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I wrote this article almost four years ago in reaction to the public’s claim to be inconvenienced by Oakland protesters stopping traffic on the freeway of Interstate 880 in Oakland in solidarity with the two black men shot and killed by police in Louisiana and Minnesota. The point of that article was to show that bystanders’  ideas of where violence starts, when it starts and who the perpetrators of violence are betrays an adherence to a liberal social contract theory rooted in Locke, Hobbes and Rousseau. Even those who claim to be “non-violent” are trapped in social contract theory. At the end of the article I argue for a political-economic understanding of where, when and who is responsible for the violence.

Given the recent police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the subsequent torching of police stations and the shutting down of bus lines, we will surely hear even greater howls from bystanders that they are being inconvenienced, that their rights are being infringed on, they had nothing to do with the violence and that the police are a neutral force. All these claims are rooted in the same social contract theory that becomes increasingly moth-eaten as capitalism continues to disintegrate. —BL


In Part I of this article, I raised some questions about the uneven distribution of media coverage (radio, newspapers, magazines) between leftists, social democrats and anarchists on the one hand, and Leninists on the other. The social democrats and the anarchists receive the most media attention.  Next, I showed how the social democrats and the anarchists can be grouped into a single category of “New Left,” while Leninists represented the “Old Left”. I looked for patterns in their differences as I compared them across thirteen categories.

In the second half of Part I of the article, I discussed the machinations of a CIA front group in the 1950’s and 1960’s called the Congress for Cultural Freedom. The purpose of this organization was to keep communism from spreading into Europe by drawing anti-Stalinists into their organization, writers and artists, to make the case against communism through books, movies and modern art produced by non-communist left.

In Part II of this article, I explore the presence of other organizations today that perform the same monitoring function, except that Left Gatekeeping is directed primarily within Yankeedom. In the second half of this article I identify the characteristics of a left organization that would threaten the Left Gatekeepers. I complete the article by revisiting the characteristics of the New Left I laid out in Part I and show how its theory and practice can work quite well with the goals and purposes of liberal foundations, think tanks, political campaigns and mainstream media. As it turns out, the Left Gatekeepers of the 2nd half of the 20th century use the New Left to do their monitoring of any kind of movement that has any independent aspirations from the Democratic party. These organizations perform a very similar role as the Congress for Cultural Freedom played in the 50’s and 60’s. The leftist patron saints I named at the beginning of Part I are all unintentionally being used as tools of the Left Gatekeepers today.

Stratospheres of the Ruling Class

William Domhoff is a political sociologist who spent his entire life as a social scientist tracking empirically how the ruling class rules. Two of his books that detailed this were The Powers that BeandWho Rules America?Domhoff found that the three most powerful organizations in the United States are the National Association of Manufacturers, The Business Roundtable and the Rockefellers’ group, The Council on Foreign Relations. These organizations rule through eight descending levels, culminating in the control of both the Republican and Democratic parties.


"Like the Cold War liberals of the 1950s, Chomsky is a dogmatic and relentless critic of any kind of state socialism and does not make a distinction between communists and fascists..."

The first level is through university trustees and the setting up of foundations and grants. The second level are the think tanks which represent conservative, centrist and liberal viewpoints. More on this later. From the think tanks come policy discussion groups which develop public relations campaigns. Out of these public relations campaigns come reports, testimonies, books and newspaper editorials. From these are drawn “opinion leaders” who speak regularly to mass media. Policy discussion groups also lead directly to lobbyists and these lobbyists control the political candidate selection, whether they are Republican or Democrat. Lastly, there is the pageantry of elections where the public gets to vote. The important thing to notice is how passive both political parties are. They are the creatures of the upper levels, both liberal and conservative.

Most pertinent to Left Gatekeeping are the think tanks. Conservative think tanks include the Rand Group, American Enterprise Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Hoover Institute and the Manhattan Project. A centrist think tank is the Brookings Institute. Liberal think tanks include the Center for American Progress, the Ford Foundation, the Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Economic and Policy Research. [These are all establishment-funded and recognised think tanks, thereby automatically able to inject viewpoints and personnel into governmental policy. A left think tank, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), produces important policy papers, but is largely ignored by the media gatekeepers and the political establishment as a whole.—Ed]

While the Congress for Cultural Freedom has supposedly dissolved, the ruling classes have learned quite well the importance of controlling alternative visions to capitalism through think tanks, media and selected personalities. Their goal is to exclude any serious organizing of a socialist movement independent of the Democratic Party.

But if the Old Left died with the fall of Stalin as I argued in Part I, what do the ruling classes have to worry about? The truth is that the Leninist tradition has not died out, especially outside the United States. It continues to be present in Cuba, in parts of South America, in Europe and in parts of Asia. The job of the liberal think tanks in the United States is to either censor them or vilify them. How do they do this? By indirectly supporting the Old Left’s competition – the social democrats and the anarchists of the New Left.

Liberal Think Tanks, Media, and Left Patron Saints as Left Gatekeepers

In his powerful research paper, Left Gatekeepers, Bob Feldman created a flow chart with ruling class powers such as Council of Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, the CIA, with the Carlyle Group at the top. The funding for liberal think tanks comes from the Rockefellers, Carnegie, and Soros.  The Ford and MacArthur Foundations establish grants for left liberal news and media sources such as Mother Jones, the Nation Magazine, Z magazine, AlterNet, Fair, NPR, Pacifica, and Democracy Now.

The funding of any leftist organization depends on the organization’s willingness to “play ball” if it expects to get regular funding. In his paper, Feldman asks:

“Are the interests of the people being served by dissidents who are being subsidized by the very agencies of the ruling class whom they should be exposing? What does it say about the motivations behind the left establishment ideological warfare against conspiracy researchers, and their adoption of an increasingly watered-down analytical view which fails to look closely at the inner power structures and conspiracies of the ruling elite”?

What is Left Gatekeeping?

The purpose of both the CIA, the upper classes and the entire Left Gatekeeping organizational apparatus is to combat communism, whether at home or abroad. Left gatekeeping is a practice by the ruling class of setting up organizations, foundations and think tanks which funnel money into leftist organizations that are:

  1. To the left of Leninism (anarchism)
  2. To the right of Leninism (social democracy, and New Deal liberals)

They do this in order to infiltrate independent working-class movements, whether Leninist or not. This is the job of the CIA and FBI. The second purpose is to indirectly fund what is perceived as the weaker and less threatening tendencies of the left for the purposes of isolating the Leninists. This is the job of foundations, think tanks, the policy making discussion groups and the political campaigns. Thus DSA, Jacobin magazine, Socialist Alternative and Global Exchange will always find a welcoming ear on the radio waves and journals of the Left Gatekeepers. Noam Chomsky, proclaimed anarchist, can come onto Democracy Now whenever he wants. But Michael Parenti, who will defend the Soviet Union or China and who is quite capable of matching Noam Chomsky, rarely gets on the air. Then, in election years, without too much nudging, DSA, Jacobin and Socialist Alternative will, one way or another, collapse themselves safely inside the Democratic Party. The rightward turn of the Green Party was orchestrated so that they limited themselves to campaigns in “safe states”. This way the Democratic Party will have no competition coming from the Left.

Left Gatekeeping in Action: Let’s Get Personal

In 2002 Naomi Klein made a wonderful documentary with Avi Lewis called “The Take”. The movie was about workers taking over bankrupt factories and running them without bosses. This was followed by a well-researched and popular book of hers called The Shock Doctrine. It described the destruction of economies around the world by a neoliberal economic policy founded by the “Chicago Boys”. A book or so later, she wrote This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate. In this book she uses the term “capitalism” in a manipulative way. The word “capitalism” is provocative for selling the book. However, the book does not criticize capitalism as a system, but only the more neoliberalism version of it. So we are left to wonder, is she a Keynesian or is she a socialist?

Naomi Klein could have gone all over the world in a follow-up to her documentary and described workers’ self-management projects. She could have linked that to the workers’ councils that were present and operating in Russia from 1917-1921 and in Spain from 1936-1939. But this was perhaps not a project that a publisher would be interested in or a think tank or a foundation might support or promote.  So, Naomi Klein swings the gate between sympathy towards anarchism (worker occupations) and New Deal liberalism.

Cornel West is another critic who gives his followers mixed messages. In non- election years, he promotes a social democratic program. In most election years he bows to the “lesser of two evils” scenario and tells his followers to vote for the Democrats. Whether or not he promotes the Democrats or the Greens depends on who is running as a Democrat. So, for him, if he likes the person, which party the person is in is not so relevant. From a structural Marxist viewpoint, it doesn’t matter who is running as a Democrat. The Democratic Party is a ruling class party and whoever the individual may be is irrelevant. West also swings the gate between social democracy and New Deal liberalism.

Noam Chomsky swings the gate in a way similar to Naomi Klein. In election off-years, besides criticizing US foreign policy, he will promote anarchism by writing forewords to anarchist books. However, during election years his anarchism seems to disappear, and we will be told that the Republican Party is the most dangerous party in history, and we must vote for a Democrat. Chomsky swings the gate between anarchism and New Deal liberalism. Like the Cold War liberals of the 1950s, Chomsky is a dogmatic and relentless critic of any kind of state socialism and does not make a distinction between communists and fascists. Christopher Hedges also equated Antifa to the Proud Boys as equally dangerous in that both advocate armed conflict. All these unwitting Left Gatekeepers share the characteristics of the New Left in Table A in Part I of my article.

Who do the Left Gatekeepers Censor and Vilify?

Any organization that is clearly for the working class. This doesn’t mean unions necessarily. In the business unionism of the United States from the 50s onward, union leadership lost all sense of vision, of fighting for workers to manage the workplace. Union dues were spent by the leadership on promoting voting for the Democratic Party rather than on organizing workers. Union bureaucrats were much more at home with Democratic politicians than they were with their own members. One organization that we predict will not ever make the news at either NPR or the Pacifica radio station is Labor Notes. Labor Notes has been in operation for 40 years. It tracks working class struggles around the United States from the point of view of the rank-and-file. Their goal is to “put the movement back in the labor movement.”

Another enemy of the Left Gatekeepers is the formation of a working-class party that is independent of both political parties. In his article on our website, Joe G. Kaye has nicely identified all the reasons a working-class party has not been formed in the United States. However, he has not included the machinations of the ruling class – the foundations, think tanks, etc. Despite whatever good intentions they may have, DSA, Jacobin, Socialist Alternative on the right, and anarchists Noam Chomsky and Michael Albert on the left, all are colluding in keeping a working-class party from forming when they invite us every four years to vote for the ”lesser of two evils”.

Whatever their shortcomings, Leninist parties all over the world have had some success in Russia, China and Cuba in organizing socialism at a national level and sustaining it over decades. Despite their political "authoritarianism" (essentially an upper-class, western-centric notion), they have done very well in reducing poverty, raising the literacy rate, and providing inexpensive housing, (not to mention free higher education and full universal healthcare—Ed). Leninist parties will always be condemned. The social democratic parties of Denmark, Sweden and Norway have also done well but only because their social democratic movement was a separate party and did not try to influence a ruling class party like the Democrats, as DSA has done here. While social democracy in these countries has not been condemned by the Left Gatekeepers, they are ignored as examples of how to be socialist and also produce a high standard of living. An independent socialist party terrifies the Left Gatekeepers.

The third group to be disinvited is any New Left group that is anti-Zionist. US foreign policy is very dependent on having a friendly base in the Middle East and we can rest assured that any group that is pro-Palestinian such as the ANSWER coalition will be attacked as being anti-Semitic. There is good reason why the scholar Norman Finkelstein has never been able to receive a full-time teaching position because of his defense of the Palestinians. The entire New Left must get a permit paper from AIPAC, the most powerful lobby for Israel in Yankeedom.

Another group targeted by the Left Gatekeepers are organizations that actively support anti-imperialism. Any Pan-African movement leaders like Gaddafi in Libya will be condemned as “authoritarian dictators”, mouthing CIA positions. The African People’s Socialist Party in Yankeedom would also be dismissed.

Furthermore, on an international level, any organization or media outlet that show the slightest sympathy to nations deemed an enemy of the United States will be targeted. The Left Gatekeepers will have no problem with anarchists who condemn both US foreign policy and the "authoritarian" governments of Russia, China and Iran. But any news source that reports some sympathy for Russia, China, Iran, Cuba or Venezuela are deemed enemies. It is very important to the Left Gatekeepers (whether inside or outside the CIA) that the left in the US toe the party line about its perceived enemies.

So, for example, it is impossible to say that that yes, China has an authoritarian government (by Western definitions) and yes there is a deep class structure and yes, it is state capitalist. Nevertheless, the Chinese state has raised the standard of living for [hundreds of] millions of people and internationally it is doing what Marx said what was best about capitalism: developing the productive forces through building the New Silk Road. China is also going off the dollar, as is Russia, and they are backing their economies in gold. We think that any nation-states or states that attempt to break the domination of the Yankee empire is worth critically supporting. But for the Gatekeepers and their new left pawns, this is too much.

News sources that defend countries that challenge Yankees’ foreign policy will be harassed. This is the case for New Eastern Outlook, Russian Times, The Greanville Post, TeleSUR, or VenezuelAnalysis.

Lastly any group that suggests the United States has been and is capable of assassinations and false-flag operations at home or abroad will be labelled “conspiracy nuts”. This is certainly what happened and is happening to the 911 Truth Movement.

Strange Bedfellows: Is the New Left a Pawn of the Left Gatekeepers?

In this last section I want to show how easily the beliefs of the new left can mesh with the foreign and domestic policies of the Left Gatekeepers. First, when the New Left uncritically rejects the state socialism of the former Soviet Union or the current state capitalism of China (or formally known as "Socialism with Chinese characteristics"), it cuts itself off from the Yankees’ greatest international rivals and it makes sympathetic collaboration impossible.  Secondly when the New Left championed identity politics at the expense of social class, it lost the most powerful force for stopping the capitalist system—class struggle—the working-class production of surplus value in the workplace. Organizing around race and gender does not have a concrete site in which surplus value is produced. As far as gender goes, however real “patriarchy” is, a women’s revolution against men is very far-fetched since it runs against evolutionary psychology’s sexual selection strategies.

When the New Left throws up its hands and says capitalism can go on forever, it deprives itself of understanding the weak points of the system and how it could be overturned. The Left Gatekeepers are thrilled with the 50-year wild-goose chase dissecting language, psychology, and sexuality, none of which are threats to capitalism. It would be one thing if the New Left approached political democracy with its own party. However, the New Left never built its own party and so it has been trapped for 50 years inside the Democratic Party. With the possible exception of the anarchists, the New Left ignored democracy, in the economic sense of democracy, in the workplace. Being trapped inside the Democratic Party is the ultimate aim of the Left Gatekeepers.

When the New Left rebels against social evolutionary visions of progress domestically, it renounces the expectation that capitalism live up to its promises to use science and technology to reduce the work hours while creating a better life for all. It walks away from the prospect that socialism must be based on abundance, not on redistributing scarcity more evenly. With the exception of Murray Bookchin and his followers, when the New Left embraces the ecology movement it treats ecology as separate from political economy, as in the case of Earth First.  Ecological spiritual interventions of the 1980s and 1990s treat nature as separate from capitalism. It also loses the Promethean spirit of humanity as a higher form of nature. When New Leftists renounce the nation-state for localism or “small is beautiful”, these decentralized movements are much easier for the Left Gatekeepers to control. [Or the capitalist state numerous repressive forces.]

When the Club of Rome tells us that the Earth has a limited carrying capacity, it looks to the size of the population in peripheral countries as a problem. Instead of understanding that these countries have larger populations because they have a resource base in agriculture, they are seen as irrational. In reality, like all agricultural societies, they have more children because more children mean free labor. If peripheral countries were allowed to industrialize, their populations would shrink. (In general, affluence and feminist advances shrink family size; this has been seen even in nations such as Italy where familism remains a strong value, and where big family clans have long been a core of the culture from local to regional and national levels Italy's birth rate is today same as Germany (8.6/1000 people), well below that of Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, France and the US). By telling these countries they have to do with less, the Left Gatekeepers deny peripheral countries their right to the fruits of modern capitalism. Fewer people in the periphery means less competition for wealth.

Internationally, when the New Left becomes anti-western and throws itself into tribal primitivism, eastern mysticism or Wicca, it loses the potential for an organized liberation theology within the major churches. As this anti-westernism spreads around the globe, it opens the door for the Left Gatekeepers’ promotion of religious fundamentalism. This keeps science and engineering from developing in peripheral countries. That is dangerous for the Left Gatekeepers because these scientists might discover new forms of energy harnessing that might undermine the resource base of western capitalism.

In the arts, the Left Gatekeepers are delighted when the New Left rejects representational art and considers socialist realism too constraining. Abstract expressionism doesn’t depict existing social reality or how social reality could be. It describes psychological rumination that is cut off from social issues. The Left Gatekeepers tell abstract expressionists – “by all means, throw paint on the canvas, you rebel you!”

A Jackson Pollock masterpiece or a 6-year old tantrum with a brush?

The same goes for personal appearance. In my article Is Shocking People Revolutionary, I explain how infinite personal expression may be psychologically satisfying to some but it also creates distance between the middle class, who might be curious about this, and the 40% of the working class for whom this seems quirky or weird.

While pot smoking and LSD tripping may be relaxing and mind-transforming in small doses, too much of this is a loss of organizing potential. I could not organize anyone who was high on pot or in the middle of an acid trip. The CIA gatekeepers knew exactly what they were doing when they flooded black communities with hard drugs in the early 70s. The New Left began with an interest in Reich’s Mass Psychology of FascismBut many disappeared into the rabbit hole of individualist psychology, whether it be primal scream or gestalt psychology. The feminist cry “the personal is political” soon became the belief that the personal is all there is. For close to a century of psychological manipulation of Gatekeepers, see Adam Curtis documentary Century of the Self, especially Part III.


The purpose of this article is not to suggest that the non-Leninist left is the passive victim of the CIA, foundations, think tanks and lobbying groups. After all, these organizations did not create the New Left out of nothing. The New Left created its own politics and culture in reaction to real social struggles of the 1960s. It is instead to say that once these politics and culture were created, especially in the late 1960s, they were massaged, sculpted, cut, pasted and smoothed over to also meet the needs of the Leftist Gatekeepers. It is to say:

  1. there is real documentation in the present and past that shows that most leftist groups were, and are, being monitored and controlled by Left Gatekeepers;
  2. that there is an implied profile of the kind of leftist groups that are the enemies of the Left Gatekeepers;
  3. that in the light of the current crisis in capitalism and the coronavirus, it is more urgent than ever to embody, organize and spread a political-economic movement along the profile in line with the enemies of the Left Gatekeepers.


Puke if you must

Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License


Read it in your language • Lealo en su idioma • Lisez-le dans votre langue • Lies es in Deiner Sprache • Прочитайте это на вашем языке • 用你的语言阅读



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Wherein the author provides a much needed annotated taxonomy for the left—

Why is the socialist left in Yankeedom so small and divided? How is it possible that there is no working class party here in almost 70 years, despite the precarious nature of working-class life today. Part of the puzzle can be found in understanding the differences between Old Left and the New Left. As this article will describe, the ideology of the New Left has inadvertently worked well with the aims and manipulations of the Left Gatekeepers, from the Congress of Cultural Freedom to think tanks such as the Ford Foundation.

The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters Frances Stonor Saunders
Cultural containment meant “ring around the pinkos”

Leftist Patron Saints

What do the following people have in common: Noam Chomsky, Cornel West, Naomi Klein, Robert Reich, Michael Albert, Howard Zinn, Amy Goodman, Media Benjamin, Norman Solomon, Chris Hedges, Michael Moore, Greg Palast, and Chip Berlet? With the exception of Norman Solomon and Chip Berlet, these are household names among “progressives”. What they appear to have in common is that they are “left.” How far left? On the surface, they appear to run the full spectrum. After all, Chomsky and Michael Albert are anarchists. Most, if not all of the rest are advocating some kind of social democracy. Robert Reich and possibly Amy Goodman are New Deal liberals. Have we missed any tendency? Is that it? Yes, we are missing a tendency. The Leninist tradition, whether Trotskyist, Stalinist or Maoist. Are there reasons they are not included?

Why would the most supposedly leftist of all tendencies, the anarchists, get airtime on a show like Democracy Now, while Leninists such as Michael Parenti or Gloria La Riva are rarely, if ever, invited. A crucial key to understanding why this is the case is to clarify the differences between the Old and the New Left.

The Old vs the New Left

What all these patron saints have in common is that they are members of the New Left in the U.S. as opposed to the Old Left. The New left grew up in the early 1960’s on the basis of rejecting the Soviet Union as a model for socialism. For the New Left, some form of social democracy or participatory democracy (anarchist) was the best model. Additionally, the old left emphasized that social class – specifically the working class – was the agent of revolutionary change. The New Left rejected this. For them, the working class has been bought off by capitalism and was no longer a revolutionary class. The New Left turned to philosophers like Herbert Marcuse who claimed that students were the revolutionary class worth organizing.

At the same time, some sections of the middle-class civil rights movement organized around Martin Luther King (a social democrat). The women’s movement had two wings, the liberal Betty Friedan wing and the radical lesbians. But what both these New Left systems of stratification had in common was that race and gender were more important than social class.

There were exceptions to the rule. For example, while the Weatherman were anti-working class, they were secretive (Leninist), and identified with anti-imperialism and the necessity of armed force in order to fight. They tended to idolize third world countries and blindly accept their leadership. Malcolm X had clear roots in the Black working class and poor and maintained a class perspective. He was murdered before he settled within a leftist tendency, but he seemed to be on the way to Trotskyism when he died. So, in the New left, there were some Leninist tendencies but mostly the social democratic and anarchist orientations won out.

A fourth major difference between the Old and the New Left was the economy. For the Old left of the Communist Party of Russia, China and Cuba, capitalism by its very nature has contradictions that will drive it to destruction. All Leninists agreed that capitalism was doomed. For the New Left, capitalism seems to have survived its crisis of the Great Depression and the World Wars and was expanding production. It was thought that capitalism could go on forever. The New Left became increasingly cynical that capitalism could be stopped due to any inherent contradictions. Only by revolutionary will would it be possible for capitalism to be overthrown.

Who developed revolutionary theory? For the Old Left, revolutionary theory was developed by professional revolutionaries inside the Communist Party or by members of trade unions. At least hypothetically if not actually, Leninist theory should be informed by political practice in organizing the working class and its struggles. On the other hand, led by the Frankfurt school, New Leftist theory was developed not within a party or a union but within the academy. Most New Leftist theory after 1970 came out of universities, whether structuralism, Foucault, post-structuralist or postmodernist. These theories were not informed by any connection to practice. They built on each other and increasingly lost touch with any kind of practical tests. One exception to this academic trend was Murray Bookchin and his anarchist followers.

The Old Left did not make much of what it called "bourgeois democracy". [They were right then and are right today. Capitalist democracy, as practice has long demonstrated, is at best an oxymoron. Just in 2014 a study by two non-Marxist scholars from prestigious universities concluded that "The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elitewith popular opinion completely disregarded in the formulation of all important policies.” The study was penned by Princeton University Prof. Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof. Benjamin I Page. The same is true across the “western democracy" sphere, from the US to Britain, France, Germany, etc in Europe to Australia, Japan, South Korea, Chile, Ecuador, Brazil and so on, in other latitudes, with scores of other nations following the same pattern of largely (non)representative democracy.  ]

Democracy within Leninism was called democratic centralism. Here there was a limited amount of time for discussion and once a party decision was made, there was no more arguing. Every member of the party [was expected to] carry out the decision. [This was not as arbitrarily authoritarian as it sounds to a Westerner reading about such events across huge cultural, class, indoctrination (however recognized or not] and time barriers. Most critics of the Soviet experience are rarely able or willing to put themselves in the context of such events, defined by fierce wars (from World War I to civil war), general and persistent famines, medical emergencies, and the ravages and disruptions caused by invading pro-czarist foreign and Russian internal armies, coupled to widespread sabotage by the old czarist bureaucracy and reactionary Russians. 

For the New Left democracy took different forms. For the social democrats democracy could be had by participating in elections either as an independent party, such as the Socialist party or even entering the Democratic Party as has been done for 50 years by the Democratic Socialists of America. The anarchists would have nothing to do with representative democracy but wanted direct participatory democracy as in the early years of SDS. This participatory democracy (sometims called "hyper-democracy" or ultra-leftism") continued in the strikes in France in May of 1968, and in the theories of the Situationist international. The social anarchists that followed Murray Bookchin, and of late as the Occupy movement of nine years ago followed this participatory model."

The attitude towards the arts between the New Left and the Old Left were at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Leninist left thought the responsibility of the artist was to represent reality as it really was from a working-class viewpoint (socialist realism). For the New Left, art was a rejection of the life of the working class. Beat poetry and abstract expressionism moved away from reality and expressed the psychological idiosyncrasies of the artist. What was revolutionary was individual expression.

As for appearance, Leninists tried to emulate the dress of the working-class so that short hair and jeans were a sign of solidarity. For the New Left appearances were determined by the countercultural tastes which included beads, long skirts, bell bottoms and tie-dyed clothes.  Among the Leninist Black New Left, dressing in the clothes of the African country they were originally from was an option.

In terms of social evolution, the Old Left embraced Marx’s linear model of primitive communism through three forms of class society before reaching communism. Like the bourgeoisie of their country, they championed the notion of progress through science and technology. The New Left was having none of this. They questioned whether capitalist society was more evolved than what went before and they were skeptical of science in delivering us to the promised land. They were much closer to romantics, who identified with tribal societies, whether in the United States or around the world.

For the Old Left, one’s personal life had little to do with the political world. It was possible to be withdrawn, apathetic or abusive in personal life and that had nothing to do with the revolution. For the New Left, specifically the women’s movement, “the personal was political”. What this meant was that your personal life needed to be a microcosm of the world you wanted to build. That meant you could not have a bad marriage and a good revolution. You had to “be the change you wanted to have happen”. This was enhanced by pot and LSD trips.

Where does psychology fit into the picture? For the Old Left, personal psychological problems were just “nerves” not worth taking seriously. It is understandable that the Old Left was skeptical or cynical of psychology and dismissed it as “bourgeois”. The work of Vygotsky, Luria and Leontiev in Russia remained untranslated, so they had no “communist psychology” to draw from. The New Left was much more interested in psychology. It was very sympathetic to the Freudian left of Wilhelm Reich and Erich Fromm. For the socialist women’s movement Karen Horney was a heroine. Reich’s work The Mass Psychology of Fascism helped explain not only the rise of fascism but the failure of the working class to rise up. For the Black Leninist left, Frantz Fanon was the best at explaining self-hatred among colonial people.

For the Old Left ecology was not an issue. They treated the ecological setting as a backdrop for social evolution which was understood as a higher form of nature. In terms of scale, the Old Left took for granted the nation-state as the smallest, most realistic political body to organize around. The Old Left thought of nature as infinitely fecund and able to carry a growing population without limits. But for the New Left, the ecology movement in the 60’s saw nature as under attack and should be defended and appreciated. The romantic tendency of the New Left meant “going back to nature”. This was later accompanied by the “small is beautiful” movement which fit well with anarchist decentralization concepts. Furthermore, in 1972 the Club of Rome issued its first report stating that the carrying capacity of the planet was limited. This meant that unlimited growth could no longer be sustainable. People had to learn to do with less. For the first time since the eugenics movement, the question of too many people on the planet was broached, however tentatively. [Infinite growth in a finite planet, of course, is an absurdity, even if it remains an unquestioned mantra and politically popular slogan symbolising "the good life" and secure employment, among capitalists, many workers, and even people supposedly opposed to amoral industrialism's central tenets. The constant growth imperative is one of the reasons social ecologists regard capitalism as irrational and on a collision course with nature. See, Joel Kovel, The Enemy of Nature —Eds.]

The last categorical difference has to do with the differences in religion and spirituality. For the Old Left, atheism was the ideal and organized religion and spirituality were all part of the same superstition. The New Left was more open to institutionalized religion (as in following Martin Luther King), while making a distinction between institutionalized religion and spirituality (which was separate from organized religion). By the early 1970’s, the New Left became susceptible to Eastern mysticism (TM, yoga) and the Gurus who came with it. Women especially were leaving institutionalized religion for wicca and other neo-pagan traditions. Some New Leftists later morphed into Rudolf Steiner Waldorf education and Gurdjieff movement.  Anarchists were more likely to gravitate to the magical work of Aleister Crowley. See table 1 for a summary.

But why does this matter? If the Old Left is marginalized and excluded in the press, magazines and on radio waves today and the New Left – social democrats and anarchists – are welcomed, what does this have to do with Left Gatekeeping? After all, maybe the Old Left is not paid attention to because they are “out of date” with their Leninist vanguard party and ["mindless"] defense of the Soviet Union. To some extent this may be so, but that is far from the whole picture.

Old Left vs New Left – Table I

The Congress for Cultural Freedom

How it started

In his book The Mighty Wurlitzer Hugh Wilford describes the events that led to the founding of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF):

In March 1949, the Waldorf-Astoria hotel hosted a gathering of Soviet and American intellectuals, the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace. This was sponsored by the American Popular Front attended by, among others, Paul Robeson and Lillian Hellman. It was a publicity disaster. The State Department derailed preparations by refusing to grant visas to would-be European participants.  Anti-communist vigilantes were alerted by the Hearst Press. Disruptions were staged by anti-Stalinists, organized by Sidney Hook. (Page 70)

What it did

In her book The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters, Frances Stonor Saunders traces the activity of an organization called the Congress for Cultural Freedom which existed from 1950 to 1967. The secret mission of the organization was to promote cultural propaganda in Western Europe to keep it from going communist. The idea was to make it seem that the cultural criticism of communism coming from the West about the Soviet Union was a spontaneous irruption, rather than stage-managed. The CIA poured tens of millions of dollars into this project.

As it turns out, groups of ex-communists for the most part inadvertently, helped to invent the weapons with which the CIA fought communism. Later, these ex-communists were sidelined as the spies attempted to professionalize their front operations with their Ivy League recruits.

As Stonor Sanders tells it, the congress:

…stockpiled a vast arsenal of cultural weapons – journals, books, conferences, seminars, art exhibitions, concerts and awards. Whether they knew it or not, there were few writers, poets, artists and historians, scientists or critics in post-war Europe whose names were not in some way linked to the covert enterprise. It consisted of former radicals and leftist intellectuals whose faith in Marxism had been shattered by Stalinism. (Page 2)

In terms of propagandistic goals, as Stoner Saunders says, “The most effective kind of propaganda is where the subjects move in the direction you desire for reasons which he believes are his own” (Page 4)

The strategy of promoting the non-communists was to become the theoretical foundation of the agency’s political operations against Communism over the next two decades. (Page 63)

Suitable texts were easily available from the CCF such as Andre Gide’s account of his disillusionment in Russia, Koestler’s Darkness at Noon and Yogi and the Commissar and Ignazio Silone’s Bread and Wine. Further, the CIA subsidized The New Class by Milovan Djilas about the class system in the USSR. Books with titles like Life and Death in the USSR by a Marxist writer criticizing Stalinism was a book widely translated and distributed with CIA assistance. The compilation of articles made into the book The God That Failed was distributed all over Europe.

On the surface it may seem that the purpose of the CIA front groups was to destroy communism. However, Stoner Saunders denies this.

The purpose of supporting leftist groups was not to destroy or even dominate… but rather to maintain a discreet proximity and monitor the thinking of such groups to provide them with a mouthpiece so they could blow off steam. It was to be a beach head in western Europe from which the advance of Communist ideas could be halted. It was to engage in a widespread and cohesive campaign of peer pressure to persuade intellectuals to dissociate themselves from Communist fronts. (Page 98)

Besides publishing, the CIA set up front groups for disseminating their ideas. In 1952 it began setting up dummy organizations for laundering subsidies. The formula was:

Go to a well-known rich person and tell them you want to set up a foundation in the name of the government:

  1. Pledge this person to secrecy.
  2. Publish a letterhead with the would-be name of the donor.
  3. Give the dummy organization a neutral sounding name.

When it came to the arts:

With an initial grant of 500,000 Laughlin launched the magazine Perspectiveswhich targeted the non-communist left in France, England, Italy, and Germany. Its aim was not so much to defeat leftist intellectuals as to lure them away from their positions by aesthetic and rational persuasion. (Page 140)

According to Stoner Saunders the animated cartoon of Orwell’s Animal Farm was financed by the CIA and distributed throughout the world. But the CIA did more than distribute. They actually changed the story.

In the original text, communist pigs and capitalist man are indistinguishable, merging into a common pool of rottenness.

In the film, such congruity was carefully elided (Pilkington and Frederick, central characters whom Orwell designated as the British and German governing classes are barely noticeable) and the ending is eliminated. In the book:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man and from man to pig and it was impossible to say which was which. Viewers of the film saw something different – which was the sight of the pigs impelling the other watching animals to mount a successful counter-revolution by storming the farmhouse. By removing the human farmers from the scene, leaving only the pigs reveling in the fruits of exploitation, the conflation of the Communist corruption with capitalist degradation is reversed. (Page 295)

When it came to his novel, 1984, most everyone assumed that the idea of it came from Orwell’s Trotskyist criticism of Stalinism. However, Trotsky’s biographer, Isaac Deutscher, claimed that Orwell got the symbols, plot and chief characters from Yevgeny Zamyatin’s book We.

Image is of author Arthur Koestler, trade-unionist Irving Brown and Professor James Burnham


Who was involved?

What leftists or former leftists were involved in the Congress for Cultural Freedom? Sidney Hook (former Marxist), Arthur Koestler (former communist), James Burnham (former Trotskyist), Raymond Aron, Harold Laski, Isaiah Berlin, Daniel Bell (The End of Ideology), Irving Kristol (former Trotskyist,) Franz Borkenau (former communist), and Lionel Trilling to name just a few.

For the most part, without knowing exactly who they were dealing with, these former communists like Burnham, Koestler and Louis Fischer wanted to directly confront Stalinism politically. They felt no one knew better how to fight communism than they did. Burnham went so far as to say that CCF should form a true anti-communist front embracing the non-socialists right as well. Koestler, Burnham, Hook, Lasky and Irvin Brown met every evening as an unofficial steering committee. But cooler heads prevailed. Michael Josselson, one of the founders of the organization, believed in the soft-sell strategy, which is winning intellectual support for the western cause in the Cold War by fostering a cultural community between America and Europe.

Did these ex-communists know they were working for the CIA?

The parameters of knowing ranges from who knew and who didn’t. But these extremes are too easy. Better to separate points of gradation into:

  • Those who knew everything about the CIA involvement;
  • those who knew some things and not others and did not want to find out;
  • those who thought some things were fishy but didn’t inquire further, and;
  • those who were completely naïve and didn’t know.

One who knew was Sidney Hook, who was in contact with the CIA. He was a regular consultant to the CIA on matters of mutual interest. In 1955 Hook was directly involved in negotiations with Allen Dulles. Another who knew but was not ashamed of it was Diana Trilling who said, “I did not believe that to take the support of my government was a dishonorable act”. Late in his life Orwell knew the CIA was involved and actively supported them. He had handed over a list of suspected fellow travelers to the Information Research Department in 1949.

Deeply suspicious of just about everybody, Orwell had been keeping a blue quarto notebook close to hand for several years. By 1949 it contained 125 names. (The Cultural Cold War Page 299)

It would seem that most leftists fell into categories two and three. It is highly unlikely that those involved in radical politics both internationally and domestically, and those subjected to the intrigues of Stalin would be completely naïve about the machinations of any other large political organizations that were involved.

Furthermore, as Primo Levi points out insightfully in The Drowned and the Saved, those who consciously lie to others as well as themselves are in the minority:

But more numerous are those who weigh anchor, move off from genuine memories, and fabricate for themselves a convenient reality. The silent transition from falsehood to sly deception is useful. Anyone who lies in good faith is better off, he recites his part better, he is more easily believed. (The Cultural Cold War, Page 414)

How successful was the CIA?

It is tempting to think that an organization as powerful as the CIA would overwhelm and turn to mush another group that stood in its way. But that is not what happened. Ex-communists fought among themselves and twisted the intention of the CIA and took things in another direction. As if to answer Stoner Saunders’ excessive attribution of power to the CIA, Hugh Wilford says that the CIA might have called the tune, but the piper didn’t always play it, nor did the audience dance to it.

Did This Left Gatekeeping End with the Ending of the Congress for Cultural Freedom?

It is fair to say that Khrushchev's allegations about Stalin broke the hearts and backs of the Old Left for some time. The sad story of disbelief, denial, of communists who spent years bending over backward justifying the purported evil and truth about Stalinist “terrors” and "show trials" was exposed.. Recently work by scholars like Ludo Martens' Another View of Stalin has challenged substantially Khrushchev's depiction of life under Stalinism, but for rank-and-file communists in the late 1950’s, making their judgments long before Stalin exculpating facts began to emerge in recent decades, this was profoundly disorienting and indeed heart-breaking. The Congress of Cultural Freedom contributed to this downfall, to some extent though its whole operation was exposed by Ramparts magazine in 1967.

But what about the New Left? Since the Congress of Cultural Freedom had ended, was there anything left to monitor? After all, the New Left was not Leninist. Is there a relationship between the characteristics of the New Left in Table I and some new monitoring organizations like foundations, think tanks, public relations campaigns and lobbyists? Or was the New Left an autonomous, spontaneous eruption of the youth culture of the 60’s? Part II will discuss these important questions.

Bruce Lerro has taught for 23 years as an adjunct professor of psychology at Dominican University, Golden Gate University, and Diablo Valley College. ... Google Books


Puke if you must

Up to You.

^3000US citizens have no real political representation.

We don't live in a democracy. And our freedom is disappearing fast.

I don't want to be ruled by hypocrites, whores, and war criminals.

What about you? Time to push back against the corporate oligarchy.

And its multitude of minions and lackeys.

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Roots to social democracy/capitalism, socialism

Please make sure these dispatches reach as many readers as possible. Share with kin, friends and workmates and ask them to do likewise.

First published on 15 aug 2016. Reposted on 20 November 2019

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 2.38.28 PMCLICK BELOW TO READ OTHER SEGMENTS >>TOC Series Directory: Scandinavia on the Skids: The Failure of Social Democracy"

1. Denmark: SOS Save our Sovereignty
>>2. Roots to Social Democracy/Capitalism Socialism
3. Sweden-Finland-Norway Globalization Blues
Iceland is where Bankers Go to Jail
Denmark: Bernie Sanders for Prime Minister
Denmark: Rogue State
Denmark: Return of the Vikings

Scandinavia on the Skids: The Failure of Social Democracy

(Part 2 of a 7 part series on Scandinavia’s “Socialism”)

Philosophical forefathers of a socialistic vision include Buddha and Lao Tzu. Buddha was an Indian/Nepalese prince; Lao Tzu, a Chinese philosopher. Both lived in the 6th century before Jesus Christ’s birth. Jesus should also be included as a “primitive communist” as some see the Palestinian Jew, human being or god-human. These visionaries hoped that peoples could live together in peace and harmony, one great family sharing resources.

Claude_Henri_de_Rouvroy_Saint-SimonThe term socialism took hold as a political ideal first in France, in the 1820s, when Henri de Saint-Simon envisioned the ideal society as one large factory. His followers chose the word socialism to represent a centrally-planned society run like a cooperative business by worker-owners, and/or in conjunction with the state. The term communism also comes from France, probably back to medieval monks who shared property, living in common and feeling a sense of togetherness. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels’ theory of communism entailed social organization based on sharing property, the highest state of socialism in which all lived well socially in a stateless society.

Variations of Saint-Simon’s socialism have been formulated by many political theorists and writers: Thomas More, Louis Blanc, Eduard Bernstein, Robert Owen, Charles Fourier, Ferdinand Lassalle, Marx and Engels, Sydney Webb, George Bernard Shaw, V.I. Lenin, Leon Trotsky, Rosa Luxemberg, Emma Goldman…

Socialists disagree on how to develop socialism and even how to define it exactly. They all agree, however, that socialism’s economy is not dominated by private ownership of the means of production. Public ownership—either by the state or by worker cooperatives, or a combination—is central to its philosophy. It is also generally agreed that it is just and necessary to create a permanent state of social welfare with greater say in political-economic matters by the producers and folk at large. However, a system in which the people are the determining decision-makers has not yet been developed, neither in Russia/Soviet Union, China, Cuba, Vietnam, Korea or anywhere.

The rise of social democracy

The first social democratic party arose from union struggles and was founded by Ferdinand Lassalle, in Germany, in 1863. He was familiar with Marx and Engels’ writings. The latter founded The First International (International Workingmen’s Association) in London, the following year. They sought to unite left-wing socialists, communists, anarchists and trade unionists around class struggle and the need for a socialist revolution.

Some social democrats (S.D.) view social democracy as a “third way” while Marx and Engels maintain there can only be capitalism or socialism.  There are basically two variants of social democracy in theory. One advocates evolutionary and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism, in contrast to the revolutionary approach associated with Marxism. The other advocates economic and social state interventions to promote social justice and welfare within the framework of a capitalist economy. The latter approach was adapted by the Englishman John Keynes. President F.D. Roosevelt employed Keynesianism during the Great Depression aimed at restoring order and saving the capitalist system. In all social democratic approaches private property remains in the hands of the owner (ruling) class.

The first social democratic government in the world occurred in Finland, in 1907, eight years after the founding of the social democratic party. In 1916, S.D. won an absolute majority and governed alone for the only time.

German social democrats achieved their first government in 1918 upon the end of the First World War. Sweden had its first S.D. government in 1921. The second oldest social democrat party was led by postal worker Louis Pio in Denmark, in 1871, inspired by the Paris Commune. The social democrats formed its first government in 1924, the same year the social democratic Labour Party was elected to govern in England. Norway’s S.D. ruled first in 1928 but fell after two weeks. The party split into two, one fraction created the Communist Party. The S.D. ruled again in 1935. Iceland’s trade unions formed the social democratic party in 1916. The tiny nation took its independence from Denmark once the United States occupied it during the Second World War. The US took control of Keflavik airfield, and at its height there were 75,000 military personnel there. The social democratic party first came to rule in 1947-9.

The October Revolution in Russia (1917) was the key influence for social democratic development throughout Europe. The Russian Social Democratic Labour Party (RSDRP) was founded in Minsk, in 1898. Lenin joined it in 1902, and led the Bolshevik (majority) split at its second congress, in 1903. Bolsheviks became the Communist Party, in 1918. The Mensheviks (minority) continued as a S.D. party. The two were often at odds yet sometimes joined forces until the October Revolution.

The Bolsheviks formed a disciplined vanguard party agitating for a proletarian revolution, armed if necessary. The Mensheviks sought social democratic compromises with the “bourgeois democrats”, in which free expression would prevail as opposed to “democratic centralism”. When world war broke out Tsar Nicholas insisted on victory over Germany. He was forced to abdicate in March 1917 and a Provisional government took over. It, however, continued the war, supported by social democrats and the Social Revolutionaries. The Bolsheviks advocated an end to the war and a transition to socialism. Their slogan was: land, peace and bread.

Lenin and Trotsky led the party to victory in October (November 1917). Their hope that social democrats would oppose world war had been dashed when German social democrats supported the bourgeoisie war. A worldwide workers’ revolution was averted when social democrats in country after country, including in Russia, allied with the capitalist class. This led to the isolation of Russia.

The Nordic Model grew out of this Great Compromise between social democratic-led trade unions and wealthy property owners. In exchange for staving off socialist revolutions the capitalists granted improvements in working and living conditions for most workers in Scandinavia, eventually in Germany, England, Netherlands, and elsewhere in Europe.

The Nordic Model developed through the 1920s to the 1970s to include a large welfare state emphasizing employer and labor union institutions with unemployment insurance and pensions; transfers to households and publicly provided social services with a high rate of investment in human capital including: child care, tax supported education and health care, maternity and some paternity leave, paid vacations; and greater social and gender equality.

These producer-earned benefits dampened Western working class enthusiasm for international solidarity, especially with workers in underdeveloped nations whose work and living conditions neared slavery and even include slavery. No other nation joined Russia in its socialist experiment until after World War II.

No matter one’s analysis or opinions of Communist-led Russia and the expanded Soviet Union, one must recognize that its development was warped, in part, by constant subversion directed at it by the United States and many of its allies. From the beginning of the revolution, the US and several European allies, plus Australia, Canada, India, even Japan and China, supported the White Russian and Cossack counter-revolutionaries who wanted a return of the Tsar. The “democratic” allies sought to defeat the new Bolshevik army and to crush communism in the bud.

From May 1918 to July, 100,000 troops were sent to Vladivostok and other areas of northern Russia. The Japanese had 70,000 in Siberia to solve a “border problem” between China and Russia. The US sent 13,000 troops. Most weary allied forces withdrew by 1920 but some Japanese fought on in Siberia until 1922 and in northern Sakhalin until 1925 when finally defeated by Russia.

World War II and Marshall Plan

Social democracy had such an impact on workers in much of Europe that Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini were forced to include many of its benefits for “authentic” Italians and non-Jew Arian Germans in their nationalist, racist and warring parties. Hitler even falsely named his party in that spirit: National Socialist German Worker’s Party. Its first priority was to draw workers away from communism and into völkisch (folk) nationalism. While Nazis killed communists, its political strategy initially focused on anti-business and anti-capitalist rhetoric, later played down in order to gain support of industrial property owners.

Italian Fascism promoted a corporatist economic system whereby employer and employee syndicates associated to collectively represent the nation's economic producers and owners, which were to work alongside the state to set national economic policy, and resolve class conflict.

As World War II approached, most social democratic parties did not support the peace policies of the Lenin-wing of the social democratic party (soon to become the Communist Party), and its associated parties throughout the world. Nor did social democratic parties in many countries protest the rise of fascism or even the fascist take-over of their nations. In Denmark, for instance, the Nazi-collaborationist government was led by the Social Democratic Party, under the leadership of its “father” Thorvald Stauning. He was succeeded by S.D. Wilhelm Buhl. Both turned over Communists and other liberation fighters to the Nazi party, even more than asked for. The Nazis imprisoned 6000 civilians, tortured many, and executed 850. Buhl also encouraged workers to snitch on patriotic saboteurs, and to take jobs in Germany, thus aiding the Nazi war effort. Nevertheless, upon the end of the war, Buhl was made provisional prime minister.

Denmark was effectively liberated on May 5th by British forces led by Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. Only four days later the Russian Army occupied the Danish island of Bornholm after intense fighting with the Germans. Russians voluntarily left the island a year later.

After the liberation there was uncertainty about how the allies would regard Denmark, which had deliberately declined to take up the fight, as opposed to Norwegians. Eventually Denmark was accepted as an ally, mainly due to allied appreciation for the widespread Communist-led resistance to the German occupation during the last years of the war. (1)

Despite the fact that Russia was the main victor of the war, and suffered the greatest casualties, and that it was British troops who first entered Denmark, the social democrats and Danes generally fell in love with the United States, which has devastating consequences today (more on that later).
The loss of over 60 million people (some researchers say 80 million) devastated many countries, especially the Soviet Union. It lost 13.7% of its population, some 27 million people, about 16 million civilians. Germany lost between five and eight million people, 7-11% of its population. Despite torrential bombings, the UK lost only one percent of its people, around half-a-million. About three percent of China’s population was killed, between 15 and 20 million people, three-fourths of them civilians. By contrast, the US lost only 0.32% of its population, about 420,000, nearly all military. In 1940, there were 2.3 billion people. The war took three percent of them.

Nevertheless, World War II was an economic boom for the USA. Its weapons, oil, steel, auto, and construction industries grew manifold. Their surplus financed the Marshall Plan to rebuild the capitalist economies of Western Europe and prevent socialist-communist electoral victories. This policy succeeded, especially in Greece and Italy where a majority of workers were leftist.

Europe’s two largest political parties, the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats, adopted and even extended welfare benefits enabled by the Marshall Plan. The “free market” has since largely replaced the state as the politically determining force, and the welfare model is no longer viewed as necessary. Globalization brings unprecedented profits to capital, and their friendly governments allow even greater profits by helping the largest companies and rich individuals to avoid paying taxes in a myriad of ways: by granting them enormous tax cuts, ignoring their tax shelters and bogus companies, and by legal or semi-legal loopholes. Capitalists can also easily avoid paying taxes and decent wages by packing up businesses in the Western part of the world and moving them to countries where governments allow slave wages and unhealthy conditions.

The European Union has moved towards a United States of Europe in which major monopolies are assisted in attacking the historic results of workers struggles, and forging a state of permanent fear of losing jobs and social benefits. These fears are enhanced by terrorist attacks committed by desperate and fanatic people whose countries have been invaded and sacked by NATO/coalition of the willing armies, and the flooding of refugees fleeing these wars. EU has come to mean the loss of national sovereignty, un-payable debts, the destruction and privatization of the public sector—the abandonment of the Nordic Model.

All that moved the majority of Brits to vote themselves out of the EU. This historic rejection, on June 23, 2016, opened the way for radical movements rightist and leftist. I believe that those of us who are fed enough have a co-responsibility to stop this “inhumanity” human beings have created or Armageddon will overwhelm us and the planet. That means, at the least, that the inhuman economic system known as capitalism, which requires never-ending profit over the needs of people must be replaced by a humane economic system based on cooperation and sharing.

My upcoming themes, subsequent to the Nordic Model breakdown, include: permanent state of war—US/NATO/Israel—making Russia a boogey man once again; the dilemma of China; the crisis in EU; the rich avoiding taxes; France’s renewed uproar/Greece/Syrisa, Spain/Podemos; the re-colonization of Africa; the decline of progressive governments in Latin America, and the demise of the Cuban revolution; the crazy elections in the US—more fear, more opportunities; people’s grass roots efforts against these evils, and hope for a world without injustice, inequality and wars.

Next: Sweden-Finland-Norway Globalizaiton Blues

(1) The social democratic-led government could have waylaid the Nazi invasion of Norway, giving Norwegians time to put up greater resistance, had it sabotaged the airport at Aalborg where the Nazis would launch their attack. Ironically, it took a right-wing liberal Prime Minister, and later NATO chief, Anders Fogh Rassmussen, to be the first Danish leader to officially apologize for Denmark’s collaboration with the Nazis. As reported by the New York Times, August 30, 2003, he asserted this was ''morally unjustifiable.'' In a speech for the 60th anniversary of the end of the 1940-43 collaborationist government, Rasmussen said, ''If everyone in Europe—if the Americans and the Russians—had thought the same as the Danish lawmakers, then Hitler would have won the war.'' Nazi troops invaded on April 9, 1940 and the government immediately surrendered.

 Ron Ridenour, journalists and activist, is the author of six books on Cuba including: “Backfire: The CIA’s Biggest Burn”, Cuba Beyond the Crossroads with Theodore MacDonald, and Cuba at Sea, plus other books such as "Yankee Sandinistas", “Sounds of Venezuela”, and “Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka”. His most recent book is the authoritative volume THE RUSSIAN PEACE THREAT (Punto Press). He has lived and worked in Latin America including in Cuba 1988-96 (Cuba's Editorial José Martí and Prensa Latina), and in Denmark, Iceland, Japan, and India. www.ronridenour.com; email: ronrorama@gmail.com. He now resides in Denmark.


Contrary to premature obits, history & Marxist ideology are very much alive


Editor's Note: This essay, Why we are Marxists, written by Alan Woods, a very prolific leading British Marxist and teacher of Marxism, is a fine and very accessible vehicle to those who wish to grasp what Marxism is, where it came from and what it attempts to solve. Woods is however a Trotskyist, and naturally he often writes from that perspective. At TGP we are not Trotskyists and in fact disagree with that Marxist faction in some important respects, including their characterization of the USSR, Stalin, China, Maoism, contemporary China (denounced as purely a degenerate, bureauctatised capitalist state), and a multitude of other subjects. That said, Trotkyists are usually great didacts, and very often publish briliant analyses on specific topics we entirely endorse. So, yes, we have differences, some very serious, but when the purpose is to educate the public at large, we take what is good (in our view), dismiss what we regard as  sectarian or misguided, and use the rest, to the greater enrichment of all.—PG

Delegates II Congress of the Comintern: Lev Karakhan (second from left), Karl Radek (third, smoking), Nikolai Bukharin (fifth), Mikhail Lashevich (seventh, form), Maxim Gorky (ninth, shaved), Vladimir Lenin (tenth, hands in pockets), Sergey Zorin (eleventh in the Hat), Grigory Zinoviev (thirteenth, hands behind his back), Maria Ilyinichna Ulyanova (nineteen white blouse) and Abram Belenky (in a hat). (April/1924)

Alan Woods explains Marxism

By Alan Woods •. Originally

Why We Are Marxists

Capitalism is in its deepest crisis in its history. It is an economic, social and political crisis, which is now expressing itself in political turmoil and growing class struggle across the globe. While the ruling class attempts to bury Marxism, it has in fact never been so relevant as it is today. In this updated article Alan Woods explains the essence of Marxism and its role today.In 1992 Francis Fukuyama published a book entitled The End of History and the Last Man, which became an instant best-seller. In it he loudly proclaimed the demise of socialism, communism and Marxism and the definitive triumph of market economics and bourgeois democracy. The fall of the Soviet Union meant that henceforth only one system was possible: the capitalist market economy, and in that sense, history had ended.[If you agree with the ideas presented here, join the International Marxist Tendency and help build a revolutionary movement to overthrow capitalism!]This idea seemed to be confirmed by the apparent success of the market economy, marked by successive years of soaring profits and virtually uninterrupted economic growth. Politicians, central bankers and Wall Street managers were convinced that they had finally tamed the cyclical nature of capitalist development. Everything was for the best in the best of all capitalist worlds.

But history is not so easily disposed of. Since then the wheel of history has turned 180 degrees. Only sixteen years after the appearance of Fukuyama’s book the crisis of 2008 brought the entire edifice of global capitalism to the point of collapse, plunging the world into the deepest crisis since the 1930s. And it is still struggling to extricate itself from the abyss.

Every one of the confident predictions of Fukuyama has been falsified by events. Before the collapse of 2008 the bourgeois economists boasted that there would be no more boom and slump, that the cycle had been abolished. They had worked out a wonderful new theory called the “efficient market hypothesis”, according to which, left to itself, the market would solve everything.

Actually, there is nothing new about this idea. It is merely a repetition of the old idea contained in Say’s Law, that in a market economy supply and demand will balance each other, thus rendering impossible a crisis of overproduction. Marx demolished that nonsense over a century ago. To the assertion that “sooner or later” market forces will sort everything out, John Maynard Keynes issued the celebrated reply, “In the long run we’re all dead.”

Today not one stone upon another remains of the old illusions. The bourgeoisie and its strategists are in a state of the deepest depression. In the 1930s, Trotsky said that the bourgeoisie was “tobogganing to disaster with its eyes closed.” These words are precisely applicable to the present situation. They could have been written yesterday.

It is becoming increasingly clear that capitalism has exhausted its progressive potential. Instead of developing industry, science and technology, it is steadily undermining them. Nobody any more believes the constant assurances that we are on the verge of an economic recovery. The productive forces stagnate or decline, factories are closed as if they were matchboxes, and millions are thrown out of work.

All these are symptoms that show that the development of the productive forces on a world scale has gone beyond the narrow limits of private property and the nation state. That is the most fundamental reason for the present crisis, which has exposed the bankruptcy of capitalism in the most literal sense of the word.

Everywhere the symptoms of crisis are manifesting themselves, economically, socially and politically. The huge Chinese economy, which played an important role in boosting world trade and economic growth, is slowing sharply, while Japan is stagnant. The so-called emerging economies are all in crisis to one extent or another. The USA is passing through a social and political crisis that has no precedent in modern times.

On the other side of the Atlantic European capitalism is in a critical state. The plight of Greece provides graphic confirmation of the diseased state of European capitalism. But Portugal and Spain are not much better. And France and Italy are not far behind them. Following its decision to withdraw from the EU, Britain, which used to be seen as one of the most stable countries in Europe has entered a downward spiral of economic crisis, a falling pound and chronic political instability.

The bourgeois economists and politicians, and, above all, all the reformists, are desperately seeking signs of revival to get out of this crisis. They look to the recovery of the business cycle as salvation. The leaders of the working class, the trade union leaders and the Social Democratic leaders believe that this crisis is something temporary. They imagine it can be solved by making some adjustments to the existing system, that all that is needed is more control and regulation, and that we can return to the previous conditions.

But this crisis is not a normal crisis, it is not temporary. It marks a fundamental turning point in the process, the point at which capitalism has reached a historical dead end. The best that can be expected is a weak recovery, accompanied by high unemployment and a long period of austerity, cuts and falling living standards.

The crisis of bourgeois ideology

[dropcap]M[/dropcap]arxism is in the first place a philosophy and a world outlook. In the philosophical writings of Marx and Engels we do not find a closed philosophical system, but a series of brilliant insights and pointers, which, if they were developed, would provide a valuable addition to the methodological armoury of science.

Nowhere is the crisis of bourgeois ideology clearer than in the realm of philosophy. In its early stages, when the bourgeoisie stood for progress, it was capable of producing great thinkers: Hobbes and Locke, Kant and Hegel. But in the epoch of its senile decay, the bourgeoisie is incapable of producing great ideas. In fact, it is not capable of producing any new ideas at all.

The capitalist system is an anarchic system, based on greed and the constant search for new ways of exploiting and raping the planet in order to increase the wealth and power of a few. The big corporations have shown a reckless disregard for the environment. In their frantic search for profit they have destroyed the rain forests, poisoned the seas, exterminated species of plants and animals and contaminated the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat.
Since the modern bourgeoisie is incapable of bold generalisations, it denies the very concept of ideology. That is why the post-modernists talk of the “end of ideology”. They deny the concept of progress simply because under capitalism no further progress is possible. Engels once wrote: “Philosophy and the study of the actual world have the same relation to one another as onanism and sexual love.” Modern bourgeois philosophy prefers the former to the latter. In its obsession to combat Marxism, it has dragged philosophy back to the worst period of its old, outworn and sterile past.

Dialectical materialism is a dynamic view of understanding the workings of nature, society and thought. Far from being an outmoded idea of the 19th century, it is a strikingly modern view of nature and society. Dialectics does away with the fixed, rigid, lifeless way of looking at things that was characteristic of the old mechanical school of classical physics. It shows that under certain circumstances things can turn into their opposite.

The dialectical notion that gradual accumulation of small changes can at a critical point become transformed into a gigantic leap received a striking confirmation in modern chaos theory and its derivatives. Chaos theory put an end to the kind of narrow mechanical reductive determinism that dominated science for over a hundred years. Already in the 19th century Marxist dialectics was an anticipation of what chaos theory now expresses mathematically: the inter-relatedness of things, the organic nature of relations between different entities and processes.

The study of phase transitions constitutes one of the most important areas of contemporary physics. There are an infinite number of examples of the same phenomenon. The transformation of quantity into quality is a universal law. In his book Ubiquity the North American scientist Mark Buchanan shows this in phenomena as diverse as heart attacks, avalanches, forest fires, the rise and fall of animal populations, stock exchange crises, wars, and even changes in fashion and schools of art. Even more astonishing, these events can be expressed as a mathematical formula known as a power law.

These remarkable discoveries were anticipated long ago by Marx and Engels, who put the dialectical philosophy of Hegel on a rational (that is, materialist) basis. In his Logic (1813) Hegel wrote: “It has become a common jest in history to let great effects arise from small causes.” This was long before the “butterfly effect” was ever heard of. Like volcano eruptions and earthquakes, revolutions are the result of a slow accumulation of contradictions over a long period. The process eventually reaches a critical point at which a sudden leap occurs.

Historical materialism

Engels was not only a great radical activist and intellectual. He was the father of radical sociology.

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]very social system believes that it represents the only possible form of existence for human beings, that its institutions, its religion, its morality are the last word that can be spoken. That is what the cannibals, the Egyptian priests, Marie Antoinette and Tsar Nicolas all fervently believed. And that is what Francis Fukuyama wished to demonstrate when he assured us, without the slightest basis, that the so-called system of “free enterprise” is the only possible system—just when it is beginning to sink.

Just as Charles Darwin explains that species are not immutable, and that they possess a past, a present and a future, changing and evolving, so Marx and Engels explain that a given social system is not something eternally fixed. The analogy between society and nature is, of course, only approximate. But even the most superficial examination of history shows that the gradualist interpretation is baseless. Society, like nature, knows long periods of slow and gradual change, but also here the line is interrupted by explosive developments – wars and revolutions, in which the process of change is enormously accelerated. In fact, it is these events that act as the main motor force of historical development.

The root cause of revolutionary changes is the fact that a particular socio-economic system has reached its limits and is unable to develop the productive forces as before. Marxism analyses the hidden mainsprings that lie behind the development of human society from the earliest tribal societies up to the modern day. The materialist conception of history enables us to understand history, not as a series of unconnected and unforeseen incidents, but rather as part of a clearly understood and interrelated process. It is a series of actions and reactions which cover politics, economics and the whole spectrum of social development.

The relationship between all these phenomena is a complex dialectical relationship. Very often attempts are made to discredit Marxism by resorting to a caricature of its method of historical analysis. The usual distortion is that Marx and Engels “reduced everything to economics.” This patent absurdity was answered many times by Marx and Engels, as in the following extract to Engels’ letter to Bloch:

“According to the materialist conception of history, the ultimate determining element in history is the production and reproduction of life. More than this neither Marx nor myself have asserted. Hence, if somebody twists this into saying that the economic element is the only determining one, he transforms that proposition into a meaningless, abstract and senseless phrase.”

The Communist Manifesto

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he most modern book that one can read today is the Communist Manifesto, written in 1848. True, this or that detail would have to be changed, but in all the fundamentals, the ideas of the Communist Manifesto are as relevant and true today as when they were first written. By contrast, the immense majority of the books written one and a half centuries ago are today merely of historical interest. What is truly amazing is just how little of what the Manifesto says needs to be changed over a century and a half after it was published. By contrast, our modern “experts” would be ashamed to read today what they wrote only yesterday.

What is most striking about the Manifesto is the way in which it anticipates the most fundamental phenomena which occupy our attention on a world scale at the present time. Let us consider one example. At the time when Marx and Engels were writing, the world of the big multinational companies was still the music of a very distant future. Despite this, they explained how “free enterprise” and competition would inevitably lead to the concentration of capital and the monopolisation of the productive forces.

It is frankly comical to read the statements made by the defenders of the “market” concerning Marx’s alleged mistake on this question, when in reality it was precisely one of his most brilliant and accurate predictions. Today it is an absolutely indisputable fact that the process of concentration of capital foreseen by Marx has occurred, is occurring, and indeed has reached unprecedented levels in the course of the last few decades.

For decades the bourgeois sociologists attempted to disprove these assertions and “prove” that society was becoming more equal and that, consequently, the class struggle was as antiquated as the handloom and the wooden plough. The working class had disappeared, they said, and we were all middle class. As for the concentration of capital, the future was with small businesses, and “small is beautiful”.

How ironic these claims sound today! The entire world economy is now dominated by no more than 200 giant companies, the great majority of which are based in the USA. The process of monopolisation has reached unprecedented proportions. The world’s biggest corporations have wealth that far exceeds that of many nation states – a striking illustration of the growing power of big business. A study by the anti-poverty charity Global Justice Now found that the number of businesses in the top 100 economic entities jumped to 69 in 2015 from 63 in the previous year.

Just 147 corporations which form a “super entity” have control of 40% of the world’s wealth. These mega-corporations are the real rulers of the global economy. The 10 biggest corporations – including Walmart, Apple and Shell – make more money than most countries in the world combined. The value of the top 10 corporations was $285tn (£215tn), which is greater than the $280tn worth of the bottom 180 countries, including Ireland, Indonesia, Israel, Colombia, Greece, South Africa, Iraq and Vietnam.

Lenin pointed out that in the imperialist (monopoly-capitalist) stage of development, economic power is concentrated in the hands of the big banks. That analysis is completely confirmed by the present situation. The world economy is dominated by finance capital. The Swiss Federal Institute (SFI) in Zurich released a study entitled “The Network of Global Corporate Control” that proves a small consortium of corporations – mainly banks – runs the world.

The most powerful banks include:

• Barclays • Goldman Sachs • JPMorgan Chase & Co • Vanguard Group • UBS • Deutsche Bank • Bank of New York Mellon Corp • Morgan Stanley • Bank of America Corp • Société Générale

The speculative activities of these powerful financial institutions, which are closely connected by a complex web of investment schemes, derivatives and the like, was the catalyst for global financial collapse. James Glattfelder, complex systems theorist at the SFI, explains: “In effect, less than one per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network.”

The concentration of capital is accompanied by a constant increase in inequality. In all countries the share of profits in the national income is at a record high level, while the share of wages is at a record low. Global inequality is growing, with half the world’s wealth now in the hands of just 1% of the population.

Like a band of voracious cannibals, these gigantic companies are continually devouring each other in mergers and take-overs, where billions of dollars are squandered in a frantic attempt to increase the size and profitability of the big monopolies. This feverish activity does not signify a real development of the productive forces, but the opposite. This corporate cannibalism is inevitably followed by asset-stripping, factory closures and sackings – that is, by the wholesale and wanton destruction of means of production and the sacrifice of thousands of jobs on the altar of Profit.

While preaching the need for austerity, the bankers and capitalists are continuously enriching themselves, extracting record amounts of surplus value from the working class. In the USA the workers are producing on average a third more than ten years ago, yet real wages stagnate or fall in real terms. Profits have been booming and the wealthy are becoming ever wealthier at the expense of the working class.


Karl Marx with daughter Jenny.

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]et us take another, even more striking example: globalisation. The crushing domination of the world market is the most important manifestation of our epoch, and this is supposed to be a recent discovery. In fact, globalisation was predicted and explained by Marx and Engels over 150 years ago. In the Preamble to this remarkable document we read the following:

“The bourgeoisie has through its exploitation of the world market given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country. To the great chagrin of Reactionists, it has drawn from under the feet of industry the national ground on which it stood. All old-established national industries have been destroyed or are daily being destroyed. They are dislodged by new industries, whose introduction becomes a life and death question for all civilised nations, by industries that no longer work up indigenous raw material, but raw material drawn from the remotest zones; industries whose products are consumed, not only at home, but in every quarter of the globe. In place of the old wants, satisfied by the production of the country, we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes. In place of the old local and national seclusion and self-sufficiency, we have intercourse in every direction, universal inter-dependence of nations. And as in material, so also in intellectual production. The intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.”

Today this analysis has been brilliantly confirmed. The crushing domination of the world market is one of the most decisive features of the present epoch. Yet when the Manifesto was written, there was practically no empirical data to support such a hypothesis. The only really developed capitalist economy was England. The infant industries of France and Germany (the latter did not even exist as a united entity) still sheltered behind high tariff walls – a fact which is conveniently forgotten today, as Western governments and economists deliver stern lectures to the rest of the world on the need to open up their economies.

So-called globalization is an expression of the inevitable tendency of capitalism to go beyond the narrow limits of the national market and develop and intensify an international division of labour. This opens up a dazzling perspective of future prosperity and co-operation between al the peoples of the world. But under capitalism, this marvellous potential for human development is forced into the straitjacket of production for profit. Far from enhancing the prospects for economic and social advancement, it becomes a finished recipe for the plunder of the entire planet in the interests of giant corporations. Far from lessening the contradictions and reducing the risk of wars and conflicts, it has intensified them, causing one war after another.

On a world scale the results of globalised “market economics” are horrifying. In 2000 the richest 200 people had as much wealth as the 2 billion poorest. According to the figures of the UN, 1.2 billion people are living on less than two dollars a day. Of these, eight million men, women and children die every year because they do not have enough money to survive. Everybody agrees that the murder of six million people in the Nazi Holocaust was a terrible crime against humanity, but here we have a silent Holocaust that kills eight million innocent people every year and nobody has anything to say on the subject.

Alongside the most appalling misery and human suffering there is an orgy of obscene money-making and ostentatious wealth. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index the wealthiest 30 people in the world control a staggering portion of the world economy: $1.23 trillion. That is more than the annual GDP of Spain, Mexico, or Turkey.

Eighteen from this group are from the USA. The world’s eight richest billionaires control the same wealth between them as the poorest half of the globe’s population, the most striking symptom of an ever-increasing and dangerous concentration of wealth. The charity Oxfam, which published the figures, said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of the 3.6 billion poorest people in the world, 50% of the world population..

Apart from Gates, Amancio Ortega, the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, and Warren Buffet, the big-time investor and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway make up the group.

Others on the list are Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecoms tycoon and owner of conglomerate Grupo Carso; Jeff Bezos: the founder of Amazon; Mark Zuckerberg: the founder of Facebook; Larry Ellison, chief executive of US tech firm Oracle; and Michael Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York and founder and owner of the Bloomberg news and financial information service.

For a rational plan of production

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he need to harmonise the vast resources of our planet through a rational plan of production has become an absolute necessity. The capitalist system is an anarchic system, based on greed and the constant search for new ways of exploiting and raping the planet in order to increase the wealth and power of a few. The big corporations have shown a reckless disregard for the environment. In their frantic search for profit they have destroyed the rain forests, poisoned the seas, exterminated species of plants and animals and contaminated the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. The continuation of the capitalist system constitutes a deadly threat to the planet we live in and the very future existence of the human race.

Objectively speaking, all the conditions exist for solving every one of the problems that face us. The human race holds in its hands all the necessary technological and scientific means for eradicating poverty, disease, unemployment, hunger, homelessness and all the other evils that cause endless misery, wars and conflict. If this is not done, it is not because it cannot be done, but because we have run up against the limitations of an economic system based purely on profit.

The needs of humanity do not enter into the serious calculations of the bankers and capitalists who rule the planet. This is the central question, the answer to which will determine the future of the human race. The charity Oxfam calls for a new economic model to reverse the inexorable trend towards inequality. But what is needed is not tinkering with the system but its complete overthrow.

It was the historic task of the bourgeoisie to sweep away all the barriers that prevented the development of the productive forces under feudalism: the local taxes, currencies and tariff barriers, the endless tolls that hindered the free development of trade, the parochial narrowness and the idiocy of rural life. The great conquest of the bourgeoisie was the establishment of the national market and, on that basis, the nation state in the modern sense of the word.

But the development of the productive forces under capitalism has long ago transcended the narrow limits of the national market, which now has become transformed into a barrier to economic development, just as the old local particularisms of feudalism were in the past. The advent of globalization is merely an expression of the fact that the nation state has outlived its usefulness and become an obstacle in the path of human progress.

The two main barriers to the development of humankind are: on the one hand, private ownership of the means of production and on the other hand, that obsolete remnant of barbarism, the nation state. It is the historic task of the proletariat to tear down these barriers to the progress of civilization. Private ownership will be replaced by a democratic plan of production. And the nation state will be consigned to a lumber-room in the museum of historical antiquities.

The socialist revolution will sweep aside all national barriers and free the vast potential for the development of the productive forces by creating a World Socialist Federation that will pool the limitless resources of our planet in a planned and harmonious manner to satisfy the needs of all humanity, not the greed of a few super-rich parasites.

Class struggle

[dropcap]H[/dropcap]istorical materialism teaches us that conditions determine consciousness. Idealists have always presented consciousness as the motor force of all human progress. But even the most superficial study of history shows that human consciousness always tends to lag behind events. Far from being revolutionary, it is innately and profoundly conservative.

Most people do not like the idea of change and still less of a violent upheaval that transforms existing conditions. They tend to cling to the familiar ideas, the well-known institutions, the traditional morality, religion and values of the existing social order. But dialectically, things change into their opposite. Sooner or later, consciousness will be brought into line with reality in an explosive manner. That is precisely what a revolution is.

Marxism explains that in the final analysis, the key to all social development is the development of the productive forces. As long as society is going forward, that is to say, as long as it is capable of developing industry, agriculture, science and technology, it is seen to be viable by the great majority of people. Under such conditions, men and women do not generally question the existing society, its morality and laws. On the contrary, they are seen as something natural and inevitable: as natural and inevitable as the rising and setting of the sun.

Great events are necessary to permit the masses to throw off the heavy burden of tradition, habit and routine and to embrace new ideas. Such is the position taken by the materialist conception of history, which was brilliantly expressed by Karl Marx in the celebrated phrase “social being determines consciousness.” It takes great events to expose the unsoundness of the old order and convince the masses of the need for its complete overthrow. This process is not automatic and takes time.

In the past period it appeared that the class struggle in Europe was a thing of the past. But now all the accumulated contradictions are coming to the surface, preparing the way for an explosion of the class struggle everywhere. Everywhere, including in the United States, stormy events are being prepared. Sharp and sudden changes are implicit in the situation.

When Marx and Engels wrote the Manifesto, they were two young men, 29 and 27 years old respectively. They were writing in a period of black reaction. The working class was apparently immobile. The Manifesto itself was written in Brussels, where its authors had been forced to flee as political refugees. And yet at the very moment when the Communist Manifesto first saw the light of day in February 1848, revolution had already erupted onto the streets of Paris, and over the following months had spread like wildfire through virtually the whole of Europe.

We are entering into a most convulsive period which will last for some years, similar to the period in Spain from 1930 to 1937. There will be defeats and setbacks, but under these conditions the masses will learn very fast. Of course, we must not exaggerate: we are still in the early beginnings of a process of radicalisation. But it is very clear here that we are witnessing the beginning of a change of consciousness of the masses. A growing number of people are questioning capitalism. They are open to the ideas of Marxism in a way that was not the case before. In the coming period ideas that were confined to small groups of revolutionaries will be eagerly followed by millions.

We can therefore answer Mr. Fukuyama as follows: history has not ended. In fact, it has hardly begun. When future generations look back at our present “civilisation”, they will have approximately the same attitude that we adopt towards cannibalism. The prior condition for attaining a higher level of human development is the ending of capitalist anarchy and the establishment of a rational and democratic plan of production in which men and women can take their lives and destinies into their own hands.

“This is an impossible Utopia!” we will be told by self-styled “realists”. But what is utterly unrealistic is to imagine that the problems facing humanity can be solved on the basis of the present system that has brought the world to its present sorry state. To say that humanity is incapable of finding a better alternative to the laws of the jungle is a monstrous libel on the human race.

By harnessing the colossal potential of science and technology, freeing them from the abominable shackles of private ownership and the nation state, it will be possible to solve all the problems that oppress our world and threaten it with destruction. Real human history will only commence when men and women have put an end to capitalist slavery and taken the first steps towards the realm of freedom.

London, June 16, 2017


The United States of Inequality
By Andre Damon, Senior Editor for wsws.org

20 December 2016

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]arlier this month, economists Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, leading experts on global inequality, released a groundbreaking study on the growth of income inequality in the United States between 1946 and 2016.

While the economists’ earlier studies made substantial advances in documenting inequality in the United States, the most unequal developed country in the world, this is the first survey claiming to “capture 100 percent of national income,” including the impact of taxation, social programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and income from capital gains.

The result is a fuller picture of social inequality in the United States than any previous attempts. The conclusions are staggering, revealing that over the course of the past four decades there has occurred one of the most rapid upward redistributions of income in modern history.

The economists found that the pre-tax share of national income received by the bottom half of the US population has been cut nearly in half since 1980, from 20 percent to 12 percent, while the income share of the top one percent has nearly doubled, from 12 percent to 20 percent. “The two groups have basically switched their income shares,” the authors note, “with 8 points of national income transferred from the bottom 50 percent to the top 1 percent.”

The study documents a sharp change between 1946-1980 and 1980 to the present. In the first period, the pre-tax incomes of the bottom 50 percent of earners more than doubled, growing by 102 percent, while the incomes of the top 1 percent increased by only 47 percent and the top 0.001 percent by 57 percent.

Since 1980, however, the incomes of the bottom 50 percent of earners have stagnated at about $16,000 a year (in current dollars), while the incomes of the top 1 percent have grown by 205 percent, and the top 0.001 percent by 636 percent.

After accounting for the impact of various tax credits and social programs, the economists found that the incomes of the bottom half of income earners increased by 21 percent since the 1980s. They note, however, that none of this increase has gone into disposable income. Rather, it is almost entirely the result of increased health care payouts from Medicare, which has simply been absorbed by the pharmaceutical giants and insurance companies engaged in price-gouging for vital health care services.

The principal factor in the surge in income inequality, particularly since 2000, has been the growth in “capital income,” that is, the stock market. The inflation of stock market bubbles has been the primary form through which the ruling class and its political representatives have engineered a massive transfer of wealth.

The figures contained in the report by Piketty, Saez and Zucman reflect historical transformations in the structure of American capitalism and class relations in the United States. The colossal growth of social inequality is bound up with the decay of American capitalism and decline in its world economic position.

Historians have often remarked that during its early days, the United States was the most socially egalitarian region of the Western world. The growth of monopolization and finance capital in the latter part of the 19th century transformed America into a land of “robber barons” at one pole and workers and immigrants whose living conditions were exposed in such works as Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives, published in 1890, and Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle of 1906.

But along with these processes came the growth of the workers’ movement, which, largely through the efforts of socialists, fought to organize the American working class across its myriad ethnic, religious and regional divisions. The Russian Revolution of 1917 gave new impetus to these struggles, including the militant labor actions of the 1930s that led to the formation of the industrial unions.

The American ruling class, alarmed by the prospect that American workers would follow the example set by the Bolsheviks, and having at its disposal the economic might of the world’s largest and most advanced industrial economy, set out on a program of social reform exemplified by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which introduced Social Security and curbed the worst abuses of Wall Street.

The United States emerged from the Second World War as the dominant global power, commanding more than 50 percent of world economic output. By the late 1960s, however, the economic domination of American capitalism began to decline, as the economies of Europe and Asia were rebuilt. A series of economic and political crises culminated in the combination of economic stagnation and inflation of the 1970s.

The US ruling class responded by embarking on a policy of class war, deindustrialization and financialization. With President Jimmy Carter’s appointment of Paul Volcker to head the Federal Reserve in 1979, the US central bank threw the United States into a manufactured recession. After coming to power in 1981, Ronald Reagan launched a full-scale social counterrevolution, initiated by the breaking of the PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike and firing and blacklisting of the strikers. Similar policies were pursued by the ruling classes throughout the world.

The trade unions played a vital role in facilitating this offensive, isolating and betraying every attempt at resistance by the working class throughout the 1980s and incorporating themselves into the structure of corporate management and the state. By the end of the decade, the unions had transformed themselves, for all practical purposes, into arms of the companies and the government. The bureaucratic elites that dominated them devoted all their efforts to suppressing and sabotaging working class struggle.

Every subsequent administration, Democratic and Republican alike, has pursued policies that promote social inequality, including successive rounds of financial deregulation, repeated tax cuts for corporations and top income earners, the slashing of social programs, and the elimination of workplace protections.

After the 2008 financial crisis, the Obama administration accelerated these processes. The White House continued and expanded the bank bailouts initiated under the Bush administration and helped funnel trillions of dollars to Wall Street through the Federal Reserve’s “quantitative easing” programs, while working, as in the 2009 auto restructuring, to slash wages.

Under the incoming administration of President-elect Trump, the offensive against the working class will sharply intensify. The election of Trump represents something new. He has staffed his cabinet with billionaires, far-right, pro-business ideologues, and generals—all of them dedicated to the impoverishment of the working class and the ever more violent suppression of popular opposition.

But Trump does not emerge from nowhere. He is not some aberration. Rather, he is the noxious culmination of the decay of American capitalism, growth of unprecedented levels of social inequality and collapse of American democracy.

These same processes have created the objective foundations for socialist revolution. In the mid-1990s, when the Workers League in the US and the sections of the International Committee of the Fourth International in the rest of the world began to transform themselves from leagues into parties, adopting the name Socialist Equality Party, we recognized the immense revolutionary significance of “the widening gap between a small percentage of the population that enjoys unprecedented wealth and the broad mass of the working population that lives in varying degrees of economic uncertainty and distress.”

The past two decades have confirmed this prognosis. The fight against social inequality requires the building of a new political leadership, embodied in the SEP, to organize and unify the struggles of the working class on the basis of a revolutionary program. The capitalist profit system must be replaced with a society based on equality, international planning and democratic control of production—that is, socialism.

—Andre Damon

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Make every homeless tranny

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Revolutionary wisdom

Words from an Irish patriot—


People in the center are cowards.
They are sheep.
They don’t want to offend, or to think. They have no opinions of their own. They agree with the last person they spoke with.
And they presume that the center is safe.
How can anyone criticize a moderate?
Easily, it turns out.
Moderates are the casualties in all conflicts.
They are the enemy of both the right and the left.
They are without morality, conscience, principles, or common sense.
They are like a stumbling drunk in the middle of a highway, at risk of being run over by cars going in both directions.

—Roland Vincent, Armory of the Revolution






[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s the commentary below suggests, the Western world is indeed facing a grim, no-win dilemma. Not so the non-West, especially China.

The power and influence of the West’s long-dominant Empire is visibly waning, along with its predatory neoliberal global order. What has risen to challenge it on its home ground is not socialism or its humane impulses to care for the 99%, and not the 1%. The heyday of that effort has come and gone.

The new, emerging challenger to the status quo is a right-wing “nationalism” that’s crude, ugly, vindictive. Anti-foreigner, anti-women, anti-everything-that’s-not-us, it is fueled by the frustrated aspirations of have-nots – the angry losers under the neoliberal order. They are the karmic payback for the depredations of the Empire’s elites.

A police officer walks past a new high-speed inter-city train that connects Shanghai and Hangzhou in Shanghai, China on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. The Shanghai-Hangzhou high-speed railway started operating today, shortening the travel time from 1.5 hours to 45 minutes. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

The proof is the stunning triumphs of the xenophobic right over the past couple of years – Brexit, and electoral victories from the US, Italy and Austria to Hungary, Poland and now, Brazil. Even Angela Merkel, that durable icon of neoliberalism, is fading into the sunset. Today’s “America First” has distinct echoes of history’s “Deutschland über alles.”

If the West is in a deep funk, it’s an entirely different story elsewhere. Especially in Asia, hope and optimism prevail. Increasingly pulled into the orbit of its dynamic epicenter, China, the region leads the world in economic growth. It has also matched or surpassed the West in many other areas of human endeavor and achievement.

Above all, Asia has accomplished this over nearly seven decades without the toxic clash of ideologies that has so devastated the West (and its imperial territories) in modern times. In essence, Asians in the post WW2 era haven’t given a hoot about “isms” – capitalism, socialism, fascism, democratic liberalism, etc.

Excited young people go shopping on the street of Hong Kong

China's modern cities have sprung up in less than a generation, announcing the arrival of a far more rational socioeconomic system.

Essentially pragmatists, Asians care about what works, what delivers results – not sweeping, romantic ideals whose aims almost always exceed real-life capabilities to deliver. The avatar of this ethos was, of course, Deng Xiaoping, Chief Architect of Reform in China. It was he who resurrected the world’s largest nation from death by ultra-left communism and put it on its continuing march to renewed greatness.

In coining his most famous policy guideline, Deng was only expressing something already in the Chinese, and Asian, DNA: It doesn’t matter if it’s a socialist/market-driven/democratic cat; it’s a good cat if it catches the mice. Though Deng was a committed Marxist who sought to care for the 99% of Chinese and make the nation strong & prosperous, he was also slyly subversive of communist dogma that ran against China’s realities or interests. He junked those parts and replaced them with inspirations from China’s own traditions, custom-tailored to concrete Chinese conditions. They worked like a dream. That’s the meaning of his Socialism With Chinese Characteristics. And therein lies the man’s greatness.

Down-to-earth pragmatism aside, the great force for progress in modern Asia has been nationalism. In the West, of course, the N-word has a status comparable to that of the F-word. And that’s entirely understandable … going by the Western experience. It was the clash of nationalisms that caused countless wars and deaths in Europe, culminating in the two cataclysms that are called “world wars,” but were essentially Western civil wars -- among European nationalisms. To Westerners, nationalism is one ugly beast.

Not so in Asia -- or in much of the non-Western world. Colonized or semi-colonized by Western imperialists, its peoples naturally turned to nationalism in the attempt to recover their own identities, which were erased or semi-erased under European rule. People who don’t know who or what they are, have no direction or future. Such rediscovery, whose animus was nationalism, was the essential first step in any struggle for national liberation and political independence.

So it is no accident that ALL the greatest heroes of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America are nationalists: Rizal, Aung San, Nehru, Gandhi, Sun Yat-sen, Mao, Sukarno, Lee Kuan Yew, Nasser, Nkruma, Lumumba, Castro, Bolivar. The Asian ones, at least, were less concerned about which ideology they adopted to drive their anti-colonialist causes -- and much more about whether it could “catch the mice” of national liberation and independence. Marxism proved the effective vehicle in some cases, capitalism (as well as mixed bags of various “isms”) in others.

The legacy and spirit of these giants still provide the fuel for Asia's dynamism and progress today. English-language readers don't hear much about it because the MSM neither understand nor are much interested in reporting the central role of nationalism in Asia. Naturally, Asia’s nationalisms sometimes compete with one another, and the challenge is to manage them so they don’t spiral into war. In the post-WW2 period, Asian nations have been largely successful, especially in the absence of external intervention.

As for China, it is engaged in something epochal. Domestically, it is evolving a paradigm that's neither capitalism nor socialism, which are both Western constructs from the era when the West dominated the world. The “Chinese model” will be a unique mixture of elements from socialism and capitalism, with heavy infusions from China's own Confucianist, Buddhist and Daoist heritage.

Internationally, the Beijing-inspired Belt & Road Initiative is set to link the entire EurAsian landmass and transform it into the biggest development project in the history of the world. Africa will be a part of it too. Significantly, it will be a living illustration of how nations with different cultures & values can work together for mutual benefit. It will be mankind's best hope for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable future in the 21st century.

As the West recedes and the Rest rise on the world stage, those who would evaluate international affairs solely from Western perspectives, and with Western benchmarks, will increasingly lose the plot. In the 21st century, the world needs multi-national, multi-cultural perspectives more than ever.

A fraternal comment by Patrice Greanville

[dropcap]I[/dropcap] offer the following comments to Thomas Hon Wing Polin in the spirit of comradely critique, as I very much appreciate his style of political analysis and the good will of his ideas.

Although I agree with much of what the author says in his essay above, a couple of things struck me as a bit off-kilter and deserving of special comment. While correctly castigating the rise of xenophobic, ugly nationalisms across the West, Thomas Hon Wing Polin—whose broad philosophical roots I believe encompass not just Marxian dialectics but Buddhism— credits what I suppose an enlightned form of nationalism with the emergence of Asia as a new model for wise human governance and progress. He declares (bold mine):

"Especially in Asia, hope and optimism prevail. Increasingly pulled into the orbit of its dynamic epicenter, China, the region leads the world in economic growth. It has also matched or surpassed the West in many other areas of human endeavor and achievement.

Above all, Asia has accomplished this over nearly seven decades without the toxic clash of ideologies that has so devastated the West (and its imperial territories) in modern times. In essence, Asians in the post WW2 era haven’t given a hoot about “isms” – capitalism, socialism, fascism, democratic liberalism, etc." (end quote)

This is an extraordinary assertion. For starters, the author conflates widely disparate cultures and nations, with a profound diversity of historical and economic development, into a smooth rubric, "Asia", insinuating that it has been nationalism that performed the miracle of newly-minted prosperity in an atmosphere of harmony.  Surely, while, say, Koreans, Thais, Japanese, Taiwanese, and the people of Singapore are all Asian indeed, they also present deep fissures in terms of their recent histories toward capitalism, fascism, communism, American imperialism, and not least—each other.  Thus, "nationalist" Koreans may despise "nationalist" Japanese, and the same applies to "nationalists" in Mainland China and Taiwan.  If so, these longstanding nationalist antipathies represent a brake on the success achieved so far, and not the other way around.

Now, before delving further into this topic, it's good to remember that while an embryonic nationalism already existed under mercantile feudalism, it took the capitalist revolutions of the 17th and late 18th centuries to bring this idealist, very bourgeois ideology to the fore. The point here is that being "idealist" it does not possess its own mainsprings for action, remaining in almost all cases a mask for hidden twists and turns in the class struggle. More on this below.

Thus, far from being indifferent to whether they were fascistoid, capitalist, communist or monarchic, the record shows that all of these nations—except for China—were and remain above all subject to the rules of hegemonic US imperialism, dutifully operating domestically and in foreign matters under an authoritarian, highly regimented capitalism, with some, like Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, also acting as strategic "privileged" colonies with very limited authentic sovereignty. (Likewise Singapore, which with Washington's full support also chose a Friedmanian type of sternly auhoritarian capitalism.).

The last 70 years are eloquent. Most of these less-than independent actors have obliged Washington by implementing highly hostile gestures and policies toward Beijing and its allies, the most salient cases being of course the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the encirclement and stigmatisation of China. We must ask, therefore, can simple, indigenous nationalism —unexplained by localised ruling class interests and alliances—account for this near-universal fear of and rejection of China throughout this region until fairly recent times?

In his praise of Asian nationalism, a supposedly superior strain lacking the malignancy of its Western variety, the author both highlights and downplays the fact that nationalism —when used in colonialised countries—is and has been a defensive reaction against Western colonialism/imperialism, chosen by patriots like Castro, Chavez, and Deng chiefly for reasons of expediency, as these two malignant isms have very clear and traceable roots in capitalism itself.  So, yes, nationalism has been used because it is an ideology of tribal unification and resistance quicker to communicate than class struggle, per se, but the latter has also been applied with great success in places of extreme colonial/imperial aggression, such as Vietnam, Korea and China itself.

Along the same lines, in his effort to demote class-rooted ideology as en engine of history, Thomas Hon Wing Polin appears to imply that the wars in Europe, just to take the 20th century, from the Spanish Civil War to World War 2 and beyond, were merely a clash of perverse nationalisms. This is a huge oversimplification that obfuscates more than it elucidates. In Spain in the 1930s for example, the German-Italian axis and the Soviet Union fought on opposite sides, and the war was inherently and eminently a war of ideology: conservatism vs revolutionism; backwardness vs. enlightened progressivism; the desire to preserve gross inequality in land and property vs the desire to erase it; feudalism vs. republicanism, and religiosity vs secularism, not to mention global fascism vs. communism.  How is that subsumed solely just under "nationalism" is hard to fathom. Belligerent nationalism may have been the horse, but the jockey was the distinct class interests steering it down its path of eventual destruction.

The ultimate proof that class criteria superseded raw nationalism in determining the course of nations was the ferocious clash between Nazi Germany and the USSR, as seen in the distorted but eloquent mirror of British upper class attitudes. If simple nationalist interest had been the main factor explaining friendship and hostility why were the Anglo-Americans so friendly toward Germany —a highly capable and tremendously powerful emerging power—during its period of Nazi ascendancy while persisting in their boycots and hostility toward the Soviet Union? With the war already on after 1939, Churchill is on record as endorsing a delay in assistance to the Soviets to insure that the Germans managed to destroy as much as possible of the USSR's industrial and military plant, a fact that prolonged the war and assured greater numbers of casualties not only in Russia but among allied armies. Later, with Germany defeated by 1945, the outrageous idea of launching an immediate all-out conventional and nuclear attack on the Soviet Union was seriously entertained by the political and military chiefs of the victorious Western allies. The two atomic bombs on Japan, meant to intimidate the Soviets, were in fact the tail end of this criminal and semi-deranged posture. What were the British and American ruling classes afraid of then? The nationalism of an exhausted nation? Or the spread across the world of much feared communism, a direct threat to their accustomed privileges?

Indeed Hitler's assault on the USSR was not just a conflict between German and Russian "nationalisms" —as Hon Wing Polin suggests—but a true ideological clash with many important class implications and underpinnings. Russia had no chauvinist expansionist desires, inherent in fascism—Italian, German or Japanese—except the revolutionary desire to see a world populated by fellow socialist republics. For while fascism finds a great deal of its power and allegiance (and is almost always invested) in some rabid form of militarist nationalism, communism does not emerge from such tribalistic matrix at all, and in fact is quintessentally internationalist.

In sum, I'm sure the author remembers that class still exists, and that it matters in understanding political reality, including the success or defeat of develomental projects. Indeed, it is not accidental that it is in the West, notably in the US, the citadel of global capitalism, that the push to wipe out class as a social analytical tool has been most prominent and persistent, and that nationalism is usually embraced by most ruling classes in the West, the US being in a category almost by itself with its doctrine of exceptionalism.  So why join such a project in the name of raising a new model of social advance when the study of class and ideology does not per se preclude at all the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics? Good Marxism is by definition non-dogmatic. China can be proud to have sorted out difficult aspects of internal and external politics to achieve what she has in such a relatively short period of time. In many critical aspects, China is a great and enduring example for humanity. But for that, I think her leaders, starting with Xi Jinping, would readily recognise the debt the nation owes to Marxism (yes, an ideology that transcends nationalism) and the Communist Party, and, granted, the judicious incorporation of Chinese cultural ways of thinking dating back to the birth of this unique civilisation.

A final word

In his enthusiasm, and no doubt well merited pride, Hon Wing Polin makes another noteworthy claim in his closing remarks:

"As for China, it is engaged in something epochal. Domestically, it is evolving a paradigm that's neither capitalism nor socialism, which are both Western constructs from the era when the West dominated the world. The “Chinese model” will be a unique mixture of elements from socialism and capitalism, with heavy infusions from China's own Confucianist, Buddhist and Daoist heritage..."

A few things strike me again as odd here. One, this sounds like a reiteration—albeit without malice—of what many Western academics and capitalist apologists have been saying for a very long time, since Daniel Bell and Francis Fukuyama declared the "end of ideology" and "the end of history" in the 1960s. (Fukuyama is known for his book The End of History and the Last Man (1992), which argued that the worldwide spread of liberal democracies and free market capitalism of the West and its lifestyle may signal the end point of humanity's sociocultural evolution and become the final form of human government.).

The error here, in my view, is that class dialectics, though first recognised and articulated in its Marxian form in the West, is not just a mere "Western construct", but something that obtains in all latitudes, wherever a class divided society exists. To negate that is like claiming that water boils capriciously at different degrees in Shanghai, Atlanta, Paris and New York. I am certain that Deng, were he alive, would agree. Western ideas and modes of thought are, as the author often warns in his writings, toxic, false, mean-spirited and misguided, but this is not one of those instances. The class struggle has yet to be retired.

To close, let us bear in mind that any nation threatened by a dangerous adversary will instinctively rally around its national identity, and yet, this reaction to the menace can also be energised by ideological fuel. Soviet soldiers (and Mao's armies) fought bravely against the imperialist invaders, but their struggle combined both streams of consciousness—nationalism and communism. This is because today's imperialism's underpinnings, its malignant roots, are to be found, as ever, ultimately in the core dynamics of the ruling capitalist classes, not some nationalist veneer, no matter how impessive and threatening it may look, for this is after all simply a meta narrative for much deeper determinative undercurrents.

By the way, none of the above should be read as contravening our distinguished colleague's main thesis, that the sun is indeed rising in the East.


About the Author
A resident of Hong Kong, and a graduate of both Harvard and Columbia University, Thomas Hon Wing Polin is a contributing columnist to Asiaweek, the South China Morning Post and other leading internet venues • Patrice Greanville, a former economist and longtime media critic is this publication's editor in chief. 


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Parting shot—a word from the editors

The Best Definition of Donald Trump We Have Found

In his zeal to prove to his antagonists in the War Party that he is as bloodthirsty as their champion, Hillary Clinton, and more manly than Barack Obama, Trump seems to have gone “play-crazy” -- acting like an unpredictable maniac in order to terrorize the Russians into forcing some kind of dramatic concessions from their Syrian allies, or risk Armageddon.However, the “play-crazy” gambit can only work when the leader is, in real life, a disciplined and intelligent actor, who knows precisely what actual boundaries must not be crossed. That ain’t Donald Trump -- a pitifully shallow and ill-disciplined man, emotionally handicapped by obscene privilege and cognitively crippled by white American chauvinism. By pushing Trump into a corner and demanding that he display his most bellicose self, or be ceaselessly mocked as a “puppet” and minion of Russia, a lesser power, the War Party and its media and clandestine services have created a perfect storm of mayhem that may consume us all. Glen Ford, Editor in Chief, Black Agenda Report