Category Archives: United States

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Montezuma’s Revenge

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MONTEZUMA’S REVENGE

From Immigrant Rights to National Liberation

By Carlos Petroni

When empires arise throughout history, people who succumb to their ruling classes are “shackled,” “colonized,” “civilized” and “protected” from themselves and their own “weaknesses” by the tyrants of the time. There is one law, to which all of us in this world are subject, which is that we cannot be dominated if we are not subjugated by force. A ruling class must seize our countries, our markets, our labor power as their property and force us to spill our blood and that of other workers and the oppressed during wars of conquest in order to maximize the extraction of all possible wealth possible.

When empires decline, rebellions inevitably begin, and with the ousting of rulers the oppressed can reclaim and rebuild their own land. The prisons and jails are opened; people flow into the streets and break the barricades that until then were invisible. They ignite the fires of liberation in order to be rulers in their own land, revive their culture and take pride in who they are.

There are 50 million Latinos in the United States. A huge majority of them are Mexicanos and their brothers and sisters in history, the Central Americans, and their cousins, the South Americans. They are the sons, heirs and  hostages of “Manifest Destiny,” the plan for a US empire that plundered the still young, inexperienced, weak and semi-unpopulated nations and peoples of Old Mexico and everywhere south of the USA.

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The Working Class Movement On its way to become a revolutionary social force?

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By Carlos Petroni

The labor aristocracy and the labor bureaucracy are the most difficult obstacles to overcome to advance the mass movement in the midst of a situation of deep crisis  of the capitalist economy and social breakdown.

In places as different as Europe, the United States or Argentina, in the face of this political, economic or social crisis one can perceive the absence of an organized workers’ movement possessing a concrete political program and a leadership that having realized the depth of the changes in the world, mobilizes massively, providing leadership for all of the classes of society affected by the crisis of capitalism and formulates a workers’ socialist alternative.

Without concrete political program and effective leadership, there may be mass protests that can cause an imbalance and even the replacement of governments or political parties in power, however it will not achieve a change of system for one that would guarantee full employment, a sustainable economy, good salaries, quality education and housing, and universal health care for all.

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What is the working class aristocracy? What is the Labor Bureaucracy? Why do they exist?

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Resolution of International Left

“The trade union bureaucrats, like the bureaucrats of false Communism, live in the atmosphere of aristocratic prejudices of the upper strata of the workers. It will be a tragedy if the oppositionists are infected even in the slightest degree with these qualities. We must not only reject and condemn these prejudices; we must burn them out of our consciousness to the last trace. We must find the road to the most deprived, to the darkest strata of the proletariat, beginning with the Negro, whom capitalist society has converted into a pariah, and who must learn to see in us his revolutionary brothers. And this depends wholly upon our energy and devotion to the work”

Trotsky, Leon, Militant

May 1, 1929

To address the debate over whether a sector of the working class (the labor aristocracy) benefits from the surplus value extracted from the countries oppressed and exploited by imperialism, we must start with the analysis of the origin of the labor aristocracy itself. This is also necessary in order to see how the bourgeois project that incorporates a layer of the working class in to a higher level of benefits, salaries and privileges — as practiced in every country in the world — is part of the dominant class “divide and rule” strategy against the oppressed and exploited.

The emergence of the working class aristocracy is closely linked to the needs of the bourgeoisie to: a) guarantee the economic exploitation of central resources without the hassle of social conflicts; b) gain a foothold in the labor movement to ensure their domination of the whole by dividing and overexploiting most of the workers. The creation of the labor aristocracy is the other side of the coin of the maintenance of a permanent army of unemployed workers. The former guarantees a loyal segment of the working class while the latter serves as a latent threat, an available replacement of employed workers, and a way to depress their wages.

With the advent of imperialism, the bourgeoisie sought to ensure that the value added to raw materials extracted from the colonies and semi-colonies was produced in the Metropolis and also, this bourgeoisie needed the support of its own working class as its social base in order to pursue economic interventions in foreign markets and the use of force to guarantee it (wars, armed interventions, blockades, etc).

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The Crisis of the Empire, the Polarization, the Disintegration and the Movement

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All the workers and the oppressed in the United States know first hand the depth of the crisis happening in the country. Without even seeing the statistics, most people know that unemployment has doubled. While officially reported at 10%, reflecting only those who are still collecting unemployment insurance, in the real world it is actually about 20%.

Social services have been cut drastically (by 18% according to official figures) as education, health services, housing, bridges and roads (but not limited thereto) are all crumbling in plain sight.

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The Theft of Mexican Territories, US Imperialism is born

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The Theft of Mexican Territories,

US Imperialism is born

By Jorge Suárez

Monroe Doctrine: “America for Americans.” Americans means citizens of the USA, of course.

Manifest Destiny: the ideology that the US is destined to extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast; attacking and destroying the indigenous people of this land and stealing the Mexican territories was just part of the process.

1817-1829 – The colonization of Texas by settlers from the US began during the Mexican war of independence and at the expense of and against the wishes of those to the East (1817).

1821 – After independence, Mexico suffers widespread economic destruction and a commercial blockade enforced by defeated Spain. The US begins to weave its plans of conquest.

1823 – The US recognizes Mexico’s independence in exchange for agreements allowing further expansion of the USA.

1824 – Fall of the self proclaimed emperor Iturbide in Mexico and proclamation of the Federal Republic.

1824-1829 – Guadalupe Victory; First President of Mexico

1825 – Mexican Congress authorizes the settlement of US colonizers (mainly English or Anglo-Saxons) in the state of Texas. These 300 slave-owning families were originally allowed to establish themselves in a specific limited area, but quickly expanded their plantations taking up ever more Mexican land. This soon turned into a full-scale invasion with the creation of landholders owning huge areas, alarming the Mexican government with the rapid escalation.

1825 – Mexico abolishes slavery.

1829 – Mexico expedites the decree of abolition. The Mexican government (under President Vicente Guerrero) attempts to implement the decree abolishing slavery effective in Texas and tries to stop US colonization there. The USA itself would not abolish slavery until 1865, as part of the conclusion of the US Civil War.

1830 – President Anastasio Bustamante prohibits the entry of more US colonizers and expels the US ambassador Poinsett for interfering in the internal affairs of Mexico. The same ambassador was involved later in “buying” Texas from Mexico.

1835 – The independence and the subsequent US annexation of Texas is on the horizon. Mexico votes in a new constitution and becomes consumed with political chaos due to division between contending political forces there. The Texas colonizers form a militia and stage an armed uprising against the government of Santa Ana under the pretext that the federal system had become too centralized.

The Conservative Party/Centralists (feudal landlords, upper clergy, older existing military caste) battles politically with the Liberal Party/Federalists (the rising bourgeoisie of liberal landlords, public officials, younger military officers, and advanced intellectuals).

The colonizers’ militia is financed directly by the US with weapons, money, ammunition and even gunboats, while the US publicly claims neutrality.

1836 – The US government militarily defeats the Mexican army in the battle of the Rio San Jacinto, proclaiming Texas as an “independent” country. Mexico does not recognize the independence of Texas.

1838-1839 – First French intervention in Mexico (War of the Pastries). This intervention helps the North Americans in their plans for annexation.

1843 – The Mexican government declares that they consider the annexation of Texas an act of war against Mexico.

1845 – Texas annexed as a US state.

1846 – President Polk sends troops toward the Mexican territory and declares war on Mexico through the first armed conflicts with Mexican troops.

1847 – The US occupies the territories of “Alta California” and “Nuevo Mexico.” These territories are now known as the states of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and California. In March of 1847 the US invades Mexico through the Port of Vera Cruz and on September 14th they occupy Mexico City.

1848 – February, with the US flag waving in the Zocalo (main square) of Mexico City, the US forces Mexico to sign the “Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo” by which the US appropriates more than a million square miles of Mexican territory.

To conceal this historic theft of Mexican territory and portray it for history as an economic transaction, the US pays Mexico the insignificant sum of 15 million dollars. The land stolen from Mexico constitutes almost one third of the current USA and more than half of what was then Mexico. US history books claim the territories were “transferred.”

1848 – 1855 – The California Gold Rush helps complete the Westward expansion. At the time the US concern was to repopulate that vast territory with US settlers. The Gold Rush helped solve this problem. 300,000 people come to California during these years from other parts of the US and other countries.

1862 – 1867 – The Second French intervention in Mexico sees the installation of Emperor Maximillian from France under the reign and with the support of Napoleon III.

1865 – Slavery is abolished in the USA at the conclusion of the US Civil War (1861-1865) between the North and the slavery-supporting South (the Confederacy), which included Texas. The maintenance of slavery in Texas was one of the key factors in the previous theft of Mexican lands. Texas had been a key state in the decision of the South to secede from the US, separating themselves from the Northern states.

1867 – The French invasion is defeated on Cinco de Mayo (The Battle of May 5th), but the war with France continues for several more years. The US celebrates this French defeat as a victory against European imperialism, notwithstanding its own conquest under the Monroe Doctrine still being enforced. For Mexicanos, Cinco de Mayo is not a celebration sponsored by Budweiser, but rather the beginning of a period of re-composition of their country that continues to this day.l

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Collapse of US Industries May Bring the Empire to its Knees

COLLAPSE OF US INDUSTRIES MAY BRING THE EMPIRE TO ITS KNEES
By Carmen Lampago

The United States is at the end of its cycle as the world’s hegemonic power and one step away from its collapse as an imperialist power. Its future will be determined to a certain degree by its ability to delay the collapse of major branches of its industry, now heavily subsidized and under overwhelming pressure from competition abroad. This is not, however, due solely to foreign enemies and competitors as much as it is of its own making.

People in the United States are used to enjoying the benefits of being in the largest economy in the world, based on a huge industrial and financial base and surrounded by the most powerful domestic market in history. These benefits have been eroding and the material base which made them possible are disappearing as the US is losing ground to a number of fast-developing economies, many of which – if not all – were nurtured and initially developed by US capital.
Germany and Japan, reconstructed by the US in the post World War II period, became its strongest competitors. Europe as a whole followed suit. Now China, India, Brazil and a number of other countries are undercutting the US economy from all sides. Well before the recent earthquake and tsunami, China had advanced past Japan to become the world’s number two economy.

While its overall size still favors the US, a close look would reveal a scenario in which critical US industries are surrendering to the international momentum of their Chinese counterparts in textiles, machinery, tools, light weapons, steel, home appliances and more. In terms of economic power, China offers a tremendous challenge to US hegemony.

China’s is not the only economy making gains on the US. While China is taking over much of the manufacturing that used to be done in the US, India is taking over many of the service sector jobs. Initially restricted to lower-skilled service jobs like those in call centers, recent work moving to India now includes more skilled white-collar jobs. Tax returns, financial services and analysis, and engineering are increasingly being handled in India. And in the Western hemisphere, Brazil is making solid gains in economic and political power.

With loss of economic power comes a related loss in political power. The US used to hold a lot of political sway due to its capability as the buyer of last resort. Historically, the US was able to support the economies of allies by propping up the value of the dollar relative to foreign currencies and granting access to the most powerful consumer base in the world. That’s no longer the case. The decline in the value of the dollar will continue in lock step with the over printing of paper money by the US Federal Reserve Bank.

Between shipping much of the country’s job base to other countries and the 2009 economic crash, US unemployment has increased and consumer confidence and spending have decreased, ergo the domestic market has taken a big hit. Increased spending on wars and decreased spending on education have further weakened the US economy.

Since the political future of the country is tied to the unemployment rate, the remaining industries which provide jobs are highly valued both politically and economically. These industries (textiles, auto) are heavily subsidized by the US government. Otherwise they could not withstand global competition. Now China is preparing to become a major automobile exporter. Millions of cars, and more every month, are sold in China’s domestic market every year.

The economic crisis and the bailouts of financial institutions and the automakers – policies shared by both Democrats and Republicans to save them from bankruptcy and foreign competition from China – is endangering the life expectancy of major branches of US industry. Money for subsidies has limits. Subsidies cannot be sustained over long periods.
If China overtakes the US in auto exports, that will mean the collapse of the already threatened capitol of the automakers in Detroit and a dozen other cities based on auto production in the US. Manufacturing growth in China, Brazil and other countries is threatening other industries, and US agricultural production is only maintained artificially by government subsidy.

An estimated 30% to 40% of the entire US industrial working class is threatened by this somber future.  It is useful here to remember than the industrial working class in the US declined progressively from about 50% of the private sector nonsupervisory workforce in the 1960s to 29% in 1992. Now it is estimated at 25%. In absolute terms, the industrial workforce peaked in the late 1970s at about 22 million and is now at the same level as in the 1960s or slightly more than 20 million production workers. (Department of Commerce Statistics)

This gradual loss of jobs, a decline over decades, which in itself has been disastrous for many workers, is now threatening to become a rapid loss of millions of jobs if critical branches of industry collapse or go bankrupt.
American manufacturing is bleeding lost jobs, which also represents a massive drop in products that once were made in America. According to one economist, the country currently doesn’t produce any television sets. Computer manufacturing in the U.S. employs about 166,000 people; in 1975, it employed almost 300,000. Meanwhile, Asia’s computer manufacturing sector has about 1.5 million workers and a single tech manufacturer, Fox Conn, employs more than 800,000 people. (Daily Finance, 10/17/2010)

“Other numbers illuminate the impact of this massive job drain. At the end of 2009, 15.7 million people were unemployed, while 12.6 million — 20% fewer — worked in manufacturing. This represented only 9% of the American working populace; at manufacturing’s height in 1960, 29% of Americans were employed in the sector.” (Daily Finance, 10/17/2010). These are outdated figures. The reality today, a year later, is much worse.

The collapse of a couple of branches of US industry, let’s say manufacturing and auto, will multiply these figures geometrically. Just do the math. The loss of manufacturing alone could mean the loss of 10 million jobs and the ratio of the employed and unemployed could end up as 2.7 million employed to 25 million unemployed!

Add in losses in the auto, petrochemical, and machinery industries and the emerging picture is a total collapse of the US economy, the shutting down of business. With that goes government, the political regime and the state. In sum, social relations would most likely collapse.

Meanwhile in the government jobs and administration spheres, the decline has been slower over the years. What is happening in Wisconsin and now spreading throughout the country is an indication of the rapidly deteriorating situation there as well. Besides, with the disappearance of industrial branches of the economy will come the collapse of public administration.

After attempting to push for short-term gains and profits over sustainable growth, US business interests are now reaping what they have sown. The recent nationwide campaign against public sector unions, highlighted by the battle in Wisconsin, is making this push, and the results, more apparent. Now that the private sector has been reduced to less than 7% unionized, the public sector, at 36% unionized is the next target.

The plan is to extract as much surplus value from a declining workforce with the least resistance possible while the US bourgeoisie shifts its interests more rapidly into preserving their investments abroad. They are looking for a dominant worldwide finance structure to supply them with the profits of declining domestic industry and manufacturing – with bad results so far – and to try to dismantle every attempt at worker organization domestically to avoid the inevitable social explosion that a collapse will bring.

To put an end to this situation, the tactics of “Buy American” and simple demonstrations and protests are as useless as fighting a lion with a fork. The US union bureaucracy can not be reformed and will not move a finger. Therefore workers need to throw them out of the existing unions or to create new unions and confederations that take up the fights with methods not seen since the 1930s like occupations, militant strikes and electoral action independent and in opposition to the Democrats and Republicans.

 

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The End of the US Empire

The End of the US Empire 

By Anastasia Gómez

The US Empire is in a full descent and vertiginous freefall. Once the most powerful empire on earth, it now has no money, its industries are failing, it has a chronic high unemployment rate and it can no longer afford the multimillion dollar governmental subsidies to its agricultural and industrial companies that they depend on.

The wealth disparity between the poor and the rich is the largest it has ever been. Domestic production has been visibly reduced because of the transfer of capital and technology to other countries. The external US debt exceeds 10 trillion dollars. “Made in China” merchandise packs the shelves of all its stores, as it does in every country of the world.

Similarly, we see the former 4-star general of the world, with its mighty military forces and superiority mired in two wars for the last decade in the Middle East with no workable exit strategy in sight. The hands of the USA are tied limiting its intervention in the uprisings of the masses in North Africa. Even its capability to intervene in its own backyard is questioned by the ability displayed by Brazil’s leadership of the UN forces, including US troops, in Haiti. We can see that its military and technological power is insufficient for fighting asymmetrical wars and that it can no longer accumulate the material gains of wars, such as oil.

The US Empire has an increasing difficulty making its voice heard and getting its proposals implemented in international organizations like the G8 or in the G20. At each conference of these and similar groups it becomes more difficult for the US to push forward, in a unilateral manner, its political and economic priorities, such as the regulation of international prices or the establishment of commercial trade treaties. This is the case in South American, where the power and influence of Brazil has up to this point not allowed the extension of trade deals like NAFTA or the Free Trade of the Americas Act to countries in the region.

The US is currently led by a president who is incapable of resolving the financial problems that haunt the country and who is continuing the politics of Bush and the Republicans before him. Until now, the steps Obama has taken to control the crisis have been timid, insignificant and have had little impact. His policies are very different from those implemented during the 30s New Deal in terms of the development of industrial and agricultural production, investment in employment, trade deals and distribution of social benefits. For decades the US has been fundamentally focused on enlarging the gains of financial capital. Without achieving this, the unity and support of the ruling class cannot be certain.

At the same time the sectors of society that carried Obama to the presidency have become disillusioned by his delivery. The “hope” and enthusiastic support have disappeared. We can see how the previous illusions in the promises Obama made, within the sectors of the masses that carried him to the presidency, have been lost, constantly lowering his credibility and enthusiastic support.

An increasingly frustrated, unhappy and noisy petite bourgeoisie is organizing to recover the “large imperialist power” through ultra right organizations like the Tea Party. The previous bipartisan solutions are insufficient to solve the current problems of this empire.

WHY IS IT FALLING?

The empire is falling because its ruling class, seeking to increase profits, has inflicted on itself a mortal blow. It is falling, because during the past four decades the country lost millions of jobs as businesses relocated their centers of production to other interior geographical areas and countries with lower costs of production and more relaxed environmental standards. At the same time the rulers initiated a process of world economic re-structuring that is now demanding that they pay for their choices.

The United States has experienced serious economic and political crises in the past; however, today things are different. The relocation of its production centers has triggered the rapid development of those countries that are rising today as the main competitors to the US: China, India and Brazil. Today, nations that not too long ago were orbiting around US and European imperialism have begun to revolve around the new giants, developing new relationships of economic interdependence and political subjugation. Something similar happened after World War II when the US invested in Germany and Japan to ensure US influence over the markets of these two countries. The US did this under the guise of reconstruction and in just three decades both countries became main US competitors.

That is to say: the natural drive of the bourgeoisie in its search for supremacy and maximum profits is what leads it to its destruction. This historic premise has been understood perfectly since the origin of the Communist Manifesto, but today this premise will determine the fate of the largest bourgeoisie empire that the world has ever known. The displacement of the centers of production produced greater profits for the bourgeoisie, but at the same time caused the loss of jobs and of productivity within the empire. Its domestic market is collapsing under the burden of its debt and the destruction of the planet has been hastened by relocating factories to areas with less stringent environmental regulations.

We have seen many empires throughout history go through stages of creation, development, decline and decay all in correspondence with predetermined historical laws. The specter of imperial disintegration has devastated various geographical, political and economic formations such as multinational, colonial and imperial structures throughout history. It has been economic crisis, political fragmentation, monumental historical events and above all acute class struggle, which have finished off these empires.

The fall of the US Empire places us today in the context of a world capitalist system that is in mortal agony. It is a global system of exploitation that is historically exhausted and cannot guarantee our survival or the survival of the planet and must use all of its strength chaotically struggling not to disappear. These forces create brutal super exploitation in the new key areas of the world economy and restrict the existing gains of workers in order to prepare for increasingly undemocratic controlling regimes.

EMPIRES DO NOT FALL BY THEMSELVES 

Despite the situation we have described and the underlying reasons as to why we believe in the future we will see the death of US imperialism, the accumulated wealth in this country over its many years of domination is vast. It will take some time for the existing infrastructure to reach the level of deterioration seen in “third world” countries or former colonies. Yet in a short time it will reach the level of its European counterparts.

 The same infrastructure in the hands of the workers would shake the world. However, since the 1990’s we have not seen large mobilizations of large sectors of the labor movement. The struggles we have seen have been defensive, isolated and rarely combined with political analysis and action. The percentage of labor that is unionized has been falling for years. The existing worker’s organizations are completely useless, especially because of their reliance on the state through their relationship with the Democratic Party. No independent labor unions currently exist.

Since the crisis of 2008, all labor contract negotiations have resulted only in the reduction of employee benefits because of the fear of more layoffs. The response of workers and the US masses that are still benefiting from the privileges of living in the empire have been minimal (with notable and promising exceptions like the workers in Wisconsin recently). Workers have been brainwashed into accepting the blows inflected by their employers and the loss of their benefits, one after another, all in the interest of job preservation.

Latino workers, especially Mexicans, in the United States will definitely play an important role in the direction of the future. In fact, it has been these workers who have been most receptive to unionization and the unions with the highest membership of these workers have for several decades been the most militant. However the decisive struggles of Latino workers, as seen in their continued protests, especially in the impressive national strike of 2006, are most successful outside of these unions, through collective organizations in the community or through the potential creation of alternative trade unions that are independent and truly combative.

In historical terms, these workers, who number in the millions, could be one of the weapons that inflict fatal blows on US imperialism. This is because, despite their massive struggles for integration, for political and human rights, imperialism is unable in this time of total decay and crisis to absorb them or concede to their demands. This situation may leave them no other option than reclaiming the stolen Mexican territories and building a national liberation movement.

The deeply imbedded ideology of US imperialism, of fierce individualism, has taken root in the American people, and a relentless struggle will be necessary to get rid of this ideology in order to enable full participation and solidarity among workers. The possibilities for workers in this country are enormous, while simultaneously, the consequences of not acting and waiting for everything to fall will be fatal.

Fatal, because if workers don’t take up the struggle, the frustrations of the petit bourgeoisie and other sectors outside of the production process will increase and promote movements of a fascist character. Groups like the Tea Party are growing and gaining threatening power in national politics. They have the potential to create crises like that produced by domestic terrorist attacks associated with right-wing groups such as the 1995 federal building bombing in Oklahoma City.

There are huge possibilities precisely because the vast infrastructure of this country, in terms of technology, industry and natural resources, would give US workers an unprecedented basis for social transformation that could nourish a revolutionary process towards socialism. For this to happen, a relentless ideological struggle is necessary for workers to gain control of this infrastructure and not drown in the whirlpool created by the current owners of this empire.