Transcending Pessimism: Rekindling Socialist Imagination By Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin

28 July, 2009 — The   B u l l e t Socialist Project • E-Bulletin No. 242


“We’re free… we’re free.” The last words of Arthur Miller’s masterpiece, Death of a Salesman, are uttered, sobbing, by Linda Loman over her husband Willy’s grave. Weary and penniless after a life of selling “a smile and a shoeshine,” overwhelmed by feelings of emptiness and failure, yet mesmerized by the thought that his life insurance will provide his estranged son with the stake that might induce him to compete and ‘succeed,’ Willy Loman’s suicide famously symbolises the tragic dimension of the relentless competitiveness at the heart of the American capitalist dream. “He had the wrong dreams. All, all, wrong,” this son laments at the grave side, even as his other son dedicates himself to “beat this racket” so that “Willy Loman didn’t die in vain…. It’s the only dream you can have – to come out number-one man.” At the end Linda stands over the grave alone. Telling Willy that she had just made the last payment on their mortgage, a sob rises in her throat: “We’re free and clear…. We’re free…. We’re free…”[1]

When first uttered on stage in 1949, at the start of the Cold War, these words spoke to the ambiguity of the freedom represented by the ‘free world.’ Fifty years later, when Linda sobbed “we’re free” at the end of Death of a Salesman‘s sesquicentennial revival on Broadway, she seemed to embody the angst of an entire world enveloped by the American dream at the end of the 20th century. One could everywhere sense the anxiety – an anxiety as omnipresent as ‘globalization’ itself – that had emerged with accumulating awareness of the enormous odds against actually “beating this racket” and escalating doubts about the worth of a life defined by the freedom to compete. What made the tragedy of Willie Loman so universal as the 20th century drew to a close was that even people who wondered whether the capitalist dream wasn’t the wrong dream could yet see no way of realizing a life beyond capitalism, or still feared that any attempt to do so can only result in another nightmare. Overcoming this debilitating political pessimism is the most important question anyone seriously interested in social change must confront.

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Iran: Which side are you on continued… By William Bowles

28 July 2009

Okay, the battle on the ‘left’ concerning who to support in Iran appears to come down to the following:

On the one hand we appear to have those who say that the mass demonstrations are solely the result of the West’s attempts to undermine and overthrow the existing regime, utilizing a ‘colour revolution’ similar to those used in the Ukraine and Georgia. And there can be no doubt that Western intelligence agencies are up to their necks in destabilization strategies (see below). If this is indeed true the question to ask is: Have Western agencies fomented or exploited the opposition and to what degree has it been a success as measured by the mass demonstrations and by elements of the Left supporting the demonstrations?

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The Real News Network – US military to set up in Colombia

Hylton: Rest of South America has reason to be alarmed by future US military presence on Colombian bases

With the hemisphere fixated on the coup d’etat in Honduras, the Colombian military announced it would be opening up some of its military bases to be shared with the US military. This caused immediate condemnation from the leadership of Colombia’s neighbors, Ecuador and Venezuela. Forrest Hylton, expert on Colombian affairs, believes that the two countries are justified in their reservations about the move, given the potential the base offers and the recent history of US surveillance activity in the region. On the other end, Hylton points out some discomforting activities in the Colombian military, an institution that is the fifth largest recipient of US military aid. With the US now seeking even deeper ties with that same military, Hylton concludes that “Colombia’s increasing violations of human rights in its pursuit of counter-insurgency, doesn’t seem to have any impact on the flow of US aid.”

Forrest Hylton is the author of Evil Hour in Colombia (Verso, 2006), and with Sinclair Thomson, co-author of Revolutionary Horizons: Past and Present in Bolivian Politics (Verso, 2007). He is a regular contributor to New Left Review and NACLA Report on the Americas.

What’s New at Reading from the Left?

24 July, 2009

Reading from the Left is a non-commercial project to promote socialist pamphlets and books. It provides free chapters from Marxist books, and full texts of Marxist pamphlets, from a variety of publishers.

New book …

THE MYTHOLOGY OF IMPERIALISM: A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age. by Jonah Raskin. (Monthly Review Press)

This month’s most-downloaded pamphlets:

  • MELTDOWN! A SOCIALIST VIEW OF THE CAPITALIST CRISIS (Tony Iltis, Lee Sustar, John Bellamy Foster, Phil Hearse, Adam Hanieh, Dave Holmes)

For these and many more go to:

An Ecosocialist Program for South Africa

27 July, 2009 — Climate and Capitalism

Climate & Capitalism previously reported that the Socialist Green Coalition was prevented from running in South Africa’s presidential election by a huge election deposit and other registration problems. The ecosocialist current issued this leaflet during the campaign.

[Thanks to Derek Wall, who posted this on Another Green World.]

Our struggle for justice and equality is global. The international crisis of capitalism has seen massive bail-outs of banks and corporations using money from the working class and the poor. Millions of people are breaking with the ideas of the free market and capitalism. We stand in solidarity with all the people across the globe fighting for a world where all forms of exploitation and oppression are eradicated; a world that treats human beings with respect and takes care of nature and the environment – a socialist world.

Power does not come from parliament but from the struggle of the masses fighting for their needs. In uniting as different organizations to contest in the 2009 South African elections we are bound together by the following 6 principles:

1. Government and society must be in the hands of the working class and the masses. End the influence and privileges of the rich and famous. Members of parliament (MPs) must come from, live with and be controlled by those who elected them. MPs must receive a salary equal to the average wage of a skilled worker and be subject to the right of recall.

2. Stop capitalist control of the economy. Nationalise (without compensation) the banks, the mines, the factories, the corporations and big farms under workers control. Land to the landless. Food for the hungry. Use the country’s wealth to address the root causes of poverty and inequality.

3. Free basic services for all. Everyone must get enough water and electricity, decent housing, quality health care, good education, electronic communications, safe reliable transport and an adequate living expenses allowance for the unemployed. The provision of basic services must be done by government and not through privatization.

4. Permanent jobs and a living wage for all. Government must develop public works to meet the needs, improve the lives and living conditions of all people and ensure that decent jobs are created.

5. Everyone must be treated equally with respect and with dignity no matter their race, class, gender, age, belief, culture, sexual orientation or country of origin. The right to strike, protest and mobilize must be guaranteed to all without any limitations and conditions.

6. Take care of the environment and the people who live in it. Stop pollution, deforestation, fossil carbon emissions, global warming and climate change. Develop and use renewable energy sources. No to nuclear power. Eradicate all the dangers to nature and human life because of capitalist business development.

Campaign for the right of the Socialist Green Coalition and other political parties to register for the elections without having to find a capitalist sponsor to pay the half-a-million rand deposit. IEC qualification should not be money but 10 000 signatures of voters who support the party.

Issued by: Socialist Green Coalition

Forward with working class organisations

Afghanistan: Training Ground for War on Russia By Rick Rozoff

26 July, 2009 — Global ResearchStop NATO

A Swedish newspaper reported on July 24 that approximately 50 troops from the country serving under NATO in the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) had engaged in a fierce firefight in Northern Afghanistan and had killed three and wounded two attackers.

The report detailed that the Swedish troops were traveling in armored vehicles and “later received reinforcements from several soldiers in a Combat Vehicle 90.” [1]

The world has become so inured to war around the world and seemingly without end that Swedish soldiers engaging in deadly combat as part of a belligerent force for the first time since the early 1800s – and that in another continent thousands of kilometers from their homeland – has passed virtually without notice.

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Puerto Rican Nationalism and the Drift Towards Statehood

27 July, 2009 — Council on Hemispheric Affairs

Near the Caribbean islands of Hispaniola and Cuba lies another, smaller island, the inhabitants of which have never experienced sovereignty. The arrival of Christopher Columbus [Colón] to its shores in 1493 heralded an era of enslavement and destruction of the native Taíno population at the hands of the Spanish colonial system. Four centuries later, the decadence of the Spanish royalty had significantly weakened the once-formidable imperial structure. The Spanish-American War of 1898 became the capstone of the demise of the Spanish empire and the Treaty of Paris ceded control of several Spanish-held islands to the United States. Of the territorial possessions to change hands in 1898, Puerto Rico is the only one that persists in a state of colonialism to this day.

‘Puerto Rico has been a colony for an uninterrupted period of over five hundred years,’ writes Pedro A. Malavet, a law professor at the University of Florida who has studied the subject extensively. ‘In modern times, colonialism – the status of a polity with a definable territory that lacks sovereignty because legal [and] political authority is exercised by a peoples distinguishable from the inhabitants of the colonized region – is the only legal status that the isla (island) has known.’ Puerto Rico’s legal and political status has not, however, precluded the development of a national ethos. On the contrary, Jorge Duany, a professor of anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras, explains that Puerto Ricans ‘imagine themselves as a nation [although they] do so despite the lack of a strong movement to create a sovereign state.’ Furthermore, this perception of a unique Puerto Rican identity had already developed and become established under Spanish rule. Puerto Rican cultural nationalism has persisted through various stages of history, through drives for independence and efforts at assimilation. This puertorriqueñismo is apolitical. In fact, some of the strongest cultural nationalism is exhibited by Puerto Ricans living in the United States.

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Left is wrong on Iran By Hamid Dabashi

18 July, 2009 —

Who are and who promoted these leftist intellectuals who question the social uprising of the people in Iran, asks Hamid Dabashi*

When a political groundswell like the Iranian presidential election of June 2009 and its aftermath happen, the excitement and drama of the moment expose not just our highest hopes but also our deepest fault lines, most troubling moral flaws, and the dangerous political precipice we face.

Over the decades I have learned not to expect much from what passes for ‘the left’ in North America and/or Western Europe when it comes to the politics of what their colonial ancestry has called ‘the Middle East’. But I do expect much more when it comes to our own progressive intellectuals — Arabs, Muslims, South Asians, Africans and Latin Americans. This is not a racial bifurcation, but a regional typology along the colonial divide.

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PEAK OIL AGAIN…and Again and Again and Again…(Pt. 2 of 2) By Mark S. Tucker

[[from Veritas Vampirius #349, July 2009]]

Unfortunately for Ruppert and Hartmann, even Western science – that is, Western science unfunded by Hartmann’s handlers and such – has been catching up. Dr. J.F. Kenney is one of several Western geophysicists who has taught and worked in Russia under Vladilen Krayushkin, developer of the Dnieper-Donets region, and Kenney told Engdahl recently that “alone to have produced the amount of oil to date that (Saudi Arabia’s) Ghawar field has produced would have required a cube of fossilized dinosaur detritus, assuming 100% conversion efficiency, measuring 19 miles deep, wide and high”, or, as Engdal put it “an absurdity”. Hm, yes, Hartmann may indeed have been wrong, eh? Engdahl knows why, and it’s religious in nature:

“Western geologists do not bother to offer hard scientific proof of fossil origins. They merely assert as a holy truth. The Russians have produced volumes of scientific papers, most in Russian. The dominant Western journals have no interest in publishing such a revolutionary view. Careers, entire academic professions are at stake after all.”

Do Western key personnel know about this? Oh hell yes!

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