revolution

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Being Held Hostage by the Cost of Insurrection

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 29/06/2020 - 2:20pm in

The US is in the middle of a low-grade civil insurrection; that’s what all these protests and riots are. (When you torch an entire police station, that counts as insurrection.)

When a civil insurrection happens, riots and protests, and bad stuff will also occur. People will be hurt and killed, property will be damaged. Some of it will be done by the police or military, but some of it will be done by those rising. People will be hurt or killed who don’t deserve it. Property will be torched whose owners didn’t deserve it.

That’s a given. An insurrection is like war: Bad shit will happen to innocents.

This is why the bar for insurrection is high. It’s higher than for war, because, in war, the population and elites think the damage will be done to the other country. (They may turn out wrong, but that’s what they believe.)

So, yeah, bad things have happened during this US insurrection. That was a given, and anyone who thought it would be otherwise is a fool.

This is, however, what elites count on: That the costs of insurrection will be high, and made higher by the elite reaction. Most violent protests were started by riot cops being violent with protesters who were peaceful.

Because the cost is so high, people put up with terrible situations for a long time. The damage drips and is spread out over time and the community, whereas the costs of insurrection are immediate and hit a lot of people more or less at the same time.

The death and casualty count from the US not having universal health care is far higher than any possible casualty count from these riots. Nor have as many people been killed during this insurrection as are killed by cops in the US every year (a number in excess of 1,000).

By the pure math, a very high cost should be acceptable to tear down the current order. If all that did was move police violence to a European number (1k), enact universal health care (26k), end wars (slightly under 1k), and allow the US to deal with a pandemic properly, the saved lives would be 28K yearly, plus a few hundred thousand from the pandemic.

This leaves out people committing suicide, the highest incarceration rate in the world, the epidemic of drug abuse, the death and suffering from inflated drug prices, and all the suffering caused by massive income inequality.

At the most conservative estimate, if you overthrew the current order at the cost of 100,000 lives, it would pay back in five to six years.

The argument for all out revolt, replacing the current system with Nordic style social democracy (Finland/Norway, not Sweden) is airtight if you think you can succeed. (I know many people, observing the US military lose almost every war since WWII, think it is undefeatable in a country far better suited to guerilla warfare even than Afghanistan, but of course, there is a very good chance it would not come to military vs. population.)

No one condones violence that hurts the innocent or destroys the property of innocents. But if you take violence entirely off the menu, and won’t do full social-solidarity general strikes, then a depraved elite (which the US has) will simply ignore you and outwait you.

Minneapolis City council just approved, with every councilor voting for it, a motion to end the Minneapolis police department.

Clutch pearls all you want, but insurrections are always going to be at least somewhat nasty.

But the question isn’t the hurt of the insurrection, the question is whether the status quo after it is better enough to swamp that harm.

Don’t target innocents. Also don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by those who are hurting even more innocents right now, “We can kill tens of thousands and impoverish millions while destroying entire countries, but if you add even one more innocent life to the total opposing us, you are the bad ones.”

No.

(Also, ignore scaremongering about Stalin and Mao. Communism of that variety is long dead and NO ONE is trying to re-impose it.)

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Resist Evictions and Foreclosures

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 23/06/2020 - 11:34pm in

How to Stop Eviction — End Eviction

            COVID-19 has created the ideal medium for a summer of continuous protest.

Political protest demonstrations used to be weekend affairs in which angry leftists shouted at empty government offices before shuffling home Sunday afternoon to gear up for the workweek. With one out of four workers having filed for unemployment and many more working from home, tens of millions of Americans have free time to march in the streets. Sporting events, movie theaters, retail stores and even houses of worship are closed due to the coronavirus lockdown.

The usual distractions of a leap year are absent; the summer Olympics are canceled and presidential campaigning is so close to nonexistent as to be irrelevant. Politics is no longer about the politicians. Politics is in the street, where there’s nothing to do but gather, chant and dodge teargas cannisters.

            The vacuum created by the lockdown and the impotence of a political class that no longer pretends to lead during a staggering medico-economic crisis has been filled by Black Lives Matter following the murder of George Floyd. BLM has won important symbolic victories like the toppling of Confederate statues and a renewed push to remove the Stars and Bars from the Mississippi state flag. As the movement against police brutality and institutional racism continues, look for more substantive systemic reforms in policing.

            What comes next? The eviction and foreclosure resistance movement.

Thanks to Congress’ reluctance to pass another big stimulus package, protests in general will continue into the foreseeable future. But they won’t all be against evil cops. A looming eviction and foreclosure crisis could broaden the struggle from one centered around racial grievances into a class-based fight for economic justice.

            Courts are about to get flooded by eviction hearings. 30% of Americans missed their June housing payment. Supplemental $600-per-week unemployment checks expire July 31st.

“I think we will enter into a severe renter crisis and very quickly,” Columbia Law professor Emily Benfer, a housing expert who tracks eviction policies, told The New York Times May 30th. Without government action, she warned, “we will have an avalanche of evictions across the country.”

            There is no sign that the government will lift a finger to help people who lost their jobs and will soon face homelessness. Even Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, the most progressive members of the U.S. Senate, refuse to consider a rent or mortgage payment holiday. They support a tepid “moratorium,” not a rent freeze. Under a moratorium back rent would pile up and all come due at once later on. Millions of people would be kicked outside this winter during a possible “second wave” of COVID-19. That’s the best scenario. Odds are, there won’t even be a moratorium. Congress will do little to nothing to help struggling tenants and homeowners.

            Millions of homeowners and renters displaced from their homes during the 2008-09 subprime mortgage meltdown received zero assistance from the government. There were no protests worth mentioning. This time will be different.

            First, there’s safety in numbers. The scale of this eviction crisis is much bigger. Three times more people have lost their jobs than during the Great Recession, during a much shorter period of time. Members of an eviction resistance movement can help one another block county sheriffs from kicking them out. Among those who are still working, the tenuous nature of the labor market has everyone in there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I mode. We are in this together.

            Second, this economic cataclysm wasn’t some act of God. People were ordered to shelter in place by the government. That’s why they lost their jobs, not a seemingly random stock market fluctuation. Targets of eviction and foreclosure won’t internalize any shame. They know they haven’t done anything wrong. They social distanced as asked; why should they sleep on the streets now because public health officials required them to go without income?

            Third, Black Lives Matter has demonstrated the efficacy of street protests and of grassroots solidarity. Cops are currently about as popular as an STD. How enthusiastically will police respond to a landlord’s request to fight their way through an angry crowd to throw a family onto the street? It depends on the municipality. Things will quickly turn ugly.

            Finally, memories of how the big banks squandered their Bush-Obama bailouts on exorbitant CEO salaries and renovating luxurious executive washrooms are still fresh. Even on the right, it will be tough to garner political support for banks trying to remove homeowners whose only crime was following stay-at-home orders.

            There is a long but now largely forgotten history of tenant resistance movements in this country, mostly led by the communist Left. Each 1st of the month between now and this fall brings us closer to a new radical struggle between people who ask nothing more than to keep a roof over their heads and a system that prioritizes the right to own and control property over the most basic of human needs.

            That movement will bring us closer to revolution.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of “Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.

Anarchafeminist Manifesto 1.0

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 18/05/2020 - 6:11am in

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We live under a global menocracy. Women are oppressed all over the world and all over themselves. In a time...

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Shaw’s Classic Defence of Socialism for Women Part Two

George Bernard Shaw, The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism, foreword by Polly Toynbee (London: Alma Classics 2012).

Trade Unions

He discusses the unions, which he describes as ‘proletarian capitalists’. They are there to protect the workers, who have to sell their labour just as the businessman has to sell the product they create. Unions are there to ensure the workers are able to charge the highest price they can for their labour. He also discusses strikes and lockouts, including the violence of some industrial disputes. Scabs need police protection against being beaten, and angry workers will tamper with the equipment so that anyone using it will be injured. They will also place fulminate of mercury in chimneys to cause an explosion if someone starts up the furnaces.

Party Politics and Socialism

Shaw describes the class conflict between the Tories, representing the aristocracy, and the Liberals, who represented the industrial middle classes. These competed for working class votes by extending the franchise and passing legislation like the Factory Acts to improve working conditions. However, each was as bad the other. The aristocracy kept their workers in poverty in the countryside, while the middle classes exploited them in the factories. The laws they passed for the working poor were partly designed to attack their opponents of the opposite class.

He goes on to give a brief history of British socialism, beginning with Marx, William Morris’ Socialist League, and Hyndeman’s Social Democratic Federation. These were small, middle class groups, disconnected from the British working class through their opposition to trade unions and the cooperatives. It was only when British socialism combined with them under Keir Hardie and the Independent Labour Party that socialism became a real force in working class politics. The Fabian Society has been an important part of this, and has made socialism respectable so that the genteel middle classes may join it as Conservatives join their Constitutional Club.

Shaw believed that socialism would advance, simply because of the numerical supremacy of the working classes, and that soon parliament would be full of Labour MPs. However, he also recognised that many members of the proletariat were anti-Socialist. This is because they depended for their livelihood on the businesses serving the idle rich. He called this section of the working class the ‘parasitic proletariat’. The working class is also distracted away from socialism through lotteries and so on.

Democratic, Parliamentary Socialism and Nationalisation

Shaw argues strongly that socialism could only be established through democratic, parliamentary action. General strikes wouldn’t work, as the employers would simply starve the workers out. The strikes intended to stop the outbreak of the First World War had failed the moment the first bomb dropped killing babies. Violent revolutions were purely destructive. Apart from the human lives lost, they destroyed the country’s vital industrial and economic structure. Socialism needed to build on this, not destroy it. Similarly, confiscating the capitalists’ wealth, either directly through nationalisation without compensation, or by taxing capital, was also counterproductive. The capitalists would simply sell their shares or unwillingly surrender them. The result would be bankruptcy and mass unemployment. This would result in further working class unrest, which would end in a counterrevolution.

The only way socialism could proceed would be by long preparation. You should only nationalise an industry once there was a suitable government department to run it. Compensation should be given to the former proprietors. This did not mean robbing the workers to pay their former exploiters, as the money would come from taxing the upper classes so that the class as a whole would be slightly worse off than before, even though the former owners were slightly better off.  You can see here and in Shaw’s warning of the ineffectiveness of general strikes the bitterness that still lingered amongst the working class after the failure of the General Strike of the 1920s.

Nationalisation could also only be done through parliament. There were, however, problems with parliamentary party politics. If the socialist party grew too big, it would split into competing factions divided on other issues, whose squabbles would defeat the overall purpose. Party politics were also a hindrance, in that it meant that one party would always oppose the policies of the other, even though they secretly supported them, because that was how the system worked. We’ve seen it in our day when the Tories before the 2010 election made a great show of opposing Blair’s hospital closures, but when in power did exactly the same and worse. Shaw recommends instead that the political process should follow that of the municipalities, where party divisions were still high, but where the process of legislation was done through committees and so on parties were better able to cooperate.

Limited Role for Capitalism

Shaw also argued against total nationalisation. He begins the book by stating that socialists don’t want to nationalise personal wealth. They weren’t going to seize women’s jewels, nor prevent a woman making extra cash for herself by singing in public or raising prize chrysanthemums, although it might in time be considered bad form to do so. Only big, routine businesses would be nationalised. Small businesses would be encouraged, as would innovatory private companies, though once they became routine they too would eventually be taken over by the state.

It’s a great argument for a pluralistic mixed economy, of the type that produced solid economic growth and working class prosperity after World War II, right up to 1979 and Thatcher’s victory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Arithmetic of Revolution

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 13/04/2020 - 4:39pm in

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Trump’s government stimulus check only covers a few weeks of income for the typical American family. What happens after that? Hint: it’s already after that.

Macron’s gambit poses the urgent need for an anti-capitalist politics that is unafraid of power

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 24/01/2019 - 1:17am in

This is a cunning political attempt by the Macron government to roll with the blows inflicted by the gilets jaunes movement. It means abandoning some regressive tax moves. At the same time it is to frame the revolt and dominate … Continue reading →