Sunday, January 31, 2016

Whence Maoism? (Part 3: Marxism, Leninism… Maoism?) by Muhsin Y.


In this, the final part of my initial public meditation on “Maoism”, I wish to discuss “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism”. It will be noted that throughout the “Whence Maoism?” pieces thusfar, I have placed “Maoism” and “Maoist” in quotation marks. The reason for this relates to the phenomenon of “MLM”: “Maoist” and “Maoism” are labels that have been used long prior to the emergence of a conscious theoretical effort to grant “Maoism” the status of a third and higher stage of revolutionary science, forged throughout the struggles within the RIM, and surviving after the latter’s effective demise as an evangelical trend within anti-revisionist Marxism-Leninism (or, as they would have it, surviving as the only real anti-revisionist communist ideology). A particularly dogmatically anti-Mao Marxist-Leninist may use the term “Maoist” to deride others who are not, in the view of the “MLM” crowd, “proper Maoists”. Similarly, Trotskyites may refer to anti-revisionism as a whole as “Maoism”, just as they may refer to “Maoism” as “Stalinism [with Chinese characteristics]”.

With their document “Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!” we see the RIM’s official “recognition of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism as the new, third and higher stage of Marxism”, forcing other Marxist-Leninists, regardless of their views on Mao and the Chinese struggle, to formally declare that we do NOT view “Maoism” as a “third and higher stage”. Consequently, in their eyes, we become “dogmato-revisionists”. Of course, we are not “dogmatically anti-Che” for not holding that “Marxism-Leninism-Guevarism” is a “new, third, and higher stage of Marxism”, even if we do think Che is an inspiring figure and a great Marxist-Leninist. The parallels may seem odd to “Marxist-Leninist-Maoists”, for whom Mao is indeed a second Lenin, but in fact, many “Maoist” comrades (most?) continue to self-identify as “Marxist-Leninist”. We do not see this level of confusion over the division between Marxist-Leninists and so-called “Orthodox Marxists”, with whom we have so little common ground on the question of Lenin as to prevent debate from occurring in the first place. When “Maoists” ask what is really “new” in Bob Avakian’s famous “new synthesis”, we ought to ask what is really “new” in “Maoism”. To outsiders, “Marxist-Leninist-Maoists” appear, more than anything else, to be pointlessly sectarian. While dogmatic Hoxhaites are viewed as very sectarian by “Maoists”, we cannot say that any Hoxhaite organisation has ever defined revisionism negatively in terms of Enver Hoxha the way “Marxist-Leninist-Maoists” do with Mao.

We are told that Mao did indeed have unique theoretical insights which must be grasped in order to be a true communist (to not descend into “dogmato-revisionism”). What are these insights? The document “Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!” emphasises several ideas which are often repeated by “Marxist-Leninist-Maoists”, the most frequently repeated of which seem to be “cultural revolution”, “the mass line”, and “people’s war”. If I am mistaken that these are the issues which separate “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” from “dogmato-revisionist” Marxism-Leninism, I invite comrades to correct me. However, based on this assumption, I will give my appraisal of these ideas in the order I have given them above.

Cultural Revolution

I have previously commented briefly on the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. It is a fact that it failed in its mission to defeat the revisionists. I do not mean this in the sense that Stalin’s purges failed to prevent revisionism in the Soviet Union. I mean it failed in the most immediate sense, while Mao was alive, to the point where he was forced to accept Deng as a power player even while Jiang Qing and others continued to insist (rightly) that he was a capitalist roader.

I do not intend to use this space to attack the cultural revolution in the way that Enver Hoxha did, insisting it was un-Marxist and so forth. Nor is there much point in noting that mistakes were made, as almost all “Maoists” would admit that (otherwise they would be hard-pressed to explain the above-noted failure). What is worth discussing, in my view, is why this particular revolutionary moment is not merely upheld, but held up above all others. “Maoists” would respond that it is important because it represented the masses taking power into their own hands.

But as “Maoists” know better than anyone, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was but one of Mao’s many mass campaigns. Mao’s “mass line” meant that such mass campaigns were a tremendous part of his practice, something which they frequently mention as a reason to uphold Mao. Why then the emphasis on the last one? Was it the most successful? One may argue to the contrary, that this was the mass campaign that led to Mao’s surrender, and the military stepping in per the wishes of Mao’s opponents, etc. “The mass line” is no longer practised in China thanks to the new order accepted by Mao as a result of the Cultural Revolution. By contrast, the Great Leap Forward, also much maligned by bourgeois historiography, can in many ways be counted as a success.

In short, was the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution the most important moment in Chinese history, or merely the largest (but still ultimately unsuccessful) example of “the mass line”?

The Mass Line

I did not merely redirect the Cultural Revolution to the mass line in order to degrade Mao’s practice in this area. Marxism-Leninism has always been a radically democratic ideology, in spite of anarchists’ willful misunderstanding of what the vanguard party means. The idea of “the mass line” comes out of a thorough and scientific investigation into the dialectical relationship between the vanguard party and the masses. It is the idea that the party must lead the masses not merely by standing one step ahead of them in the march towards victory, not merely by agitating among the masses to teach them the way forward, but by learning from the masses, so as to better teach them. One of Mao’s many succinct aphorisms explains the concept in terms I have always found sympathetic:
 “Communists should set an example in study; at all times they should be pupils of the masses as well as their teachers.
Of course, the issue is that this dialectical relationship was not first observed by Mao, he simply gave it the name “the mass line”. Stalin is quoted as saying:
Lenin taught us not only to teach the masses, but also to learn from them.
What does this mean?

It means, first, that we leaders must not become conceited; and we must understand that if we are members of the Central Committee or are People’s Commissars, this does not mean that we possess all the knowledge for giving correct leadership. An official position by itself does not provide knowledge and experience. This is still more the case in respect to a title.

This means, second, that our experience alone, the experience of leaders, is insufficient to give correct leadership; that, consequently, it is necessary that one’s experience, the experience of leaders, be supplemented by the experience of the masses, by the experience of the rank-and-file Party members, by the experience of the working class, by the experience of the people.

This means, third, that we must not for one moment weaken, and still less break, our connection with the masses.
This means, fourth, that we must pay careful attention to the voice of the masses, to the voice of the rank-and-file members of the Party, to the voice of the so-called “small men”, to the voice of the people.
And so forth.

Those familiar with the writings of Mao on practical work will note similarities without my having to point them out. This is not to attack Mao as an unoriginal thinker: It was Mao himself who emphasised “the mass line” was “the Marxist theory of knowledge” (and all Marxists ought to agree, if they understand dialectics), and “self-criticism” as a “Marxist-Leninist weapon”. Some “Maoists” take no issue with this, and on the contrary, embrace Stalin’s “mass line” approach. This leads to the question of Chairman Mao’s other commonly cited theoretical breakthrough: “the universality of people’s war”.

People’s War

In the first few paragraphs of the section of “Long Live Marxism-Leninism-Maoism!” entitled “Mao Tsetung”, we are told that among Mao’s key contributions was “people’s war”. Indeed, long prior to the RIM, the popular view among many lay observers was that “people’s war” was the essence of Mao’s practice. Certainly Mao’s military strategy inspired many, and is defended by many non-“Maoists”. “Marxism-Leninism-Maoism” declares “the universality of people’s war”.

What does this mean? Does this mean that peasant revolution is to be carried out everywhere? “Maoists” insist that it does not. And yet the truly fascinating and historically noteworthy feature of the Chinese Civil War (from the perspective of proletarian internationalists and bourgeois observers alike) was how the peasantry of a backwards country was mobilised to defeat a professional military backed by the imperialist powers. Otherwise, what is “Maoist” “people’s war”? Let us go to the source, and we will that Mao does not argue for universalising the lessons of China, that he views the call for revolutionary violence (when called for by the conditions) as “Marxist-Leninist”:
The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds good universally, for China and for all other countries.
But while the principle remains the same, its application by the party of the proletariat finds expression in varying ways according to the varying conditions. Internally, capitalist countries practice bourgeois democracy (not feudalism) when they are not fascist or not at war; in their external relations, they are not oppressed by, but themselves oppress, other nations. Because of these characteristics, it is the task of the party of the proletariat in the capitalist countries to educate the workers and build up strength through a long period of legal struggle, and thus prepare for the final overthrow of capitalism. In these countries, the question is one of a long legal struggle, of utilizing parliament as a platform, of economic and political strikes, of organizing trade unions and educating the workers. There the form of organization is legal and the form of struggle bloodless (non-military). On the issue of war, the Communist Parties in the capitalist countries oppose the imperialist wars waged by their own countries; if such wars occur, the policy of these Parties is to bring about the defeat of the reactionary governments of their own countries. The one war they want to fight is the civil war for which they are preparing. But this insurrection and war should not be launched until the bourgeoisie becomes really helpless, until the majority of the proletariat are determined to rise in arms and fight, and until the rural masses are giving willing help to the proletariat. And when the time comes to launch such an insurrection and war, the first step will be to seize the cities, and then advance into the countryside’ and not the other way about. All this has been done by Communist Parties in capitalist countries, and it has been proved correct by the October Revolution in Russia.
If “Maoists” are not adventurists, and merely seek to avoid pacifism and eventually overthrow the bourgeois state, and they are not peasant-ists, if they are not, in a word, “Narodniks”, then according to Mao’s description, “people’s war” appears to be yet another case where “Maoist” packaging makes orthodox Marxism-Leninism look brand new, contrasted against the revisionism and opportunism of surrounding non-“Maoist” parties (and, it is worth noting, many such revisionist and opportunist parties themselves “uphold” Mao).

(If “Maoists” doubt that Mao’s military strategy is acceptable to non-“Maoist” Marxist-Leninists, that there is some fanatical commitment to some particular type of military strategy which precludes guerrilla warfare, etc., they should note the reception of Ho Chi Minh in even anti-“Maoist”, dogmatic Hoxhaite circles, and then should explain how Ho Chi Minh was not practising “people’s war”, by any definition.)

There is surely more to say about “Maoism”, and I hope that “Maoist” comrades (both “Marxist-Leninist-Maoist” and self-identified Marxist-Leninists who have great sympathy for Chairman Mao) will, upon finishing reading my disorganised personal musings here, directly engage me in a critical fashion in the comments. Perhaps the result can be a more thorough conversation on elements of Mao’s theory and practice. But my conclusion remains, as it was, that Mao may have been a great revolutionary for a significant period, but specific adherence to his line to the exclusion of, for example, Enver Hoxha’s should not constitute a shibboleth between revolutionaries and revisionists.

Austrailia: Anglo Liberals and the National Question: Invasion Day by Muhsin Y.

For some decades now in every English-speaking state from Singapore to Canada there has existed a numerically significant, university-educated section of the bourgeoisie which holds “enlightened” and progressive views on various issues. Both among themselves and among revolutionary socialists it is known that our basic response to their existence consists of something along the lines of:

Mickey Z. on: When is a Revolution Not a Revolution? (SOAPBOX PODCAST 1/31/16)


JANUARY 31, 2016




Thursday, January 28, 2016

You’ll never BELIEVE who Chomsky could 'absolutely' vote for! (but her ex-president husband already knows) | Mickey Z.

Noam Chomsky. By jeanbaptisteparis. Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) / Braiiiinnnsss (Hillary Clinton). By Lucas Cobb. Flickr (CC BY 2.0)"Noam Chomsky." By jeanbaptisteparis. Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0) / "Braiiiinnnsss" (Hillary Clinton). By Lucas Cobb. Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Mickey Z. -- World News Trust

Jan. 28, 2016

Another presidential election charade is upon us and I’m reminded of something the late Pakistani dissident, Eqbal Ahmad, once said about Noam Chomsky in the book, Confronting Empire (2000): “He (Chomsky) has never wavered. He has never fallen into the trap of saying, ‘Clinton will do better.’ Or ‘Nixon was bad but Carter at least had a human rights presidency.’ There is a consistency of substance, of posture, of outlook in his work.”

(Sounds good in theory but it seems Ahmad wasn’t aware Noam had voted for Clinton in 1992.)

“Decent human survival”
By 2004, Chomsky was far more public about his voting strategies, saying stuff like this: “Anyone who says ‘I don’t care if Bush gets elected’ is basically telling poor and working people in the country, ‘I don’t care if your lives are destroyed’.” 

And this: "Despite the limited differences [between Bush and Kerry] both domestically and internationally, there are differences. In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes."

Let’s step back and recognize how the 2004 election proved that the high profile Left is irrelevant. Chomsky and Howard Zinn were joined in the vocal, visible, and vile Anybody-But-Bush ranks by “stars” like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Medea Benjamin, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Manning Marable, Naomi Klein, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Martin Sheen, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Cornel West, etc. etc. 

News flash: John Kerry still lost. 

The “poor and working people in the country” that Chomsky mentions above are paying ZERO attention to him or anyone like him... and that’s a much bigger issue than which war criminal gets to play figurehead for the empire over the next four years.

In 2008, Noam continued to prove Eqbal Ahmad wrong by doling out advice like this: “I would suggest voting against McCain, which means voting for Obama without illusions.”
Which brings us to 2016. 

After eight years of Obama’s repression, exploitation, and ecocide -- sans illusions, of course -- Chomsky is now declaring that the Republican Party and its presidential candidates are “literally a serious danger to decent human survival."

Thus, he is once again talking about “strategic voting,” even if it meant voting for Hillary Clinton -- which he would “absolutely” do!

Since most humans’ memory cards appear to be wiped clean every four years, please allow me to remind you how the original Clinton the Lesser Evil™ worked out for what Chomsky terms “decent human survival.”

Criminal negligence
To begin, let’s all reflect back upon the years 1993 and 1994 -- when President William Jefferson Clinton was enjoying the "advantage" of a Democratically-controlled Congress. 
In just two years, the liberal hero abandoned his pledge to consider offering asylum to Haitian refugees, backed away from his most high-profile campaign issue: health care, and reneged on his promise to "take a firm stand" against the armed forces' ban of gays and lesbians. 

In 1993-4, Clinton signed a little something called the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), presided over the invasion of Somalia, increased the Pentagon budget by $25 billion, forced Jocelyn Elders to resign, dumped Lani Guinier, ordered the bombing of Iraq and the Balkans, renewed the sanctions on Iraq, and passed a crime bill that gave us more cops, more prisons, and 58 more offenses punishable by death. 

All this came before Newt Gingrich and much-hyped Republican "revolution" in 1994… and I haven’t even gotten to the environment. 

In the first three years of the Clinton-Gore regime -- two of which, I remind you, involved a Democratic House and Senate -- Bubba and his little green buddy gave us fun stuff like: The passage of the salvage logging rider, the continuation of the use of methyl bromide, the weakening of the Endangered Species Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, the lowering of grazing fees on land, the subsidizing of Florida's sugar industry, the reversing the ban on the production and importation of PCBs, and allowing the export of Alaskan oil.

When Clinton ran for re-election in 1996, David Brower, former president of the Sierra Club, wrote an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times called "Why I Won't Vote for Clinton." In this piece, Brower declared that Clinton and Gore had "done more harm to the environment in three years than Presidents Bush and Reagan did in 12 years." (That’s Bush the Elder, not Bush the Lesser… for those of you scoring at home.)

One more time, with feeling: Clinton and Gore did “more harm to the environment in three years than Presidents Bush and Reagan did in 12 years.” When exactly does “decent human survival” come into play here?

I could go on and on about the rest of Bill Clinton’s reign, like the repeal of welfare, a telecommunications bill that further narrowed the already laughable parameters of public debate, the Defense of Marriage Act, but I’ll just focus on one more lesser evil gem: The Anti-Terrorism & Effective Death Penalty Act -- signed into law on April 24, 1996. 

This USA PATRIOT Act prequel contained provisions that Clinton himself admitted "make a number of ill-advised changes in our immigration laws, having nothing to do with fighting terrorism." This unconstitutional salvo severely restricted habeas corpus and expanded the number of federal capital crimes -- and the notorious PATRIOT Act is mostly an extension its legal foundations. 

For a little more two-party context, consider that John Kerry voted for the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act in 1996 and wrote parts of the PATRIOT Act in 2001; Hillary voted for the PATRIOT Act in 2001; and both she and Obama voted to reauthorize it in 2005. Hooray for strategy!

Chomsky knows all this (and much more) but as mentioned, he “strategically” chose to vote for Bill Clinton in 1992. I’ll bet the half million Iraqi children who died when Clinton continued Bush the Elder’s sanctions appreciated the gesture.

To paraphrase myself: A vote for either major party is -- at best -- an act of criminal negligence. 

The other 364.99 days
Why do I feel any of this matters? I believe for a man of Chomsky’s stature on the “Left” to engage in talk of “strategic voting” is an unnecessary and irresponsible act, one that indirectly contributes to the misguided perception that a Democrat winning the election is somehow a Pyrrhic victory of sorts.
I’ll say it yet again: If you plan to vote for yet another lesser (sic) evil in 2016, go ahead. Kid yourself. Feel superior. Engage in three-hour social media flame wars to defend your choice. Hold your nose and pull the damn lever. Use Chomsky quotes to justify it (even though he’s also called for “ongoing, dedicated, popular movements that don’t pay attention to the election cycle”).
And I’ll add this yet again: Vote or no vote, all that matters is what you’re doing the other 364.99 days. Make no mistake, if we continue allowing our meager time and energy to be diverted into elections, we will one day be asked why we made such a choice.

The human beings and all living things that come after us won’t care who we voted for in 2016, if they have no clean air to breathe, no clean water to use, and are stuck on a toxic, uninhabitable police state of a planet

They’d probably just want to ask: Why did you stand by and let everything be consumed or poisoned or destroyed? Why in the world did you focus so much of your energy on elections and so little on action?


Mickey Z. is the author of 13 books, most recently Occupy these Photos: NYC Activism Through a Radical Lens. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, you can “like” his Facebook page here and follow his blog here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
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"You’ll never BELIEVE who Chomsky could 'absolutely' vote for! (but her ex-president husband already knows)" by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Which Lizard Will you Choose? by Cindy Sheehan

“It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see..."

"You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?"

"No,” said Ford…”nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."

"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."

"I did," said Ford. "It is."

"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't people get rid of the lizards?"

"It honestly doesn't occur to them," said Ford. "They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want."

"You mean they actually vote for the lizards?"

"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."

"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"

"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard," said Ford, "the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?"


"I said," said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, "have you got any gin?"

"I'll look. Tell me about the lizards."

Ford shrugged again.

"Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them," he said. "They're completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone's got to say it.”

The above quote comes from book four of the “Trilogy in Five Parts” of the brilliant series, “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and this exchange happens between “alien,” Ford Prefect, and Britisher, Arthur Dent, after a 30 foot robotic alien alights from a space ship that just smashed Harrods in London and says, “I come in peace. Take me to your Lizard.” I post it, because I think the above excerpt describes in less than 250 wonderful words the state of US politics today!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Doomsday on the Horizon? by Cindy Sheehan

On January 25th, 2016, Consuelo "Connie" Picciotto passed away at age 80.

You may logically wonder why this is important to the annual announcement by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists about the hands of the Doomsday Clock?

Well, Connie spent the last 30 years of her life encamped in Lafayette Park in front of the White House protesting nuclear proliferation and war. Few people have even heard of her, or her encampment, but as I have spent a fair amount of time there protesting, too--I always stopped by to talk to Connie and give her a little cash.

The DC Park Police tried for years to get her to close up her protest, but as she was camped there before anti-camping regulations took place she was "grandmothered" in and her tent had to always be occupied and other activists would giver Connie breaks so she could shower, warm-up, sleep in a bed or whatever. I have long admired her dedication and persistence to this cause and curse the global powers that be that made it necessary. (CLICK FOR CONNIE'S OBITUARY)

According to the Bulletin of Atomic Sciences, the Doomsday clock will remain the closest it has been to midnight since its inception in 1947--"thank you" US president Barack Obama who has pledged to spend 100 billion to one trillion to "modernize" a completely barbaric weapons' system EVEN expanding to "nuclear tipped" bunker buster bombs.

The lunacy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) did not pass after the cold war and as Lawrence Krauss ( chair, Bulletin Board of Sponsors, foundation professor, School of Earth and Space Exploration and Physics departments, and director, Origins Project, Arizona State University) said at today's press conference in Washington DC, it's time to revitalize and increase global protests against atomic weaponry.

Here is a timeline of the Doomsday Clock through the decades:



FROM THE PRESS RELEASE dated January 25, 2016

Tensions between the United States and Russia that remain at levels reminiscent of the Cold War, the danger posed by climate change, and nuclear proliferation concerns, including the recent North Korean nuclear test, are the main factors influencing the decision about any adjustment that may be made to the Doomsday Clock. In January 2015, the Doomsday Clock’s minute hand advanced two minutes, moving from five to three minutes before midnight, the closest it has been to catastrophe since the early days of above-ground hydrogen bomb testing.


Founded in 1945 by University of Chicago scientists who had helped develop the first atomic weapons in the Manhattan Project, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists subsequently created the Doomsday Clock in 1947 using the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero), to convey threats to humanity and the planet. The decision to move the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock is made by the Bulletin's Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 16 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world's vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What if #FeelTheBern is just a Hope & Change sequel? | Mickey Z.

Bernie Sanders. By Marc Nozell from Merrimack, New Hampshire. CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia CommonsBernie Sanders. By Marc Nozell from Merrimack, New Hampshire. CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Jan. 24, 2016

Stop me… if you’ve heard all this before (because I sure have).

Let’s say the New York Times hired a charismatic half-black male motivational speaker in his late 40s to run the newspaper and this popular man promised change. And let’s say I wrote an article outlining what I think he should do, what I hoped he’d do. For example: create a focus on women’s issues and sex-based oppression, reduce the business section to a single page, add a huge labor section, start covering people’s movements and protests, refuse advertising dollars from corporations that pollute and/or exploit workers, and hire me to run the op-ed page. Justifiably, I’d be ridiculed for even suggesting such delusional expectations.

Let’s say America elected a charismatic half-black male motivational speaker in his late 40s to run the country and this popular man promised change. And let’s say someone -- someone famously radical, like Howard Zinn -- wrote an article outlining what he thought he should do, what Zinn hoped he’d do. For example: “announce the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan” and “renounce the Bush doctrine of preventive war as well as the Carter doctrine of military action to control Mideast oil.” 
Plus: “radically change the direction of U.S. foreign policy, declare that the United States is a peace-loving country which will not intervene militarily in other parts of the world, and start dismantling the military bases we have in over a hundred countries. Also he must begin meeting with the Russian leader to reach agreement on the dismantling of the nuclear arsenals, in keeping with the Nuclear Anti-Proliferation Treaty.” 

Then: raise taxes on the rich and combine that windfall with the hundreds of billions of dollars freed from the military budget to “give free health care to everyone (and) put millions of people to work” and thus “transform” the United States, making it “a good neighbor to the world.” 

Well, Howard Zinn did write such an article (“Obama’s Historic Victory,” Nov. 12, 2008) but few folks (besides me) ridiculed him for even suggesting such delusional expectations.

The (at least) tens of thousands of readers who looked to Zinn as a trusted voice of wisdom and reason were dangerously misled by an article that omitted this reality: Every single indication pointed to Barack Obama doing the exact opposite of what Zinn wrote. 

Zinn fully knew that not an iota of evidence existed that Obama would do anything approaching what is described above. For a man of Zinn’s stature on the “Left” to even hint of such a possibility was a shockingly irresponsible act and one that only contributed to the misguided perception that Obama’s election was somehow a victory for the progressive (sic) Left. 

Things got so bad that even Ani DiFranco wrote a friggin’ love song to the very same man whose top campaign donors included Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase & Co, Google, Citigroup, and Time Warner!

“The future has arrived”
Did you see liberals like Tom Hayden, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bill Fletcher, Jr., and Danny Glover have declared that “as progressives,” they “believe this sudden and unexpected new movement is just what America needs”? 

They announced: “The future has arrived. The alternative would mean a return to the dismal status quo party politics that has failed so far to deliver peace, healthcare, full employment and effective answers to crises like global warming.”

And Hayden, Ehrenreich, Fletcher, and Glover weren’t done: “Even though it is candidate-centered, there is no doubt that the campaign is a social movement, one greater than the candidate himself ever imagined. … Not since Robert Kennedy’s 1968 campaign has there been a passion to imagine the world anew like the passion and unprecedented numbers of people mobilized in this campaign.”
Wake up call #1: It’s not Bernie Sanders 2016 they’re talking about. It was Obama 2008.
Wake up call #2: If you think Obama (or Bobby Kennedy) imagined the world anew, you’re in deep denial.

“His ideas were pie-in-the sky”
Now it’s 2016 and when I remind readers of their nation’s very recent history, I get trolled. “Don’t compare our Bernie to Obama,” they ignorantly warn. “He’s different.”

I am fully confident I could dismantle such silliness in my sleep but instead, I’m gonna let your hero do it for you. 

Speaking to a crowd in Iowa on Jan. 23, 2016, Sanders outed himself: “We get attacked about five times a day. But it reminds me very much of what happened here in Iowa eight years ago. Remember that? Eight years ago, Obama was being attacked for everything. He was unrealistic; his ideas were pie-in-the sky; he did not have the experience that was needed. You know what? People of Iowa saw through those attacks then, and they're going to see through those attacks again.”

As reported by NBC News, Sanders “asked people to dream big by invoking Obama to dismiss the naysayers. No one thought a black man could ever win, Sanders said, and especially in a nearly all-white state like Iowa. ‘You made it happen. You made history,’ Sanders said.”
By Sanders own admission, he is old wine in the same bottle but with a new label. And after he drops out of the race, he’s already promised to endorse whatever candidate is put forth by the Democratic Party.

Please allow me to repeat… AGAIN
Campaigning for #FeelTheBern doesn’t make you a revolutionary or even a progressive. To support someone like Sanders is to support the Democrats which is to support the two-party lie which is to support an omnicidal system and all the carnage it creates.

So, if you plan to vote for yet another lesser (sic) evil in 2016, go ahead. Kid yourself. Feel superior. Engage in three-hour social media flame wars to defend your choice. Hold your nose and pull the damn lever. But vote or no vote, all that matters is what you’re doing the other 364.99 days. 
As Lucy Parsons once said: “Never be deceived that the rich will allow you to vote away their wealth.”

Stop me… if you’ve heard all this before (because I sure have).

Mickey Z. is the author of 13 books, most recently Occupy these Photos: NYC Activism Through a Radical Lens. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, you can “like” his Facebook page here and follow his blog here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.
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    Sunday, 24 January 2016
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    Monday, 25 January 2016



23, 144--When is Silence Betrayal? (SOAPBOX COMMUNITY CALL-IN)

When? Wednesday, February 10th
6:00 PM (Pacific time)
Where? From your phone 
 A recent report numbered the bombs the bloodthirsty US dropped on "Muslim majority" in 2015 countries to be 23, 144!

That's just 2015.

Since 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize winning President of the bloodthirsty US has expanded the Imperial agenda with just a tiny fraction of opposition that the Bush scandal received.

This is the final year of the Obama scandal, but there has been a dismal lack of debate around the US's murderous foreign policy in the budding POTUS (President Of The United States) campaigns.

What do people who care about this expansion of Imperial carnage do in 2016? Our silence on this question speaks very loudly to these people in "Muslim majority" countries. We are betraying humanity by allowing partisan politics to overwhelm our principles.
The Soapbox is sponsoring a community call-in show (with special guest TBA) to figure out this important question and formulate an anti-war/anti-Empire plan for 2016.
Please email Cindy Sheehan at:
to RSVP and receive the phone-in information, directions, and agenda.



Thursday, January 21, 2016

I read the news today... oh boy | Mickey Z.

"7-year-old newsie." By Lewis Hine [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons."7-year-old newsie." By Lewis Hine [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

Mickey Z. -- World News Trust
Jan. 21, 2016

Unlike the vast majority of my fellow commuters on the Manhattan-bound R train on the morning of Jan. 19, I was not staring at a smart phone. (Perhaps if I had one, I would’ve been.) 

Instead, I was perusing my copy of a free NYC daily, amNY -- taking mental notes for a possible article.

This is that article. To keep all of us safely in our comfort zones, I’ll present it as if it were a series of underdeveloped Facebook posts (Department of Redundancy Dept.).

The first news (sic) story to catch my eye was entitled, “Big Names in Oscar Boycott.” Understandably, lots of people are pissed over #OscarsSoWhite. Spike Lee, however, opted to perceive his disdain as something akin to one of the most significant activist movements in U.S. history. Declaring it was “no coincidence” he announced his boycott on MLK Day, Lee humbly quoted Dr. King: “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” 

Ah yes, a millionaire industry insider boldly opting out of yet another a vacuous celebrity gathering is “neither safe, nor politic, nor popular,” you know…just like people of color risking their lives against an entrenched, heavily armed white supremacist culture.


Next, we come to news (sic) of Mayor Bill de Blasio predictably reneging on his campaign promise (sic) to end New York City’s carriage horse industry. Instead, he waited two years to present an agreement that proves yet again that holding signs and yelling while trusting politicians is not “activism.”


A nearby sidebar item in amNY (“UK debates ban on Trump”) discussed British lawmakers who were angered enough by Trump’s “crazy” and “offensive” behavior to consider banning him. Yeah, I remember that time Trump deported more than two million immigrants, signed the Monsanto Protection Act, allowed NSA spying, joked about using predator drones, voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State and to reauthorize the Patriot Act, touted "clean coal," signed the NDAA in law, deployed Special Ops into 134 countries, kept his own personal kill list, opened up deepwater oil drilling, and -- when asked if there was anything that happened during the Bush-Cheney years the United States needs to apologize for -- replied: “No, I don’t believe in the United States apologizing." Oops, my bad. That was Obama.


Moving right along, there’s a terrible and all-too-common story about a man who killed his ex-girlfriend and her male friend, before taking his own life. I read the article three times but just couldn’t find the part where they talked about men in a patriarchal society feeling entitled to women’s bodies and thus viewing them as property -- so much so they’d kill her (for denying what’s rightfully his) and kill any man she’s with (for stealing what’s rightfully his). Here’s the article, please let me know if you find the inexplicably 
missing context. 

I have one more amNY article to discuss, the cover story itself -- “SAFE at home in NYC” -- which begins: 

“In-house saunas and health spas are so yesterday: Today’s anxious one percenters install Kevlar-and-steel fortified ‘safe rooms’ to protect them from dirty bombs, terrorist attacks, and civil unrest and rioting should the economy collapse or a revolution occur.”

Feel free to read that sentence again, secure in the knowledge I’m not deceiving you with an offering from The Onion. Go ahead. I’ll wait

You can explore the full article, if you’d like, but I’ll offer a couple of spoilers for now:
  • “Ironically, houses with such sinecures are rarely in areas plagued by high robbery, burglary and murder rates but are usually secreted in the city’s safest, most affluent zip codes.”
  • According to the CEO of a Vermont company that installs bullet-resistant systems, armor, and safe rooms, Occupy Wall Street protests “shook up those who felt threatened by targeted protests against inequality,” e.g. “the more you have, the more you have to keep safe.”
  • Safe rooms “are worth the money to provide you with time until help can come,” if the threat is one they were specifically designed to repel, explained James Moore, associate managing director in the security risk and management practice of Kroll.
Moore added that “safe rooms” can be built to withstand gunfire from AK47s but “if they’ve got a rocket launcher, it may not help you.”

Perhaps, one day, the paranoia of the super rich will be fully justified. Until then, folks, that’s all the (corporate) news I can fit to print. Happy lock-stepping!

Mickey Z. is the author of 13 books, most recently Occupy these Photos: NYC Activism Through a Radical Lens. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, you can “like” his Facebook page here and follow his blog here. Anyone wishing to support his activist efforts can do so by making a donation here.

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"I read the news today... oh boy" by Mickey Z. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016


JANUARY 20, 2016


Dan and Cindy Speak Truth to Empire in January's show!


Speaking Truth to Empire

3rd Wednesday, 3-3:30 PM
"I interview authors, scholars, bloggers, and activists who help us look at our world through the prism of American Imperialism. On the show we talk about U.S. policies both foreign and domestic; and the actions of the U. S. Government, Big Corporations, and the mainstream media. These actions have severe consequences for the people in the US and other countries.

To create a better, humane and a compassionate world we must first understand what is being done in our name. And we must always be willing to stand up, speak out and "Speak Truth to Empire."

Dan Yaseen danyaseen at comcast dot met 559-251-3361

f you would like to receive a file of the radio show contact: Dan Yaseen or 559-251-3361"