In the Belly of the Beast, too — Capitalism Sucks

[Once again, reality is a stunning refutation of the claims of the irresistable American Dream, ever-progressing, of US superiority over all others, greatness, a “gold mountain” for migrants running from poverty and oppression elsewhere.   Since most of the statistics cited here come from official sources, which routinely give all such stats a cosmetic “uplifting sheen”, the situation on all fronts is actually many times worse, as the re-proletarianization of the falling middle class becomes the main stream.  — Frontlines ed.]

Sobering New Evidence: at Least Half of Americans are Broke

 

“Happy Monday! S&P 500 now up 10% for year” CNN Money
“Third-quarter U.S. economic growth strongest in 11 years” Reuters
“The U.S. economy is on a tear” —Wall Street Journal

Half of our nation, by all reasonable estimates of human need, is in poverty. The jubilant headlines above speak for people whose view is distorted by growing financial wealth. The argument for a barely surviving half of America has been made before, but important new data is available to strengthen the case.
1. No Money for Unexpected Bills  A recent Bankrate poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans didn’t have savings available to cover a $500 repair bill or a $1,000 emergency room visit.  A related Pew survey concluded that over half of U.S. households have less than one month’s income in readily available savings, and that ALL their savings — including retirement funds — amounted to only about four months of income.  And young adults? A negative savings rate, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Before the recession their savings rate was a reasonably healthy 5 percent.
2. 40 Percent Collapse in Household Wealth  Over half of Americans have good reason to feel poor. Between 2007 and 2013 median wealth dropped a shocking 40 percent, leaving the poorest half with negative wealth (because of debt), and a full 60% of households owning, in total, about as much as the nation’s 94 richest individuals.  People of color fare the worst, with half of black households owning less than $11,000 in total wealth, and Hispanic households less than $14,000. The median net worth for white households is about $142,000.

Continue reading

France: A Message From the Dispossessed

[A long, drawn-out racist and xenophobic campaign in Europe, rooted in values that once marked the French colonial assault and occupation of Algeria, has re-intensified in recent months with neo-Nazi power moves and anti-migrant pograms and massive police round-ups, specifically but not exclusively aimed at Arab and African migrants and long-term residents alike.  A media campaign, both racist and Islamophobic, has heralded every new attack, and the hate-filled, quasi-satirical Charlie Hebdo newspaper has been a key “culture-building” instrument for this.  Recent cartoons debasing Islam have clearly had openly provocative intentions, and with the enraged revenge attacks on the newspaper, the cartoon-provocateurs succeeded in further xenophobic expression: “Je Suis Charlie” meaning, among other things, “Je Suis Racist” and “Je Suis Xenophobe”.  Further attacks on the poorest migrants, Arab and African workers, are already underway.  The following article gives some background on all this. — Frontlines ed.]
By Chris Hedges, January 11, 2015

The terrorist attack in France that took place at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was not about free speech. It was not about radical Islam. It did not illustrate the fictitious clash of civilizations. It was a harbinger of an emerging dystopia where the wretched of the earth, deprived of resources to survive, devoid of hope, brutally controlled, belittled and mocked by the privileged who live in the splendor and indolence of the industrial West, lash out in nihilistic fury. Continue reading

Prof. Akinyele Umoja Discusses “We Will Shoot Back”


March 27.2013

Professor Akinyele Umoja, chair, African American Studies at Georgia State University discusses his new book: We Will Shoot Back: Armed Self-defense in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. This program was sponsored by the Stone Center and the Bull’s Head Bookstore of UNC at Chapel Hill.
This is part of the presentation Professor Umoja made at Chapel Hill,  length: 30:38
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How the System Worked – The US v. Trayvon Martin

July 15, 2013, http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/07/15/the-us-v-trayvon-martin/

by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, Senator Rand Paul, Florida State Representative Dennis Baxley (also sponsor of his state’s Stand Your Ground law), along with a host of other Republicans, argued that had the teachers and administrators been armed, those twenty little kids whose lives Adam Lanza stole would be alive today.   Of course, they were parroting the National Rifle Association’s talking points.  The NRA and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the conservative lobbying group responsible for drafting and pushing “Stand Your Ground” laws across the country, insist that an armed citizenry is the only effective defense against imminent threats, assailants, and predators.

But when George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed, teenage pedestrian returning home one rainy February evening from a neighborhood convenience store, the NRA went mute.  Neither NRA officials nor the pro-gun wing of the Republican Party argued that had Trayvon Martin been armed, he would be alive today.  The basic facts are indisputable: Martin was on his way home when Zimmerman began to follow him—first in his SUV, and then on foot.  Zimmerman told the police he had been following this “suspicious-looking” young man.  Martin knew he was being followed and told his friend, Rachel Jeantel, that the man might be some kind of sexual predator.  At some point, Martin and Zimmerman confronted each other, a fight ensued, and in the struggle Zimmerman shot and killed Martin.

Zimmerman pursued Martin.  This is a fact.  Martin could have run, I suppose, but every black man knows that unless you’re on a field, a track, or a basketball court, running is suspicious and could get you a bullet in the back.  The other option was to ask this stranger what he was doing, but confrontations can also be dangerous—especially without witnesses and without a weapon besides a cel phone and his fists.  Florida law did not require Martin to retreat, though it is not clear if he had tried to retreat.  He did know he was in imminent danger.

Where was the NRA on Trayvon Martin’s right to stand his ground?  What happened to their principled position?  Let’s be clear: the Trayvon Martin’s of the world never had that right because the “ground” was never considered theirs to stand on.  Unless black people could magically produce some official documentation proving that they are not burglars, rapists, drug dealers, pimps or prostitutes, intruders, they are assumed to be “up to no good.”  (In the antebellum period, such documentation was called “freedom papers.”)  As Wayne LaPierre, NRA’s executive vice president, succinctly explained their position, “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”   Trayvon Martin was a bad guy or at least looked and acted like one.  In our allegedly postracial moment, where simply talking about racism openly is considered an impolitic, if not racist, thing to do, we constantly learn and re-learn racial codes.  The world knows black men are criminal, that they populate our jails and prisons, that they kill each other over trinkets, that even the celebrities among us are up to no good.  Zimmerman’s racial profiling was therefore justified, and the defense consistently employed racial stereotypes and played on racial knowledge to turn the victim into the predator and the predator into the victim.  In short, it was Trayvon Martin, not George Zimmerman, who was put on trial.  He was tried for the crimes he may have committed and the ones he would have committed had he lived past 17.  He was tried for using lethal force against Zimmerman in the form of a sidewalk and his natural athleticism. Continue reading

Worker strikes in China ‘too common to suppress’

21 February 2013

By Daniel Hurst, National Times

Chinese workers are now launching too many strikes and protests for authorities to suppress, according to a union dissident visiting Australia.

Chinese dissident Han Dongfang, who was expelled from the country 20 years ago, told the Australian Workers’ Union conference on the Gold Coast the new generation of Chinese workers were better educated and aspirational than their parents and no longer willing to accept exploitation.

He spoke of the 2010 strike at the Honda plant in Nanhai that secured 24 per cent pay rise and a promise of democratic union elections. Meanwhile, employees at a state-owned oil firm in the Maoist heartland of Yan’an staged protests and demanded talks with management after a push to cut job security and benefits.

Han Dongfang, who founded China’s first independent trade union during the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, said many people may ask themselves why the Chinese government had allowed the workers’ movement to develop to the point where even state-owned enterprises had to listen to their employees.

But he said there were now simply too many strikes and worker protests to suppress. Continue reading

India: Nationwide trade union strike hits banks, Noida protests turn violent

Bharat Bandh turns violent in Noida.

 


Noida, February 20, 2013
[Protesters put a truck on fire during the 2-day trade union strike in Noida.]

A union leader was killed in Haryana and factory units damaged in Delhi suburb Noida in sporadic violence on Wednesday as the start of a two-day nationwide strike called by trade unions evoked a mixed response with banking services paralysed and public transport disrupted. Kerala, Tripura and Bihar were among the worst hit states where normal life was thrown out of gear while stray incidents of violence were reported in Odisha and Karnataka. Protest marches were taken out in several cities.Flight and rail operations remained unaffected in the strike called by 11 trade unions against UPA’s economic and alleged anti-labour policies.

Reports from state capitals said financial services were crippled and bus commuters faced difficulties.

In Noida Phase 2 area, workers clashed with factory owners in a hosiery complex and set ablaze vehicles prompting authorities to deploy PAC in the area. Workers went on a rampage and damaged industrial properties, police said.

From Sector 82 till Greater Noida entry point, which is the industrial belt, workers set ablaze a car, bus and a fire engine, police said.

“People just barged in, looted everything in sight and even tore our registers,” an industrialist said while another said every single building in the hosiery complex had their windows broken and many vehicles were set on fire. Continue reading

India: Revolutionary Trade Unions’ Call for General Strike

 DELHI GENERAL MAZDOOR FRONT (DGMF)

S-21/E-42, Indira Kalyan Vihar, Okhla Phase I, New Delhi 110020
PRESS STATEMENT,  19.02.2013:  Observe the Two Day Countrywide Strike on 20-21 February 2013!”

All the central trade unions have come together to call a two-day countrywide strike on 20 and 21 February 2013 in order to demand the fulfilment of a number of pressing issues connected to the lives of the workers and employees in both the organised and unorganised sectors. DGMF is aware that most of these trade unions are affiliated to the same parliamentary parties in power – whether at the centre or in various states – which are directly responsible for implementing anti-worker and anti-people policies. These political parties and their trade unions have repeatedly sacrificed the interests of the working masses of the country without batting an eyelid. In fact, all the parliamentary parties in the country today stand exposed as the agents and the representatives of foreign and domestic big capitalists.

The central trade unions have never seriously challenged the pro-imperialist policies of their mother parties. So to call a two-day strike upholding the rights of the workers is nothing but an eyewash – a move to hoodwink the toiling masses. It is out of popular pressure that these unions had to call a protest action in the form of the strike. The demands articulated by the two-day strike, however, are genuine demands of the workers themselves. DGMF therefore extends its solidarity to the workers’ strike and calls upon the working people of the country to observe the two-day strike. Without being a part of the grand alliance of ruling-class and revisionist trade unions, DGMF along with other revolutionary trade unions of the country has independently issued a strike call for 20 and 21 February 2013, and will strive to successfully implement the strike.

In solidarity,

Rash Behari

President, DGMF

Jagdish

General Secretary, DGMF

08826203405