poor.
Of course, this illusion began to shatter in the wake of the 2008 crash and the ensuing economic stagnation. Likewise, the rebellion against corporate, cookie-cutter candidates in the 2016 primary contests exposed a class division that fit poorly in the harmonious picture of one big class with insignificant extremes at either end.
Whatever else the 2016 electoral campaigns have revealed, they certainly have shattered the illusion that the US is largely a classless society. But US elites and their opinion-making toadies struggle to find the “white working class,” says Zigedy.
Just as the mass media has fostered caricatures of African-Americans, the media and cultural/entertainment corporations craft an unflattering image of white, working class citizens. Whereas Black people are saddled with images of violence, idleness, promiscuity, and criminality, white workers are portrayed as bigoted, socially, culturally and intellectually backward, superstitious, and conservative.
One would never know from the “hood” movies, talk radio hysteria, and the crime-obsessed news anchors, that most African-Americans are a significant part of the working class, maintain stable households, and work diligently for a better life. Similarly, most white workers are neither gun fanatics nor Bible-thumpers. Most white workers do not attack gays, abuse their spouses and children, torch mosques or lynch Black people.
According to Zigedy, the common perception dished out by the mass media is that white workers constitute the electoral base for Donald Trump, when the truth is that the median household income for his primary voters shows that Trump’s followers are more typical of the white petty-bourgeoisie than the white working class.
Certainly media elites, pundits, and politicians do not want to talk about the latent rebelliousness of the white working class. There is a large majority of white workers who believe that the country is heading in the wrong direction. This is an opinion that should not surprise anyone since the median household income in the US has declined by 7% since 2000.
The current crisis of political credibility shows that they, like most of the rest of the population, have yet to find a way out.
Social scientists have begun to acknowledge the toll that corporate pillage has taken on the working class, very dramatically of late in the case of the white working class.
Death rates, especially from alcoholism, drug abuse, and suicide have risen sharply among white workers. The institutions that formerly traded a measure of privilege to white workers for their compliance and docility have now abandoned them.
According to Zigedy, the Democratic Party, for example, is so thoroughly corrupted by corporate money that when a benefit or privilege is wiped out linked to interracial prejudice, false friends and bombastic demagogues, enemies of the working class, take the opportunity and use it to mask the identity of the common enemy and thus weaken the unity in the ranks of U.S. workers.
August 13, 2016.
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Today increasingly-substantial financial resources are being invested in the creation of new technologies of war and weapons of mass destruction, though there isn’t the least defensive justification for it in the conditions of the post-Cold War world.
Europe, which benefited so much from the conquest and colonization of America, Africa and Asia, has been responsible for dragging the world into two global wars. The so-called old continent should have made a supreme effort to avoid catastrophes like those in the former Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria, as well as the criminal extermination actions which for many years have been perpetrated by the Zionist forces against the martyred Palestinian people, to mention only the bloodiest.
Only 19 years elapsed between the first and second world wars. World War II ended 71 years ago. However, since then there have been conflicts and wars that have employed several times more explosives and chemical weapons than both world wars together.
The policy of allocating more massive budgets for war and lowering taxes for the more powerful contributors means less money for social expenditures. This does not affect the entire US population equally. Neo-liberal practices, together with globalization, ensure that the rich continue to increase their wealth while the poor continue to grow in number and become increasingly poorer.
In the United States, federal programs for education, community development, grants to agencies for environmental protection, financing for development, low-cost alternative energy, disease control, drug abuse treatment, health and occupational security management, as well as public safety are reduced or eliminated; this list includes only the most recently and hardest hit areas.
The United States presents the paradox of being the richest country in the world
and at the same time it has one of the highest indices of poverty among developed countries. The US currently has, proportionally, the largest number of poor people without health insurance, yet with insecurity and food deficiency among the rich countries.
These sad social realities for the people of the United States, caused by imperialist wars in terms of soldier casualties and injuries, cannot compare, however, with the enormous damage that these disproportionate wars have meant for the attacked peoples.
The farcical excuses presented by the United States, first, to justify the occupation and, then, to save face in view of the evidence of a lost war, have been grotesque.
This happens when Washington cannot find a way out of the attacked countries without obtaining substantial economic benefits for the transnational monopolies that were the real reason for the aggression in the first place.
The noble aspiration of mankind to make the twenty-first century the first in history without wars died early. Against the accumulation of hardships, atrocities, cruelties and sacrifices that characterize the reality of war, the struggle of humanity for peace becomes a vital necessity.
Humanity today has sufficient culture and experience to reject the notion that peace must be imposed by war. Peace can and must be a conscious objective of human intelligence and solidarity.
It has been said many times that the people of the United States are the only ones who can carry out the titanic feat of bringing down the most powerful and bloodthirsty empire ever known to humanity. Today, humanity anxiously waiting to see that people react to give it the solidarity it deserves!
These days, people around the world have been able to follow, sometimes with disgust, the process of elections that every four years takes place in the United States.
On this occasion, however, new and striking manifestations of the profound crisis that engulfs the political system of the only superpower of this era have become apparent.
The campaign of the Republican candidate Donald Trump has allowed everyone to see, in all its crudeness, the terrible fascist danger that looms over humanity. By contrast, the Democratic Party candidate, Bernard Sanders, had encouraging messages that had never before been heard from within the highest echelons of imperialist politics.
July 28, 2016.