The Worker, June 6, 2015
Published by the Workers Party, USA
P.O. Box 25716, Chicago, IL 60625
New Act Gives Additional Powers to the Executive Branch
The Democrat’s and Republican’s glorified “reform” of the U.S. Patriot Act is a fraud. This fraud is falsely portrayed in the monopoly media and by the two parties as a slight watering down of U.S. “national security” code. On the contrary. On June 2, the U.S. Freedom Act became a new edition over and above the U.S. Patriot Act. The legislation continues to sanction a system of government repression without any new limitations on the power of government.
U.S. “counter-terrorism” law is an attack on the rights of all and on the foundations of a democratic society. The FBI and other Department of Homeland Security agencies are given authority to conduct wiretaps and electronic surveillance on the political activities of individuals and groups. The law gives the police, the FBI, the U.S. military, the courts and other government agencies broad powers to spy on, harass, imprison and deport people who support the activities of any organization proscribed as “terrorist.” The President and the Attorney General are given power to label any group as “terrorist” and thereby prohibit people from engaging even in lawful activities in support of such groups. For example, if these bills had been in effect several decades ago, fund-raising activities for Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress would have been illegal.
Today, the American political system is in crisis and decay. Forces for political privilege have entrenched themselves, undercutting the very principles of democracy which arose in the struggle against feudalism.
It is not only the “counter-terrorism” laws of the U.S. government which provide people with proof of the reality that the policies of government do not reflect their needs or will. And it is not only the “counter-terrorism” laws of the U.S. government which provide people with proof of the reality that the decision making power does not belong with the people. So too, the people overwhelmingly demand that the government “Stop Paying the Rich” but the government uses its vast power to tax and spend in order to further redistribute our country’s wealth in favor of the monopoly capitalist class. So too, the people overwhelmingly demand that the entire operation of government remain under the direct supervision of the people and that any power not expressly delegated by the people to the government remains with the people themselves, yet this is not even discussed by the Democratic and Republican politicians.
When we look at the decision making process – whether in the case of the “U.S. Freedom Act,” or the budget, or “free” trade deals – we see that this process takes place behind closed doors of the Congressional committees or in secret meetings of the National Security Council. The people have no role to play in any of these decision making processes.
One of the fundamental flaws in the system of “representative democracy” as established in the U.S. is that the sovereignty – the supreme political authority – does not belong to the people themselves, but rather, to the government. In other words, politicians, once elected, are free to rule as they choose; there is no way that they can be held accountable to the people, no mechanism by which the people can directly participate in governance.
Under this system, voting once every few years is not a means of insuring the political power is in the hands of the people, but rather, it is a means by which the people surrender power, legitimating or “giving consent” to the rule of a stratum of professional politicians who are not accountable to the electorate.
A modern definition of democracy must begin with the question of guarantying that the sovereignty – the supreme power – remains with the people. Such a modern definition recognizes the need to create mechanisms to insure that elected officials are accountable to the electorate and that the people can participate directly in the process of governance and decision making.
Japanese Protests Against U.S. Bases
On May 17th, 35,000 people demonstrated in Naha against U.S. military bases on Okinawa and against the U.S.-Japanese “security” treaty. Demonstrators also denounced the U.S. military’s planned deployment of CV-22 Osprey aircraft at U.S. Yokota Airbase in Tokyo. People from all over Japan traveled to Okinawa to join in the protests. Several similar protests also took place in recent months elsewhere throughout the islands of Okinawa and on the Japanese mainland. On May 24, 15,000 demonstrators gathered, forming a human chain around the parliament building in Tokyo.
U.S. troops have occupied Japan for over half a century. From 1945 to 1972, the Japanese islands of Okinawa were occupied and ruled directly by the U.S. military. Today, the U.S. still maintains nearly 50,000 troops in Japan, with over half stationed on the islands of Okinawa. The U.S. has also been pushing forward, in coordination with Japan and South Korea, the deployment of a regional ballistic missile system, the “Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system.”
As part of Obama’s efforts to strengthen the U.S.-Japan military alliance, U.S. diplomats have called repeatedly for the lifting of constitutional restrictions blocking Japanese troops from “defending” the U.S. military in the event of a war. Ignoring the Japanese constitution itself, the recently enhanced Japan-U.S. “security” treaty called for by the Obama administration aims at stimulating the revival of Japanese militarism under the auspices of U.S. imperialism. It calls for increased U.S.-Japanese cooperation in “international peace-keeping” and “regional security matters.”
The treaty and U.S. bases are a danger to the people of Japan. U.S. imperialism is an aggressive military superpower that has proven again and again that it prefers war to peaceful resolution of differences between States.
According to U.S. imperialism’s “first-strike” military doctrine, the U.S. will start wars whenever and wherever it wants to “preempt terrorist countries” and “countries seeking weapons of mass destruction.” This doctrine expresses the continuing strategy of U.S. imperialism in its struggle to establish a unipolar world with itself as the sole superpower. The extremely aggressive character of the U.S. program arises from the fact that the inherent laws of capitalism-imperialism impel U.S. monopoly capital to stretch its hands everywhere, to strive to grab up economic territory and spheres of influence.
Since codifying the first-strike military doctrine in 2001, two consecutive U.S. presidents have relied on it to declare war against the world. Both presidents have maintained a nuclear hit-list and the Pentagon is developing a new generation of nuclear weapons including its National Missile Defense system. The Pentagon has drawn up plans that include nuclear first-strikes against non-nuclear countries including North Korea, Syria, and Iran.
Today U.S. imperialism is at war in Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Colombia, the Philippines and elsewhere. The Obama administration has also extended its “counter-terrorism” operations to include remote control drone strikes against Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia launched from nearby countries where U.S. troops are stationed and manned from the U.S. mainland. The U.S. government has already named dozens of other countries as potential targets of “counter-terrorism” operations or full scale war.
U.S. military forces were the principle source of conflict and tension in the Asia region long before U.S. imperialism officially adopted its first-strike military doctrine. Just since the end of World War II, U.S. imperialism has been responsible for the partitioning of China, launching direct, open aggression against Korea, waging the brutal war against the peoples of Vietnam and Indo-China as well as carrying out, in cooperation with local reactionary and fascist regimes, many counter-insurgency wars in the Philippines, in Indonesia and elsewhere.
Like people the world over, the Japanese people ardently desire a world of peace and friendship. The struggle of the Japanese people against U.S. military bases and the U.S.-Japan “security” treaty is an important part of the world-wide struggle against militarism and war. And like people the world over, the American people ardently desire a world of peace and friendship. As the U.S. government continues to defy the will of the people and remain on the warpath, the people have no choice but to further organize in opposition to and struggle against the parties of war and imperialism.
Only the Peoples Can Stop the Wars!
Wage Labor and Capital
According to the Democratic and Republican Party politicians, our country’s economic problems can all be solved by relying on the “free market” system, by the government assisting private enterprise and by everybody pitching in to help “increase the international competitiveness of U.S. capitalism.” According to the Democrats and Republicans, capital is the creator and source of wealth and the principal economic task is to constantly increase the accumulation and efficiency of capital.
But what is “capital?” If “capital” is looked upon either as a hoard of money or an accumulation of means of production (tools) and raw materials, it is obvious that, as such, it can never produce any new value. Dollar bills do not give birth to new dollar bills and even the largest factory in the world will not yield any new products whatsoever if it stands idle and is not set in motion by the labor of the workers.
The only thing which creates new values and wealth is labor. It is the muscles and minds, the sweat and creativity of the laboring masses which alone are capable of transforming nature in order to secure human needs and produce new material values. In fact, the means of production which function as capital in our society are themselves only the product of the labor of previous generations of workers. Thus, capital – taken as an accumulation of money or the means of production – rather than being the source of new value is itself only a value created by labor.
The politicians, by endlessly repeating that capital is the creator of wealth, are not only denying the role of labor as the source of all new values, by hiding the fact that the capitalist system is based precisely on the exploitation of wage-labor.
Under capitalism, the means of production – generally including not only the factories and other tools but also the land and natural resources of the country – are monopolized by the owners of “private property.” The other side of this coin is that the vast majority of the population – the laboring classes – are deprived of any property in the means of production. In other words, the workers – forcibly separated from the tools necessary to transform nature and secure a livelihood – have no way to live except to sell their labor-power (their ability to work) to the capitalists. It is this social relationship – the monopolization of the tools of society by one class, the capitalists, and the accompanying economic disenfranchisement of the other class, the workers – which allows the capitalists to appropriate the product of the labor of others.
Thus the very conditions under which the capitalist system operates – the fact that the tools of society are monopolized by a few – explodes a second myth propagated continuously by Rand Paul, Barack Obama and company – the myth of the so-called free worker and the so-called opportunity society.
How can it be said that the worker and the capitalist enjoy “equal opportunity?” The capitalist owns the means of production and has everything in society at his command. On the other hand, the worker, deprived of all property in the means of production, cannot even secure a livelihood unless she/he is able to find a capitalist willing to exploit her/him. True, unlike the slave system in which the master owned the slave outright, there is no legal compulsion to work for the capitalist. But economic necessity always confronts the worker with the question of going to work for the capitalist, or starving. Furthermore, even when the worker is “lucky” enough to find a job, it is the capitalist who claims ownership of the entire product of the workers’ labor, returning only a small portion of the value produced in the form of wages. And it is the capitalist, always quick to make it known that there are many unemployed workers desperate for jobs, who has all the advantages in setting the rate of wages.
Thus, rather than a “free economic system,” capitalism is a system of wage-slavery, a society which at its very base rests on social inequality. And this inequality is reproduced in every sphere of life as the worker finds that capitalism, rather than affording “equal opportunity,” blocks her/him at every turn. Not only does the capitalist system insure that the bulk of the wealth generated by society accrues to the capitalists, while the workers, at best, are able to eke out a livelihood, but the same “free market” system puts everything firstly at the disposal of those with money. The children of the rich go to the best private schools and colleges; the capitalists can afford the best medical care and enjoy longer life-spans, etc., and so forth. The worker finds that in the “free market” system, society only recognizes the claims and “rights” of the owner of private property, while the worker can make no claims and enjoys no rights.
No Privatization or Cuts in Funding to Medicare!
As part of a generalized assault against entitlements, Democrats and Republicans are failing to fully fund Medicare.
As a result of a series of government cutbacks since the 1980s, today Medicare covers, on average, only 50% of the health care costs of senior citizens. Many retired workers spend 1/5th or more of their annual income on out-of-pocket medical expense.
This anti-social agenda is pushing our country backwards. Medicare, the health insurance program for retired workers, was first implemented in the 1960s as a result of repeated popular struggles demanding that every American be guaranteed access to health care. The passage of Medicare not only represented at least a partial legal recognition of the right of senior citizens, but also, by investing a portion of our country’s resources in a social fund set aside to guarantee access to health care, created the means necessary to insure this right in practice. Since its passage, Medicare has increased the longevity of the American people, improved the health of seniors and kept millions out of poverty.
According to the capitalists and their politicians, the people have no rights which the government is bound to guarantee. Instead, the profit motive must be put in command of even such elemental human needs as access to health care or income security in retirement – that is, be available for those with money but denied those without. According to the capitalists and their politicians, the social sector of the economy – set up to guarantee at least a minimum of rights for the people – must be privatized and turned over to the big monopolies.
The working class and people must step up our struggle against cuts to Medicare and other social programs. We must not only unite our ranks and resist these attacks on our rights, but come into the political arena with our own pro-social agenda that demands ironclad guarantees for the health of the population as well as income-security in old age, loss of capacity to work, etc. The starting point of such a genuinely pro-social agenda is to demand that the government Stop Paying the Rich and make all the investments needed to guarantee comprehensive, free health care for everyone.
Obviously, considering our country’s economic development, the issue is not an issue of resources. It is a political issue. The workers and people must assert their inalienable rights 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.