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AlterNet / Trump?s Hometown Teaches a Lesson in How to Resist His Workplace Immigration Crackdown
« Last post by AlterNet on February 04, 2018, 06:09:04 AM »
Trump?s Hometown Teaches a Lesson in How to Resist His Workplace Immigration Crackdown


Brandworkers' fight with New York's Tom Cat Bakery is an example for the #Resist movement.


During the early morning hours of January 10, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents raided 98 7-Eleven convenience stores across the United States, demanding that managers provide paperwork for their employees. ICE ultimately arrested 21 workers, but publicly declared that they were just getting started. ?This is what we?re gearing up for this year, and what you?re going to see more and more of is these large-scale compliance inspections, just for starters,? acting head of ICE?s Homeland Security Investigations Derek Benner told the Associated Press. ?It?s not going to be limited to large companies or any particular industry, big medium and small. It?s going to be inclusive of everything that we see out there.?

Activists searching for effective ways to fight back against these kinds of sweeps might draw inspiration from a campaign that has emerged from Trump?s hometown of Queens. In December 2016, the Department of Homeland Security launched an investigation into Tom Cat Bakery?which appears to be the first wide-scale audit to hit New York City in 11 years. According to employees, more than 30 workers were called into private meetings to discuss the audit. They were informed by management that if they didn?t produce the necessary work authorization paperwork within 10 days, they would lose their jobs.

Brandworkers, a nonprofit group that has fought for the terminated employees, claims that Tom Cat was initially unwilling to share details of the audit and offered the employees no severance package. According to the group, an organized campaign ultimately forced the bakery to extend the paperwork deadline and offer workers a severance package if they chose to leave. However, the campaign was ultimately unable to stop the firings?although protests did succeed in galvanizing supporters to rally behind the workers.

In April 2017, at least 25 of the workers were fired. Some employees opted for the severance plan, which included a week of salary for every year they worked at the bakery. Tom Cat?s CEO sent a letter to the workers, stating: ?While Tom Cat regrets losing valued members of our workforce, we must of course ensure that Tom Cat is in compliance with all applicable employment laws.?

Yet the severance offer and letter did not stop protesters from mobilizing against the terminations. After the firings, more than 100 protesters showed up in front of the bakery, holding signs, marching and chanting. Some even chained themselves to company trucks to obstruct morning deliveries. Four were arrested.

Activists and workers called on New York eateries throughout the city to go a ?Day Without Bread? to draw attention to the campaign. As part of that coordinated action, the Sussman brothers? Samesa restaurant donated 50 cents of every pita-bread-item sale to a fund for the fired workers, and Harvest & Ravel Catering donated a portion of every sandwich sale to the cause. After a letter-writing campaign led by the fired workers, the French restaurant Le Bernardin became the first customer to stop buying Tom Cat?s bread altogether. Brandworkers says that three additional customers have stopped buying from the bakery.

Jeanne Baron, an activist with the direct-action group Rise and Resist, tells In These Times she believes the Tom Cat fight is connected to the wider struggle against Trump?s immigration policies. ?When I stand out on the street handing out fliers and telling people Tom Cat Bakery can and should do the right thing by its immigrant workers, I assume there are many would-be supporters among the pedestrians around me,? says Baron. ?That's who I am after. Immigrants are being terrorized by an administration that demonstrates total antipathy for them.?

Former Tom Cat employees echoed these sentiments to In These Times, explaining what lessons they hoped other workers would pick up from their fight.

?My recommendation would be that [other workers] continue to fight with their compañeros, to remain united as a team, and to continue fighting for their goal,? says Elias Rojas, who also worked at Tom Cat for 12 years. ?It is not easy, but we have to continue and fight for our families.?

?The main thing is to form a group between colleagues,? says Hector Solis, a former worker at Tom Cat Bakery for 12 years, ?to join an organization?start a campaign and fight for [your] rights, and not let [yourselves] be trampled by some employers who simply close the doors on you without giving you one opportunity or any compensation.?

Sabino Milian, who worked at Tom Cat for 11 years, hopes their campaign will inspire workers throughout the country ?so that they do not remain silent and fight for their rights not to be abused."

Tom Cat claims that the campaign against its business has been overhyped, pointing out that the majority of fired workers took the severance package?and that only eight ex-employees are seeking continued negotiations. However, as previously mentioned, Brandworkers says that Tom Cat kept news of the audit hidden from workers for months and originally offered no severance for the workers. In These Times reached out to Tom Cat Bakery for a comment, but the business did not respond by the time of publication.

In addition to its work with the fired employees, Brandworkers is fighting to establish an immigrant-protection policy for businesses that would notify workers about audits and provide safeguards against warrantless raids. The blueprint for such legislation has already emerged in California, where the Immigrant Worker Protection Act just took effect. The new law prohibits employers from allowing ICE agents to enter non-public areas or obtain records without a warrant. It also requires warnings before and after audits take place. California?s Attorney General Xavier Becerra has even warned that he will prosecute businesses that voluntarily hand employee information over to ICE.

These efforts couldn?t come at a more crucial time. The 7-Eleven sweeps mark a shift back to the policies of the George W. Bush administration in regards to unauthorized employees. In 2006, six meatpacking plants?most of them in the Midwest?were raided and about 1,300 workers were arrested as part of ICE's "Operation Wagon Train.? In May of 2008, the Bush administration carried out what was the largest workplace raid in U.S. history, arresting almost 400 workers at a kosher slaughterhouse in Iowa. Just a few months later, that record was broken when almost 600 Mississippi workers were arrested during a factory raid. Major workplace sweeps didn?t take place under Obama at the same scale, with the administration overseeing a more low-key approach to workplace enforcement while stepping up efforts against border crossers and people with criminal convictions. The Trump administration has doubled down on the staples of Obama?s deportation strategy as well, effectively combining the most draconian aspects of his predecessors? immigration plans.

Baron says she hopes that the Tom Cat campaign can also serve as a blueprint for activists and workers fighting workplace raids around the country. ?I want to demonstrate resistance to Trump's immigrant-hating policies and Tom Cat's complicity, and I want to give sympathizers something concrete to do that would actually make a difference,? she says. ?If Tom Cat Bakery wakes up to the moral and economic imperative to find ways to publically stand by their immigrant workers, it will represent a model for business everywhere. If a few high-profile businesses get it, that's leverage. That's a movement. That's resistance.?

 

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Source: Trump?s Hometown Teaches a Lesson in How to Resist His Workplace Immigration Crackdown
92
Richard Mellor / Dark Days Ahead From the Horse's Mouth
« Last post by Richard Mellor on February 03, 2018, 06:01:31 PM »
Dark Days Ahead From the Horse's Mouth

     
Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

So in about a month, the US treasury will run out of money. US public debt stands at about $20 trillion or so right now, more than $60,000 per person. In the weekly conference calls that this blog has we have discussed this issue. Marx explained that debt cannot be maintained, that it allows capitalism to go beyond its limits, but at some point, like an elastic band, it has to snap back. When a debt level is unsustainable, cannot be repaid, in a family or a nation state, it will be extracted in some way. You lose your home, your car etc. And we all know what happens in an economy, a mass destruction of value in the form of the productive forces takes place, homes are taken back by their ?rightful owners? the moneylenders, and people are thrown out as a recession or slump occurs. Political, and at times severe social crisis can follow. (some 5 million lost their homes in the Great recession. It was estimated to be the greatest loss of African American wealth in US history, excepting unpaid labor)..

We are nine years on since the Great Recession and despite a booming stock market we only need pay attention to the economic theorists of capitalism, the best and the brightest of the US ruling class, to get an idea how much closer to the abyss they are. ?Everyone?s worried about not being worried.?. says one asset manager of his colleagues.

James Mackintosh in his Wall Street Journal column last week aptly titled: The Global Economy Is Doing Great. Be Afraid, quotes one capital manager reminding his class colleagues, ??over the long term the laws of gravity will come back.?  It reminds me of that statement by the former Citibank head, Chuck Prince, who said of the abundance of easy money and the dangers it warranted just before the 2008 crash hit, ?But as long as the music is playing, you?ve got to get up and dance. We?re still dancing.? The capitalists as the owners of capital are driven to do what they do by the laws of the system.

It?s interesting that in both the examples above from the horse?s mouth, the nags agree with Marx. The law of gravity (debt) returns and they have to do what they do regardless of the consequences:

?This boundless greed after riches, this passionate chase after exchange-value is common to the capitalist and the miser; but while the miser is merely a capitalist gone mad, the capitalist is a rational miser. The never-ending augmentation of exchange-value, which the miser strives after, by seeking to save his money from circulation, is attained by the more acute capitalist, by constantly throwing it afresh into circulation.?*

The Financial Times warns today of the dangers of the US economy heading in to the biggest budget deficits in the nation?s history outside of wars and recessions despite Trump, during his campaign run, claiming he would pay off the national debt in his eight years. The US is borrowing more than $1 trillion a year and the billionaires? legislators in their two parties are heading toward lifting caps on defense and non-defense spending. It should be noted that the Democrats, the other war party, are quite willing to lift the caps on defense (actually offense) spending as long as the caps on non-defense discretionary spending can be raised.  That sounds like the Democrats are more favorable to the working class but we know who will be paying in one way or another and that?s workers, the middle class and the poor. The Democratic Party is pathetic and both parties are in unprecedented crisis.

Here?s what some of the1%?s economic experts think of the situation:

?Having such large deficits during peaceful, strong econo0mic times is reckless fiscal policy. We saw in 2008 how the economy can turn on a dime.?, says Shai Akabas of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

?To have an economy that is healthy or even in a boom and a trillion dollar deficit is unheard of.? Mark Goldwein, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. (CRFB)

It has been argued that high debt levels of all types is OK by mainstream economists but that is because money has been so cheap. But potentially higher interest rates will add fuel to this fire and keeping borrowing down, never mind eradicating the national debt will be highly unlikely. Then we have those workers that retire and those workers that lose their jobs along with wage depression and it?s all a recipe for disaster.

The deficit was 77% of GDP when Trump took office and according to the CRFB is likely to hit 100% in the next decade. Workers must take note, there's no individual way out of this.

?It?s a pretty scary thing to look at the forecast,? says Mark Zandi, a well know economist at Moody?s, ?We are on a dark trajectory.?

Of course, when these people are talking about ?us? and ?we? they are not specifically talking of themselves. Yes, they are concerned and genuinely worried about the economy, but it is not them that suffer. Workers, youth, the unemployed, women and children and the aged will be the victims. Communities of color as usual will bear a huge brunt of the consequences of the so-called free market. Life expectancy for whites in the US has declined and if any white workers thought that the ruling class in this country that look like them meant they were due special treatment will be joining the ranks of the fallen as capitalism goes in to deeper crisis. The conditions for white workers are not going to improve and that will make it harder for the 1% to win many of them to that argument.

We have talked in our weekly Think Tank conference calls that it will not be so easy for the US 1% to bail themselves and their system out with our money next time. There have been some major struggles since 2008 albeit all pretty much isolated from one another, but we are closer to market failure once again.

In the absence of a political party that workers can turn to and the disgraceful failure of the trade union leadership to use the resources that they control to build one-------or help build a direct action movement of our own linking together the numerous struggles that have emerged against police brutality, for housing rights, against environmental catastrophe (Standing Rock) the poisoning of our drinking water etc.--------the movement as it arises will be unnecessarily violent, confused  and with periods of reaction and revolutionary moments.

It is important for socialists and all anti-capitalist to prepare for these developments in order to intervene in the coming struggles.  Much of the great tradition of struggle in the US has been driven from working class consciousness so it will not be easy. But it is through struggle we learn. Everything workers, the poor, all oppressed sections of US society have won, we won ourselves, no one can do it for us.

But take it from the horse?s mouth. It is not time for us to be carefree. We must act.

Note: as I write this I see the Dow fell 650 today and has posted its worst weekly decline in years, One of the fears? Inflation.


Source: Dark Days Ahead From the Horse's Mouth
93
Infoshop News / Retreat, America
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on February 03, 2018, 06:01:30 PM »
Retreat, America

American troops were deployed in well over 150 countries, and Special Forces in 138 countries as of 2016. Lest you think this accounts for just a random troop stationed here or there, overall, as of September 2017, there were significant deployments of over 1,000 troops in 19 countries: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Belgium, Cuba, Djibouti, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Kuwait, Qatar, Spain, Syria, Taiwan, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom, according to a Pentagon spreadsheet.
Source: Retreat, America
94
Infoshop News / The Iran Protests: A Third Path to Political Change?
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on February 03, 2018, 06:01:30 PM »
The Iran Protests: A Third Path to Political Change?

Days of protests in Iran have caught statesmen, analysts and observers by surprise, even though the anti-austerity and anti-establishment sentiments behind this primarily working-class revolt have been brewing for years. All the same, surprise is not a common reaction across the media.
Source: The Iran Protests: A Third Path to Political Change?
95
AlterNet / Sean Hannity Helped Convince Trump to Release the Nunes Memo
« Last post by AlterNet on February 03, 2018, 06:01:28 PM »
Sean Hannity Helped Convince Trump to Release the Nunes Memo


Trump trusts Hannity more than White House officials.


 

President Donald Trump has engaged in regular phone calls this week with Fox News host Sean Hannity about a controversial GOP memo that is said to malign the FBI, according to reports. Hannity later issued a strong denial of the story, published by the Daily Beast Thursday. The memo was drafted by the staff of House?


 

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Source: Sean Hannity Helped Convince Trump to Release the Nunes Memo
96
Richard Mellor / Trading economics the Chinese way
« Last post by Richard Mellor on February 03, 2018, 06:01:12 AM »
Trading economics the Chinese way

by Michael Roberts

In my view, the Chinese economy remains at a structural crossroads.   The state and state enterprises continue to dominate the economy in  investment, employment and production.  That means that foreign capital,  domestic private capital and market forces do not hold sway, even  though they have been increasing in weight and power over the last 30  years.

My view is controversial in Marxist circles. The vast majority of  Marxist economists and ?experts? on Marx?s ?theory of the state? reckon  that China is capitalist or ?state capitalist?.  But for me, the class  nature of the Chinese state remains open.

All I would add at this point is to remind readers of the data that I published in a past post on the sheer weight of the public sector and public assets in the Chinese economy.

The IMF has published a full data series on the size of public sector investment  and its growth going back 50 years for every country in the world.  It  shows that China has a stock of public sector assets worth 150% of  annual GDP.  Only Japan has anything like that amount at 130%.  Every  other major capitalist economy has less than 50% of GDP in public  assets.  Every year, China?s public investment to GDP is around 16%  compared to 3-4% in the US and the UK.

There is nearly three times as much stock of public productive assets  to private capitalist sector assets in China.  In the US and the UK,  public assets are less than 50% of private assets.  Even in ?mixed  economy? India or Japan, the ratio of public to private assets is no  more than 75%.  This shows that in China public ownership in the means  of production is dominant ? unlike any other major economy. But the IMF data also show that, while public sector assets in China  are still nearly twice the size of capitalist sector assets, the gap is  closing.  Private (capitalist) sector investment stock is growing faster  than state sector assets.

In this post, I want to show that, because the Chinese economy is  balanced between the power of the state and the market, this is  increasingly reflected in the ideology and economic thinking of Chinese  officials and academics.  There are still many academics in Chinese  universities that hold to what they think is Marxist economy theory and  categories.  But there are many more, particularly officials in  government and state enterprises that have been educated in ?Western?  universities, who have long abandoned a Marxist view and opted for  mainstream neoclassical or Keynesian theory.

A recent striking example is Wang Zhenying, director-general of the  research and statistics department at the PBoC?s Shanghai head office  and vice chairman of the Shanghai Financial Studies Association.  This  leading Chinese state banker recently summarised his economic views from  his Chinese language textbook on economics (for Chinese students) in  the Financial Times of all places.

Wang tells us that ?Crises destroy, but crises also create.?  He means that ?the  outbreak of each crisis gives rise to new economic theories. Marx?s  theory of Surplus Value was created amidst frequent economic crises in  the late 19th century and Keynes?s revolutionary theory was put forward  during the Great Depression in the 1930s. Today, with a worldwide  financial tsunami only now receding, people are expecting a new economic  theory in response to the failure of the pre-crisis mainstream.?

So for Wang, Marx has had his day in the theoretical limelight (ie  19th century) and for that matter so has Keynes (2oth century).  The  recent global financial crisis needs a new theory for the 21st century.   Marx and Keynes apparently have nothing more to offer.

And what is this new exciting theory that Wang is proposing to his  students to explain the world economic crisis?  He calls it ?Trading  Economics?.

What?s this?  Wang: ?Trading economics? is one new theory  emerging against this backdrop. Mainstream economics deduces the macro  whole by extrapolating from the behavior of individual ?representative  agents?. Trading economics replaces this with a systematic and  comprehensive analysis approach. It stresses that in an interconnected  world, the interaction between trading subjects is the fundamental  driving force behind the operation, development, and evolution of  economic systems.?

Well, I am still no wiser.  Wang explains that mainstream  neoclassical theory is stuck with ?representative agents? who have  ?rational expectations? who maximise utility and profits, while market  prices move up and down to achieve equilibrium.  As Wang says, this  bears no relation to the reality of modern economies and never did.  In  contrast?

?Trading economics chooses a different path. Everyone  participating in economic activities is put in a specific organisational  structure. As a result, their behaviour becomes affected by culture,  morality, property, and system. There is no ?economic person? like  Robinson Crusoe in trading economics. Trading economics only has  organizations with specific internal structures: households and  enterprises. This is the first step to bring economic theory back to the  reality?.


This all sounds promising.  Wang is going to ?rethink? economics and return it to reality.  And what does he come up with ? behavioural economics.  ?Behavioural  economics experiments have demonstrated that choices are characterised  by variety ? there is no single answer to all situations.?

Now this is not so promising.  Economics is reduced to considering  each situation or problem as having a different answer.  That would  suggest we cannot find any generalised laws about the world economy and  its crises.

According to Wang; ?Trading economics differs by recognising that  different people have different information, in part because they have  different experiences. So while each trading subject seeks maximum  profits, the ?maximum? differs from one subject to another, even when  trading and constraints are the same. Therefore, if the behaviour model  in neoclassical economics is the absolute maximum, then it is  the relative maximum in trading economics. This is where the difference  lies.?

Hmm. I am still none the wiser.

What Wang really seems to be arguing for is free trade and international integration. ?From  the study of the development rules of economic system, it is found that  global economic integration is neither the innovation of a single  politician, nor a strategy implemented by a certain country to pursue  its own interests. Instead, it is the only option following the  development rules of social economic system. Today?s world has shifted  from an isolated island, through small-world development, to a network  without marks. To achieve comprehensive progress and development, the  world economy must promote the integration of trading network among  countries. We need to listen to the warning of trading economics in a  world awash with anti-globalisation thoughts.?

This is shades of the very line presented by President Xi at Davos  2017, where he claimed that China is the leading globaliser. Now the  economic theorist of People?s Bank of China is offering ?trading  economics? to support Xi.

A key feature of Wang?s ?trading economics? is that it rejects the  idea of looking for causal relationships between economic variables.  He  refers to the ?masterpiece? work of right-wing monetarist Milton  Friedman?s analysis of the cause of the Great Depression of the 1930s.   Friedman argued that the failure of the Federal Reserve Bank to control  the money supply properly was the cause.  The banks collapsed because of  an unnecessary monetary squeeze.  But others argued that the economy  collapsed because a change in ?expectations?.

Wang concludes that ?It is impossible to find a single factor among various events to explain the great contraction?. You see it?s just too complex for ordinary mainstream theory.  So Wang says we must ?give up on simple causal relationships?.  Instead, using ?trading economics? we can get ?a concrete structure through the trading network.? Then, apparently, ?various possibilities of economic operation can be predicted, including the fluctuation of economic cycles, the probability of crisis, assessment of policy effects, etc.?

Wang provides no evidence in his FT article for his claim of the  power of prediction enabled by trading economics.  And here is the nub  of his theory, namely its close ?connection between macroeconomics and behavioural economics.  According to Wang, ?The  behaviour of each trading subject and the ways in which they react to  external disturbances can be informed by the research of behavioural  economists and psychologists. The economic operation simulated in this  way is better targeted and the analysis has more solid experimental  foundation.?

There we have it.  Far from carrying out empirical research for cause  and effect, all we need is to go back into the laboratory of behaviour  and do ?experimental research?.  Wang claims that this ?is a great  leap in methods of economic theory research because it represents the  unity of economic research and natural science in methodology.?

Actually, behaviourist approach is an economics cul ­de ­sac.   Before the global financial collapse, this micro motivation approach  to economics was popular with young economists who had turned away from  questions like poverty, inequality or unemployment to study behaviour on  television game shows.  Looking at the ?irrational? behaviour of  people?s brains and thinking was substituted for the aggregate trends  and changes in modern economies.  The irony of Wang?s view is that since  the global financial crash, empirical studies have come back into  favour to look for the causes of the Great Recession, because mainstream  and behaviourial theory had failed.

The irony of Wang?s view is that, since the global financial crash,  empirical studies have come back into favour in looking for the causes  of the Great Recession, because mainstream and behaviourial theory had  failed. Despite that, Wang wants us to ditch Marxist macro theory for  Keynes? psychological  ?animal spirits? or the micro ?nudge? theories of behaviourists like Richard Thaler.

Is the way forward really through behaviourists developing computer  models where the idea is to populate virtual markets with artificially  intelligent agents who trade and interact and compete with each other  much like real people? Sure, every situation is different but anyone who  makes a living out of data analysis knows that ?heterogeneity? is  limited enough so that the well ­understood past can be informative  about the future.

In my view, if economists want to understand the causes of financial  and economic crises, they need to look away from individual behaviour  models and instead look to the aggregate: from the particular to the  general. And they need to turn back from deductive a priori  reasoning alone towards history, the evidence of the past. History may  not be a guide to the future, but speculation without history is even  less based in reality. Economists need theories that can be tested by  evidence, but the evidence of the aggregate and history not the  laboratory.

Yes, Wang recognises that mainstream economic is no good at  explaining developments in modern capitalism, but does ?trading  economics? take us any further? It seems more like an ideologically  acceptable theory as an alternative to Marxism in the country of  ?socialism with Chinese characteristics?.
Source: Trading economics the Chinese way
97
Infoshop News / How Did Trump Win? Follow the Dark Money
« Last post by Alternative Media Project on February 03, 2018, 06:01:05 AM »
How Did Trump Win? Follow the Dark Money

It?s been over a year since Donald Trump pulled off what is likely the biggest upset in U.S. political history, but we have yet to fully understand how it is that a reality television host with no political experience managed to do it. The widespread perception is that it was a combination of Russian meddling and a last minute October surprise from then FBI director James Comey.
Source: How Did Trump Win? Follow the Dark Money
98
AlterNet / Trump Angles to 'Cleanse' Washington and Provoke a Constitutional Crisis
« Last post by AlterNet on February 03, 2018, 06:01:04 AM »
Trump Angles to 'Cleanse' Washington and Provoke a Constitutional Crisis



 
 
 



Ryan and McConnell fall in with power play against the Justice Department, FBI and Mueller.


 

An American constitutional crisis, gestating since November 2016, has finally arrived. The president and his allies are seeking to ?cleanse? the U.S. government while his opponents in Congress and the Washington bureaucracy seek to defend the rule of law and national security.

The precipitating dispute is almost trivial: release of a Republican memo alleging prosecutorial misconduct toward one low-level Trump aide. But everyone in Washington understands the malice of #ReleaseTheMemo.

Written without input from its target, the FBI, the memo alleges that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein abused his power in approving the surveillance of Carter Page, a second-tier foreign policy adviser.

Despite claims often heard in Washington, the disclosure of certain NSA procedures and capabilities is unlikely to hurt U.S. national security in any material way. The memo is dangerous for another reason. Soon to be released with White House redactions, the memo signals the president?s determination to reach down into the civil service and demonize and punish those who dare to investigate his actions.

According to the Washington Post, Trump says the memo confirms his charges of bias and will help him clean up the Justice Department and fire Rosenstein. That would enable him to appoint a more pliant assistant attorney general who could fire or otherwise constrain special prosecutor Robert Mueller, which is the goal of the whole exercise.

As Mueller's investigation closes in on Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled their support for the president's power play.

In throwing the FBI under the bus, Ryan called for release of the memo, saying, ?Let it all out, get it all out there. Cleanse the organization." And so the third-ranking leader of the United States adopted the language of Fox News propagandists who are calling for the arrest of the president?s perceived opponents. 

McConnell did his laconic and sinister part when asked about reports that Trump had ordered Mueller to be fired last June. The special prosecutor, McConnell said, "needs no protection."

Under the circumstances, McConnell seems to be saying that Mueller deserves no protection and will get none.

The Opposition

Trump's opponents, while they have the support of a solid majority of the country, do not speak with such a cohesive voice.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on Ryan to "end this charade" and was ignored. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, sounded the alarm Thursday.

FBI director Christopher Wray has "grave concerns." Former CIA director John Brennan, who speaks for the anti-Trump bureaucracy, says:

The protestations of these agencies, which have long histories of abusing power, may ring hollow to some. Some argue, with more passion than logic, that James Comey and John Brennan have done terrible things in the past and therefore no right-thinking person should side with them today. 

Others will note, more cogently, that the FBI profiled Muslims in New York and harassed Martin Luther King Jr; that the NSA practiced and lied about mass surveillance; and that the CIA tortured terror suspects and overthrew foreign governments. All true. But it would be odd (or disingenuous) to argue that the crimes of the past are somehow redressed by the Trump Republicans? undemocratic tactics today.

The Peril

With Congress under Trump's thumb, the Democrats, Washington's career civil servants, the #NeverTrump conservatives, Tom Steyer's impeachment movement, and the national grassroots women's resistance to Trump all face a potentially perilous situation.

Trump does not seek to reform the agencies investigating him; he seeks to "cleanse" them. This hygienic language, echoing in the #ReleaseTheMemo chorus, dresses up the planned Justice Department purge as a necessary procedure to remove filth, purge disease and restore purity.  

"There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and Department of Justice," said Fox News' Jeanine Pirro in December. "It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired, but who need to be taken out in cuffs.... Handcuffs for Andrew McCabe, deputy director of the FBI. The man at the hub, protecting Hillary and attempting to destroy Trump."

Two months later, McCabe is leaving the FBI, not in handcuffs, but clearly under pressure from the White House, which objects to the fact that?gasp?his wife is a Democrat. Like the departed Comey, McCabe lost his job because he was insufficiently deferential to the president. 

And so Trump?s ?cleansing? proceeds, a "slow-motion Saturday Night massacre," for those who remember President Nixon?s purge of the Justice Department in October 1973. But the parallel should not be sentimentalized.

Nixon's moves cost him support among Republicans in Congress and the press, and he had to resign 10 months later. Trump, by contrast, has solidified his support in Congress and controls the powerful conservative media.

As the constitutional crisis approaches, Trump is stronger than Nixon was during Watergate. 






Source: Trump Angles to 'Cleanse' Washington and Provoke a Constitutional Crisis
99
Intersectionality, Class Reductionism, Weaken the Struggle Against Racism and Sexism.

[html]
 Response to Rhode Island Socialists (majority) Opinion

This is a statement from Facts For Working People blog in response to the majority position of the comrades from the Rhode Island Socialists that FFWP published earlier.  FFWP and the Rhode Island comrades are discussing the relationship between the class struggle and the fight against all special oppressions. FFWP thanks the Rhode Island Socialist comrades for having this open exchange of views.

United march of 40,000 chase racists and fascists out of Boston

Lerone Bennet. Jr. The Shaping of Black America p74
The whole system of separation and subordination rested on official state terror. The exigencies of the situation required men to kill some white people to keep them white and to kill many blacks to keep them black.  In the North and South, men and women were maimed, tortured, and murdered in a comprehensive campaign of mass conditioning. The severed heads of black and white rebels were impaled on poles along the road as warnings to black people and white people, and opponents of the status quo were starved to death in chains and roasted slowly over open fires.  Some rebels were branded others were castrated. The exemplary cruelty, which was carried out as a deliberate process of mass education, was an inherent part of the new system.

Thank you to the Rhode Island (RI) Socialist Comrades for your comradely and diplomatic response to our observations on your resignation statement. As we stated, we are in agreement with the majority of your statement but we wish to explore further your thoughts on fighting racism and all special oppressions. This is an important discussion because in our opinion any working class person, any working class activist, any socialist who does not actively fight racism and sexism and all special oppressions, betrays the interests of the working class, betrays the interests of all specially oppressed groups and strengthens the rule of the capitalist class.

We agree with the RI Comrades that after capitalism is overthrown there will still have to be the fight against racism. Just as there will have to be the fight against sexism, nationalism, religious sectarianism, tribalism, individualism and all the destructive and divisive ideas which have been and are part of the ideologies of class based societies. We are in agreement with the Rhode Island comrades when they quote Huey Newton where he said,  ?you can have racism without capitalism.?  The Comrades refer in their statement to the ?seizing of the means of production?.  We assume that the Comrades mean by this the ending of capitalism. The ending of capitalism in our opinion cannot take place unless the mass of the working class is united and on the offensive against this system, that is, unless there is a fundamental change in mass consciousness.

The Comrades refer in their statement to white lynch mobs. Yes there will be white lynch mobs, and other race, religious and gender based lynch mobs organized by the various sectors of the ruling class to defend their interests. However, such a development would be taking place against the background of the mass of the working class being united and in a ferocious offensive struggle against capitalism. The class balance of forces would be very different, would be much more in favor of the working class. We believe it is not realistic to consider that in the wake of the struggle to seize the means of production----- to end capitalism, the emergence of white lynch mobs and other lynch mobs would arise as if nothing had changed.  

An educator in a system of oppression is either a revolutionary or an oppressor. Lerone Bennett Jr.

The Comrades raise some ideas, phrases and formulations on which we would like to comment. Intersectionality is one such example. Class reductionism is another. These are not ideas, words or formulations which arise out of the struggles of the working class. This does not mean that they do not exist amongst any working class people. Unfortunately they have penetrated and managed to influence and confuse sections of the anti racist and ant sexist movements, many of whom are working class. And many of these working class people, especially youth, use them with the most sincere and best intentions.  However the class origins of these ideas, terms and formulations, are the liberal petit bourgeois in academia and in particular the liberal petit bourgeois of the specially oppressed minorities and the liberal petit bourgeois academia of women. One of the main proponents of the term intersectionality, the person who coined this term, is Kimberly Crenshaw, a Harvard lawyer who as far as we understand specializes in the study of race and gender at this university.

It is important to note, that Harvard is one of the major centers of bourgeois ideology which sees all things within the framework of capitalism, sees capitalism continuing indefinitely, sees capitalism as being permanent, sees capitalism as being the only possible system.  Harvard is a capitalist think tank. Central to this way of thinking is that the working class does not exist. In such institutions any role for the working class is absent from all discussion and thought about society and what kind of society there could be.  Mention here or there of the word class is not the same as seeing that the working class is potentially the most powerful force in society and is the class which, if humanity and life on earth as we know it is to have a future, will bring about that future. The dominant ideology that comes out of places like Harvard breaks from the historical materialist view of history on which we as Marxists base ourselves.

The historical materialist view understands that in this period of history the working class is the progressive class in society, the progressive force in society. The historical materialist view understands that only by the working class using its collective power and its collective brain and overthrowing capitalism and building a democratic socialist world, can capitalism be prevented from destroying life on earth as we know it. All struggles, including the struggles against racism and sexism have to be seen in this context. Such a view is totally foreign, does not exist, for the academia in places like Harvard and if such a view is raised every effort is made to suppress it.  

     
Neither of the terms intersectionality or class reductionism or the approach that they reflect, come out of the struggle of the working class, they are not used in the working class. We would ask comrades when you raise the need to fight special oppression, to fight racism and sexism, in your workplace, in your union rank and file, in your working class communities do you use the terms intersectionality and class reductionism? We are confident the Comrades do not use these terms. To do so would stop all discussion of the issue before it ever started.

This terminology, these ideas, and approach reflect the interests of the academic petit bourgeois and especially the African American petit bourgeois in academia. The penetration of these ideas, this approach, and these terminologies, into the struggles against racism and sexism that are developing has damaged these struggles. They do so by, amongst other things, making it impossible to build a base amongst the working class. Of course racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation and disability are all aspects of special oppression in class society and must be fought. All people in society aren?t treated equally. For example a woman of color has special oppressions to deal with and we unconditionally recognize this.  But we do not approach this in the same way as do the proponents of the approach who base themselves around the terms intersectionality and class reductionism. This approach does not recognize the class divide amongst people of color, amongst women, amongst minorities. And not only that, when the class divide, the separate class interests of the working class of the minorities and women are raised, the proponents of this approach do all they can to suppress this.

One of the ways they do so is by using the non-class and therefore inaccurate and confusing terms intersectionality, and the accusatory, class reductionism. It has to be recognized and pointed out that in spite of the opposition of those who hold this view to talk of class, those who use the terms intersectionality and class reductionism are in reality motivated by class interests------their own. They use the terms insectionality and class reductionism as weapons to further their own class interests. This is the contradiction, or rather the dishonesty at the heart of the contradiction. These strata use the term intersectionality and the accusation of class reductionism as weapons to keep the interests of the working class of the minorities and of working class women from being taken up. Their talk of intersectionality and so-called class reductionism are in fact ways to protect and advance their own class interests. A tangled web indeed. 

We accept unconditionally that there are special oppressions. We challenge and fight racism, sexism the oppression of all minority groups and women wherever we meet these evils, whether amongst white workers, amongst African American workers, amongst Latino workers, amongst Asian workers, amongst men of all backgrounds and races where they look down on women. We do not for a moment think it?s simply a matter of us all being workers.

In our response here to the Comrades? document we will use the terminology with which we are accustomed in the struggle in the working class movement, the terminology which comes out of the struggle of the working class movement, and which best corresponds to reality and the interests of the working class as well as the interests of all specially oppressed minorities and women.

We are not against new terminology. The material world changes and throws up new terminology and formulations. But we are vigilant in using new terminology, vigilant to determine its class origins and in which class interests it is used. Look around in today?s world. Look at the some of new terminology that the capitalist class has created to further its class interests, to lower the consciousness of the working class. Workers are no longer called workers. They are now "team members? or  ?associates?. This a fine-tuning of the much longer established capitalist propaganda of calling workers middle class rather than working class. Look at the term ?human resource management? that is used to hide the reality of the relationship between the bosses' and the workers, that reality being the bosses trying to get as much work as possible out of workers for as little pay as possible and without the workers being aware of this. Phrases and formulations are not devoid of class content. 

Intersectionality and class reductionism are not devoid of class interests. They serve specific class interests. 

In writing this response, and in our work overall, we are attempting to try and explain our positions to and in the working class where and when we have the resources to participate in the struggle. We consider our explanation of our position here not only as regards to how the RI Comrades would see it, but also how it would be understood or not understood in the workplaces, organized and unorganized, and in the rank and file of the union movement and in the working class communities and amongst the working class of the specially oppressed minorities and amongst working class women. When we speak, when we write, we judge our views and our formulations and our terms as to how they relate to and are understood by the working class, by the specially oppressed sections of the working class, by the more class conscious sections of the working class, the more thinking sections of the working class. We are not looking over our shoulders at the liberal petit bourgeois, at the left petit bourgeois in academia, or those whose aspirations are to enter these class layers.

In preparing to write this response we tested our ideas amongst working class people. We asked a number of African American working class women what they thought of intersectionality and of class reductionism.  Not one of them had ever heard of either of these terms. We would ask the Comrades to think about this. These terms, this way of thinking cuts anti racist activists off from the working class of the minorities and from working class women and from the working class in general. The result is that good activists who want to fight racism and sexism and try to do so using this approach and these terms cannot find an echo in the working class and tend to give up fighting racism and sexism in the working class movement, in the workplaces, in the rank and file of the unions, in the working class communities. Consequently they tend to fall further under the influence and domination of the liberal petit bourgeois of academia and draw the wrong conclusion that the working class is backward. This is a serious obstacle to the struggle against racism and sexism. We ask the RI Comrades: did you test your ideas, your approach of intersectionality, of class reductionism amongst working class people of the minorities, amongst working class women amongst, amongst the rank and file of the unions, in the workplaces, amongst the working class. If so we would be interested in the response you received.   

For the sake of this discussion we would suggest the Comrades consider the effect if we were to coin the terms race reductionism or gender reductionism. That is, reducing the struggle to one of race and gender and leaving out class. This is what is done by the people who use these terms, and approach. They seek to keep any talk of class out of the struggle, they seek to focus only on race and gender. Comrades can find a quote here and there where the word class appears in the writings of the people who speak about intersectionality and class reductionism. However the reality is that the people who organize around these terms and this approach do not do so in a way that would end the special oppression of racism and sexism. This is so for two reasons.

Firstly, they isolate the struggle against racism and sexism from that of the struggle of the working class as a whole. And secondly, acting in their own class interests they do not raise the need to fight to end capitalism, which as we agree, will always be a vicious racist system. The strata that use these terms, that use these formulations, use them as weapons to keep the issue of capitalism and class out of the struggles against racism and sexism. This is because their own class positions are threatened by the struggle against capitalism and the struggle for working class unity. Those who approach the fight against racism and sexism in this way hurt the struggles of working class minorities, working class women and of the working class as a whole. 

Take for example the different approaches to the recent explosive rage against the predatory sexual culture and increasing opposition to women being used as cheap labor. A central emphasis in our work in this area is to point out the need to organize into and build democratic fighting unions to take on these special oppressions. We have pointed out that on average, women in union work places earn $200 a week more in pay than women in non-union workplaces and that the gender differential in pay is double in non-union workplaces compared to union workplaces. We also point out where comrade Richard, one of the signatories of this statement, was part of the leadership of his union local, the American Federation of State Council Municipal employees local 444, and helped negotiate a contract for the members of this local as far back as 1985 which included clauses which provided protection for minorities and women and people of different sexual orientation. This blue-collar local had a number of women union activists and an openly lesbian president 35 years ago. We include the relevant clauses in this contract as an appendage below.

Where do we see the leaders of the existing anti racist anti sexist groupings that use the terms intersectionality or class reductionism have this emphasis? They do not. Spokesperson after spokesperson who put themselves forward as leaders of these movements are all over the platforms of the women?s? marches, are all over the TV screens but never do they raise the need to organize into unions as the way to fight their special oppression. The reason they do not is that to call on workers to organize independently in the workplace, to confront the bosses at the point of production, would be an obstacle to these leaders in their goal which is to advance in capitalist society. Their relationship with the heads of foundations, with wealthy donors, their hope of being promoted in the corporate capitalist world or bourgeois academic world would suffer if they took up the need to organize into and build democratic fighting unions.

So in order to advance in the capitalist world and win acceptance from the pro-capitalist politicians and millionaire celebrities and get them to speak on the platforms of the rallies against racism and sexism, the economic and class interests of the working class of the minorities, the class interests of working class women are sacrificed. Unlike the dominant figures in the anti racist and anti sexist struggles those of us around the FFWP Blog have continually raised the need to organize into and build democratic fighting unions as a central way to fight racism and sexism. Where we are already in unions we fight to get these unions to take up these issues. We are able to do so because we have stood against the ideas of those who speak of intersectionality and class reductionism, ideas that reflect the interests of the liberal petit bourgeois of the minorities and the liberal petit bourgeois women.

Consider the position of working class women in general, but especially women of color and other marginalized groups with regard to unionization. Many of them are among the lower paid and most abused sections of the working class. While there is a lot wrong with the policies of the union leadership, the majority of workers and even more so workers of color and women workers, understand the advantage of getting a good union job. We presently see a growing movement amongst women hotel workers to organize as a way to stop the sexist abuse they suffer when they go about their cleaning work in the hotels. This is a movement from below and is different from the effort by some union leaders to organize more women as a way to get more dues money. In many of these top down union bureaucracy led movements to organize workers, the union leadership make concessions to the bosses in order to gain their acceptance of the union, so they can get more union dues. Concessions such as no strike clauses are made, in some cases for as long as five years. In other cases the union leadership agrees to no wage increases or wage gains so small that they do not make up for the union dues that the workers then have to pay. In some cases, once an organizing drive is successful and the dues structure set, communication with paid union officials and staffers by activists in the workplace is extremely difficult.

Where is the need to organize into democratic fighting unions to tackle racism and sexism in the writings and campaigning of the leaderships of the anti racist and anti sexist movements? It does not exist.  We fight against the special oppression of all minorities and women regardless of their class background. A minority contractor a woman contractor, has the right not to be discriminated against in government contracts. We defend the right of minority and bourgeois women not to be discriminated against on the basis of their race or gender or sexual orientation.  But in doing so we refuse to leave out the special interests of the working class of the minorities and of working class women. We also seek to make these fights part of the fight for the interests of the working class as a whole. We are not prepared to sacrifice the interests of the working class of the minorities, the interests of working class women, in order to have these struggles "led" by petit bourgeois and bourgeois types. We believe the thinking and terminology of those who use the terms intersectionality and class reductionism sacrifice the interests of the working class of the minorities and women.  

This is a particularly good time to have this discussion as there has been a shift in consciousness, an increase in struggle against racist and sexist abuse and harassment and discrimination. Racial and sexual oppression are in the mass consciousness and mobilizing millions. The challenge for socialists is how to connect with these struggles.

What ideas do we put forward to the millions of people who are taking action against racism, racist state violence, sexism, cruel and racist immigration policies? What ideas do we put forward to the millions of women who are marching and the tens of millions who are being mobilized as never before? What ideas do we put forward in the struggles against racist oppression in the mass mobilizations across the country against racist cop violence, against the Trump encouraged racist marches and ideas and white racist gangs? What ideas do we put forward in the mobilizations around the Black Lives Matter Movement and the mobilizations such as at Charlottesville and the taking of the knee in the sport world and the movements around this? What ideas do we put forward in such events as the explosive movement that drove Trump out of Chicago and in doing so has kept him mainly confined to small cities or rural areas ever since? What ideas do we put forward in the movements against the attacks on undocumented and documented minorities? What ideas do we put forward in the electoral mobilization that defeated Moore in Alabama, a mobilization both against racism and sexism with African American women, mainly working class African American women, leading the charge?  What ideas do we put forward in the near civil war in Standing Rock when Native Americans fought for their rights and environmental justice? 

Being part of, connecting with and assisting these struggles is our task, and it is in this manner we have to judge our ideas and approach and formulations. We are sorry to be direct Comrades, but we do not think the approach of the RI Comrades, the approach and ideas and formulations expressed around the talk of insectionality and class reductionism are correct. We believe they weaken the struggle against racism and sexism.  

We would like to take up a point on which we feel the Rhode Island Comrades misunderstand our view.  We do not say that racism and sexism is rooted in capitalism as the comrades seem to suggest. We say that racism and sexism are rooted in class society, all forms of class society, slavery, feudalism, colonialism, capitalism, and imperialism. When a minority rules a majority, lives off the unpaid labor in one form or another of the majority, it has to divide that majority in order to rule. Racism and sexism are some of the tools that are used to this end. Racism and sexism are inseparable from class society. As well as, and an inseparable part of the divide and rule policies of the ruling minorities, the ruling classes, the ruling minorities in all these class societies, have had to demonize those they exploit in order to ?justify? their exploitation, they have to make out that one race or one gender or one tribal grouping or one nationality or one religion is inferior, cannot "rule themselves" etc.

In every class divided society this is obvious. In every colony that has been established by the colonial and imperialist powers these powers selected out one group of people, either by race or gender or religion or tribe or whatever, and based themselves on these in order to rule. This is why the comrades' emphasis on ?Blackness? is mistaken. Racism, religious sectarianism, tribalism, gender, nationality, all these are used as weapons by ruling classes. Whichever suited the circumstance was used.  British imperialism and the other imperialist powers did not invade Africa because the African People had black skin, they did so to loot the continent and in doing so they had to demonize the African people and also in many cases they turned one section of the black people of Africa against the other. Ireland was England's first colony. The Irish had the same skin color as their English oppressors, as the English colonialists and imperialists. The colonists and imperialists still needed to divide and rule, so there being no color difference they could exploit they used religion. They even went so far as to "plant" peasantry from Scotland and other parts of Europe who were mainly Protestant to use as a foothold and as a means of dividing the Irish peasantry and today the Irish working class along religious lines. Thus they imposed their rule.
 
We have absolute agreement with the comrades when they point to the extreme exploitation of African Americans. However the Comrades write, ?the suffering of blackness is without comparison?. We do not in any way diminish the savage treatment of the African American people but we think it would be important for the RI Comrades to consider the genocide of the Native American people before making this statement. With respect, we believe that the Comrades position here reflects the pressure that emanates from the approach of the strata that organize around the intersectionality and class reductionism way of thinking and see oppression as a question of "blackness". We suggest that focusing on "blackness" reflects the pressures of the African American petit bourgeois. The black petit bourgeois and the black bourgeois in the US do not want to take up other causes, which might distract from their own struggle to get a bigger share of the capitalist pie. Perhaps the pressure of these strata is why there is no mention of the genocide of the Native American people, no mention of the special oppression of the Latino American people, the Asian American people, the Inuit people. The focus on ?Blackness?excludes these people. This reminds us of where sections of the black petit bourgeois and black bourgeois attacked Martin Luther King for opposing the Vietnam War. They did not want to take up the cause of the Vietnamese people because they saw that to do so would undermine their own struggle to be accepted into the higher echelons of the overwhelmingly white US bourgeois. 

It is interesting to see which quotes of African American leaders the RI Comrades select and how the comrades see these quotes and what phase of the political evolution of these African American leaders is selected. Malcolm X said: "You can't have capitalism without racism. You can't operate a capitalist system unless you are vulturistic; you have to have someone else's blood to suck to be a capitalist". Can you imagine the left academia, the liberal petit bourgeois and bourgeois of the minorities, the people who organize around intersectionality and who throw out the accusations of class reductionism saying this? Never in a million years. They would not last long in their positions at Harvard; they would not get promoted in the capitalist corporations with this kind of talk. Malcolm X's statement that you cannot have capitalism without racism means that you cannot end racism without ending capitalism. It does not mean that racism will automatically be ended if capitalism is ended but it does say explicitly that as long as you have capitalism you will have racism. Why is this statement by Malcolm X so little used? Because the present leaders of the anti racist movements support capitalism and seek a better place for themselves within capitalism so they cannot condemn it. It is for the same reason that these strata never quote Malcolm X when he said that African Americans needed to "consider socialist solutions to their problems". This would not go down well in the struggle of these people to advance in the corporate, the capitalist world.  

Martin Luther King said in a speech in 1966: "You can't talk about solving the economic problems of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of the slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folks then. You're messing with the captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water because it really means that we are saying that there is something wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move towards Democratic Socialism?.

This position of Martin Luther King is never mentioned by the African American petit bourgeois or the African American bourgeois today, whether they are in bourgeois academia, or on the corporate boards, or in Congress or in the White House. The so-called black leadership and black academia today conspire to censor these ideas of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King from public debate and from the struggles that are taking place. And they do so for their own class reasons. We note a recent paper by an African American academic about what he calls the ?whitewashing? of Martin Luther King. There is not a mention of Martin Luther King?s talk of capitalism and socialism, his move to try and build a poor peoples? movement in this paper. This academic, like the intersectionality and class reductionist folk censor these ideas, this evolution of Martin Luther King. There are different kinds of "whitewashing

Both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were not only moving towards anti capitalist and socialist conclusions when they were assassinated. They were also moving towards building united movements against racism and capitalism.  Malcolm X, was moving away from his segregationist position to speak of uniting all the oppressed, he was starting to speak at meetings organized by socialist groups, he was supporting union struggles and going on picket lines of unions such as 1199 in New York City. Speaking at Columbia University 2-18-65 Malcolm X said:
 "It is incorrect to classify the revolt of the Negro as simply a racial conflict of black against white, or as purely an American problem, we are today seeing a global rebellion of the oppressed against the oppressor, the exploited against the exploiter?. No mention of the centrality of ?blackness?.

Such talk was threatening to US capitalism. Martin Luther King was assassinated when he was moving to organize all poor people together in his poor peoples? campaign and on his poor peoples? march on Washington and when he was marching with striking workers, janitors, members of The American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees union in Memphis.  US imperialism saw these leaders were becoming a real threat when they began to oppose capitalism and when they began to organize to unite all the oppressed, all working people. These leaders were head and shoulders above the leaders of the anti racist and anti sexist movements of today.  The intersectional and class reductionist folks censor the reality of the evolution of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. It is the task of socialists to stand up to these people and explain the class interests that these intersectional and class reductionist strata represent and how they damage the struggles against racism and sexism and damage the interests of the working class as a whole.

A righteous explosion of rage arose among African Americans in the major US cities in the late 1960's, especially after the US capitalist class assassinated Martin Luther King. Urban centers were set ablaze. The dominant US bourgeois concluded they had to make changes in their form of rule. They assassinated what were from their point of view the most dangerous African American leaders, the ones who were talking of capitalism and socialism, the ones who were talking of uniting all the oppressed, the one who were marching on union picket lines, the ones they could not buy off. As they applied the weapons or repression and assassination on the one hand they simultaneously opened the doors to, and encouraged, the rise of an African American petit bourgeois and bourgeois. The Black churches were drawn in as part of this. It is the interests of these strata that are reflected in the intersectionality and class reductionism talk of today. 

The Comrades quote the Black Panthers. But not where where the Panthers said they fought white capitalism not with black capitalism but with socialism. Again a statement never used by the present leaderships of the anti racist movement. The RI Comrades quote Huey Newton as saying: "Never convinced that destroying capitalism would automatically destroy racism, I felt however, that we could not destroy racism without wiping out its economic foundation."Precisely. We agree one hundred percent with this statement of Huey Newton. We would ask the RI Comrades to contrast this to the statements of the leaders of the anti racist movements today. There is no comparison. And again we believe the reason for this is that these movements are dominated by middle class types who reflect the interests of that strata, and these interests are a bigger share of the capitalist pie for them.

We would like to try and summarize our views. 

You cannot have capitalism without racism and sexism.
You cannot end capitalism without a united working class movement. 

You cannot build a united working class movement without fighting racism and sexism.
The class struggle and the struggle against racism and sexism to be successful have to be indissolubly linked together. 

A concrete example for the RI Comrades consideration. Some years ago a County board of supervisors was outsourcing janitorial work. Private for profit contractors, including minority contractors, lined up to compete for the public spending. Under the usual pressure from the local union movement, the contract went to a ?minority? janitorial outfit that was union but was not owned by an African American.  A non unionized African American contractor appealed to the board saying that he could get ?them? cheaper, "them" meaning "workers"cheaper, in this case this also meant African American workers. What would be the position of the Comrades in such a situation? How would your talk of ?Blackness? allow you to intervene in this situation?

Statistics show that being union means higher wages and better benefits. There is a higher percentage of black workers in unions than white. Most of the workers in this particular community where this contract was handed out were black. Having a union job would have meant higher living standards, better wages, and health benefits for in this case mainly black families. The black contractor had no solidarity with the mainly black workers. In fact he promised the bosses? politicians that he could get them cheaper.  His class interests were paramount. To hell with the interests of the mainly black workers he would have been hiring. He had no thought of ?Blackness? in his approach. His interest was profit. How do we intervene in this with ?blackness? as our guide? On the side of the black contractor or on the side of the black worker?

The Comrades quote George Jackson where he spoke of the ?black colony? in the US.  Over the past 100 years US capitalism has spread its productive forces to just about every corner of the US. In doing so it has integrated the working class to an extent never before experienced. There is not a black colony in the US. African Americans are a specially oppressed section of the working class. We would suggest the Comrades try to intervene amongst the black working class with this analysis that they are a black colony.

We would like to comment on the Comrades use of the term ?the symbolic economy of humanity?. However, with respect, we do not know what it means. We would also like to mention that many of the sources the Comrades use such as the Black Panthers, were weak to say the least on issues such as the special oppression of women and people with different sexual orientations. We are more than willing to learn from groups such as the Black Panthers but we must also see their weaknesses and mistakes just as we see our own weaknesses and mistakes. The Comrades also comment on what we say, that the terms intersectionality, class reductionism, the approach from which these flow, reflects the interests of the petit bourgeois liberals and left academia and protest that they, the RI Comrades, ?do not belong to either of these camps?. We agree that Comrades are not part of either of these groups but this does not mean that these camps cannot influence the Comrades.  

On the Rhode Island Comrades Face Book page there is a post dealing with a number of points concerning racism. The first on the list is that no Irish were ever slaves. The signatories of this statement have had many struggles and broken many friendships with white Americans, mainly Irish Americans who claim that the Irish were slaves just like African Americans were slaves and look at how the Irish got over it so what are African Americans on about. The origins of this argument are racist and this argument serves the US ruling class in their special oppression of African Americans and in their dividing of the US working class. There is no comparison with how African Americans were treated and how the Irish were treated. African Americans worked for over three centuries without pay. African Americans were put down by mass slaughter and lynching when they rebelled or showed the slightest sign of discontent with their lot. African American families were broken up and their children sold off. After the end of slavery there was the murderous Jim Crow. African Americans were still being lynched up to the 1960?s. This was not the experience of Irish Americans. The experience of African Americans in the US was qualitatively different, qualitatively more brutal than that of Irish Americans.

There is dispute over whether any Irish were ever slaves or were they all indentured servants. It is clear that the overwhelming majority of the Irish who ended up in the US and the Caribbean in the early centuries of colonization, who came or who were forced to come, did so as indentured servants. That is, they had a contract which gave a fixed time at which their being tied to the plantation owners, the colonists would end. While nothing like as brutal as the lot of African American slaves this was still a life of extreme exploitation and brutality. That this is so is seen by the many occasions when white indentured servants joined together in revolt along with African Americans held in slavery. In the plantations of the Caribbean they ran away together. This became such a regular and threatening development that the colonists passed laws to prevent inter racial relationships and carried out a ferocious campaign of terror to crush this tendency towards unity and part of this was driving into the heads of the white indentured servants that they would be killed, would be crushed if they threw in their lot with the African American slaves. To try and see everything in terms of race is incorrect. When it suited the white racist ruling classes they were on the odd occasion prepared to allow black people to own African slaves. This happened in the Caribbean, Haiti, and Jamaica and in some Southern states like Louisiana. There were also occasions when African Americans were used in the US military to suppress the Native American people. In parts of Africa tribal differences were used to divide and rule. Trying to reduce everything to one of ?blackness? is a mistake.  
 
British 19th century images of Irish peasantry
The issue of the Irish who had the same skin color as their oppressors is a problem for the ideas expressed by those who try to reduce the issue of racism in the US to one of "blackness".  Comrades make use of the writings of numerous authors concerning racism. With respect we would suggest the Comrades look at the works of Theodore Allen, specifically his two volume set "The Invention of the White Race". The first volume is almost exclusively about Ireland and how British colonialism treated the Catholic population there and shows how some of the laws that were used against Catholics there were later used against African Americans in the US. This writer also shows how the term "white" as a racial definition never appeared in the colonies until after Bacon's Rebellion, a movement that ended up being a multi racial rebellion against the plantation owning ruling class. The Many Headed Hydra is also another excellent source which deals with this issue, shows how the struggle for dominance through the ages by the various ruling classes consciously and deliberately created divisions, racial, gender, national, tribal, religion etc. Lerone Bennett makes this evident here: