Saturday, February 28, 2009

W.E.B. Du Bois Joins the Communist Party

Gus Hall
Communist Party of the USA
New York, New York

On this first day of October 1961, I am applying for admission to membership in the Communist Party of the United States. I have been long and slow in coming to this conclusion, but at last my mind is settled.

In college I heard the name of Karl Marx, but read none of his works, nor heard them explained. At the University of Berlin, I heard much of those thinkers who had definitely answered the theories of Marx, but again we did not study what Marx himself had said. Nevertheless, I attended meetings of the Socialist Party and considered myself a Socialist.

On my return to America, I taught and studies for sixteen years. I explored the theory of socialism and studied the organized social life of American Negroes; but still I neither read nor heard much of Marxism. Then I came to New York as an official of the new NAACP and editor of The Crisis magazine. The NAACP was capitalist-oriented and expected support from rich philanthropists.

But it had a strong socialist element in its leadership in persons like Mary Ovington, William English Walling and Charles Edward Russell. Following their advice, I joined the Socialist Party in 1911. I knew nothing of practical socialist politics and in the campaign on 1912 I found myself unwilling to vote for the Socialist ticket, but advised Negroes to vote for Wilson. This was contrary to Socialist Party rules and consequently I resigned from the Socialist Party.

For the next twenty years I tried to develop a political way of life for myself and my people. I attacked the Democrats and Republicans for monopoly and disenfranchisement of Negroes; I attacked the Socialists for trying to segregate Southern Negro members; I praised the racial attitudes of the Communists, but opposed their tactics in the case of the Scottsboro Boys and their advocacy of a Negro state. At the same time, I began the stud Karl Marx and the Communists; I read Das Kapital and other Communist literature; I hailed the Russian Revolution of 1917, but was puzzled by the contradictory news from Russia.

Finally in 1926, I began a new effort; I visited the Communist lands. I went to the Soviet Union in 1926, 1936, 1949 and 1959; I saw the nation develop. I visited East Germany, Czechoslovakia and Poland. I spent ten weeks in China, traveling all over the land. Then this summer, I rested a month in Rumania.

I was early convinced that socialism was an excellent way of life, but I thought it might be reached by various methods. For Russia, I was convinced she had chosen the only way open to her at the time. I saw Scandinavia choosing a different method, halfway between socialism and capitalism. In he United States, I saw Consumers Cooperation as a path from capitalism to socialism, while in England, France and Germany developed in the same direction in their own way. After the Depression and the Second World War, I was disillusioned. The progressive movement in the United States failed. The Cold War started. Capitalism called communism a crime.

Today I have reached my conclusion:

Capitalism cannot reform itself; it is doomed to self-destruction. No universal selfishness can bring social good to all.

Communism—the effort to give all men what they need and to ask of each the best they can contribute—this is the only way of human life. It is a difficult and hard end to reach—it has and will make mistakes, but today it marches triumphantly on in education and science, in home and food, with increased freedom of thought and deliverance from dogma. In the end communism will triumph. I want to help bring that day.

The path of the American Communist Party is clear: It will provide the United States with a real third party and thus restore democracy to this land. It will call for:
  1. Public ownership of natural resources and of all capital.
  2. Public control of transportation and communications.
  3. Abolition of poverty and limitation of personal income.
  4. No exploitation of labor.
  5. Social medicine, with hospitalization and care for the old.
  6. Free education for all.
  7. Training for jobs and jobs for all.
  8. Discipline for growth and reform.
  9. Freedom under law.
  10. No dogmatic religion.
These aims are not crimes. They are practiced increasingly over the world. No nation can call itself free which does not allow its citizens to work for these ends.

W.E.B. Du Bois

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Interview with Mohammed Nafa'h, Secretary General of the Communist

Interview with Mohammed Nafa'h, Secretary General of the Communist
Party of Israel by Efraim Davidi and Gema Delgado
"Supporting the Palestinian people's struggle for self-determination
is a duty of Israeli communists."

The Communist Party of Israel (CPI) and its front Hadash (DemocraticFront for Peace and Equality) were the only political forces in Israel that confronted the massacre perpetrated by the Tzahal (IDF), the Israeli armed forces, in Gaza last January. Regrettably, the "major media" have not accurately represented the magnitude of the protest within the State of Israel against the war. The massive scale of the non-stop mobilization all over that Middle-Eastern country during those three weeks is shown by the huge demonstration of 130,000 in the city of Sakhnin, held at the initiative of the High Representative Committee of the Arab-Palestinian population in Israel, a week after the criminal offensive began; and the demonstration held in the city of Tel Aviv on another day, which drew 20,000 demonstrators, many of them carrying red flags.

Mundo Obrero interviewed CPI Secretary General Mohammed Nafa'h, a writer from the Druze village of Beit Jann, in order to acquaint the public with the positions of the Israeli communists. The interview was conducted in the party strongholds in the city of Haifa on the last day of January, thanks to the collaboration of Efraim Davidi.

The Communist Party of Israel celebrates its 90th anniversary this year. The party is one of the three organizations that trace their lineage to the Palestine Communist Party since the late 1940s, the other two being the Palestinian People's Party and the Jordanian Communist Party.

The CPI has a three-deputy parliamentary fraction in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) and several mayors, including the mayor of the "Arab capital" of Israel, the city of Nazareth, where the CPI has governed for the last 32 years. It also has a significant presence among students and trade unionists.

In the last municipal elections in November, Communist MK Dov Khenin obtained 36% of the votes in the city of Tel Aviv, against the Labor mayor who received 51%. The CPI, Marxist-Leninist, is the only party in Israel in which Jews and Arabs are equally important members, and the party publishes the only daily Arabic-language communist newspaper in the Middle East, Al Ittihad (Unity), and a Hebrew weekly newspaper Zo Haderekh (The Path).

Mundo Obrero: Since the 28th of December, the Communist Party has called demonstrations around the country against the Israeli military aggression on the Gaza Strip. What is the position of the Communist Party of Israel on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict?

Mohammed Nafa'h: Since 1947, our party has advocated the position of "two states for two peoples" and supports the Palestinian people's right to self-determination. I.e., the Palestinians' right to a free and sovereign state in the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital. We also demand the dismantlement of the Jewish settlements in the territories and the solution to the question of the Palestinian refugees in accordance with the UN resolutions.

MO: And on the situation in the West Bank and the "wall of shame"?

MN: Israel must withdraw to the ceasefire lines prior to the war of June 1967 and dismantle the wall, which we call in Hebrew and Arabic: the apartheid wall.

MO: How do you coordinate your activism against the assault on the Palestinian people, in this case in Gaza, with social, anti-war, and campus-based movements?

MN: First, we try to establish the broadest possible alliances, as it is clear that the Communists aren't the only ones opposed to the Israeli occupation. Second, we try to coordinate street protests with political consciousness raising and "practical" solidarity: sending clothes, food, and other humanitarian aids. The fact that more than 700 have been arrested in the demonstrations, from Nazareth and Haifa in the north to Be'er Sheva in the Negev desert, shows that many people have been moved to action by so much death and disaster. Finally, it means that we act in coordination with forces of the Palestinian Left. Traditionally, with the Palestinian Communists, but the day before the attack, knowing that its commencement was imminent, we got together in the city of Ramallah with the leaders of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the (Communist) People's Party in order to join forces. We held discussions with them again the day after the Israeli withdrawal.

MO: How would you explain, to foreigners, the fact that over 70% of the Israeli population support or justify the Israeli military attacks on Gaza that have killed more than 1,300 Palestinians, 90% of whom were civilians according to some humanitarian organizations?

MN: Regrettably, a large part of the Israeli population has been deceived by the fallacious official propaganda that defined the colonial war in Gaza as an "act of self-defense." Censorship and
self-censorship of the local media contributed to this. TV viewers in Israel did not see the dreadful scenes on their screens that people in Madrid or Barcelona saw night after night. Furthermore, Hamas's adventurist policy and its repeated provocations also contributed to turning the mostly poor civilian population of southern Israel into victims of missiles launched from Gaza. Many times, we have said that we support the struggle against the occupation, the political, mass struggle of the Palestinians, but we condemn attacks on the civilian population on either side of the border. Time and again, we have reiterated that there is no military solution to the Palestinian problem, the only solution is the end of the occupation and the creation of a Palestinian state. We have expressed this position before, during, and after the criminal attack perpetrated in January.

MO: In 2003, there was an attempt to assassinate the former secretary general, Issam Makhoul, by placing a bomb under his car, though miraculously his life was saved. Why did the perpetrators want to kill him? What is it like to live as the "enemies" of Zionist politics in the State of Israel?

MN: It is no secret that the democratic spaces in Israel are threatened by the government as well as extremist right-wing groups, officially "out of control," but everybody knows who is in charge of them. During the protests in recent weeks over 700 demonstrators were arrested, and some are still under detention until their trials. Right-wing groups attacked our events, causing injuries, while the police were "looking the other way." The war has unleashed a truly racist campaign against the Arab population under the leadership of the chauvinist party "Yisrael Beiteinu" (Israel Is Our Home) of the racist Avigdor "Yvette" Lieberman. In other words, there is a real danger that the Israeli society is advancing into the fascist direction, whose first victims will be the Arab-Palestinian national minority and the consistent left-wing sectors.

MO: Do you have contacts with Jewish communists living outside Israel and do they share your rejection of the Israeli policy of war against the Palestinian people?

MN: Our party does not claim to be "Jewish" or "Arab." Ours is a class-based party that makes no ethnic or religious distinctions. We have close ties with all pro-peace and progressive Jewish activists and organizations in Europe, Latin America, North America, and Australia. The Israeli leadership seek to galvanize the Jewish communities around the world into adopting their colonialist positions, but there are large Jewish sectors, organizations as well as individuals, that disagree with them and are even fighting against this colonialist policy. Not every Jew is a Zionist, neither in the rest of the world nor even in Israel.

MO: What relations do you have with the Communist Parties in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan?

MN: Our party has close relations and frequent contacts with Communist Parties and workers in the Middle East. Primarily with the Palestinian Communists, with whom we have closely collaborated since the beginning of the occupation in 1967, bringing all kinds of material and political support. Do not forget that supporting the Palestinian people's struggle for self-determination is an international duty of Israeli communists. We also maintain ties with the Tudeh Party of Iran, and last year we published a joint declaration of the Communists of the United States, Iran, and Israel warning that an attack on Iran would bring the region a tragedy of major consequences. The Communists of the Middle East get together at least once a year.

MO: What are the hidden objectives of the government behind the attack on Gaza and what relation does this show of force have with the next Israeli general elections in February?

MN: The Israeli government tried to deal a blow to Hamas, but what it did was to victimize all Palestinians in Gaza, particularly civilians. The objective is clear: to try to deepen the existing division -- which is unfortunate -- among the major Palestinian factions to postpone the creation of an independent state. In the ruling Kadima and Labor parties there are those who believed that the colonial war would bring some political gains in the upcoming elections. But the only beneficiaries have been the racist, far-rightist parties.

MO: What are the main points of your program for the elections?

MN: When we began the parliamentary election campaign, once the municipal elections were finalized in November 2008, we thought that we could present a program that we would characterize as "against the current": against capitalism, against the occupation, against privatization, against globalization, and against racism, and for the rights of working men and women, for equality of the Arab population of Israel, for a healthy environment, for the rights of gays and lesbians. We called this program "a new socialist agenda for Israel." But with the criminal war and its terrible consequences in January, we had to abandon the plan and invest all our human resources, which are considerable, and all our material resources, which are meager, in the struggle against the war and its domestic consequences: particularly racism and fascism. Anyway, we make clear that capitalism engenders the occupation, oppression, and racism. Faced with the international capitalist crisis, which is hitting Israeli workers hard, the next government that gets elected won't last in power for long. Its fall will be due to the multiple crises that beset Israel: the crisis of the occupation, the capitalist crisis, the crisis of political leadership thanks to their bribes and kickbacks, and the ideological crisis of Zionism. All these situations will open up a new period of social and class struggles and new resistances to the occupation. Many young people look to the Communist Party and understand that we are marking a new path and presenting a real choice facing the crisis, the multiple crises. We are very much concerned about the present, but our commitment to the future is firm. This will be a future of peace and social justice.

The original interview "Entrevista a Mujammad Nafa'h, Secretario General del Partido Comunista de Israel" was published in the February 2009 issue of Mundo Obrero, a publication of the Communist Party of

Monday, February 2, 2009

The End of Neo-Liberalism and Bush's Last Scam: How Racism Sparked the Financial Crisis

by Joe Sims

With the collapse of several banks and insurance companies, the near bankruptcy of Detroit automakers, a 50 percent drop in world stock exchanges and an almost complete arrest of credit markets, an economic era has ended. It seems almost an understatement to say that capitalism has entered a new stage of a protracted systemic crisis.

The crisis of the economy is at once a crisis in ideology. After 30 years of worship at the shrine of the free market, Reaganomics and other branches of conservative and neo-conservative thought seem bankrupt and thoroughly discredited if not dead – and not only right-wing schools. Deregulation, privatization, intense financial speculation on debt, the scaling back if not elimination of government social spending, in a word, “neo-liberalism” has reached its extreme limit almost bursting state-monopoly capitalism’s seams and triggering a worldwide financial meltdown.

Many causes have been attributed to the turmoil. Among the main contenders: “financialization” or the capitalism-on-crack of the bond markets and banks, a crisis of overproduction (too many goods chasing too few dollars), and a weak “real” economy due to insufficient allocation of surplus capital to productive investment. Some point to objective processes, others stress mistaken policy decisions. Clearly all were to one degree or another at play. Caution is in order, however. Objective economic processes, mistaken fiscal policies or even chance economic accidents, taken together or alone do not sufficiently explain the impetus behind the ongoing calamity. Also at work was the pernicious influence of institutionalized racism. In fact racist lending practices may have triggered the global financial collapse.

Slouching Toward Collapse

The origins of how the unraveling began is to be found in capitalism’s attempt to resolve ongoing crises. In fact, the neo-liberal model itself arose in response to attempts in advanced capitalist countries to maintain profits and find new markets. Faced in the 1970s with a declining rate of profit, a fractured world economy divided into “socialist” and capitalist camps, structural and fiscal crises along with spiraling inflation, capitalism’s generals undertook a re-forging of economic policy in the form of a wholesale assault on the edifice of the New Deal. Keynesianism had run into wall – at least from the point of view of big capital – and policy was now modulated to fit the maximum profit categorical imperatives of the new period. International trade pacts were formed, unions were rolled backed or held in check and fiscal policy was loosened as a new “post-industrial” service-oriented economy emerged.

At the center of this process was a huge transfer of wealth to the super rich, accomplished by means of tax cuts and a huge leap in labor productivity, as the corporate class acquired an even greater share of the surplus. For a period, neo-liberal economic policy seemed to work, lending the appearance of stability with low unemployment, relative labor peace and mild inflation, causing some to wonder if capitalism had become crisis free.

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