For those of you concerned about the rights of women in Syria if the FSA wins

NOMAS branch of Aleppo

The Aleppo branch of NOMAS

The ISO tells us that fighting in a NATO/GCC-backed rebellion will lead to people gaining a class essentialist anti-sexist political stance

http://socialistworker.org/2011/07/14/womens-liberation-and-socialism

So in Egypt, Syria, Greece and other recent sites of revolt and rebellion, women and men mobilized and organized together in unprecedented ways. During struggles on this scale, workers’ ideas change–men’s ideas about women, and women’s ideas about men and also about themselves. In the process of confronting their shared and powerful enemy, such as the state and its police, men and women workers come to see their potential power as a united force.

Ideas like sexism are exposed for what they are–useless and destructive–not only because they are wrong, like misconceptions about what women are capable of, but because they divide the working class. They are exposed for their real purpose–to keep those at the top in power by dividing the masses below.

Libya was just a fluke, right?

JMP demolished this kind of vulgar class essentialism in a fantastic post everyone should read

Capitalist media coverage on indigenous issues should not be trusted

The first world left has sometimes failed to be critical of media coverage of indigenous issues because they come from countries with long histories of colonialism, settler-colonialism, and imperialism. This lack of skepticism is based in good intentions, as the first world non-colonized left has long been complicit in colonialism and imperialism, but this lack of skepticism provides openings for reactionary propaganda to go completely unchallenged.

On August 29, 2012, Survival International, a British NGO run by Stephen Corry, a Free Tibet board member, began a propaganda campaign against the Venezuelan government claiming that they received reports that Brazilian gold miners massacred over 80 members of the Yanomami tribe by shooters from helicopters. This was immediately picked up by the capitalist and leftist media organizations, with nearly every article opening with vivid writing about charred bodies. This came at an opportune time, a little over a month before the Venezuelan elections. However, this massacre never actually happened. This Telegraph article is representative of most of the media coverage:

The charred remains of dozens of Yanomami Indians were discovered inside the village “shabono” in the remote community of Irotatheri on the southern Venezuelan border with Brazil.

A shabono is a circular hut that typically houses dozens of tribesmen and women.

Three survivors were found walking in the jungle after the attack, having fled at the sound of gunshots, explosions and the sound of a helicopter while they were out hunting.

The massacre is believed to have happened sometime last month but due to the remoteness of the village, information had to be relayed from village to village until it reached Yanomami tribal leaders who alerted the Venezuelan authorities.

Luis Shatiwe Ahiwei, a leader of the Horonami Yanomami Organisation, said the number of people killed in the attack could not be certain but witnesses had said about 80 people lived there.

The next day, the Venezuelan government immediately launched an investigation, and on September 2th, announced that they had not found any evidence of a massacre after an in-depth investigation. Survival International responded with the scathing accusation that the Venezuelan government was whitewashing the massacre.

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8644

Survival has denounced the Venezuelan government’s repeated denials of a massacre against Yanomami Indians, calling on President Chávez to evict all illegal goldminers from indigenous territory and conduct a proper, on-site investigation.

The President is the latest senior Venezuelan official to insist there is no evidence of an attack on the Irotatheri community, in a remote part of the Amazon, close to the border with Brazil.

[…]
Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director also said today, ‘If the Venezuelan government had the welfare of its indigenous peoples at heart it would be taking action to remove the miners from Indian land, rather than taking pains to deny there was a violent confrontation between the miners and the Indians. It’s behaving just like Latin American governments always have, putting the protection of its own reputation above the lives of its Indians. Next we’ll be hearing that we’re part of a capitalist conspiracy to destabilize the government in its election year, just as we’re part of a left-wing conspiracy when we denounce this kind of violence in rightist countries. Indigenous peoples have been treated equally badly by both right and left, for generations. President Chávez should get all those invading indigenous territory kicked out throughout Venezuela, and make sure this particular incident, where murders have been reported, is subject to an immediate and proper investigation.’

[…]

Witnesses of the attack’s aftermath reported finding ‘burnt bodies and bones’.

This accusation of whitewashing was picked up by leftist bloggers and liberal internet media organizations like CommonDreams and Truth-Out. Less than a week later, Survival International published a very short statement admitting that the massacre never took place, then immediately began attacking the Venezuelan government and its supporters for their conduct.

http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/8659

Having received its own testimony from confidential sources, Survival now believes there was no attack by miners on the Yanomami settlement of Irotatheri. Yanomami from the area – in which many illegal gold miners are currently operating – had heard stories of a killing in July, and this was reported, by some, as having occurred in this settlement.

We currently do not know whether or not these stories were sparked by a violent incident, which is the most likely explanation, but tension remains high in the area.

The Venezuelan government’s reaction remains shameful. It has not said, even now, that it will remove the miners, and it immediately denied having found ‘evidence’ of killings, before even concluding its own investigation. Its supporters have gone further and accused its critics of being part of a right-wing conspiracy etc.

The Venezuelan authorities should continue to investigate this incident and, most importantly, must evict those invading the Yanomami and other Indian territories in the country.

In another media interview, Stephen Corry had this to say:

“The most appalling aspect of the Venezuelan government reaction is that its initial stance seemed to be disbelief,” he said. “Some sectors of government were denying this had happened even before people had reached the site, which does nothing to encourage one’s faith in the government.”

If doubting unverified reports from British NGOs doesn’t encourage faith in the government, one has to wonder what Stephen Corry thinks the effect of this propaganda campaign will have on his own credibility. His work with the Free Tibet movement has likely taught him that it matters far less what you say and far more who you are saying it about. Attacking progressive countries which take a stand against imperialism and neoliberal capitalism never requires much credibility, all that it requires is a headline that can be published.

CommonDreams and Truth-out never published the admission that there never was a massacre, in fact, the only articles that exist on this issue on both of their websites claim that the massacre happened.

This progression of events should be familiar to all of those who’ve learned about the propagation of disinformation through the media. False, sensationalistic stories hit the front pages and are spread like wildfire, then corrections come weeks later in the marginalized sections of newspapers. This strategy preserves the integrity of news organizations while having the full propaganda effect, as people remember the initial story far more vividly than the corrections.

The pro-Chavez left-wing and liberal organizations in the first world largely didn’t report the massacre, which is an appropriate action to take considering the unreliability of the sources, but they also didn’t provide any analysis of the propaganda coup carried out by Survival International. Propaganda like this has to be challenged and exposed to create a habit of critical media analysis.

The best piece of writing I’ve found on this issue comes from Les Blough writing for Axis of Logic, it takes an in-depth look at Stephen Corry’s past and the actions of Survival International. Rather than being an indigenous rights organization, it makes a compelling case for it being one complicit with imperialism.

Pro-Obama leftists are still thinking like liberals

With election drawing near, theres quite a few self-described socialists trying to get the vote out for Obama. It’s very common for them to point to the differences in campaign rhetoric especially with a Republican party that’s virulently hostile to the interests of pretty much everyone. However, their support for Obama shows a lack of historical understanding of American politics as well as a complete lack of class analysis in favor of a liberal pluralistic analysis of society.

Pluralism says that policy is formulated by a bunch of different groups in society (corporations, unions, women’s advocacy groups, universities, civil rights organizations etc) competing and eventually compromising based on their power and influence within political institutions. The view of pluralists is that the political system can be fixed by increasing the power of the pro-women/anti-racist/pro-worker/etc institutions relative to the business-controlled institutions. They see one of the primary problems with the American political system as that the corporate institutions have more money to spend on influencing lawmakers and buying their elections, and propose that a way of fixing this would be public campaign financing and spending limits on campaigns. The problem is that pluralism is a load of shit.

The pluralist analysis only looks at the overt methods of capitalist domination of society, while a class analysis understands that even with affordable elections and public financing, it doesn’t affect capitalist hegemony. In fact, it adds a legitimizing factor to capitalist domination of society, like in Western Europe. A class analysis recognizes that capitalist control of society is direct and indirect. The main direct methods of capitalist control are the selection of officials and lobbying. The indirect methods of control are far more powerful, because socialists and communists elected to office are still controlled by them. The four main methods of indirect capitalist control are explained in Al Szymanski’s The Capitalist State and the Politics of Class :

1. Capitalist values permeate the society and are propagated through the schools, military, media, and churches. Officials typically accept capitalist ideology as their own and authentically act as if capitalist rationality were the only rationality. Attempts by state officials to enact measures that would violate capitalist ideology would generate considerable opposition, even from the oppressed, as long as they accept capitalist ideas.

2. If the state attempts to follow policies that business doesn’t like, businesses can move to other countries or they may curtail production, lay off workers, or follow other restrictive policies, thereby promoting an economic crisis for which the state would be blamed. Businesses can refuse to invest unless the state follows probusiness policies. Banks have the special advantage of refusing to make loans to the state unless the state follows policies directed by them. Such actions by business might not be malicious, but might be merely economically rational and dictated by the necessity of maximizing profits.

3. States that attempt anticapitalist policies are subjected to the threat of military intervention, either by foreign states that want to prevent the abolition of capitalism, or by their own military, which may well be closely tied to the capitalist class.

4. Officials who follow anticapitalist policies may be cut off from campaign financing, slandered in the capitalist-class-controlled media, and forced to face well-financed and promoted opponents in their campaigns for reelection as well as being confronted with embarrassing demonstrations, disruptions,  and possible social and political crises.

By looking at policy merely as a result of different groups compromising, it gives a distorted view of the role of the state. It sees the state as a place to mediate the interests of different interest groups in society, and doesn’t have the depth, richness, and explanatory power that a class analysis has. Again, from The Capitalist State and the Politics of Class :

The capitalist state has five basic functions for capitalism: 1) the state operates to preserve the existing class relations in society through guaranteeing private property and law and order; 2) the state makes continual capital accumulation and profitability possible through regulating the labor force, ensuring sufficient buying power in the economy, regulating the economy, and otherwise helping business; 3) the state secures the legitimacy of capitalist society through its control over the schools, its management of the cult of patriotism, and the ideological function of voting to persuade people that the state is being run by and for them, when the reality is quite different; 4) the state operates to “aggregate” the diverse interests and wills of the different segments of the capitalist class – that is, form the capitalist class will – so that the state can implement unified compromise policies tempered by the demands of other classes (this is the function of the Congress and the various regulatory and administrative agencies); 5) the state raises money to fund the bureaucracy and otherwise acts to maintain the apparatus to perform the first four functions.

There can be bourgeois candidates that are progressive because of the different interests and stratification within the bourgeoisie of a country, such as the different interests of the national bourgeoisie and the international bourgeoisie in many peripheral Third World countries. However, that is not the case today in the US, Obama and Romney represent almost the exact same interests. The differences in campaign rhetoric and policy between the Republicans and the Democrats are determined by the need to legitimize the political system while acting in the interests of the ruling class. Obama’s health care plan, for example, was very similar to the one the Republicans proposed in the early 90s.

Campaign rhetoric is useless at predicting presidential and legislative policy. Two examples for this are commonly cited, JFK ran on a center-left economic program but presided over one of the most right-wing economic policies in decades while Nixon ran on a center-right economic program but was the last president to have a center-left economic program while in office. The implementation of policy isn’t determined by personal beliefs or rhetoric, but is determined by class power and structure.

With a class analysis, we recognize that a vote for Obama or Romney adds to the legitimation requirements of the capitalist state. The job of candidates today is to deliver voters to their true constituents, the ruling class. Socialists need to attack the legitimacy of the electoral system this election by voting for third party candidates or not voting at all.

How Afghanistan’s Radicals Became Moderates

I deleted my tumblr a couple days ago, I’ve been dealing with some offline stuff so I’m taking some time to do some self-care. I’m still following a handful of people’s tumblrs on rss, thanks for everyone’s kind and funny words.

With over a decade being spent in Afghanistan, the Obama administration’s policy has been to reach out to so-called moderates within the Taliban. However, who is a moderate and who is a radical is decided by their level of opposition to US occupation rather than their views on women, religion, and law. Often, it is the most socially reactionary leaders who are willing to compromise on foreign occupation in order to achieve their social goals.

What is the “Taliban”?

In the US media, anyone who fights back against the NATO occupation is a member of the Taliban. This has the effect of making the entire anti-occupation effort in Afghanistan seem less organic and disguises the true nature of the anti-imperialist resistance. Most of the resistance isn’t being coordinated by the Taliban organization, it is locally-organized militias which oppose foreign occupation. These anti-occupation fighters are the radicals to the Obama administration, they’re not taking orders from the Taliban leadership but are instead dedicated to opposing the Karzai puppet government and neocolonialism. James Petras, in a fantastic article, said:

http://petras.lahaine.org/?p=1812

On the military front, the Pentagon launches one “offensive” after another, announcing one success after another, followed by a retreat and return of the Resistance fighters. The US campaigns disrupt trade, agricultural harvests and markets, while the air assaults targeting “Taliban” and militants, more frequently than not end up killing more civilians celebrating weddings, religious holidays and shoppers at markets than combatants. The reason for the high percentage of civilian killings is clear to everyone except the US Generals: there are no distinctions between “militants” and millions of Afghan civilians since the former are an integral part of their communities.

The key and ultimately decisive problem facing the US occupation is that it is a colonial enclave in the midst of a colonized people. The US, its local puppets and its NATO allies are a foreign colonial army and its Afghan military and police recruits are seen as mere instruments perpetuating illegitimate rule. Every action, whether violent or benign, is perceived and interpreted as transgressing the norms and historical legacies of a proud and independent people. In everyday life, every move by the occupation is disruptive; nothing moves except by command of the foreign directed military and police. Under threat of force, people fake co-operation and then provide assistance to their fathers, brothers and sons in the Resistance. The recruits take the money and turn their arms over to the Resistance. The paid village informants are double agents or identified by their neighbors and targeted by insurgents.

The outcome of making a power-sharing deal with the most socially reactionary has very clear effects, it shifts the war from being between occupiers and nationalists to being against women.

http://www.thenation.com/article/157713/why-peace-business-men-shouldnt-be#

Most hot wars of recent memory, little and big, have been resolved or nudged into remission through what is called a power-sharing agreement. The big men from most or all of the warring parties—and war is basically a guy thing, in case you hadn’t noticed—shoulder in to the negotiating table and carve up a country’s or region’s military, political, and financial pie. Then they proclaim the resulting deal “peace.”

But as I learned firsthand as an aid worker in one so-called post-conflict country after another, when the men in power stop shooting at each other, they often escalate the war against civilians—especially women and girls. It seems to be hard for men to switch off violence, once they’ve gotten the hang of it. From Liberia to Myanmar, rape, torture, mutilation and murder continue unabated or even increase in frequency. In other words, from the standpoint of civilians, war is often not over when it’s “over,” and the “peace” is no real peace at all. Think of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the notorious “rape capital of the world,” where thousands upon thousands of women are gang-raped again and again, although the country has officially been at “peace” since 2003.

[…]

And what has President Karzai done for the rest of the women of Afghanistan? Not a thing.

That’s the conclusion of a recent report issued by the Human Rights Research and Advocacy Consortium (HRRAC), an association of prominent aid and independent research groups in Afghanistan, including such highly respected non-governmental organizations as Oxfam, CARE and Save the Children. The Afghan researchers who did the study conducted extensive interviews with prominent male religious scholars, male political leaders, and female leaders locally, provincially, and nationally.

The report notes that President Karzai has supported increasingly repressive laws against women, most notoriously the “Taliban-style” Shia Personal Status Law, enacted in 2009, which not only legitimizes marital rape but “prevents women from stepping out of their homes” without their husband’s consent, in effect depriving them of the right to make any decisions about their own lives. The report points out that this law denies women even the basic freedoms guaranteed to all citizens in the Afghan Constitution, which was passed in 2004 as part of a flurry of democratic reforms marking the start of Karzai’s first term as elected president. The democratizing spasm passed and President Karzai, sworn to defend that constitution, failed to do the job.

In fact, Karzai’s record on human rights, as the HRRAC report documents, is chiefly remarkable for what he has not done. He holds extraordinary power to make political appointments—another indicator of the peculiar nature of this Afghan “democracy” our troops are fighting for—and he has now had almost ten years in office, ample time to lead even the most reluctant traditional society toward more equitable social arrangements. Yet today, but one cabinet ministry is held by a woman, the Ministry for Women’s Affairs, which incidentally is the sole government ministry that possesses only advisory powers. Karzai has appointed just one female provincial governor, and thirty-three men. (Is it by chance that Bamyan—the province run by that woman—is generally viewed as the most peaceful in the country?) To head city governments nationwide, he has named only one female mayor. And to the Supreme Court High Council he has appointed no woman at all.Karzai’s claim that he can’t find qualified women is a flimsy—and traditional—excuse. Many of his highest-ranking appointees to government offices are notorious war criminals, men considered by the great majority of Afghan citizens to have disqualified themselves from public office. The failure of many of his male appointees to govern honestly and justly, or even to show up for work at all, is a rising complaint of NATO commanders who find upon delivery of “government in a box” that the box is pretty much empty.

The current plan from the Obama administration is to start substantially reducing the number of foreign occupation soldiers in 2014, and with the Afghan National Army and police in total shambles, bigger and bigger concessions to the most socially reactionary segments of Afghanistan will be given. Imperialism is inherently antithetical to women’s rights and dignity, its goal is subjugation, not empowerment. The economic and political subjugation of imperialism meshes perfectly with the desires to subjugate women.

Prostitution is capitalism-induced rape

Sorry, those figures are reality.

http://www.feminisms.org/3265/the-myths-of-bedford-v-canada-why-decriminalizing-prostitution-won%E2%80%99t-help/

In a study submitted at trial with 854 women in 9 countries, including Canada, 89% of women interviewed said they wanted out of prostitution. In another study submitted at trial conducted in the downtown eastside of Vancouver, 95% of prostituted women interviewed said they wanted out of prostitution

The institution of prostitution functions only because capitalism forces people to have sex or be homeless, hungry, or go through withdrawals. For 90-95% of prostituted women, this is rape. I’m not comparing it to rape, it is rape.

Who is the one actually disregarding experiences here? You just called the experiences of 95% of prostituted women unrealistic, and you defend the systems that oppress them.

This isn’t just a case of a job being a good fit for someone like a cashier, this is 95% of women experiencing prostitution as capitalism-induced rape and 5% not experiencing it that way. This is what individualism does to you, you completely ignore the social reality of prostitution because it is empowering for you.

Empowerment used to be a collective term, it was something that increased the power and stature of all people. Neoliberal marketing played a huge role in this to get the ex-hippies into corporate jobs and get them back into the system. Their advertising shifted to pound this message into people’s brains: Empowerment is about a personal car, speakers, a good job, and 2 kids. Empowerment is personal wealth. Empowerment is collaboration.

I’m really sorry you feel like your story, as one of the 5% of prostitutes who isn’t forced to be raped by capitalism, is getting ignored. The very fact that you consider the experiences of everyone else to be “unrealistic” shows just how silenced these women are. Their stories aren’t posted on tumblr, the sex-poz blogs, or even mainstream feminist websites. Its the stories of people like you, the ones who are privileged enough to be able to get their voice out, that people hear. I’ll stand on the side of the oppressed and exploited, especially when they outnumber people like you by such a huge amount.

Marxism and Feminism: The Synthesis for Radical Social Change

Marxism, at the most basic level, is an analysis of the opposing forces within and the connections between capitalism and the sociopolitical system. Feminists and pro-feminists can gain a huge amount from an understanding of Marx’s criticism of capitalism.  This post isn’t a primer on Marxism or feminism, but is intended to show some of the practical ways a Marxist analysis adds to feminist theory and practice.

Patriarchy and capitalism are separate, but connected, oppressive social systems. Patriarchal oppression often relies on the logic and needs of capitalism, especially the need to maximize profits and the accumulation of investment funds. Women are denied jobs and promotions under “neutral” market forces, it becomes easier to justify misogyny when someone can blame the lower productivity from a potential pregnancy and kids for denying someone a promotion. These same “neutral” market forces are used to justify gender wage gaps.

Capitalism thus has a strong interest in preserving patriarchy, since women make up such an important part in recreating daily life. Women, regardless of whether they work or not, are almost mandated to bear the majority of the burden of housework and child care. The role of women in creating the necessary social conditions for the continuation of capitalism makes them not only important, it makes their oppression beneficial to the stability of capitalism.

A Marxist analysis adds depth to feminist analysis of world events, one of the most important is economic and military imperialism.

Many liberal feminist groups supported the war against Afghanistan, one group that still supports escalation is the Feminist Majority Foundation:

it was so discouraging to learn that the Feminist Majority Foundation has lent its good name — and the good name of feminism in general — to advocate for further troop escalation and war.

On its foundation Web site, the first stated objective of the Feminist Majority Foundation’s “Campaign for Afghan Women and Girls” is to “expand peacekeeping forces.”

However, any serious analysis of patriarchy can understand why this is neoliberal bullshit

http://www.thenation.com/article/157713/why-peace-business-men-shouldnt-be#

Most hot wars of recent memory, little and big, have been resolved or nudged into remission through what is called a power-sharing agreement. The big men from most or all of the warring parties—and war is basically a guy thing, in case you hadn’t noticed—shoulder in to the negotiating table and carve up a country’s or region’s military, political, and financial pie. Then they proclaim the resulting deal “peace.”

But as I learned firsthand as an aid worker in one so-called post-conflict country after another, when the men in power stop shooting at each other, they often escalate the war against civilians—especially women and girls. It seems to be hard for men to switch off violence, once they’ve gotten the hang of it. From Liberia to Myanmar, rape, torture, mutilation and murder continue unabated or even increase in frequency. In other words, from the standpoint of civilians, war is often not over when it’s “over,” and the “peace” is no real peace at all. Think of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the notorious “rape capital of the world,” where thousands upon thousands of women are gang-raped again and again, although the country has officially been at “peace” since 2003.

An analysis based on class power and structure brings a greater understanding to these conflicts. If we take the DRC as an example:

http://www2.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5191

The Congo was among the most brutally oppressed of the African colonies. It was also one of the richest, abounding with mineral wealth like diamonds and copper.

Belgian King Leopold II’s colonial rule of the Congo, from 1885 to 1909, was infamous for its brutality. Belgian troops massacred whole villages. Workers’ hands were cut off for “stealing” that which belonged to their land or not reaching work quotas. An estimated 10 million people were killed during Leopold’s reign.

Following World War II, countries under the yoke of imperialism struggled for independence. This was the setting in which Patrice Lumumba began political organizing. Beginning as a trade union leader in 1955, he helped found the Congolese National Movement (MNC) in 1958, which became a leading force for independence from Belgian rule. The MNC won elections in December 1959 with a plurality of the votes. Running on a non-regional, non-tribal platform for a unified Congo, the MNC emerged ahead of the middle-class-based Abako party of Joseph Kasavubu. Lumumba became the first prime minister.

Lumumba’s main contribution to the Congolese struggle was his articulation of the idea of a united Congo. This vision sought to build a united nation across all ethnic and tribal divisions, despite fierce European opposition. Lumumba’s national vision paralleled his Pan-African sentiment of African unity. Both ideals were unacceptable to the imperialist powers, which sought a Congo and Africa riven with internal strife in order to be held in submission.

[…]

On Sept. 5, the pro-imperialist president, Kasavubu, illegally removed Lumumba from office. Lumumba brought his case directly to the parliament, which reaffirmed his post. In response, Kasavubu dismissed the parliament.

UN General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold publicly endorsed Kasavubu’s move. UN forces had earlier hampered Lumumba by closing a radio station he was using to plead his case with the people.

Amid the struggle, Col. Joseph Mobutu took power in a CIA-backed coup d’etat on the side of Kasavubu and the United States. Lumumba was placed under house arrest, “protected” by UN troops actively intervening against his rule.

We can clearly see the ways that transnational corporate interests are protected by governments and international bodies. Due to the logic of capitalism, these transnational corporations benefit most from a weak, destabilized government where transnational corporations can have the most influence.

http://www2.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=11845&news_iv_ctrl=1801

The price of gold recently rose to over $1,000 per ounce. Yet in the super-rich goldmines of the Democratic Republic of Congo 1.5 million workers, including young children, trudge through chemical-infested soil for little or no pay. They are subjected to tuberculosis epidemics.

The miners receive no pay, only a daily pail of toxic sludge, the contents of which they may keep. On a good day, a pail may contain $30 worth of gold. On most days, it contains none.

As expected whenever the capitalist game of stocks and bonds implodes, speculators have turned to gold—the “safe” commodity. The profiteers are capitalists in imperialist countries, who benefit by exploiting the mine workers. The mines of the DRC are run by U.S., British, Canadian, Australian and South African companies.

“We are working so hard. … But who is really winning? We are not profiting. The real money is being made by other people outside this country,” stated Luc Likambo, a union leader.

An analysis of class power and structure is useful for examining issues in our communities, like prostitution. A radical feminist analysis recognizes that 90-95% of prostituted women in canada and the US would get out if they could, and that this is rape on a massive scale. When we use a Marxist analysis, then we recognize that the capitalist system itself brings about the conditions for this atrocity.

http://votepsl.tumblr.com/post/25932443990/great-infographic-from-the-latest-issue-of

It needs to be emphasized that white supremacy runs through all of these issues. What we face is not just a capitalist patriarchy, but an imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. White supremacy eases liberal support for “civilizing” Afghanistan, it ensures that liberal feminists will overlook the fact that 92% of Native American prostituted women are raped, and it encourages liberal feminists to attack anyone who criticizes the white supremacy of Slutwalk.

If you want to learn more about Marxism:

http://davidharvey.org/ – a guided reading of capital vol 1 with David Harvey

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e8rt8RGjCM – a quick rundown of marxism and economic crisis

http://www.youtube.com/user/brendanmcooney – he has a bunch of cool videos on marxist stuff

Neoliberalism, Human Rights, and Belarus

Human rights discourse is the tip of the spear for neoliberalism. It’s hard to break down an independent nationalist country with a clarion call for smashing labor unions, selling off the country to the highest bidder, and making the political system more responsive to international financiers than the citizens of a country. Instead, they do it with human rights discourse, portraying the cause of restrictions on political advocacy rights to be a result of innately bad and power-hungry leaders.

However, Marxists know better.

A Materialist Understanding of Human Rights

Human rights discourse today is largely grounded in value judgments, and this has the effect of disguising the class interests behind human rights. Rather than human rights being progressively developed and expanded as a result of enlightenment, discussion, and liberal thought, the idea and implementation of human rights has been embedded in the class relations of the societies. Class, rather than constitutions, are the driving force behind the expansion and retraction of political advocacy rights.

The level of domestic and international threats to the ruling class of a country and other factors determine the level of political advocacy rights allowed. Throughout history, the class factors are the only consistent measure of political advocacy rights. For reasons of space, I’m just going to link an old post that lists these factors:

https://malheureuxmarxist.wordpress.com/2012/04/04/a-materialist-analysis-of-human-rights/

The Outcomes of Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism always results in an increase of homophobia, racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry. The Lancet found that neoliberal reforms caused the deaths of 1 million working age men, a 12.8% increase in deaths, and a 56% increase in unemployment in Russia and Eastern Europe. The so-called freedoms that neoliberal movements bring (press, assembly, and speech) aren’t real freedoms at all, as the society becomes controlled by international financiers, media moguls, and foreign business magnates. The press becomes a mouthpiece for the wealthy, rights to assemble are respected only as long as they don’t present a threat to the neoliberal order, and speech gets ignored if it doesn’t support the new ruling class of foreign capitalists and their intermediaries.

This is why Marxists have to focus on real freedoms, not formal freedoms.

The Opposition in Belarus

Understanding the opposition in Belarus is critical to understanding whether it should be supported or opposed. If it is a movement to implement neoliberalism, then we understand that its calls for political advocacy rights are simply a mask to implement neoliberalism.

First, let’s look at which countries are funding the opposition:

The U.S. said it would boost funding for Belarus civic groups by 30% to about $15 million this year. Poland said it would roughly double assistance to more than $14.8 million, while the EU said its aid would quadruple to $21 million.

Now, let’s look at which neoliberal “philanthropists” funded the opposition:

http://www.sorostrading.com/art7_12_97.html

In Central Europe alone, he spent more than $123 million between 1989 and 1994 trying to help democracy take root — roughly five times the sum spent by the United States Government’s chief democracy-promoting foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy.

Unlike United States Government development aid, about 80 percent of which is given to American contractors and consultants, most money Mr. Soros distributes is given quickly and with few strings to local groups and individuals, says Thomas Carothers, a former State Department lawyer at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, because local activists are less expensive and more efficient at spreading the democratic, free-market mantra.


Now, it could be possible that the EU, neoliberal billionaires, and the US are all being manipulated, so let’s look at what the opposition is calling for:

http://charter97.org/en/news/2012/4/17/50908/

Belarus is in urgent need of modernization. In the economic freedom ratings by Freedom House, Belarus is on the 42nd place. Reform deadlock, high prices, no perspectives for the young, a very weak flow of investments. The state capitalism leads to corruption, people’s purses are getting thinner. This controlled, “tamed” economy will sooner or later lead to a grave crisis. Market economy, in its turn, helps establish a free state.


Anyone who is critical of capitalism should have alarm bells going off in their head. They’re calling for the same untamed, unrestrained capitalism that resulted in the deaths of 1 million working-age men in the ex-USSR countries, cloaking it in the language of democracy and freedom.

My view is that most of the footsoldiers of the opposition don’t want neoliberalism. Just like how 2/3 of Poland’s Solidarity movement wanted democratic socialism, they’re being used as pawns to implement neoliberalism. When we analyze these kinds of movements, we can’t just look at what the people in the movement want, we have to analyze larger class forces and see which groups will be able to profit off of instability.

A victory for the opposition will undoubtedly be a victory for neoliberalism. History shows that a victory for neoliberalism in peripheral European countries doesn’t result in greater rights for ordinary people, but greater rights for foreign capitalists. The ability for women to get jobs will depend on their bust size. The ability for the elderly to pay their heating bill will depend on how much money they get from their children and grandchildren.

Neoliberalism means the annihilation of living with dignity. It means the annihilation of living securely. It means the annihilation of Belarus’s assistance to other independent nationalist countries like Venezuela.

History of Belarus


Due to length, I will only be linking articles on the history of Belarus. These articles give an in-depth examination of the class forces in Belarus, and why there is a coalition of neoliberal forces across the globe targeting Belarus.

http://www2.pslweb.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5179&news_iv_ctrl=1322

http://redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com/2011/07/11/belarus-under-siege-joint-onslaught-by-us-and-russian-oligarchs/

Belarus is targeted because it went against the World Bank, the IMF, and the EU and charted an independent course for itself. It shunned privatization and serves as a reminder that Europe has more options for development than foreign neoliberal domination.

Surrounded by the devastation of neoliberal policies in Eastern Europe, Belarus is a strong symbol that fighting neoliberalism works.

Marxists should support bourgeois nationalism against imperialist subjugation

Understanding the primary and secondary contradictions is incredibly important. There’s an incredibly thorough and excellent essay written about this, and I encourage everyone to read it. Here’s some excerpts:

http://redantliberationarmy.wordpress.com/2011/09/30/marxism-bourgeois-nationalism/

I posit these theses:

Because of their relation to imperialism after the fall of the socialist bloc, the objective historical position of nationalist states in the Third World is progressive.

Marxist-Leninists must uphold the right of nations to self-determination, which in the present is principally characterized by freedom from imperialist subjugation.

Where it arises, Marxist-Leninists must support genuine revolutionary proletarian struggles for socialism against bourgeois nationalist governments.

[…]

It’s paramount that Marxist-Leninists, in light of Iraq, Libya, and increasing aggression towards Syria, comfortably identify anti-imperialism as the primary contradiction facing the international proletarian revolution today.

Proletarian internationalism is superior in every way to bourgeois nationalism, but so long as neo-colonialism and imperialism exist, communists must unite all who can be united in the anti-imperialist struggle. Simultaneously, though, communists must remember the other side of the dialectic: When bourgeois nationalists become complicit partners in Western imperialism and alienate themselves from the masses, communists must never hesitate to overthrow that state with extreme prejudice and on its ruins erect revolutionary socialism.

[…]

When a nation achieves self-determination, the secondary contradiction between the proletariat and the national bourgeoisie will ascend to the forefront as the new primary contradiction. Before that time, however, the primary contradiction facing the masses in oppressed nations is between imperialism and national liberation. In bourgeois nationalist states, this contradiction can and must draw in all who can be united to strike a blow against imperialism.


Under imperialist subjugation, the only human rights enacted are those that support the continued domination by metropolitan countries. The fight for self-determination, the fight for freedom from imperialist control, is the principal contradiction today.