The Worker (Update), January 9, 2014
Published by the Workers Party, USA
P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625
Crisis in Public Education: Separate and Unequal Schools
One of the root problems with the public school system in the U.S. is that its main financial base comes from local property taxes. This is the direct result of the federal government's denial of responsibility for education. This funding system results in gross inequalities between school districts. Wealthy districts with a high tax base have modern school buildings with the best equipment, up to date books, and one teacher for every fifteen or twenty students. Poor districts have crumbling buildings, supply shortages, and overcrowded classrooms. Some districts spend $25,000 per pupil, while others are able to spend only $8,000.
This whole problem of education funding stems from the fact that education is not recognized as a fundamental right. . . .
The same government officials who let the public schools crumble, now say that privatization is the cure. . . . The actual result of these plans will be the further intensification of the dual school system which already exists. The children of the rich will continue to enjoy the best education, while the children of the working class will be relegated to impoverished ghetto schools, denied the education that is their birthright. . . .
This movement for the privatization of public education denies all public responsibility for education. It denies that society has any legitimate interest in deciding what kind of education children should receive, or ensuring that all children receive education equally, or even ensuring a minimum standard for public schools. In fact, it guarantees that there will be inequality in education, with the children of the workers receiving the least and worst education, while the children of the rich attend the best schools. It represents a return to the days of privilege, when only the propertied classes had access to education, and overturns completely the advances of the past two centuries. . .
From "Documents from the Conference on Economic Rights," published by the Workers Party
Resistance is the Only Solution
The entire concept of rights came into being precisely as a guard against the arbitrary power of the government; rights are an affirmation of the limitation of the powers of government and that it can never take certain things away from the people.
But in our country, the government has illegally wiretapped phones, searched people's library records, arbitrarily detained thousands of Americans simply for having Arab or Muslim backgrounds, suppressed political and charitable organizations, infiltrated and spied on anti-war organizations and demonstrations, systematically and continuously tortured people, etc., etc.
These fascist methods reveal the real character of the capitalist government. It is an arbitrary, dictatorial power unrestricted by any law and based on violence. The fascism of the government comes from its class character. The U.S. government is nothing but an organized power to carry through the aggressive, exploiting aims of the capitalist class. Today, as they carry on their program of wars abroad and robbery of the peoples at home, they are and will continue to strengthen their police state in order to try to suppress the growing resistance of the people.
This growing fascism reflects the weakness, not the strength, of the capitalist government which resorts to violence because it is completely unable to win the allegiance of the people.
We must face the growing fascism of the government by stepping up our resistance. Democracy and the rights of the people are only won and protected by the people themselves. Rather than allowing the government to intimidate or silence us, we must exercise our inalienable rights and step up our struggles against war, racism, poverty and repression. Our only reliable defense is in the strength of our own independent organization.
The aim of our struggle can only be to replace this dictatorship of the rich with a new government that arises from and empowers the people themselves.
The Ideology of the Anti-Social Trend
I. The Individual and Society
As The Worker goes to press, the Democratic and Republican politicians in Congress are preparing to "reform" the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Although all the details have not yet been made public, the plan would enact much stiffer eligibility requirements. As a result, more of the millions of workers who do not even earn enough to keep life and limb together or who for some reason have lost the capacity to work and are without any means of subsistence, will be denied food stamps.
The government's latest attack on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is part of a broadscale capitalist offensive aimed at shredding the "social safety net" altogether. In carrying out this offensive, one of the key questions which the capitalists themselves have brought to the fore is the relationship between the individual and society.
The capitalist politicians and ideologues are saying that government and society have no responsibility to the individuals who make up society. They are saying that every individual must fend for herself/himself within the so-called "free market" system. But this is not all. Turning back to Medievalism, the capitalists actually claim that poverty and misery are the wages of sin – that the unemployed, the poverty-stricken, the exploited and oppressed majority of society have only themselves to blame, that they lack the "work ethic, individual responsibility and family values."
It is not very hard to see that this extremely anti-social ideology is only a flimsy attempt to hide what cannot be hidden – to divert attention from the fact that the capitalist social system is incapable of creating conditions which guarantee even the most minimal existence for vast and ever-growing numbers of people. What is perhaps most noteworthy is that the pervasiveness and virulence of the ideology which blames the victim, show that, in the conditions of all-around crisis, capitalism can only attack the working class and the most vulnerable sections of society.
Part of countering the capitalist ideological offensive is the simple recognition that we are all born into society and that the development of every individual is dependent upon the conditions which exist within society. People must think over the conclusions which follow from this simple consideration. Our country has clearly reached a point in its development where all the material resources exist to guarantee the well-being of everyone; furthermore, it is equally obvious that the most fundamental fact of our society is its social character. For example, the vast productive capacity of our country's economic base arises from the fact that it is based on a social division of labor amongst some 120 million people. The conclusion is that every individual in our country must face up to the reality, that his/her development and humanity is dependent firstly on what kind of society we have, on the social relations which exist amongst the people, on the relations which determine the economic system, the political superstructure and so forth.
In other words, the struggle against the reactionary anti-social agenda of the capitalists can only be carried through by creating a truly modern and humane social order – a socialist society, a society which recognizes the common interests and collective life of the people and which provides real guarantees for the rights and all-around development of every human being.
In slandering and defaming welfare recipients the capitalists are not only trying to blame the victims of capitalism for the poverty and misery imposed on them, but also trying to marginalize the problem. In other words, the capitalist propaganda presents the problem of "welfare" as a problem affecting only a small portion of society and one which the working people as a whole need not really concern themselves with.
But, of course, the truth is that it is the working class as a whole which is directly under attack. For one thing, in dismantling the social safety net the capitalists aim at wiping out any minimal economic and social supports as a means of increasing competition amongst the workers and driving wages and the standard of living down as much as possible.
In fact, in their continuing anti-social offensive, the capitalists try to marginalize each and every group that is attacked. One day the immigrants are defamed and their rights attacked, the next day it is the turn of the welfare recipients, then the trade unions, the oppressed minorities, etc., and so forth.
Of course when all these so-called "special interest groups" are added up they equal the vast majority of the population.
The issue here is not simply to assert that all these various groups have common interests; the issue is to put forward the political program which represents the common interests of the vast majority of the population – to develop the independent aims and agenda of the working class. Only by opening up this new space, can the people take the initiative into their own hands and not only resist the capitalist offensive but open the perspective for progress and the renewal of our society.
What Kind of Society?
In the United States, the exploiting classes have brought workers from the four ends of the earth to the U.S. to be superexploited as slaves, indentured servants, "illegal" immigrants, "temporary" workers, etc. for some four centuries. This barbaric exploitation has been written into the law of the land.
Today, U.S. immigration law serves the capitalist class by maintaining a racist, apartheid-like caste system which imposes discrimination and superexploitation on people on the basis of national origin. 10-12 million workers are denied all legal rights and mercilessly exploited by the capitalists in the U.S. In addition, the government has been intensifying discrimination against immigrants with so-called "legal" status, denying them basic entitlements, including Supplemental Security Income for the disabled, public health services, etc. So too, hundreds of thousands of "guest workers" are used as indentured servants by the capitalists every year.
In addition to being superexploited, immigrants are systematically denied their political rights. According to U.S. immigration law, immigrants can be excluded or deported on the basis of their political beliefs and affiliations and are denied the right to vote and other legal protections.
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The program of the Workers Party for Democratic Renewal includes carrying through to the end the centuries-old struggle of the American people to create a society which guarantees – in practice – equal social, political, and economic rights for all human beings. For more than 200 years, bourgeois political theory has promised equal rights for all but denied these rights in practice. Despite the paper promises, despite the various laws on the books, the reality is that capitalism continues to impose a system of racial discrimination and national oppression on black Americans and other oppressed minorities, women remain super-exploited, oppressed and marginalized, etc. The reason is that no matter what promises are made, the capitalist state and capitalists democracy are set up in the first place to defend the "rights" of private property in the means of production, set up to maintain the exploitation and oppression of the majority – to deny the people their inalienable rights.
Upcoming Geneva II Talks are an Attack on the Edifice of International Law
In the so-called “post-Bush era” and in the face of the overwhelming opposition of the American people, U.S. President Barack Obama refuses to normalize trade relations with and recognize the sovereign equality of Syria.
Instead, the U.S. is attempting to assert its domination over Syria by participating in “Geneva II” with the declared aim of independently establishing a transition government “with full executive authority.”
The Geneva II talks, scheduled to begin on January 22, are being advertised by Obama and company as “multilateral” but in reality they are anything but that. According to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, only countries which agree to the premise of the talks will be invited.
For example, while explaining the likely absence of Iran from the talks, Kerry said during a recent interview in Jerusalem, “Well, Iran could participate very easily if they would simply accept publicly the Geneva I premise on which Geneva II is based. We are not going to Geneva to just have a discussion. We are going with the purpose of implementing Geneva I. That was the premise originally that Foreign Minister Lavrov and I announced in Moscow. That has been the premise of organizing this. That will be the premise of the invitation that is sent out by the secretary general of the United Nations. We are going to implement Geneva I, which calls for a transition government by mutual consent with full executive authority; and if Iran doesn’t support that, it’s very difficult to see how they’re going to be ‘a ministerial partner’ in the process.”
President Obama once claimed to be an opponent of the so-called “Bush program” but he is ruthlessly implementing that very same program as depicted in the Syrian Accountability Act (H.R. 1828). Of course this was always the bi-partisan program of the Democrats and the Republicans who passed the bill by a vote of 89-4 in the Senate and 389-4 in the House before turning it over to George W. Bush who signed it into law on December 12, 2003.
H.R. 1828 calls for economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria with the aim of pressuring it to accept U.S. dictate. It bans the export of weapons to Syria and allows the U.S. President to impose a number of other sanctions, including banning all U.S. exports except food and medicine, freezing Syrian assets in the U.S., banning all U.S. investments, restricting the movement of Syrian diplomats in the U.S., and forbidding Syrian-owned planes from entering U.S. airspace.
Obama has also signed a number of executive orders which tighten sanctions against Syria. So too, the CIA has admittedly been funding and arming the Syrian insurgency. The brutal character of the movement which has been funded by the CIA can only be accounted for by its anti-people aims. In the last 122 days alone, according to information from the Syrian Arab News Agency, the insurgents have carried out over 370 bombings tied to the death and displacement of hundreds and hundreds of people and the destruction of extensive portions of the country's social and industrial infrastructure.
The Syrian foreign ministry continues to demand that all States guilty of supporting terrorism inside of Syria withdraw their support immediately. So too, the people of Syria continue to organize demonstrations and other mass actions to demand the liberation of the areas occupied by the insurgents.
The Geneva II talks organized by U.S. imperialism and the Russian Federation are nothing but a last ditch attempt to cover over the crimes of imperialism and to lend legitimacy to the Syrian insurgency. This must not be allowed to pass.
For our part, the American people must demand an end to the anti-Syrian plots and sabotage being carried out from our shores, and oppose U.S. imperialism’s anti-Syria policy of interference, aggression, and terror. We must insist that the U.S. government recognize the sovereign and inviolable right of Syria to determine its own affairs free of outside intervention and pressure