The Worker, November 2, 2015
Published by the Workers Party, USA
P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625
Our Country’s Infrastructure Belongs in the Public Domain
Today a big watchword of the capitalists and their government is to increase “infrastructure investments.” Our issue with Obama and the other capitalist politicians isn’t over the need to “invest” in maintaining the roads, public schools, parks and other public property of the country. Such work is the basic responsibility of government. We demand that the government “STOP PAYING THE RICH” and insist that the government fulfill these responsibilities. So too, we oppose the entire campaign and “free market” propaganda used to justify monopoly reliance on the state to help them rob the wealth of the country.
But the federal, as well as local and state governments claim to be “making an investment” when they take funds out of the public treasury and pass them on to private corporations for projects such as management of road construction, management of parks, prisons, garbage collection and so on. This is often the claim even in the case of charter schools and school services like busing, food and maintenance.
The corporations who receive these monies accumulated through taxation of the workers are completely free to “invest” their new capital as they see fit. In the first place in projects that are as profitable as possible. In the second place they may “invest” the profits in new projects, whether that be in making bombs or opening factories abroad or speculating in the international currency markets.
These government “investments” in the rich, often called “public private partnerships,” are robbery of the whole people, of the whole country, and robbery on a grand scale.
Just as in the period of primitive capitalist accumulation, when the capitalist class got started by robbing and plundering the entire continent and the indigenous peoples, so today, monopoly capitalism is reverting to this method by directly relying on the state to plunder our country of its public assets.
The capitalist class is literally falling over itself in the grab for public resources. The land speculators want our country’s stock of public housing turned over to them; the billions upon billions invested in the space program are already being put at the disposal of communications monopolies and others. The capitalists are drooling at the prospect of further getting their hands on the monies earmarked for Medicare and Medicaid, at the privatization of the $100 billion public school infrastructure. The mining capitalists, the oil monopolies and big timber companies are grabbing for more of the national lands and natural wealth of our country.
And this privatization strikes at the very hallmark of modern society by denying that such public assets as roads, parks, public housing and such things as public health, universal public education, income support for the poor and most vulnerable, and so forth are public responsibilities, matters which must be in the public domain and guaranteed by the government in the full view of the people.
Instead of being used to pay the rich, our country’s resources must be used to build the infrastructure needed to guarantee all the economic rights of the people. For example, improving and expanding a stock of high quality public housing for seniors or investing in a comprehensive, nation-wide system of public health care would equip our country with the means needed to provide for the well-being of the people.
Obviously the issue is not an issue of resources. It is a political issue. The workers and people must assert themselves by coming out as an independent political force to challenge the political power and prerogatives of capital and win victories for the political economy of the working class. The working class must rally the whole people around the political economy which places working and oppressed humanity, not the capitalist exploiters, at the center.
This means bringing to the fore a number of fundamental questions. “Will economic life be organized to guarantee the livelihoods of the people or will our very lives remain dependent on the ‘blind hand’ of the ‘free market’ and capitalist profit-making?” “Will government make the vital social investments needed to guarantee the rights of the people or will the entire economy be put at disposal of big business?” “Will the means of production created by humanity be put at the disposal of humanity and utilized to create conditions for the all-around emancipation of people or will these means of production remain monopolized by a few and used to enslave the majority?”
Kerry Leads Assault on Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem
The state of Israel is once again working to create a crisis atmosphere, using its huge apparatus of repression to carry out attacks against Palestinian civilians. Four weeks ago, Israeli officials began mobilizing the army against civilians in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, in the latest Israeli offensive, 58 Palestinians, including 13 children, had been killed and 2,000 wounded. As of October 17, more than 650 Palestinians had already been abducted and imprisoned.
In addition to live fire, recent mass protests against Israel’s usurpation of more land in Jerusalem were met with tear gas, leading to the hospitalization of thousands for treatment. On October 24, U.S. Secretary of State Kerry announced plans to install cameras in and around Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The plan will allow the U.S. and Israel to block many Arabs from entering the Mosque and to harass those who do.
Israel’s systematic demolition of housing units and religious sites in Jerusalem is part of its program of annexation. This program is not only a breach of international law, which prohibits annexation of Arab Jerusalem, but is also a violation of prior peace agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians. It is a blatant attempt to alter “facts on the ground” before conditions for genuine negotiations involving the Palestinians can be established.
U.S. imperialism sponsors and relies on the state of Israel as its military outpost in the oil-rich and strategic Middle East. Joint action plans on the part of the U.S. and Israel have long been part and parcel of the U.S. strategy of relying on Israel as its attack dog in the Middle East. Since becoming the main prop of Israeli expansionism after WWII, every bullet used by Israel in its war against the Palestinian nation has been bought and paid for by the U.S. government. Since 1947, the U.S. has sent more than $100 billion in economic and military aid. The future state of the Palestinian people in their national homeland – long since recognized as a right in international law – will only come into being when the U.S. government is forced to withdraw all its support for Israeli zionism.
As the main spokesman of the U.S. doctrine that war on the Palestinian nation is the official “second front” in the so-called “war on international terrorism,” Obama wasted no time in backing the latest Israeli violations of human rights and international law. Going so far as to use common switchblade offenses by petty criminals as an excuse to blame Arabs for state organized collective punishment, Obama made a high-profile announcement on October 16. He proved his ongoing sanction of Israeli aggression by announcing, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people and believe that Israel has a right to maintain basic law and order and protect its citizens from knife attacks.”
The People Will Win
On October 15, President Obama revealed the latest U.S. war plans in a statement released by the White House. According to Obama the U.S. military role in Afghanistan will be nowhere near ending by the end of 2016. Its tasks will continue to include attempts to maintain control over territory and launching operations to train more military forces for a long-term presence. Although troop levels are about 10,000 today, the number will continue to be adjusted periodically according to the judgment of U.S. military commanders.
As in Iraq, Obama claims that the U.S. is bound to stay in order to “prevent attacks against our homeland.” This has been the doctrine of the U.S. government since the wars were launched in 2001 and 2003. Afghanistan, the country with the weaker military defenses, was cynically chosen as the earliest target of the so-called “war against international terrorism” in order to set a precedent for a previously unheard of level of aggression by the U.S. government throughout the world.
The war in Afghanistan is known as “Obama’s war” because of his infamous “anti-war” claim that the battle for control of Afghanistan, and not Iraq, is the genuine “war on terrorism.” True to his party platform and campaign promises, Obama escalated the war immediately after taking office. To date, no more than a reported 100,000 U.S. troops have ever been stationed in Afghanistan at a time. Those peak levels were reached in 2009. Then, in 2014, after ceremonially raising the flag of Afghanistan over a former U.S. military base, Obama declared that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan would be accomplished by the end of 2016.
In the October 15 White House press release, Obama also let it be known that as long as there is any active opposition in Afghanistan, the American people cannot expect to win their demand for the complete withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Afghanistan now.
Over the last decade and a half, the many crossroads of the war have done nothing to bring the White House closer to accomplishing its morbid goal of subjugating the people of Afghanistan. The worst fears of the warmakers are coming true. They have always tried to hide their eternal fear of the people, but today they are losing the war as the Afghan people are stepping up their resistance and defeating U.S. imperialism.
Today Obama’s efforts to reinvent history by depicting the methods of the war as “peaceful,” “narrow,” and “non-combat” is nothing but an attempt at diverting public opinion from the ongoing crimes of the occupiers and from the permanent aims of U.S. and international imperialism. It is an attempt to put a more benign face over the brutal U.S. occupation.
No makeup or facelift can change the imperialist character of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Trying to lend “more credibility” to the wars is nothing but an attempt to legitimize colonialism.
The colonial domination of Iraq and Afghanistan will only be brought to an end when all the imperialist powers are forced out and the inalienable right of the two peoples to self-determination and sovereignty is recognized. It is nothing but chauvinism for an American to advocate anything less that the immediate, unconditional and complete withdrawal of U.S. and Western imperialism from Iraq and Afghanistan.
The agenda of the American people is anti-chauvinist, anti-colonial and anti-imperialist. It is the agenda of a genuinely democratic foreign policy which ends U.S. intervention in all its forms, withdraws all U.S. troops stationed abroad and recognizes the sovereignty of every country.
From Every Pore
Capitalism is characterized by the contradiction between the social character of the productive forces and the private, capitalist ownership of the means of production. Today, in our country, capitalism has reached the stage of monopoly capitalism and imperialism and this contradiction has reached the bursting point.
Who cannot see how capitalism is suppressing the productive forces of our country and how it is unable to put our modern economic infrastructure in service of the people. While the ruling circles never stop boasting that “America is the richest country in the world,” 40% of children in urban centers live in poverty, tens of millions of Americans are denied needed health services, tens of millions live in substandard housing, etc., etc.
Thousands of years of civilization have put, at the disposal of humanity, all the productive forces necessary to insure the economic well-being of everyone, to enable humankind to take a giant leap from the realm of necessity to the realm of freedom. But the daily life of the vast majority of Americans is still dominated by the economic struggle to make ends meet – we still live from paycheck to paycheck and with continuous economic insecurity, haunted by questions like: “What happens if my job gets ‘downsized?’” “What if my parents get sick?” “What does the future hold for the children?”
Indeed, the productive forces at the disposal of our country are enormous. Over the decades, we have created a modern economic infrastructure, including a system of scientific agriculture which enables a tiny fraction of the population to produce an abundance of food, factories which can produce such an excess of all the necessities that large quantities remain warehoused and unsold, an instantaneous mass communications system, advanced science and technology which enable humanity to harness the forces of nature.
These productive forces are, in the first place, a product of generations of labor of the working people. What is more, the limitless productive capacity of modern economic life arises from the revolutionary character of cooperative labor – in today’s workplaces, the minds and muscles of thousands and tens of thousands of people work together and more than 100 million American workers cooperate in a social division of labor. It is this collective character of the modern production process – the common labor of the working people – which is the secret of the vast productive capacity of our country.
Yet, under the capitalist system, this social mechanism is set in motion with the narrowest aim. The only goal is for the capitalist owners to grab maximum profit. Thus, health care is not produced on the basis of the needs and rights of the people but only for the profit of the HMOs; science and technology are not used to lessen the burden on the working people but to downsize and deny workers’ a livelihood while the capitalist owners increase the rate of exploitation of the remaining workforce. In the midst of abundance, the elementary needs of the people remain unmet. U.S. monopoly capitalism produces every conceivable luxury item but it cannot guarantee adequate, modern housing for tens of millions; it does not even provide sufficient food for millions of children or guarantee health care for tens of millions.
All these contradictions, which suppress the very humanity of our country and of our people, arise from the fact that the socialized means of production – the very tools needed to reproduce life – are owned by the capitalist class. These means of production – the product of generations of collective labor and the birthright of the people – are already social in character. But this social character is denied and suppressed by the system of capitalist ownership.
The necessity is to recognize the social character of the productive forces, to replace private ownership of the means of production with social ownership. This is the starting point of modern socialism and communism.
In fact, the entire history of this century is the history of the struggle of the working people for socialism and communism. Of course, the propagandists for capitalism never stop saying that “communism has failed.” But just the opposite is the case. Firstly, we must ask: Why did the working people in Russia, in Albania and other countries rise in socialist revolutions? Because capitalism had led their countries and the world to disaster, unleashing the first World War and the great depression, fascism and WW II. And today, even while capitalism boasts of its “world-wide victory” it is creating new and greater disasters for humankind, launching new wars and condemning billions of people to poverty and exploitation. In the U.S., even while the capitalists boast of “unprecedented economic growth,” the gap between the rich and the poor – the class polarization – is deepening and tens of millions are denied even their most basic economic rights.
Communism in the Soviet Union and elsewhere did not fail, it was temporarily defeated by the continuous encirclement and wars waged against it by world capitalism. In fact, during the years of socialism, the Soviet Union achieved unprecedented economic development and established a standard of rights which, to this day, is the template by which workers everywhere measure how far they have come and how far they have to go. Socialism eliminated the exploitation of the working class and guaranteed workers secure, stable livelihoods with a rising standard of living, guaranteed health care and education for all, carried through, for the first time, the struggle for equal rights by eliminating the oppression of women and the oppression of nations.
Not only in the socialist countries, but everywhere, the political economy of socialism has been making inroads against the political economy of capitalism, winning victory and asserting itself as a necessity for human development. In the U.S., such social achievements as the establishment of Social Security or a nation-wide system of public education represent victories for the political economy of socialism and are part of the assertion by the workers and people that they are not mere beasts of burden to be exploited by the capitalists but are human beings with inalienable economic and social rights.
Today, everywhere one looks, one sees socialism and communism arising from every pore of our society. How can the health care crisis be resolved except by recognizing that health care is a right belonging to everyone and by organizing a system of national, comprehensive and socialized health care. How can we guarantee everyone the inalienable right to a job or a livelihood except by introducing social planning into economic life?
The line of the Workers Party is that social development – life itself – is demanding the transition from capitalism to socialism. The task which we have taken up is to create the subjective conditions – the consciousness and organization of the workers themselves – necessary to carry through this social revolution.
CENTCOM to Further Expedite Growth of “Afghan Local Police”
According to a recent article in the New York Times (10/16 “Afghan Plan to Expand Militia Raises Abuses Concerns,”) U.S.-NATO plans to dramatically increase funding for the “Afghan Local Police” (A.L.P) are in the works.
The A.L.P is an arm of the neo-colonial military forces, set up, financed and trained by the U.S.-NATO occupation. It is headed by local warlords and administered by the “Afghan Interior Ministry.”
Currently the A.L.P., with a combined force of 30,000 men, is financed by the U.S. government to the tune of $120 million per year. Today the A.L.P. is isolated with its back to the wall, and to survive it may need to be propped up by as many as 30,000 more men, reports the NYT.
Since the start, the Afghanistan War has been one in which the self-proclaimed “world’s policeman” openly organizes violence and then uses the same events to justify its own aggression. For example, by September of 2001 the U.S. had already been exposed for arming the warlords of the Northern Alliance and taking control of its armies. In order to take out many of the country’s defenses in preparation for a U.S. ground invasion, those U.S.-client forces were used to begin ground operations before the country was subjected to the first intense bombing campaigns in October of 2001. All along the chauvinist logic that branded Afghanistan as a “safe haven for terrorists” was used to promote the Big Lie that the government of Afghanistan had been behind plans to bomb the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
The A.L.P. are the latest in a long list of militia trained and funded by the U.S. government and notorious for war crimes, human rights abuses and drug-trafficking.
The brutal, despotic character of the U.S.-NATO occupation comes from the aggressive colonial aims of U.S. imperialism. Furthermore, President Obama’s only response to the growing national liberation struggle of the Afghan people is to declare that armed operations against civilian population centers will continue until the popular resistance is defeated.
Pentagon Refuses to “Cut and Run” from Syria
Plans to open new camps outside of Syria for more training of armed groups friendly to U.S. interests have been temporarily abandoned, according to Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook in an October 9 press release.
Congress approved the plan last year, but due to setbacks the scheme is being shelved in favor of a more conservative plan to shore up units already on the ground inside of Syria. “We will monitor the progress these groups make and provide them with air support as they take the fight to ISIL. This focus on equipping and enabling will allow us to reinforce the progress already made in countering ISIL in Syria,” explained Cook in the press release.
Syria was listed by the U.S. State Department as a “safe haven for terrorism” and potential target of U.S. military intervention at the turn of the century when the Clinton State Department began emphasizing U.S. “counter-terrorist” policy as a part of U.S. imperialism’s worldwide program of fascism and war. Later, the Bush administration stepped up U.S. pressure and threats against Syria, declaring it a target of the so-called “war against international terrorism” and signing into law the “Syrian Accountability Act.” The Act imposed economic and diplomatic sanctions against Syria with the aim of pressuring it to accept U.S. dictate. The first salvoes of U.S. military intervention began in 2011 when U.S. vetted militia began ground operations.
Today, the U.S. “police action” is expected to last for many more years. According to the Pentagon press release, “As we have said from the beginning, the fight against ISIL will take time. Working with local partners to win back territory taken by ISIL will continue to be a long and arduous process.” Obama has repeatedly emphasized that although the armed groups cooperate with and receive arms and training from the U.S. government, the role of regular U.S. forces is still “restricted” to launching airstrikes.
Without gaining control over significant portions of Syrian territory, U.S.-client forces will not be able to launch attacks on the central government or have any hope of seizing control of the seat of government in Damascus.
The Workers Party opposes the aim of pressuring Syria to accept U.S. dictate. Peace will only be achieved when U.S. military operations are ended and the Syrian people regain their sovereign right to determine their own affairs free from external threats and pressure.
Background on the History and Aims of U.S. Imperialism in Cuba
In a stark reminder of the racist “manifest destiny” doctrine of the U.S. capitalist class, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently announced the formation of a special “U.S.-Cuba Business Council.” According to the Chamber of Commerce, “USCBC will seek to work with the U.S. Congress, respective public and private sectors, and other key stakeholders to remove barriers to trade and create jobs, growth and prosperity in both countries. . .We’re facing a historic opportunity to support a vital and growing Cuban private sector, one that is defined by entrepreneurs whose expanding efforts show that the spirit of free enterprise is already taking hold in the country.” Today, the U.S. monopoly capitalist class is renewing its attempts at undermining Cuba’s sovereignty and reversing the country’s program of economic reforms and nationalization.
Since the first half of the 19th century, the U.S. government frequently proclaimed its “right” to intervene throughout Latin America in order to protect its “security” and “national interests.” The Monroe Doctrine enunciated by President Monroe in 1823, and the proclamations of manifest destiny in the decades that followed, had spelled out very early in American history that U.S. officials would not hesitate to intervene anywhere in Latin America in order to advance their economic and strategic interests.
Throughout the nineteenth century, numerous attempts were made by U.S. officials to purchase Cuba from the Spanish colonial rulers. The struggle for Cuban independence by the Cuban masses, therefore, was seen as a threat by the propertied classes in both the U.S. and Cuba, since it was their hope that Cuba would eventually be annexed to the U.S., either through direct purchase or outright military conquest. In 1854, after President Franklin Pierce failed to buy Cuba by offering Spain $130 million, U.S. diplomats met in Belgium and issued the so-called Ostend Manifesto in which they threatened Spain that if it still refused to sell the island, “then, by every law, human and divine, we shall be justified in wresting it from Spain if we possess the power.” By the turn of the century, it became clear that the U.S. was willing to use its military power to achieve its objectives.
In 1898, when the Cuban people were on the threshold of total victory in the independence struggle against Spain, the U.S. dispatched troops to the island in order to rob the people of the fruits of their struggle. Presenting itself as the “liberator” and “defender” of the Cuban people, the U.S. signed the “Treaty of Paris” with Spain in 1898, which formally gave the U.S. not only control over Cuba, but also Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam. The Cuban people, however, were not represented in this agreement between Spain and the U.S. In 1899, Spain officially handed over its jurisdiction to the United States.
Although officially granted “independence,” Cuba was put under the control of U.S. military generals. In 1901, the U.S. drafted a constitution for Cuba, and the Cubans were eventually forced to accept as part of their constitution a clause known as the “Platt amendment” (after U.S. Senator Platt), which explicitly stated that the U.S. had the “right” to intervene in Cuba at any time. The amendment also surrendered Cuban territory, the island of Pinos, and gave the U.S. navy authority to establish bases on the Cuban island. During 1901, U.S. General Wood set up “democratic elections” in Cuba, based on a franchise which represented only 5 percent of the Cuban population and which excluded Afro-Cubans, women, and those with less than $250 in assets. Two years later, the U.S. military occupation “officially” ended as Cuban president Estrada Palma took office.
From 1902 to 1959, Cuba was essentially a “pseudo republic” and run by men who refused to do anything without the explicit approval of U.S. officials in Washington.
The Estrada government quickly ratified a treaty with the U.S. in 1904 which ensured U.S. capitalist control over Cuban markets. Hordes of American businessmen rushed into Cuba, grabbing up its fertile land for next to nothing. In addition, the railroads, sugar mills and refineries and all aspects of the Cuban economy quickly came under the ownership and control of U.S. capital.
During the Cuban presidency of Estrada Palma, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt formulated a corollary to the “Monroe Doctrine” which stipulated that the U.S. had responsibility for “preserving order” and “protecting life and property” throughout Latin America. This corollary was used to justify every subsequent U.S. invasion and intervention in Latin America.
In 1905, after a falsified election resulted in civil war, the U.S. military intervened to “mediate.” However, after further revolt by the Cuban people, President Roosevelt sent in more troops and the U.S. officially occupied the country once again. From 1906-1908, the U.S. administration of Charles Magoon controlled Cuba. In 1908, control was again formally handed over to a Cuban army general, Jose Miguel Gomez.
During the next decade, the U.S. military returned to quell revolts and insure Cuba’s “loyalty.” In 1912 and again in 1917, U.S. troops invaded the island. When the U.S. entered World War I, Cuba was used as a military training base for Marines, many of whom stayed until the early 1920s.
In the years that followed World War I, U.S. capitalists looked to Cuba as a prime investment opportunity, and began once again to buy up cheap land, aided by the world-wide drop of sugar prices. It was during these years also that U.S. investors turned Cuba into the “playground of the Caribbean” in which gambling, prostitution and the drug trade began to flourish.
By 1925 U.S. financial interests in the Cuban economy amounted to more than $1.5 billion. Eighty percent of the exported mineral wealth of Cuba was owned by the Bethlehem Steel Company. The railroads, the tobacco industry, and the electrical industry were all owned by U.S. capitalists. Most of the sugar industry was owned by the House of Morgan financial group, the National City Bank, the Chase Bank, the Brown Brothers, the United Fruit Company, and the Rockefeller family. Also, seventy-four percent of all Cuban imports came from the U.S.
During the 1920s and 30s, the Cuban political scene was filled with corruption and rigged elections. It was during this time also that the Cuban people became more outspoken and resistance and revolutionary movements developed throughout the island. In 1933, a general strike broke out and many Cuban workers and farmers occupied sugar mills and took to the city streets. Eventually, a Cuban army officer, Fulgencio Batista, emerged and with the backing of the U.S. assumed power in a coup d’etat.
Although the Platt amendment was officially revoked in 1934, and some social reforms were implemented in Cuba during the years prior to World War II, the Cuban people remained under the political and economic domination of U.S. imperialism and the Cuban elite. The anti-imperialist sentiment of the Cuban people, however, did not diminish during these years and, after World War II, new revolutionary leadership developed.
On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro and other revolutionaries attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Although many of the rebels were killed during the attack, and Fidel Castro was captured and imprisoned, the resistance to U.S. imperialism and the puppet Batista regime gained new life. The famous “July 26 Movement” emerged from this battle and subsequently liberated Cuba. In December, 1956, Castro and his supporters returned from Mexico, and helped launch the revolution that succeeded in taking power on January 1, 1959.
On January 2, 1959, the revolutionaries formed a new government and quickly began implementing economic reforms as well as taking steps to defend the sovereignty of the country. Implementation of the agrarian reform law on June 3, 1959 limited ownership of sugar cane land to 3,300 acres. Those land-owners who possessed land in excess of this limit, however, were compensated when the land was expropriated.
Throughout 1960, Cuba embarked upon further economic reforms, including the nationalization of the petroleum industry, as well as the utilities, sugar mills, banks, railroads, and factories.
Although the U.S. officially recognized the new Cuban government in early January 1959, subsequent documents released by the CIA show that during the same year it had already begun its campaign of espionage and subversion. In fact, the U.S. immediately began both economic and military aggression against Cuba aimed both at undermining its sovereignty and reversing the program of economic reforms and nationalization.