Open Threads

Open Threads is an open blogging platform, for debate and exploration of ideas among communists and radicals. Content presented here is contributed by Kasama site users.

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I just received a letter from Public Citizen (actually a few days ago) asking me to help and support their efforts to push for an amendment to the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and other Supreme Court rulings that have granted $ billionaires and Big Business unprecedented power over our "democracy."

To be exact, they do not want the constitution to treat a business or corporation as a person. This ruling has allowed unlimited campaign contributions from such $ billionaires as the Koch brothers. I’m glad to see this effort and I will do what I can. But this amendment falls short of what we really need to do—GET ALL MONEY OUT OF POLITICS.

I realize by trying to fix this country a lot of revolutionary people will condemn me for calling for anything short of a revolution. But in reality, taking all the money out of our elections would lead to a revolution. That is because the core of this system requires capitalism to be intertwined with elections and campaign contributions do that.

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By Gary Leupp, originally published at Dissident Voice.

About a week into the Ferguson crisis, cable TV anchors like Chris Cuomo and Anderson Cooper began to decry the presence of “outside agitators” in the community. This was after SWAT teams with MRAP trucks and M-16 assault rifles came from outside in response to crimes against property (window-smashing and looting) prompted by outrage at the police killing of an unarmed black 18-year-old boy.

There are 53 members of the Ferguson police force, 50 of them white in a town that is almost 70% black. One in four people lives below the federal poverty line in Ferguson, and most black residents say they’ve been pulled over by police or have friends or family members who have been harassed by the police. It’s a place that was ready to explode.

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The US is beating the war drums over the loss of Iraqi territory to the Islamic State soldiers known as ISIS.

While the real loss is in land, prestige and control of Middle-east holdings by the US Empire, that is not what supporters of a new war are saying.

According to CNS News, Rep. Mike Rogers (R.-Mich.), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said ISIS is “one plane ticket away from U.S. shores.” As usual the Republicans are using scare tactics to get the US people ready for a war they are promoting. It may be imperialist real estate and “interests” they want back but they are using fear to promote deeper involvement in the ISIS war.

ISIS "present the greatest threat we've seen since 9/11," said Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, according to CNS News.

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Tagged in: iraq

Whatever one's opinions on the RCP and their effectiveness in Ferguson, the recent attacks on them by liberals are nothing but good old fashioned red-baiting portraying them as "outside agitators."  The term "outside agitators" goes back to the Jim Crow South when white supremacists referred to civil rights activists, such Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as "outside agitators" who had come to "rile up" the otherwise content peaceful black populace. To the white supremacists, black people were seen as too dumb to protest without "Red influence." We should reject these stereotypes and stand in principled solidarity and defend the RCP from these anticommunist attacks.

 

-Enaa


By Douglas Williams, originally published at Jacobin.

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It is significant that Cornel West, one of the most significant black intellectuals, who supported Obama in 2008 has now come out against him. West, like millions of others, believed Obama to be a progressive and interested genuine social change. West has seen, and is articulating, the disillusionment felt by millions of people, that Obama was not "hope and change" but just a new enforcer of Empire.

-Enaa

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by Nat Winn

 

OK. I know it has been  a while since its release but I finally saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes last night. I'm always a sucker for a good sci-fi, “end of the world” type flick. I love to think about the futuristic contexts and they are used to tell deep stories about the current human condition that may be less exciting if the settings were made contemporary.

The story of the film, the beginning of a war between a declining human race and the emerging highly intelligent apes is very timely as our contemporary world finds itself in the midst of a plethora of ethnic conflicts from the Ukraine to the Middle East to Ferguson, Missouri.

However the philosophy and values of the film seem both insufficient and pessimistic.

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By ISH, Photos by Jed Brandt

Wednesday evening during rush hour, pro-Palestine activists dropped a stunning, huge banner off the side of the Manhattan bridge. Reading, "Gaza In Our Hearts" and "Boycott Divest Sanction Israel," the massive multi-storey banner was soon taken down by the NYPD. The banner drop was the highlight of a Palestine solidarity march across the neighboring Brooklyn bridge. 1,700 people carrying signs and Palestinian flags filled the walkway of the bridge for two hours after a short rally in downtown Brooklyn. The action was called by an ad hoc group of activists who have been organizing various actions to call out Israel's assault on Gaza, an assault that has now taken well over 2,000 Palestinian lives.

b2ap3_thumbnail_nyc2gaza.jb-4.jpgThe march included Occupy Wall Street veterans, NYC left groups, Palestine-focused groups like Jewish Voice for Peace and Al-Awda the Palestinian Right to Return Coalition, and included significant representation from New York's Palestinian community. It was a really beautiful and inspiring event, and the banner drop got a fair amount of publicity on local media, though one local TV station cluelessly headlined the banner's "Cryptic Message."

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The events in Ferguson make commemorating Nat Turner even more poignant and timely than usual. Long live the spirit of Nat Turner! Let's fight for the final liberation of African-descended people on this continent!

August 13, 1831: The Slave Rebellion of General Nat Turner

by Mike Ely

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Pigs.

It's what a lot of people — righteously angry people — call the police. It's not a word that "polite society" approves of, but sometimes, especially when we're talking about racist killer cops in places like Ferguson, Missouri, it's the only word that fits.

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Kasama received the following from the Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee.

Hands up, turn up for Mike Brown: August 20th nation-wide

Another Black man dead. This would be just another day like every other day in America, if it weren’t for one simple fact: Ferguson turned out, stood up, and has refused to get back on its knees.
Stand up around the country on August 20th for a national day of action:

New York City
Wednesday, 9pm, Tompkins Sq Park *Wear black in remembrance of #MikeBrown*
https://www.facebook.com/events/1441103616178894/

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We all watched last week as Obama gave a press conference shaming both the people of Ferguson and the local cops alike. It is a familiar narrative. Who could forget the days of Hurricane Katrina, where after the National Guard was sent in with shoot to kill orders of so-called looters, we were suddenly told about the evil local Mayor, Ray Nagin. And how supposedly this crisis, managed from the highest levels of power from FEMA to George Bush himself, was all his fault. And they sacrificed Nagin and washed their hands of the whole situation.

But that wasn't just George Bush's rap: Barack Obama himself told us to "respect the verdict" when Trayvon Martin was lynched. There was a thousand ways he could have intervened to bring justice to George Zimmerman. Federal charges could have been filed. But instead Barack Obama called on people to oppose Stand Your Ground laws, the local laws of Florida. Suddenly, his hands were washed of the situation, while the fault was placed on local administrators in the state of Florida.

And what is happening today is no different. So many of us last night watched John Oliver's skit on the lynching of Michael Brown, hoping to watch John Oliver shred them, but instead we got populism of the Elizabeth Warren left-liberal type (watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUdHIatS36A). This skit is sadly more of the same: a local dumbass mayor is roasted for his idiotic comments on race. We're treated to a skit of rednecks driving a swat tank in Georgia to the music "Die, Mother fucker die." We're shown footage of local cops in full military outfits, while the National Guard who are now occupying Ferguson are not even mentioned. We're told over and over by John Oliver about what it means to be Black *in Ferguson*. What about what it means to be Black in America?

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By Nat Winn

After an entire week of rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri, the government and hypocritical forces claiming to represent the interests of Black people have begun to play a two sided game aimed at pacifying the righteous anger of the people of Ferguson and the people around the world who support them.

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The family's autopsy seems to say that Big Mike was not hit from the back before he turned around. His friend says he was hit - he saw him jerk like he was hit from the back. That does not invalidate his account at all.

It is normal to jump or react to the sound of a gunshot! I can tell you that. Have heard them too many times where I used to live. You get that 'oh shit' feeling really fucking quick.

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Today shamelessly we celebrate this so called independence in India..August 15th was a day when power was transferred from the hands of the British colonial rulers to that of the Indian National Congress.The Congress Leadership betrayed the legacy of the Indian people's historic revolutionary struggles be it the 1946 naval mutiny,the 1938 Garwhali uprising,the later Telengana 1946-51 peasant struggle,the struggles of Bhagat Singh,the Khoka movement and Ghadr movement in Punjab etc.Infact even the Dandi March in 1930 diverted the workers and peasants from their basic demands not considering no-payment of taxes or rent.I recommend readers to read 'India and the Raj' by Suniti  Kumar Ghosh and Freedom Struggle Betrayed- 'The Indian National Congress  ,how Indian how National '? by the Research Unit for Political economy.(1988 and 1997 editions)These are classic works which  works analytically explain the conspiracy of the Indian National Congress with the big bourgeoisie and their betrayal of the Indian masses.Today several democratic revolutionary organizations carrying the burning torch forward of the flames of the struggles before 1947.We must expose this false independence tooth and nail and burn the red torch of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

M.K.Gandhi has been portrayed by writers as a prophet like Christ or a liberation leader like Lenin or Mao.However it is the Western Imperialist forces and media who have idolized him in order to protect the interest of the Imperialist countries.Was it not M.K.Gandhi who conspired with the British in the death sentence of Shaheed Bhagat Singh in 1931 and pretended to save him ?It was the same Gandhi who condemned the Hindu soldiers in Garwhali for refusing to fire on their Muslim Brethren,supported the  the British in the 1st world war,compromised the Champaran peasant struggle,sanctioned the Hindu Mahasabha and above all staunchly defended the caste system.He played the role of a mediator in industrial strikes .No doubt he resembled Mao or Lenin in the light of the fact that he took the struggle to the masses and understood their idioms.He was a genius in mobilizing the masses and had outstanding simplicity.However he consciously promoted the supression of revolutionary struggles and even in Champaran collaborated with the landlords.Above all Gandhi did not want the Indian army to support the allied resistance aginst Nazi Germany in the 2nd world war.Some leaders like Ho Chi Minh or Che Guevera admired him or even journalists like Edgar Snow but they did not understand the Indian situation.I wonder what Gandhi's stand today would have been towards globalisation,Operation Greenhunt ,Imperialist agression etc.I would have backed Gandhi to oppose communal fascism and state terrorism,but only liberally and obliterating any class analysis.

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Friday evening, 08/14/2014 - Union Square, New York City (Photo by JB)

Photo by JB

 

By Nat Winn and ISH

On Thursday President Obama “addressed the nation” about the ongoing rebellion in Ferguson, Missouri – right outside of St. Louis — where police officers shot and killed an unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown.

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The first thing I noticed when I heard about the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, of Ferguson, MO, I thought of my first home where I lived in that very town.  

I used to live on Coppinger Street, with my mother, father and two brothers. It was a small wooden, three bedroom house with a tiny kitchen. It was a wooden house, painted green. It was a mostly working class neighborhood. We moved to a more middle class neighborhood in St. Louis County in 1959. The whole time I lived in Ferguson I don’t ever remember seeing an Afro-American person. Today 67.4% of Ferguson is black, and mostly because of white flight.

I never saw black people until we drove around in downtown St. Louis. Once I started in grade school, in St. Louis County, I immediately realized that racism was alive and well. My parents discouraged all racism, especially my mother. But I could tell from other kids that they heard things not so pleasant about black people. Some used the “n” word. I remember the joke a kid told me: “If you want to take a dangerous ride, go through  n@#$%-town on a slow moving mini bike.”  Although our whole family moved to Wichita, KS in 1969 my brother Chris Otto has moved back and he has told me that there is a lot of bigotry by St. Louis’s whites today.

“In the south of St. Louis County, where I work, there are a lot of whites who believe that blacks are all on welfare or are criminals,” Otto said.

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Tagged in: racism

 

by Kasama editorial collective

 

New York City's new mayor Bill de Blasio campaigned for office claiming to be the champion of the 99 percent. He portrayed himself as someone who could sympathize with the Occupy movement and with the widespread anger against the NYPD and its brutally racist stop-and-frisk policy.

But what have we got now that he's been in office a few months?

We have the return of “Broken Windows” policing that applies collective punishment to New York's Black and brown communities, the massive criminalization of Black and Latino youth for such “crimes” as dancing in the subway, and we have brother Eric Garner murdered in plain sight for selling loose cigarettes.

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by Nat Winn

 

You took my son away from me... Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level, where they feel like they don’t got nothing to live for anyway. ‘They’re going to try to take me out anyway.” (Michael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden on KMOV television)

Michael Brown was on his way to see his grandmother.

He was an 18 year-old young man. He had just finished high school and was getting ready to start college. He had his whole life ahead of him. But in an instant, in a sketchy interaction with a Ferguson, Missouri police officer, his young life was snuffed out. Snuffed out like Eric Garner, like Trayvon Martin, like too many young Black men – over and over and over again.

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This is a story which I'm feeling worth to write, at-least for my own pleasure. 

I encountered this shabby attired, elderly looking man today out on the street while I was sitting by the side of the road on a side walk. He came, put his bicycle on stand and sat beside me. I was beheld by his bicycle which was in state of severe disrepair which also bore multiple cardboard papers stating the places he visited, the distance he bicycled and his ideology 'single mind'. I failed to appreciate the meaning of the writings on the erected paper boards on his bicycle.Having seen my camera, he asked me, "Would you like to photograph me?" I was surprised to hear a person who seems to be a unfortunate sad Indian national speaking well accentuated English. "Definitely Sir" I replied. But before I could pull out my camera he started speaking promptly. "I am 56 and I have bicycled 4500 kilometers in the last 8 months," he said. He started speaking enthusiastically about the need of 'Single Mind' and about the ostensible truth, 'The Sun', which is the only truth as far as he knows. "At every dawn I wish him (Sun) good morning and greets him good evening at dusk!" he continued.
surya c2c2a
He calls himself Surya and at crossroads of state boundaries 'Ekka Thakhur'... I realised the man is not having a stable state of mind, but I lent my ears to him because I felt he had some points (I might be equally unstable at head). "Why should one have more than one mind? Why should a person focus all his mind and might to multiples issues of life?" he asked. "One need not be in a single place under the sky, earth is to explore. I want breathe the air from all places, I want to drink water of all places, I want to feel the all the winds, I want to touch trees, possibly all of them, I want to bathe at all sea shores and I know for a reason that all this could be the same, but you can't deny me the freedom to do so," he told be upon me asking him what he is up-to.He narrated me about the hardships he encounters while cycling, the places he slept, the people whom he met and lot more. Looking at my bike he made a snide remark," You seem to be enjoying life with all comforts but how long will your mind be at peace?" to which I replied "I am not sure Sir". He smiled, stared deep into my eyes... "Now picture me, I have to leave I'm getting late" he continued. I clicked him and before leaving he asked for money. I gave him 18 Rupees which had in the four pockets of my jeans. He swung on to the bicycle and moved away...