Thursday, March 23, 2017

Arrogant US Imperialism Demands Money From Cambodia

By Richard Mellor Afscme Local 444, retired

“[The U.S.] dropped bombs on our heads and then they ask us to repay. When we do not repay, they tell the IMF [International Monetary Fund] not to lend us money,” Hun Sen said at an Asia-Pacific regional conference earlier this month.”

US imperialism, led by Henry Kissinger and Richard Nixon waged an illegal undeclared war in two small countries bordering Vietnam in the early 1970’s, Cambodia and Laos. In addition to the 3 million or so Vietnamese that died in that war, the foray in to Cambodia took upward of 600,000 lives, mostly peasants and rural farmers, the US killed another 400,000 or so in Laos. The US slaughter of Cambodian and Laotian civilians was a genocidal attack by the most powerful military in the world on a defenseless, rural peasant population.

Kissinger and Nixon are war criminals, mass murderers. Nixon has since died but Kissinger, a friend of presidents and politicians, is still alive and a respected American hero. The massive destruction and loss of life in Cambodia and Laos was no accident, no “error in judgment”; it was US policy and had been carried out with gusto in Vietnam. . John Naughton, the Assistant secretary of state in 1967 said of US strategy in Vietnam that, “We seem to be preceding on the assumption that the way to eradicate the Vietcong is to destroy all the village structures, defoliate all the jungles, and then cover the entire surface of South Vietnam with Asphalt.”

As they do today, the US public is kept in the dark about the realities, consequences and decisions of the US war machine. Back then, it was the general rule to count all dead bodies as enemy soldiers. Even if that were the case, and we now know it was not, people defending themselves against aggression, as the Vietnamese were doing, does not make them enemies.

The code names for the raids in to Cambodia and Laos were, as Christopher Hitchins suggested in his book, The Trial of Henry Kissinger, “…a menu of bombardment…” with such colorful names as Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner and Dessert. Between March 1969 and May 1970 3,630 raids went across the border in to Cambodia dropping more than 500,000 tons of explosives on Cambodia's countryside. In addition, the US dropped defoliants on the peasants’ food supply that, “…created a massive health crisis which naturally fell most heavily on children, nursing mothers, the aged and already infirm, which persists today.” Hitchens, The Trial…p 35.

With its use of white phosphorous and depleted uranium in Iraq the same scenario is being played out as thousands of Iraqi people are dying from cancers related to the US invasion and deformities among newborns related to the invasion are widespread.

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the architects of the slaughter in Indochnina were celebrating the results of their creative activity. Chief of Staff HR Haldeman’s diary entries explain, “Kissinger’s “operation breakfast” a great success. He came beaming in with the report, very productive.” Haldeman wrote in March 1970 .

A Haldeman entry 22 April 1970 says that Nixon, following Kissinger in to a National Security Council meeting, “turned back to me with a big smile and said K’(issinger)’s really having fun today, he’s playing Bismarck.” Hitchens, The Trial of Henry Kissinger.

"Everything that flies on everything that moves"
Henry Kissinger on US policy in Cambodia.

According to Hitchens, the US Senate Subcommittee on Refugees estimated that between March 1968 and 1972 “…..more than three million civilians were killed or injured or rendered homeless.” I guess it’s hard to tell when the planes carrying the weapons of mass destruction fly at such altitudes the accuracy and extent of the damage can’t be seen. In the same period, the US dropped more than 4,500, 000 tons of high explosives on Indochina and that doesn’t include the defoliants and pesticides it poured over their food, on the people and even on its own troops.

And the US warmongers want Cambodia to repay a paltry loan it made to them that has doubled due to interest.

The staggering hypocrisy and arrogance of US imperialism.

See: The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens and;
Sideshow: by William Shawcross.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Musical Chairs in Germany

from Dan Armstrong in Germany

The last leader of the German Social Democratic Party, SPD to proclaim his humble, working-class origins, was Gerhard Schroeder. The same Schroeder who embraced neo-liberal ideas, led a frontal attack on the well-developed system of social security, savagely cut unemployment and welfare payments to "improve incentives for capital to invest and modernise" and during this process caused half a million Social Democratic workers and trade unionists to leave the party in disgust and millions more voters to abandon their traditional voice.

One incidental effect was to strengthen the nascent left reformist party Die Linke which has since then competed with the SPD for votes. On Sunday 19th March, a new leader of the SPD was elected, unanimously, Martin Schulz. While party members are euphoric  and the party's popularity has shot up to equal that of Merkel's CDU, what differences, if any, will follow from Schulz's election as party chairman and candidate for Chancellor at the September General Election?

Until recently, the share of the vote for the SPD slumped year on year several percent so that by the end of 2016 the party could only command 19 and 20%.  After a good initial showing of 11-12%, the Linke has mainly stagnated over recent years, failing to appeal to the mass of workers and left voters, unable to produce political programmes which offered little more than demanding more teachers and opposing increases in military spending. It now receives around 6-7% in many regions, more in the east, but importantly has lost parliamentary seats in numerous states and seems to be having difficulties in the elections pending in industrial Northrhine Westfalia, hovering around the 5% minimum threshold vote.

For many years, the SPD has been in government coalition in Berlin as a junior partner with the CDU/CSU. Their record has not been entirely negative. Using their few ministries, the SPD pushed through a universal minimum wage, an affordable house-building programme and so on which have been well received by workers’ organisations.

Meanwhile the German economy has been slowly struggling out of the recession of 2008 and is now performing better than most capitalist countries in the EU. The budget cuts for public services been less than in other countries but have been enough to turn the deficit into a surplus, a rare event in the EU. Leaning on the growth, a whole number of unions in metal-working and logistics industries, for example, have pushed through long-overdue wage rises of 4-5%, each success emboldening further layers of the working class.

Growth of a new right wing
The massive influx of refugees from the Middle East was met with contradictory views. Big corporations and strategists of capitalists saw the influx as a welcome potential for meeting labour shortages and, once integrated, for refreshing pensions funds etc. Smaller localised firms plus many of the depressed badly-paid layers or unemployed fearful that their conditions could worsen, resented the influx. The anti-Euro and anti EU grouping of the AfD split several times and lined up with radical rightwing grouplets whose numbers were swelled through mass anti-immigrant demonstrations so that the AfD is now looking at entering many if not all regional parliaments with 10-12%, eclipsing the Linke and often the Greens too.

Decline of Merkel's Centre
Many of the capitalist, liberal and left forces on a continental scale became alarmed at this revival of protectionism and xenophobia although many wily conservatives understand the usefulness of an ethnically divided working class. At the same time, the rightwing groups conjured up the spectre of the "threat from the east".  The CDU's sister party in Bavaria, the CSU, departed from the liberal line of Merkel and demanded an imposition of numerical limits on immigrants. Such a demand is against the German constitution which guarantees refugees the right of admission. This split inside the dual conservative party led to the growth of the AfD and also to the decline Merkel's popular support as the Mother of the Nation. Previously running at over 40% of voters, the CDU/CSU began a steep decline down to the low 30 percent.  In addition, the number of non-voters increased from election to election.

At this juncture of events, the left organised resistance in the form of counter demonstrations and public protest, usually in grassroots and ad hoc groups which have been able to come together to stage impressive public showings of a refusal to accept the rightward drift. In half a dozen countries, popular movements with vague catalogues of mostly anti-capitalist aims sprang up. In Germany there had already been quite a long history of mass antifascist blockades whenever tiny neo Nazi groups marched or held rallies. Following the British exit from the EU and several ominous anti-democratic measures taken in eastern and central Europe, millions on the left asked themselves what the future may bring - time to resist or time to retreat? The American left displayed admirable and innovative forms of protest against the rightward slide under Trump. Perhaps it was these protests which encouraged the working class movement to seek a new course in the early months of 2017. Opinion polls began to reflect this shift and the SPD began to increase its support significantly.

The arrival of Martin Schulz
And so came the change bringing in Schulz. The leading figures in the SPD hardly differ from each other in any significant way. The term of office of President Gauck was to fortuitously expire in March 2017; the SPD, embedded in a government coalition with the CDU/CSU, put forward one of its party leaders, Steinmeyer, to stand for the post. Steinmeyer, previously foreign minister was a close accomplice of Gerhard Schroeder's reactionary economic and social policies and the rightwing coalition partners could hardly object to his becoming head of state. Thus began the game of musical chairs. Steinmeier moved from the Foreign Minister to the President, the chairman of the party and putative Chancellor candidate Sigmar Gabriel was chosen to become Foreign Minister in Steinmeyer's place.

The post of party chairman and combined with it the Chancellor candidate, became vacant. Gabriel had no chance of winning and stepped down. Opinions were canvassed and a candidature of Martin Schulz for these two posts was mooted and found favour with the establishment. Week by week his popularity was stoked until a campaign for "Martin", by now called only by his first name, was in full flow. Now at the Special Conference of the SPD, a massive delegate vote has taken place and Schulz received unanimous support. Schulz, unlike any possible rivals, does not belong to the established SPD leadership. He progressed through local politics and then entered the EU parliament and although he did support Chancellor Schroeder's neo-liberal policies, this was hardly noticed because his base was in Brussels.

For the moment Schulz is riding a wave of popularity in both the party and in the general public not seen since the time of Willy Brandt in the 1970s. The SPD support rose from a weak 20% to 25 then 30, now 33%, neck and neck with the once powerful CDU/CSU. In 1972 Brandt enthused young and old, workers and students, was elected as the first socialdemocratic Chancellor under the non-political slogan: "Willy waehlen - Vote for Willy"  and the SPD became the biggest fraction in parliament for the first time ever. Brandt campaigned for a controlled decline in heavy industry and cushioned those workforces with planned redundancies and rundowns. Workers participation and a more open attitude to Eastern Europe completed the reform image.

Similarly Schulz' supporters are personalising the SPD image asking for a vote for Martin. Schulz was elected with the simplest and non-specific platform: defence of the EU, more equality, justice and respect. He scattered in a few possible promises such as free education for all from the kindergarten to the university, extension of unemployment pay, and so on.

In the hope of a fresh breeze, there is a swelling enthusiasm for the party, at the time of writing a growth in membership of 13,000 (out of 450,000). There are still six months until the General Election in September 2017. Meanwhile several regional elections will deliver a running commentary on developments. In the summer, the SPD congress will decide on its electoral programme.  So far we have heard no policies to combat temporary employment, acute housing shortages in the big cities, measures to renew crumbling infrastructure, etc. An SPD president and chancellor would embolden the labour movement to press their demands.

There is no question: an SPD revival is underway. For the first time in a generation there is a realistic hope of renewing an SPD government. The tiny Linke meanwhile is still failing to attract more support; some sectarians in its ranks are already denouncing Schulz, saying that he is no different from previous SPD leaders and that he will betray. These tiny "purist" forces sound shrill in the face of groundswell of rank and file support for the traditional party of the workers' movement.

One of the main demands of the Schulz campaign is, for example, to combat inequality. It will be a simple matter to show and explain how to combat the gulf in incomes and how to redistribute them by intervention in the large firms. By denouncing the SPD now will surely demoralise many potential supporters as they will understand this as a call to give up the fight. The left can try to extend the minimal programme of the SPD and show the need for action against the forces of capital. It will be necessary to try to gather the forces for a new left wing in the SPD and bring them together with solid working class militants in the Linke.

The views above are those of the author.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Remembering Bhagat Singh

Despite growing up in England where many Indians now live and call home, I had never heard of Bhagat Singh. I worked in factories with Indians and Pakistani's and knew little about their history, what I would have known had a colonial British bias to it.

Bhagat Singh is a heroic figure and worshiped by many Indian people especially Punjabi's and Sikhs. History is  full of such people but those who fight for the oppressed, for unity, for all humanity don't get much play time in the history books of the ruling classes.

Bhagat Singh was executed by the British. I saw an Indian film about his life but am not sure how accurate it was not knowing the history as much as I should and the dancing and singing so prevalent in Indian movies can, at times, detract from the seriousness of the subject matter.

Thank you to my Punjabi friends for making me aware of Bhagat Singh and his role in Indian and world history, especially Professor Singh and Farooq Tariq for sharing this article with me. It is from the International News. RM.

Ammar Jan
 Bhagat Singh: his times and ours 

by Ammar Jan
March 21, 2017

The 23rd of March will be the 86th death anniversary of Bhagat Singh, one of the most revered figures of the anti-colonial movement. In India, his life and death will be commemorated by a right-wing government which, after the nomination of an outright anti-Muslim bigot as the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, has given up even on any pretence of justice or inclusivity. And in Pakistan, apart from a few civil society and Left activists, the day will either be ignored or consciously repressed. With a nationalism premised on the obliteration of all traces of a shared past between Muslims and non-Muslims, the story of a young Sikh man’s struggle for freedom becomes a source of collective embarrassment.

It is a form of historical violence to restrict a person to specific identitarian markers when his/her entire life was a formidable effort to overcome all limitations of race, caste and religion that structured the world he inhabited. Bhagat’s internationalist and cosmopolitan outlook (despite having never travelled abroad) can be gauged from the inspirations he cites in his letters from prison – German communists, English philosophers, Russian anarchists and novelists, and leaders of the National Congress and the Caliphate movement. Categorising a man who called for total communal harmony and identified with global revolutionary movements of the era as only an Indian, Sikh or even Punjabi does not diminish the universal potential of his life and struggle. It only indicts us, demonstrating how alienated we are from universalism, from our own past and, eventually, from our own humanity.

Yet a compelling question often posed is: if Bhagat is to be considered an icon to the youth today, how do we explain some of his actions, including the murder of a police constable and a bomb attack at the legislative assembly (purposely thrown in an empty area to avoid casualties)? This is a pertinent question, particularly at a moment of rising communal, religious and ethnic violence in our region, not to mention the spiralling financial and human costs of the ‘war on terror’. Do we then need to emulate a man who was condemned as a terrorist, and who immediately accepted responsibility for his actions?

The question of violence, however, is presented today in an ahistorical manner in the debates on the subject. In such frameworks, one can equate the military occupation of foreign lands to the resistance against that same occupation, or the deaths of four million Bengali peasants due to a British-created famine to the violence of the Tebagha Peasant Movement against such lethal exploitation of the peasantry. One should not forget that even Gandhi’s ‘non-violent’ movements were regularly accused of instigating riots, resulting in imprisonment, torture and death sentences handed out to many ‘peaceful’ anti-colonial activists by the colonial state.

Therefore, one cannot mimic the language of the state to collapse disparate political projects into the awkwardly woven categories of ‘violence’, ‘fanaticism’ or ‘totalitarianism’ without regard to their specific historical development. And it is pertinent to remember that the context that produced the possibility of a Bhagat Singh was an outright assault on the lives, property and dignity of the Indian population.

In 1919, a Punjab-wide agitation began against the growing economic crisis in the province, often led by soldiers who had loyally served the British during the First World War but now faced precarious conditions due to the demobilisation of soldiers at the end of the war effort. Tensions reached a crescendo when hundreds of people celebrating the Baisakhi festival at the Jallianwala Bagh were massacred by Colonel Dyer’s troops for allegedly violating a curfew.

This was also a time when imposing humiliating conditions on the general public was meant to, in the words of a British official, “teach them obedience”. For example, it was made compulsory for all locals in Gujranwala to salute a European every time they saw one, while natives were forced to crawl through a street in Amritsar where a British woman had been harassed. The Punjab of the 1920s was littered with examples of such forms of collective punishment and humiliation meted out to the locals. Regardless of all the rhetoric of a civilising mission, colonial rule was established and secured through pain imposed on the bodies of individuals refusing to accept colonial sovereignty, and the fear such procedures induced in bystanders. Yet, pain and fear remain remarkable omissions in the history of political thought, particularly in their centrality to the experience of colonial modernity.

It is here that we witness what is unique about Bhagat’s actions – his absolutely breathtaking indifference to the machinations of power. If fear of the colonial state’s reprisals hindered the development of public opposition to the Raj, the young man’s voluntary surrender to police authorities signalled his determination to face the worst excesses of colonial power in its notorious dungeons for political prisoners.

One can assess his steadfastness from his writings and actions while in prison. Bhagat and his comrades refused to offer any defence in the case, using the trial instead to highlight their opposition to colonial rule. In fact, he castigated his father for displaying “weakness” when the latter submitted a review petition in an attempt to save Bhagat from the impending death sentence; Bhagat reminded his father that his son’s life was not worth compromising the principles of the freedom movement. In another letter written to an imprisoned comrade who was contemplating suicide, he emphasised that the process of enduring pain and suffering was a necessary component of the fight against colonial power, and ending one’s own life would be tantamount to surrender.

The hunger strikes led by Bhagat and his comrades against ill-treatment in jail captured the imagination of the country, and were met by solidarity events and hunger-strikes throughout the country. The appeal of his persona can be judged by Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s response to the news of the hunger strike, as he stood in the Legislative Assembly to declare his sympathy with the young men, boldly declaring that “the man who goes on hunger strike has a soul. He is moved by that soul, and he believes in the justice of his cause. He is no ordinary criminal who is guilty of cold blooded, sordid wicked crime”.

If colonial sovereignty was secured through its inscription on the tortured bodies of the colonial subjects, Bhagat Singh’s decision to voluntarily undergo suffering and turn it into a national spectacle became a major embarrassment for the British. In overcoming the fear induced by pain, it demonstrated the limits, and eventually, the fragility of colonial power.

What further propelled him into the national imaginary was his subversive tactics in the courtroom, a platform he used not for his own defence, but to mock the Empire and its judicial system in front of the national media. Poetry, jokes, and slogans substituted legal reasoning in the courtrooms, with the accused questioning the right of an occupying power to judge their case. One can imagine the appeal of such tactics for ordinary Indians, who were caught in the perpetual drudgery of facing humiliation at the hands of colonial institutions. An Empire that seemed eternal and was built upon rituals of obedience suddenly appeared contingent, vulnerable and fragile, opening up possibilities of a post-imperial world, an idea that occupied Indians in the 1930s and 1940s.

Therefore, Bhagat Singh’s singularity was not an unrestrained penchant for violence. In fact, in his famous letter to ‘Young Political Workers’, he explicitly denounced the cult of the bomb, and encouraged the youth to educate themselves and work patiently with the masses. It was his tactical genius in opening up political imagination beyond the colonial present that was truly remarkable. Even more impressive was his readiness to face the consequences of his commitments, which eventually took him and his comrades, Sukh Dev and Raj Guru, to the gallows in Lahore on the 23rd of March, 1931.

What concrete lessons we draw from these episodes and how we fight our collective amnesia about heroic figures from our past depends on us. In either case, all those who sacrificed their lives for the cause of freedom and human dignity – like Bhagat Singh – live eternally and are in no need of acknowledgement from those holding onto their privileges and fears in a mediocre present. Instead, we should reverse the question and ask whether ‘we’ are dead or alive in their eyes. This simple reversal will have immeasurable consequences on how we view history, ethics and, eventually, life itself.

The writer is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cambridge and a lecturer at the Government College University, Lahore.


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Korea: corruption, cults and chaebols

by Michael Roberts

Koreans have decided to impeach their President Park Geun-hye over corruption charges.  Last Friday the country’s top court upheld an earlier impeachment vote, officially ousting Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s first female leader, from office. This follows months of protests by South Koreans alarmed at claims of bribery, influence-peddling and even shamanistic cult rituals in the presidential Blue House. The demonstrations were more than 1m strong. An impeachment motion easily passed the legislature.

Park is the most unpopular South Korean leader since the country became a democracy in the late 1980s. The scandal ensnared senior government officials and business figures, including Lee Jae-yong, the acting head of Samsung, who denied bribery, corruption and other charges at the first hearing in his trial last week.  Samsung apparently  donated 43bn won ($40m) – more than any other firm – to the foundations run by the president’s confidant, Choi Soon-sil.

Choi is the Rasputin to Korea’s Park. She is the daughter of a South Korean ShamanisticEvangelical cult leader, Choi Tae-min. Her ex-husband is Park’s former chief of staff Chung Yoon-hoi and dressage athlete Chung Yoo-ra is their daughter.  Samsung allegedly gave millions of euros to fund Choi’s daughter’s equestrian training in Germany. Choi is in detention, accused of using her close ties with Park to force local firms to “donate” nearly $70m (£60m) to her non-profit foundations, which Choi allegedly used for personal gain.

It looks likely Moon Jae-in, a former human rights lawyer and political veteran from the opposition Democratic party, will win snap presidential polls in May. Mr Moon has won admirers among the country’s younger generation for his “progressive values” and pledges to tackle youth unemployment, which stands at a record high since the Asian crisis of 1997-8.  Despite what his opponents say, he is no communist.

Korea’s political turmoil is yet another example of how incumbent governments around the world have suffered the price of failure and exposure since the Long Depression began in 2009 after the global financial crash of 2007 and the Great Recession of 2008-9.

The mainstream view is that Korea is a capitalist success story.  Unlike other so-called ‘emerging economies’ in the post 1950 period, which have struggle to close the gap in output and living standards with the leading imperialist countries like the US, the UK or Japan, Korea has made substantial progress.  Between 1960s and the 1980s, Korea’s economy expanded by an average of 8% a year in real national output.  Per capital GDP rose from $104 in 1962 to $5,438 in 1989, and reached the $20,000 level just before the global financial crash. So per capita income rose from 5% of the US in 1960 to around 55%.

This progress was made possible because Korea embarked on, and adhered to, a state-directed industrialisation and export strategy for nearly 50 years. The manufacturing sector grew from 14.3% of GDP in 1962 to 30.3% in 1987.  Within two generations, Korea vaulted into the OECD, its goods and services became known around the globe, and its national corporate champions entered the ranks of the world’s most recognized companies.  In 2012, Korea became the seventh global member of the ’20-50′ club (population surpassing 50m with per capita income of $20,000), the supposed definition of a major capitalist economy.

Marx’s law of profitability can provide an underlying explanation of the success of Korean capitalism in the period from the 1960s after the Korean war to the end of the 1970s.  While the major capitalist economies experienced a fall in profitability from about the mid-1960s to the early 1980s, Korean capital had high and rising rates of profit.  The Korean rate of profit has been measured by several different authors including myself, but probably the best and most thorough measurements have been by Esteban Maito and Seongjin Jeong, the editor of Marxism21.

Maito finds that the Korean rate of profit rose from the 1960s to the late 1970s. (Maito, Esteban – The historical transience of capital. The downward tren in the rate of profit since XIX century ). And that was the peak.

Jeong presents the most comprehensive analysis of trends in the rate of profit on Korean capital.  Jeong finds that the rate of profit fell from a peak in 1978 to a low in 2002.  And the decline in the rate over the 1980s and 1990s was the underlying cause of the crisis and slump of 1997, part of the so-called Asian crisis. “The 1997 crisis was intimately related to a broader problem of declining capitalist profitability.  While the rate of profit has recovered since that crisis”, Jeong says, “its 2002 level still remains at only one-third of the level of 1978.  This suggests that the Korean economy remains in the middle of its long downturn.”

Jeong also shows that Marx’s law of profitability, based on a rising organic composition of capital, provides the underlying cause for this fall in profitability.  The era of Park Jung Hee, which saw a limited stabilisation of profitability, was only possible because of intensified exploitation of the Korean working class in the so-called neoliberal period of the 1980s, delivering a rise in the rate of surplus value or exploitation, the main counteracting factor to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.  But even that factor could not overcome the eventual fall in profitability in the 1990s that finally culminated in the slump of 1997, ironically just as profitability in the major economies peaked.  In the 1997 Asian financial crisis, the South Korean economy suffered a liquidity crunch and had to rely on a bailout by the IMF.

The Asian crisis that hit Korea so hard led to a sharp devaluation of capital values (through the writing off of bankrupt companies and rising unemployment), followed by more neoliberal measures that boosted profitability.  But as Maito and my own measures of profitability show, after the 2001 mild global recession, Korean profitability resumed its decline, leading up to the global financial collapse of 2008.  Economic growth was stopped in its tracks in 2009.

Since then, Korean capitalism has become part of the Long Depression.  Underlying trend growth has weakened from 7% a year in the 1990s to just 3% now.

Moreover, Korean capitalism now faces serious structural challenges, many of which imply a further decline in potential growth.  Korea has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and one of the world’s most rapidly aging societies. The working age population is projected to peak this year and decline rapidly thereafter, depressing potential employment and growth. The overall population is expected to start declining after 2025.

Korea’s economic success came on the back of exports, but that heavy reliance may now be a liability in a world of slowing trade and with the prospect of the end of globalisation and the rise of protectionism after the election of President Donald Trump in the US.  With exports exceeding 50% of GDP—one of the highest shares among advanced economies—Korea is heavily exposed to any shocks or change in China and the US, particularly from China, its largest trading partner.  Some of the heavy industrial sectors that underpinned Korea’s past growth—for instance, shipbuilding, shipping, steel, and petrochemicals—are now facing bleak prospects globally given the trade slowdown and competition from China.  Korean capital is under severe pressure.

Moreover, South Korea’s economy is still dominated by oligopolistic chaebol that are now being squeezed at the low end by expanding Chinese manufacturers and at the high end by Japanese players who have benefited from a deliberately-weakened yen. Exporters are creating fewer jobs in South Korea as the chaebol move production offshore to look for cheaper labour.  That has left the domestic economy hurting: small and medium-sized businesses are still failing and the high-value services sector is lagging well behind other countries. “This has raised concerns about Korea’s traditional catch-up strategy led by exports produced by large chaebol companies”, the OECD said in a report last year.

In the 1990s, Korean capitalists adopted neoliberal employment policies by keeping much of its workers on casual temporary contracts.  The share of temporary workers was nearly 22% in 2014, double the OECD average.  But this led to slowing productivity and under-investment in skills.  Labor productivity rose at an average annual rate of 5.5% in 1990-2011, but it has stagnated since then and remains only 40% of the three most productive OECD countries.  Labor productivity is particularly low in the service sector—much lower than in peer economies and only half that of manufacturing and much lower in smaller companies.

Korean capital prospered on the backs of overworked staff, working long hours and by avoiding any social security.  The Basic Livelihood Security Program (BLSP), introduced in 2000, provides cash and in-kind benefits to the most vulnerable, but is substantially less generous than the OECD average. The National Pension System (NPS) currently covers about one-third of the elderly and the OECD reports that pension benefits were only around one-quarter of the average wage in 2015.

This has led to increasing household debt: many retirees borrow to open (risky) small businesses, in an attempt to supplement their incomes. Total social spending amounts to just 10% of GDP, less than half the OECD average, while household debt rose steadily from 40% of GDP in the early 1990s to nearly 90% today.  At the same time, corporate debt has been consistently high at about 100% over the last decade.   This high and rising debt indicates that Korean capital is no capable of getting a healthy and rising rate of profit and is forced to borrow to grow – increasing the impact of any future slump.

Back in 2012, the now disgraced Park Geun-hye pledged to rebuild the ‘middle class’ and increase its size to 70% of society.  This has turned out to be a sham.  Instead, there has been increasing economic polarisation in the Long Depression.  Economic inequality increased noticeably during and after the 1997 crisis and the Great Recession of 2008-9. South Korea’s average gini coefficient — a measure of inequality — for 1990–1995 was 0.258, but with rising inequality its coefficient increased to 0.298 in 1999. It continued to increase, reaching 0.315 in 2010.  The same trend can be seen in income distribution: the share held by the top 10% of income holders divided by that of the bottom 10% has increased from 3.30 in 1990 to 4.90 in 2010. The income share of the top 1% was 16.6% of national income in 2012, not far short of the extremes in the US and much worse than in Japan.  The most recent statistics released by a government source indicate that as much as 73% of Seoul residents identified themselves as belonging to the ‘lower class’.

The Great Recession has increased the precarious position of Korean workers and produced an even sharper cleavage between regularly employed workers on standard contracts and irregularly employed workers (those who are limited-term, part-time, temporary or dispatched), increasing the latter from 27% of the working population in 2002 to 34% in 2011. This means that approximately one-third of South Korean workers suffer from insecure job conditions, receiving only around 60% of regular workers’ wages with no medical insurance, severance pay or company welfare subsidies.
Since the late 1990s, a general trend among South Korean firms has been to discard the old seniority-based salary system and adopt the American style ability-based salary system. With this change, the wage gap between professional and managerial workers and the rest of the workforce has widened greatly. As the South Korean economy has moved towards being knowledge-based, the value of scarce skills and knowledge has increased and globalised business sectors have begun to offer extremely high salaries to attract talent.

So significant income disparities that have long existed between South Korea’s conglomerate firms and medium to small-sized firms have become even greater in recent years. South Korea’s top 1% of income earners are most likely to be employed in the leading conglomerates, like Samsung, Hyundai and LG, which have grown into truly world-class companies and become very profitable.

Finally, in South Korea, as in most societies, wealth inequality is much larger than earned income inequality. In 2012, the top 10% of the population possessed 46% of the country’s total wealth. The bottom 50% possessed only 9.5%. This wealth inequality emerged primarily from the booming real estate market. But in recent years, the stock market and other financial investments have replaced the real estate market as the major means of wealth accumulation.

According to Statistics Korea, the average monthly household income of the top 10% was 10,627,099 won.  This is 5.1 times higher than that in 1990, which was 2,097,826 won. For the bottom of 10%, the figure increased only 3.6 times from 248,027 won to 896,393 won. So the gap between these two groups increased from 8.5 times to 11.9 times. The data is based on 8,700 households, not including the extremely poor or the top chaebol families, so the actual gap appears to be much larger.

One out of six people live with less than 10 million won per year and one out of four households are more often in the red than in the black. The poverty rate of people over 65 years old is 48.5%, which is 3.4 times higher than that of the OECD average. Moreover, the suicide rate is among the highest in the world. Korean capitalism may appear to have been a relative success by world standards over the last 50 years, but it has been at the expense of its people.

The future of Korean capitalism is tied up with the future of global capital.  No national economy can escape that.  But there are specific challenges for Korean capital too.  The biggest and possibly the most immediate is what happens with North Korea.  If and when the Stalinist-type regime falls there, Korean capital is no position to integrate the people of the north into the capitalist system of the south.  The cost that West German capital and economy suffered when the Berlin Wall fell and Germany was united again was significant and held back one of the most successful capitalist economies for a decade.  The disruption to Korean capital would be very much greater, especially if this should happen in this period of economic stagnation and political turmoil.

Then there is Korean capital’s longer term future.  The slowing of world trade everywhere is damaging to Korean capitalism, but this slowdown appears to morphing into the end of the period of so-called globalisation that world capitalism has benefited from since the early 1980s.  Regional trade agreements like TPP and TTIP are in the rubbish bin, thanks to Donald Trump, while he talks of tariffs on imports into the US and forcing American capital back to the US.  The next global recession could be an even bigger hit to Korean capital than the last.

Globalization of Rape Culture

by Andrea Wilkum.

“Making someone feel obligated, pressured or forced into doing something of a sexual nature that they don't want to is sexual coercion. This includes persistent attempts at sexual contact when the person has already refused you. Nobody owes you sex, ever; and no means no, always.”*

A 2016-17 economic survey published by India’s Maharashtra government revealed that violent crimes against women increased by 21.9% over a two year period from 2014-16. Rapes over that period rose from 3,438 to 4,209 in 2016. (The Indian Express). As in most statistics of this nature, they are on the low end as most rapes are never reported.

According to statistics which were released in the United States in January 2017, the FBI’s Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime reported an overall increase of crime from 2015-2016 with the number of rapes rising 3.5% in that period. In the most recent Gallup poll, 1 in 3 women in the United States worry about being sexually assaulted. This is a shockingly high figure when wee think about it. Of course, men rarely, if ever do think about it.

There has been some recent focus on the rape crimes in India, and the country has faced some sharp criticism as a backward and twisted country in regards to their failure to stand up for women’s rights and not hold their law enforcement accountable for these actions.

Much of the blame for this increase in sexual violence lies in the fact that many Indians are living in a society which offers poverty, poor living conditions, low wages, and a failing legal system. There are citizens living in slums which do not offer adequate sewers or running water, but the failure to deal with the issues of rape and an almost nonexistent police force within poor areas to fight crime makes matters worse.

Along with the statistics, many rape victims in India never report them to the authorities for fear of the negative social stigma that this act carries in regards to dishonor amongst families. In 2015, it was reported that Indian police registered under 40,000 rape cases whereas the United States reports about 63,000 annually.  It is important to point out that India has nearly four times as many people as the United States.  To complicate matters, when sex crimes are reported in either country, they hardly ever make it to trial and those that do often result in a meager sentence if the perpetrator is found guilty. A court case is often a grueling ordeal for the victim as women’s personal and sexual lives are dragged through the mud and she is portrayed as a person of low morals.

Now, a new epidemic of sex crime has arisen in India which is the selling of gang rape videos for less than $1.00. A health worker walking home from a district within the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh was raped by four men. Unfortunately, this video of her rape was circulated online which led to her suicide.

There have been multiple stories published which involve similar scenarios. These are the known stories that have been shared publicly, and stand as a perfect example as to why most of these cases do go unreported. Victims are often blackmailed. The rapes are often shot on mobile phone and are easily spread throughout a community.

What is even more disturbing is that the Times of India has reported that hundreds of these rape videos are being sold “under the counter”, “right under the nose of the police and the administration” (Times of India August 4, 2016). The dealers involved in these crimes reportedly download the videos from social networks sites such as Twitter or Facebook, which they then proceed to sell. Since these crimes are all online, it does not take very long before the videos go viral.

The report recalls the disturbing events happening right now in the United States. The commander of the US Marines Corps is being held accountable for similar sexual crimes occurring among the ranks. Male Marines are uploading videos or images of female Marines without the victim’s consent to a Facebook page called, “Marines United”, which has about 30,000 members—rampant with misogynistic commentary and victim-blaming. While the US Senate is investigating the matter, it will be difficult to shut down these types of websites. When one web page is down, a new page will simply spring up with the same content. A member of the “Marines United”, Marshall Chiles justifies the page and its members by stating that sexual assault will continue to happen if women are continued to be allowed in to the military. Simply put, if a woman is added or integrated in to a group of males, this sort of thing “just happens” and will continue to happen because women are a supposed distraction. Chiles states further that the group was created to promote camaraderie and was designed as a form of social validation.

This logic is the same logic that is used against rape victims, sexual assault victims, (i.e. “She was raped because she was too drunk to notice her surroundings”, or “She was asking for it with that short skirt”.) etc.

The scale of sexual violence is large, however, should we really be blaming the military or pointing the finger at one single country for being the sole misogynists of the world? While I do not condone the scandal in any way whatsoever nor sex crimes, we need to take a step back and look at how this misogynist ideology is still allowed to thrive within the twenty-first century. Even though these incidents are happening constantly, feminism is still questioned or regarded as a negative idea. Also, often dismissed or viewed as a threat by those people who feel that they are being attacked simply because many of them are now being forced to question a centuries old way of backwards thinking. The reason situations such as these mentioned in the article can occur is because of a deeply entrenched history of sexism discrimination and violence, which apparently still runs rampant within some “civilized societies.”

With the election of Donald Trump, a serial predator who boasts about being able to do anything he can to women including kissing them without their permission and grabbing their genitals, it is no wonder these attitudes prevail in the US. After all, if the president of the United States can do what he wants with a woman why can’t any man?

It has been mentioned on this blog that more than half the world’s industrial workers are women. We have seen strikes of women factory workers throughout Asia.  The recent women’s march here in the US was a historic event spurred on by Trumps assault on women’s rights at home. Two to four million marched in support of women’s rights.

A lot must be done to change attitudes formed over centuries of treating women as objects and women as hosts for future generations (of males hopefully).

We have a long way to go but women will not be driven back to the dark ages by Donald Trump or religious zealots. We have come too far for that.

"Benign Hegemony." What US capitalism calls mass slaughter. How to read the capitalist media.

US capitalism tentacles in South East Asia.
Sean O'Torain.

For those of us who want to fight US capitalism we need to know what our enemy, the US capitalist class is thinking and what it is capable of doing. Capitalism has its huge mass media to convince the working class of its ideas. As this Blog explains capitalism wages a non stop war for the consciousness of the working class. The objective of this war is to convince the working class that there is no alternative to capitalism, that the working class cannot build a new society which it would control and which would act in its interests and in the interests of the planet and life on earth as we know it. This Blog also explains the task of those of us who want to end capitalism is to combat capitalism's war for the consciousness of the working class and wage our own struggle for the consciousness of the working class. As we wage this struggle we have to follow the mass media of capitalism and see what they are saying and counter their lies.

Trotsky the revolutionary socialist said there was two kinds of capitalist media. The gutter capitalist media which tells lies 90% of the time. Included in this lot would be outfits like Fox News and the tabloid press and the myriad of right wing nut case radio stations. Then there is the more serious capitalist media which is aimed more at its own class and which tells the truth the majority of the time in order to be able to lie convincingly when it matters. In the latter lot would be outlets like The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times etc. Of course since Trotsky wrote we have the development of the Internet and social media so things have changed a bit. The capitalist class no longer has the same monopoly of propaganda it once had. This is good. But one of the weaknesses of the Internet and the social media is that while it makes the dissemination of information much easier,  the forces, including the more anti capitalist and anti establishment forces within it have no concept of the existence of the working class and that it is only the working class that can change the world. This is a serious weakness. So while there is much exposing of the evils of capitalism and this is good no alternative is put forward.

But to go back to the capitalist media. I will leave aside the gutter media for the moment. Look instead at the serious capitalist media. Part of our struggle is to train ourselves how to read the capitalist media.  We have to read this media and contrast it to information from other sources and also use our imagination and see what words are used and what is not being said. In other words we have to read between the lines.  This is one area where the Internet is invaluable. If we read what the capitalist media is saying about something we can google the topic and get different opinions and actual facts. As an example of what I am talking about let us take an excerpt from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. It was about the visit of Tillerson the US secretary of State and major hood of the US oil and gas capitalists to South East Asia and China. The Wall Street Journal gave its version of the background and role of US capitalism in this region in an article on his visit.

It wrote: "For more than seven decades, US armed forces have presided over a benign hegemony in Asia. After defeating Japanese fascism, they stayed on to help build prosperity from the rubble of war and fend off communism. Nowadays, the US Pacific Command from Hawaii looks after a territory that embraces ("embraces"? S.O'T.)almost half of humanity and boasts a force of five aircraft-carrier strike groups and some 1,500 aircraft. China is convinced all this firepower is here to keep it down, but cannot yet match the strength. Rather, it seeks to undermine US credibility and prestige by intimidating its Asian partners. Already, the Philippines is bending to Beijing's will. But the stakes are far higher in South Korea, an industrialized economy with a war-ready military. Effectively, China is trying to dictate the security options of a sovereign nation whose safety-and that of some 28,000 US troops it hosts-is imperiled by North Korea's mastery of missile and nuclear technology. Today Mister Trump's challenge will be to turn back a nuclear threat from Pyongyang, while somehow holding together a fading imperium that Mr Xi is anxious to consign to the dustbin of history."

US capitalism's "Benign Hegemony" in Laos. A defenseless population
Where to start? This piece from the Wall Street Journal is staggering in its lies and its making up of a history that never happened. Let us look at it. For "seven decades it presided over a benign hegemony" in Asia. What was the reality of this "benign hegemony". The Wall Street Journal propaganda and lying machine leaves out a few details. This "benign hegemony" included dropping nuclear bombs on the civilian population of Japan. US capitalism is the only force that ever dropped nuclear bombs on civilian populations. This "benign hegemony" included conducting, with the help of remnants of the Japanese fascists it talks about, the invasion and brutal war in Korea.

In this war MacArthur the US commander "ordered all air forces under his command to "destroy every means of communication, every installation, factory, city, village from the Yalu river forming the border between North Korea and China." US capitalism's "benign hegemony" in South East Asia also included its invasion of Vietnam, with an estimated 3 million Vietnamese and 58 million American workers in uniform killed. It also included its carpet bombing of Cambodia and Laos. Carpet bombing means to bomb every inch of a country like a carpet covers a floor. Kissinger the US war criminal explained what the US did to these countries with its air power. "Everything that flies on everything that moves."  Its "benign hegemony" also includes its organizing of the mass slaughter of more than half a million anti capitalist and activist forces in Indonesia. Looking further afield one study estimates that since World War 2 US capitalism has killed between 20 and 30 million people in 37 nations. This is not to mention how many Americans died at home in America due to the vicious anti worker policies and the contradictions of the policies of US capitalism including the spending on wars to defend the US corporations profits and property, billions of dollars which could have been spent on improving the living standards of the US working class and the working class internationally.

US capitalism is backing itself into a corner in South Asia and especially with North Korea. It needs China to pressure North Korea to denuclearize. Meanwhile it Trump rails at China and increases the tensions between the US and China. China and for that matter North Korea are not stupid They see what happens when US capitalism goes after a small country which has no nuclear weapons. Qaddafi in Libya made a deal with US and other advanced capitalist powers to end its countries nuclear program. A few years later these same powers supported his overthrow and he was dragged from a ditch in which he was hiding and raped and killed. The lesson has not been lost on North Korea. If US capitalism attacks North Korea it would cause an enormous crisis in South East Asia. Nuclear weapons would be used. This would kill millions. And not only in North Korea but in South Korea and China. There would be millions of refugees fleeing in China. South Korea would be hit if not by nuclear weapons at least by the massive artillery weaponry of the North which can reach the South's capital city.

US capitalism's "benign hegemony" in South East Asia is cracking. It will either lose its hegemony or its hegemony will become less "benign." Its control is loosening. It has its other wars in the Middle East. It has the first beginnings of a what will become serious problems within its military with the opposition of some of its drone operators to killing civilians and with the new crisis in the marines with the internal divisions there over the spreading of nude photos of female marines on the Internet.  It has its huge budget deficits and 19 trillion dollars national debt and so cannot continue to fund its hundreds of military bases abroad and its war machine.

US capitalism is heading into a major crisis. It has to deal with this crisis with the idiot Trump in the White House. Trump is pushing measures that will drastically further cut the living standards and health care for hundreds of millions of Americans. At the same time a new world economic recession lies ahead, one that will be much worse than that of 2008. US capitalism's arrogance will make this world crisis worse. Of course it is not ruled out that Trump would launch a new war somewhere to try and undermine the opposition that is rising against him at home. But while this might work for a time it would only postpone the crisis and make it much worse when it struck.

As we read the serious capitalist press as we follow events we must break from old stale conservative  methods of thinking. We must use our imagination. The world will not continue with the "relative stability" of the past decades. We are heading into a period of economic and political and military crisis that has not been seen since the 1930's and 1940's. This will not leave any of our lives untouched. Do not think that we will proceed as we have done for the past decades. Look at the nations around the world that have been shattered in pieces. Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen. A new crisis is about to explode in Latin America. Europe is breaking up. Russian capitalism is making its play to face up to US capitalism. The giant of China continues to seek a larger world role. However it will soon be wracked by a movement of its own working class. India has had the huge one day strike of 160 to 180 million mainly women workers for better wages and labor rights. However it is also in danger of erupting into communal break up and violence under the vicious rule of Modi.

The way out of this crisis is the organizing of the international working class to overthrow capitalism. The working class is much stronger in numbers and relative to the other classes than ever before. It is spread over all the continents of the world. In what is a huge strengthening of the working class 50% of factory workers are now women. What is needed is the building of an international revolutionary mass movement of the working class of tens and hundreds of millions dedicated to take every necessary measure to end capitalism. What is needed is to remove the pro capitalist leadership of the 200 million strong trade unions world wide and replace these with a revolutionary socialist leadership. As we do so another lesson we have to learn from this mass slaughter of capitalism over the past decades is that it will not give up its power without a fight. The working class has to conduct its struggle with the necessary ruthlessness if it is to win.      

Friday, March 17, 2017

Trumps Budget: Guns and Butter.

The budget of the swindler, right wing capitalist and idiot Trump.
Sean O'Torain.

The authors of this Blog have since its inception explained that US capitalism was in an economic, political and military crisis. We also explained that part of this was that US capitalism could no longer, as we put it, afford guns and butter. By this we meant that it could no longer afford to keep its military forces at the level it has been keeping them for the past century and at the same time keep its own working class at the living standard it has experienced for the past half century. We explained that Reagan had begun to address this issue with the attack on the PATCO workers and since then the US capitalist class have been on an offensive against the working class. That is they have been attempting to keep the guns but at the same time cut the butter. This has been happening for the past decades. But we see it most dramatically in the proposed budget of Trump.

This budget is proposing to increase military spending by $54 billion (New York Times March 16th.) and to offset this with cuts in domestic programs and international diplomacy and environmental research and protection by a similar amount. This budget is unlikely to be passed as the anger of the US working and middle classes is already erupting. But it is a sign of the thinking of US capitalism and they will come back to this approach time after time. However as the US capitalist class moves again and again to attack the working class, to cut the butter, this will provoke a mass movement of opposition. The authors of this Blog have raised many times the old saying that sometimes the revolution needs the whip of the counter revolution. We already see this as Trumps policies, the whip of the counter revolution, have already evoked the women's marches and the town hall meetings all over the country against politicians who support his attacks. Already we see the divisions in the Republican party and the sputtering of the Democratic Party who want to appear as if they oppose Trump while at the same time supporting his capitalist system.

When we look at this budget we must not be fooled by the lies and the propaganda and the formulations used. For example the terms the Defense Department, The Secretary of so-called Defense. These are just lies. There is no Defense Department. There is the Department of Invasion and Occupation. Think of all the countries that US capitalism has invaded and occupied and they are still fighting in. US capitalism has 800 military bases round the world. Are these to defend the US. Of course not. Who is going to attack the US? There are an estimated 300 million guns in civilian hands in the US, who is going to invade the US? The US Invasion and Occupation Department exists to defend the interests, wealth and profits of US capitalism. Look at what Major General Smedley Butler said. He was the most decorated marine in US history. He said: "War is a racket. I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism." This is accurate. Trump in his budget wants to increase US military spending to allow US capitalism to have a better chance to hold onto its world dominance. Trump in his budget wants to increase the spending on the military to defend the interests of as Smedley Butler said "Big Business, Wall Street, the Bankers." Take away from the US working class to defend the interests of the US capitalist class, this is the reality of their propaganda about defense.

US capitalism's military policies of invasion and occupation cause more suffering and instability around the world than any other force. But not only that. US capitalism has been trying to hold on to its number one position in the world by going increasingly into debt. At present US capitalism has $20 trillion in national debt. They have only been able to go into this amount of debt because of their economic and military dominance. But this is coming to an end. So now they have no choice but to go after its own working class. While increasing its military spending it is cutting just about every other sector which is related to the living standards of the working and middle class people of the USA. The environment, health care, education, women rights, meals on wheels, the elderly and sick, the rights of minorities, all are to be cut while the military spending is to increase. These proposed cuts are extremely vicious but even with them, even if they were to be put through they would still not cut into the $20 trillion national debt. As far as US capitalism is concerned they are only the beginning.

It is not complicated. We all know that as families and individuals we have to live. And this involves for the majority of the US population going into debt. We also all know that at some stage this debt has to be paid back or defaulted on. US capitalism is trying to put off the evil day when it has to either default on or pay off its debt. Trumps budget is trying to stop the debt from getting larger but it does not cut the already existing debt. The reason it does not go further is fear of the opposition this will evoke. Fear of the movement of the working class this will evoke. But irregardless of this Trump and US capitalism will come back again and again to try and cut the debt on the backs of the working class. If they cannot do this they will be faced with default and a US and world economic crisis such as never been experienced before.

It is these harsh economic realities that explain the other aspects of the Trump regime. His racism, his sexism, his anti immigrant polices. These are aimed at dividing the working class so he and the US capitalist class can push through their attacks. Those workers who voted for Trump made a bad mistake. To be even more direct they acted stupidly, acted against their own interests. They voted for a degenerate racist and sexist capitalist politician who will rant on about these issues to divide the working class and allow the class he is part of to push through their anti working class policies. Trump is not a fascist, yet. but he has all the makings of becoming one unless he is stopped. Trying to mobilize the sections of the middle class who are ruined by the crisis of capitalism and will be be ruined even more in the coming economic collapse to come, and mobilize also the backward thinking sections of the working class who think it is workers of other races or gender who are to blame for their plight as opposed to the US capitalist class and their system.

We must be clear. As US capitalism pushes towards its all out assault on the working class it will increasingly turn to the methods of divide and rule such as Trump uses. At some stage if not stopped it will move towards outright fascist methods. That is organizing an armed force directed to attack minorities but in reality to divide and attack the working class as a whole. The working class in this country must waken up to this fact and begin to organize to confront and defeat this threat. A united working class movement organized and with the necessary resources to confront this threat.

The union leaders will not organize this force. Their pro capitalist ideas and policies lead them to go along with the attacks on the working class. They can see no alternative to capitalism so they go along with it, including its attacks on the working class, its own members. See the leaders of the building trades meeting and drinking with the Predator in Chief Trump. It was nauseating. But more important than that. It was a warning that these leaders are not prepared to lead. They have no knowledge of history they think that capitalism is the only system. They do not deserve the name of leaders.

Look at their role with the women's marches. These were a tremendous example of the mood now developing to fight Trump and the offensive against workers and women's and all minorities rights. They were "organized" "spontaneously" by groups of women and youth mainly through the internet. But where were the union leaders. They never lifted a finger to build these. They could have mobilized their 14 million members to help build the marches, and with heads and banners high participated in the marches. This would have transformed these marches in terms of size and also class composition. It would also have transformed the Union membership, activating the existing membership and at the same time drawing millions of new members into union membership. Of course the union leaders do not want this. An activated and increased and fighting union membership would soon question the bureaucratic control of the union leadership over the membership and question and oppose the huge salaries and perks these leaders have. The union leadership will not lead the fight at this time. A rank and file fighting organization must be build in the ranks of the unions, in the workplaces, in the working class communities, in the schools and colleges to confront the danger and the attacks of US capitalism. This is the way to prepare for the huge attacks that are to come. The way to bring down Trump and all the other Trumps in both capitalist Parties is to build a mass fighting movement of the working class and a mass workers political party based on ending capitalism and establishing democratic socialism in the US and world wide.