06 August 2004


Today's big news appears to be connected to the disappointing employment report. The stocks are down, oil prices are up.

And anyone who's a socialist should pay attention to Stan Goff's recent interview. After all, Goff has a cool organization. His memorable quote:
One of the things the more politically advanced in the United States can do now, and I mean advanced in terms of understanding the role of the bourgeois state, is to exercise the actual political power we have in our present state of under-development to shake up the situation--again, a Boyd tactic, make a strike, then reassess the situation for new vulnerabilities--is to deny the Oval Office to the Democrats, and make it public knowledge that this is an intentional political act.

This begins to disrupt the inertia of the good cop/bad cop routine the two party system keeps pulling on us. It says we are no longer so afraid of the Republicans that we run back to their doe-eyed body-doubles again and again. But when and if we do that, if we encourage that route of revolutionary defeatism, then we are duty-bound to be prepared and organized for the follow through. We have to be prepared to escalate our tactics against the returning Republicans. Calling on people to take risks carries with it some responsibilities.

So, if we're going to run Nader in an attempt to derail the bait-and-switch substitution of Kerry for Bush, we'll have to have some sort of strategy for "following through," and replacing the Democratic Party with an organized entity that actually opposes both neoliberalism and neoconservatism rather than being a co-opted holding pen for their opponents. Without that, we can all expect the public to adopt Tariq Ali's stance (this from Doug Henwood's radio archives):
DH: A lot of people on the American left are saying Kerry's not much
better, and that Bush not all that much out of the ordinary. Kerry
opened his acceptance speech with a military salute. He'd be pretty
much more of the same. What do you say to that?

TA: We're talking about the government which took the United States
to war. Had Gore been elected, he would have gone to war in
Afghanistan, but I doubt he would have gone to war in Iraq. This is
very much a neocon agenda, dominated by the need to get the oil and
appease the Israelis. This war in Iraq is very much something this
administration went for. The defeat of this administration would be a
defeat of the war party.

You can see that even the Marxists will select Kerry over Bush if the alternative isn't real enough.

Better get ready for next week's job hunt.

05 August 2004


I encountered a mini-debate about this subject when going through a Google search:


Seems almost everyone who responds thinks this stuff is Republican propaganda. Check out Q and O too. Nobody seems to recognize realities in this information. It's all "he's a traitor" for admitting he participated in Operation Phoenix, or "vote for Bush, he's not a war criminal." Of course Bush is a war criminal! That's the point. You who want to narrow the race to a choice between Bush and Kerry are asking us to choose one war criminal over another. I can't call that democracy.

04 August 2004


This time it's the nitrates coming out of the Mississippi River robbing oxygen from the Gulf of Mexico:

Dead Zone spreads across the Gulf of Mexico

Agricultural capitalism may end for the sole reason that it will be time for the human race to clean up the mess it's made.

In other water news: Water Offers Deadly Relief in a Blistering Iraqi Slum. This seems to have a lot to do with the privatization of Iraq. When survival is privatized, nobody takes care of the public services.

I went to see Fahrenheit 9/11 recently. It was fairly difficult to find a theater that still showed the movie -- in most of my area theaters it's been scratched from the movie rosters, so we had to drive to a multi-giga-cineplex to find a theater where it was being shown. The theater where it was shown was sparsely attended; perhaps the other patrons were there, like myself, to see a movie because everyone else had seen it before they had. Having seen it, I want to agree with Yoshie Furuhashi's analysis of the movie. My first impression upon leaving the theater was that I'd seen a piece of anti-Bush (and anti-Saudi) propaganda motivated to put Kerry in the White House. I didn't think that it quite made the case for Nader the antiwar candidate, if that was what my readership was wondering.

I also thought the movie was dismissive of foreigners; perhaps its audience was supposed to be "blue-blooded patriotic Americans" who don't really care a lot about what the rest of the world is about and who went for that maudlin stuff like watching the parents of dead US troops cry onscreen. At any rate, Fahrenheit 9/11 was largely concerned with breaking through the shell of pro-Bush propaganda put out by the news oligopolies since 9/11/01, rather than with helping the viewers understand any more of the larger connections than can be gathered in a reading of Craig Unger's book. That shell is perhaps why "Fahrenheit 9/11" is as radical as blockbuster moviemaking gets without getting into the realm of politicized inference.

However, I think her case against the Democrats can be strengthened in order to suggest a possible movie that would allow Moore to stop covering for the Democrats. (That's what needs to be done, after all: Moore has shown he's bright enough to avoid endorsing Kerry.) She cites a Los Angeles Times story that gets at Clinton circumstantially. What more is there? Let's imagine for a moment that Moore was to make a movie that was fair to Bush, for the sake of uncorking the larger set of connections surrounding 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. It would investigate:

1) The Clinton war against Iraq, both in terms of CIA attempts to overthrow him, and in terms of the everyday embargo/bombing/suffering perpetrated upon the Iraqi people during Clinton's administration (with of course her interview with Lesley Stahl May 12, 1996 on Sixty Minutes, and hopefully some great footage of Albright's embarrassment by antiwar activists during a town hall meeting in Columbus Ohio in 1998).

2) At least some sort of recognition of the fact that Bush's invasion ended the US-led embargo against Iraq, a positive good in itself.

3) More stuff on the Clinton Administration's relations to the Saudis and the Taliban

4) Clinton's role in the impoverishment of Moore's beloved Flint, Michigan residents.

Throughout the film, however, you do get a wonderful class perspective... without (of course) any hint that some sort of general abolition of classes would allow the assumed equality between you and me and Bush and the bin Laden family to be a real equality. It's a wonder that, though thousands of people have seen this film around America, it doesn't seem to have done anything in favor of Kerry as against Bush. This is doubtless due to Kerry's prowar stance; also a factor is Moore's failure to specify any course of action his viewers might take. Are we to be satisfied with rich folks lapping up the oil wealth of the world? Satisfied with poor folks whose destiny it is to join the Armed Forces so they can go to Iraq, commit atrocities, kill, die, or get their minds and bodies shredded? Satisfied with Presidents appointed by the Supreme Court with the implicit permission of the Senate? Satisfied with viewer outrage having no outlet?

If any of you were wondering about the movie's end, well, the last words of Bush at the end of the movie were "won't get fooled again." But Pete Townshend refused Michael Moore permission to use his song "Won't Get Fooled Again" on Fahrenheit 9/11. Seems Townshend has political problems with Moore.

Oh well. You get what you pay for. A fun movie for a Tuesday night.

03 August 2004


Start here

02 August 2004


Surfing the web, I noticed on Doug Henwood's page a speaking engagement in NYC for the Life After Capitalism conference. I'd love it if someone would get back to me about what happens there...

This Saturday at about 4pm I went to the California Peace and Freedom Party's convention, at the Workmen's Circle in Los Angeles. After maybe an hour and a half of deliberation, the P&FP nominated Leonard Peltier for President. There had been an earlier, last-minute appeal by Ralph Nader at the convention hours earlier, although the primary voting (which had been advisory) had selected Peltier.

Peltier was acclaimed by a vote of about 16 to about 8 for Nader. There were thirty delegates in the tiny room where the statewide Party met.

Peltier's nomination represents another missed opportunity for the Ralph Nader for President campaign. But, even worse, it represents a missed opportunity for the California Peace and Freedom Party, who could have used the Nader/Camejo protest campaign as a major opportunity to promote socialism to an uninformed public.

Reasons for the Peace and Freedom Party's decision were given by the delegates in the tiny time-space given over to the process of selecting a Presidential candidate, within the tiny room where the decision was made. Each delegate was given one minute to explain his or her decision. Some delegates supported Ralph Nader as an opportunity to promote the Peace and Freedom Party, which lost ballot status between 1998 and 2003 because none of its 1998 candidates received 2% of the vote (the Peace and Freedom Party regained its ballot status by getting its registration total above 79,462 voters, an awfully small total in a state as huge as California. Many delegates disdained Ralph Nader as just another bourgeois millionaire. His campaign, however, is one of the few forces trying to incite class struggle anywhere in the US today, even if it doesn't come under that label and even if socialism still remains the word the so-called radicals are afraid to use.

What kind of socialism is it, that views socialist parties as the property of their possessors? What does it mean to proclaim that one is a leader in a socialist party, while at the same time insisting that socialism is one's "turf," to be jealously guarded against the meddling of outsiders? Isn't socialism to be given away, to as many people as possible?

Wasn't the point of nominating Nader/Camejo to put Nader/Camejo on the same slate as Marsha Feinland, so as to allow many many more people to know about the existence of P&F?

There are three reasons to have a political party:

#1) To invite people into the party for the sake of dominating them.

#2) To invite one's friends into the party for the sake of having a club of just one's friends.

#3) To invite the world into the party so as to give it a chance to change itself.

The Democrats and the Republicans have pretty much established themselves as partisans of strategy #1. The Greens might have worked toward #2 or #3 but now (with the Cobb candidacy) appear headed for #1, as an adjunct party of the Democrats.

And the Peace and Freedom Party? Looks to me like strategy #2 is the one they chose. A party for me and my friends. Hope we're cozy together. On the positive side, a tiny party of socialists is too small to attract the notice of the FBI, and ought to be able to fly under the radar for quite some time as long as it doesn't make waves.