Unaffiliated Voters Outnumber Democrats/Republicans

A recent study by the Pew Research Center has found that an increasing number of Americans are unaffiliated with any political party.

39 percent of people are considered independents, but only 32 percent identify as Democrats and 23 percent identify as Republicans. This is the highest concentration of independents since public opinion polling began more than 75 years ago.

While it is common knowledge that most Americans are disgusted with both major parties and have always been unhappy with the government, these statistics indicate a clear increase in such sentiment.

Around half of the states prohibit unaffiliated voters from voting in the primaries, silencing the voices of the majority of Americans right from the beginning. When primary voters reject all of the candidates, their decision is ignored entirely by political leaders.

Representation by geography that often doesn’t make sense, or is gerrymandered, doesn’t work in the interests of the majority of people. Wealthy community members, due to their resources and influence, naturally dominate these elections. The current electoral system, and government as a whole, was never meant to represent working-class people. Capitalism, a system where the rich control everything, is anti-democratic by its nature.

A system of directly democratic workers’ councils in every workplace as one branch of government, and community councils as the other branch, would better reflect the interests of regular people.

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Anthem Starts Unfair Layoffs

Health insurance company Anthem announced today that it will begin layoffs soon and they will continue through the middle of the year. Richmond’s CBS 6 recently reported that some workers in Henrico, Virginia were already laid off today.

The workers were given no warnings about their termination. They simply went into work Thursday and were informed that their positions had been eliminated along with “many others” because Anthem is “restructuring.”

Scott Golden, Director of Corporate Communication, told the media that Anthem has been evaluating its organizational structures, “to determine how best to align our company for growth and become a more efficient, consumer-focused business.” This is basically fancy business-speak for figuring out how to cut labor costs in order to bring in more profits or protect the current income for top executives.

Anthem is based in Indianapolis, but has its second largest market share in Virginia. Anthem has 37 million members, which amounts to 1 in 9 Americans.

Anthem was hacked in January, resulting in millions of current and former customers’ personal information being compromised. The security breach is estimated to total $100 million in damages for the company, resulting in the ongoing layoffs.

Anthem is clearly passing the burden of the security breach onto innocent workers and their families. All while the top executives continue to make millions at the expense of their underpaid, and now doubly overworked, employees.

WellPoint, the parent company of Anthem, paid former CEO Angela Braly $31.7 million in 2013. She was also given over $17 million in stock options. Current Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish made $13.5 million last year. Two of Anthem’s other executives made close to $5 million last year, and three others made over $3 million.

If Anthem workers really want to keep being able to feed their families, then they should go on a “wildcat strike” and shut down production at the company until executives agree to end the layoffs.

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Authentic Organizing

Ideas for Reviving the Grassroots

I had originally hoped to get this published on a more known website, but they have all refused it because it was either too long, too short, or because the sky is blue and fish have fins. In all fairness, it is very controversial and nobody wants to upset their readers.

“In his first ever pamphlet, Marxist organizer and writer Nick Edward dissects the problems impacting grassroots organizing in modern America from an organizational level and explains how to fix them. If you are particularly sensitive, then this pamphlet isn’t for you.”

E-book for laptops or PCs:

Authentic Organizing

E-book for tablets/e-readers:

Authentic Organizing (tablet)

A print edition may be in the works in the future, but it will not be free.

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DC Transit Workers Rally for Respect

Members and supporters of the Amalgamated Transit Union, which represents the employees of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, held a “rally for respect” today.

Union members gathered outside of the MV MetroAccess Call Center in Hyattsville, Maryland. Speakers tried to get their message to the crowd over the ridiculous amount of wind the DC area has been having lately.

Members from ATU locals 689 and 1764 had gathered to remember the acts of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 47th anniversary of his assassination. In the spirit of King, the workers rallied for respect on the job. The speakers, unfortunately hard to hear over the wind, described how so many of their workplaces have gone without contracts for years. Others decried the one percent raise offered by WMATA, stating that it wasn’t enough to help them support their families in such an expensive area. The safety of bus drivers and other personnel was another concern.

One speaker noted that “bosses don’t change their spots,” and so the workers need a union.

It was unfortunate to see the Socialist Workers Party present at the rally. As usual, they were represented by a couple of old people with too many newspapers. One of them tried to start a chant of, “Bosses can’t profit when the workers strike, shut it down and shut it tight.” A few people reluctantly joined in, but only a few. I’m sure in the next issue of The Militant, they will write about how all of the workers were chanting that.

Yes, bosses don’t change their spots and power never changes hands without force. Yes, bosses can’t profit when workers go on strike. The problem, however, is that your typical union leadership is all about collaborating with the bosses for a few measly concessions. They are afraid to strike. The workers must take matters into their own hands however they collectively see fit, and to hell with the union brass. Only then will the power of the bosses be truly threatened. Despite how they make themselves sound, the Trotskyists (such as the SWP) would never condone real workers’ control or collective decision-making under the leadership of their party.

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4 Conspiracy Theories About Communism and Why They’re Wrong

These days it seems nobody can even breath without being accused of “communism.” Everyone from the corporate-backed liberals, to boring Freemasons, and even Jews are believed to be part of some communist plot to destroy America and enslave the world. All of these claims are just that, baseless, senseless claims and exaggerations.

Although this essay discusses the Soviet Union, it only does so because examples from the Soviet Union are used as “evidence” of this or that communist conspiracy. This does not mean the Soviet Union and its leaders remained true to Marxism, nor does it mean I uphold the USSR as an example of real socialism.

The much respected German communist Rosa Luxemburg, in her pamphlet Reform or Revolution, discusses why it isn’t possible to establish socialism by reforming or taming capitalism. She argues that the class structure of society will still remain the same no matter how many reforms you make. I suggest you all read it because it is relevant to the first two sections of this essay.

The Federal Reserve and Central Banks are Communist

The idea of a central bank existed long before the birth of Karl Marx, and therefore long before Marxism. In 1668, over one hundred years before Karl Marx was even born, the central bank of Sweden was formed. The Bank of Amsterdam, considered the first central bank in European history, was formed in 1609. Yes, the Communist Manifesto calls for, “Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly,” but it is nothing short of ignorant to say that just because some country has a central bank, and because Marx called for a national bank, that said country is communist or on the road to communism. That is like saying that because atheists don’t believe in magic elves, and because Jehovah’s Witnesses also don’t believe in magic elves, that they are both two sides of the same evil conspiracy due to a minor similarity.

Let’s compare the American Federal Reserve to the Soviet Gosbank. The Federal Reserve was created in 1913 before the Soviet Union even existed. In 1990, before the collapse of the USSR, the Soviet government had to break up and restructure their central bank, Gosbank, which resulted in it becoming more like the Federal Reserve of the US. So if the big, scary communists had to break up their big, scary communist bank, only to end up looking like the much older Federal Reserve, then how is the Federal Reserve part of a communist plot?

Gosbank was a state bank, but the Federal Reserve acts independently of the government and has thousands of privatized member banks with a stake in it. As a matter of fact, both conservatives and liberals in the US were in favor of establishing a central bank in the US around the time of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. They only differed on how it should be run.

I know a lot of people like to discuss the gold standard when the Federal Reserve comes up, and I would just like to add that Soviet banknotes were backed by gold.

The Democrats are Communists

imagesThe most idiotic of all of these conspiracies is the one that states the Democratic Party, one of the two major political parties in the United States, are part of a communist conspiracy. Let’s look at the evidence. The first thing conspiracy theorists bring up is that the Communist Party USA supports Democrats in elections. Though if you have any knowledge of the CPUSA line, you’d know they are only supporting the Democrats because they have some unrealistic fantasy about defeating the far right and making America progressive enough for them to succeed. However, their analysis with regards to the Democrats is mistaken, and every other communist out there, including some CPUSA members, will agree that the Democrats aren’t much different from the Republicans. The fact that the CPUSA backs Democrats is not a sign of a conspiracy, but rather the sign of an old, useless third party without a serious plan of action.

If the Democrats were part of a communist conspiracy, their party line would be more like that of the CPUSA which is outright opposed to war. Going further, it says on the Democrats’ website that they are all about, “Providing tax cuts to small businesses and expanding lending so that businesses can create new jobs.” Communism is not about helping small businesses.

“Contrary to the claims of some of my critics and some of the editorial pages, I am an ardent believer in the free market,” is something President Obama said. I suppose we must also believe Obama is involved in the communist conspiracy to cancel Christmas forever too considering he said:

“Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering into the public square. So to say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”

Freemasons and Communism

After the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War, workers in Paris rebelled against their government and formed the Paris Commune. The Paris Commune plays a very influential role in Marxist ideology. There were Freemasons on both sides during the uprising. The Freemasons from both the government side and the Communards tried to broker a peace to prevent a war between Paris and the French government in Versailles. If the Free Masons were part of some communist conspiracy, then why would they not throw all of their support behind the Commune? Why would they try to make peace between Frenchmen? Wouldn’t the killing and destruction of a civil war in France be part of their agenda of world domination? Going further, if the Masons are so powerful then how come their efforts at reconciliation failed? And why would they not use their influence on the French government in Versailles, combined with the chaos of the post-war months, to bring communism to all of France instead of having quasi-civil war in which the Commune was brutally crushed?

It is also worth mentioning that Freemasonry was outlawed in the Soviet Union.

Communism is a Jewish Plot

Jabotinsky

Another one of the conspiracy theories is that communism is a Jewish invention to control and destroy other races. Interestingly, some of the most ardent anti-communists were part of Jewish militias. Vladimir Jabotinsky, the creator of the British “Jewish Legion” during WWI, collaborated with Ukrainian military leader Symon Petliura to establish Jewish corps within the Ukrainian White Guard to fight the Bolsheviks. Of course, the agreement never materialized after word leaked out and the Jewish community was outraged that Jabotinsky would collaborate with a known anti-Semite like Petliura.

Jabotinsky and his organization, the Alliance of Revisionist Zionists, would often organize strike-breakers to attack socialist workers in Palestine. They also attacked a meeting in memory of English socialist Henry Brailsford. Jabotinsky gave a public speech in Berlin after Hitler’s failed coup attempt which attacked socialists and labor activists in the Zionist movement. His organization’s publication, the Hazit Ha’am, glorified Hitler, Mussolini, and Franco for their anti-communism. The pro-Hitler stance was eventually ended for reasons that should be obvious.

While there have been many influential Jews in the communist movement, they are not the only religious or ethnic group represented. James Connolly, one of the leading ideologues of Irish Marxism, was born to a Catholic family and educated in a Catholic school. Eugene Debs, one of the main ideologues of American Marxism, came from a Catholic family as well. Vladimir Lenin did have Jewish relatives, but, despite the ridiculous claims, he was separated from them by four generations! These Jewish relatives had also converted to Orthodox Christianity. Lenin’s father was very involved in the Orthodox Church, and his mother was a Lutheran. Lenin was baptized at St. Nicholas Cathedral.
When Lenin’s sister discovered that they had some Jewish ancestors, the Soviet authorities ordered her to keep it secret. Her findings weren’t revealed until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. If communism was part of a plot by the Jews to control the world, then why was this information kept secret? And why would the Jewish leaders of the conspiracy pick Lenin to lead the Bolsheviks instead of someone who was actually Jewish?

Only around 7 percent of the Bolshevik Party members prior to 1917 were Jews, and their numbers decreased as time went on. In 1922, only around 5 percent were Jewish. There were only 3 Jews in the Central Committee by that time.

Conclusion

Conspiracies aren’t uncommon in this world, and often you don’t need a formal conspiracy when interests converge, but we should never simply accept a conspiracy theory (or any other theory) as true without a thorough investigation. The enemies of common people play with our emotions in order to weaken our sensibilities and make us more vulnerable to lies and nonsensical conspiracy theories. The most dangerous conspiracy in this world today is not one of shadowy figures scheming against you. On the contrary, the figures scheming against the common person do it openly and in a surprisingly transparent manner in Washington DC, state capitals across the country, and on Wall Street. “The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims,” reads the final paragraph of the Communist Manifesto. “They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions.”

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Homelessness in London Skyrockets

700K vacant houses and only 112K homeless households.

700K vacant houses and only 112K homeless households.

The number of homeless people in the British capital of London has increased by one third over the past year alone. Data from the Department for Communities and Local Government revealed that the amount of people sleeping on the streets rose by 37 percent between 2013 and 2014. This is a 79 percent increase from 2010.

The rest of Britain saw a 14 percent increase in homelessness. 47 percent of the homeless are British citizens, and the rest are immigrants from other European countries or Africa and Asia.

“Welfare reform, benefit cuts and a chronic shortage of affordable homes mean more and more people are coming to their council as homeless. But as the law stands, far too often when single people ask for help, they are turned away to sleep on the street,” said Jon Sparkes of the charity Crisis.

Last year it was reported that there are over 700,000 vacant homes in the UK, which is more than enough to house the nearly 112,000 homeless families that applied for assistance last year.

The corporate tax rate for the UK is on the decline. Last year it was 23 percent, and this year it will fall to around 20 percent. At the same time, the poorest households pay up to 43 percent of their income in taxes. The richest households only pay 35 percent.

Under capitalism, the wealthy and their businesses are valued more than the working-class people who actually make the country run. Private property is held up as so sacred that people must freeze to death on the street because it would be a sin to tarnish a vacant home. To refer to poverty and homelessness as a problem would be wrong because it assumes the system isn’t working properly. On the contrary, the capitalist system is working as it should. This inequality was established intentionally because capitalism requires it. Homelessness will only end when capitalism is overthrown.

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Spring Rising Protest Leaves Much to be Desired

Mock coffins placed outside of various buildings including the Senate and the AIPAC office.

Mock coffins placed outside of various buildings including the Senate and the AIPAC office.

Thursday marked the 11th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. It was marked by reports of all kinds of American successes in the Muslim world, such as ISIS gaining a foothold in Libya and a terrorist attack at a museum in Tunisia. I can’t help but be reminded of the triumphant look on President Bush’s face as he stood in front of that “Mission Accomplished” banner. We sure did it! The Arab world finally has “freedom.”

People across the country took to the streets to make their voices heard yesterday. Hundreds of people took to the streets of Washington DC as part of the Spring Rising events. Spring Rising describes itself as an “anti-war intervention” against America’s state of endless war. Cindy Sheehan, David Swanson, Ray McGovern, and others were present to speak at yesterday’s rally. There was even a speaker from Richmond. They covered everything from systematic racism to the havoc wreaked on foreign lands by the Pentagon and their terrorist buddies…. excuse me, I mean their “appropriately vetted” opposition group buddies.

It was definitely a good march, the speakers were great, and they were very mature and respectful towards each other. I was surprised by this considering a lot of them were from various Leninist groups that often compete and disagree. The Party for Socialism and Liberation, to which I used to belong, had multiple members speak. Carl Dix, one of the heads of the Revolutionary Communist Party, also spoke. With all due respect to Mr. Dix, and I sincerely mean respect, he didn’t say anything that the RCP hasn’t been saying for the past 8 years. It was all the same cut-and-paste rhetoric. To his eternal credit, I don’t remember him mentioning RCP Chairman Bob Avakian once though. Maybe the RCP is making progress in that department. The PSL/ANSWER speakers also used the same tired talking points, but in fairness the ruling class is doing the same damn thing it was doing since before I was born. So why write new material? The International Action Center, a Workers World Party front group, was also represented. Their speaker also represented FIST (Fight Imperialism Stand Together). WWP is also a part of FIST along with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (Fight Back).

So there were four Leninist factions represented either directly or through their front groups. To the armchair Bolshevik, this is reason to celebrate. To someone who actually knows what it’s like on the inside of one of these groups, it is reason to be confused. While it’s highly believable that two of these groups could get their heads together, to believe four of them, including the Avakian cult, could be civil is just impossible.

I would like to know who knocked their heads together and forced them to play nice! This was an ANSWER-dominated event, and I have never seen anyone representing a party besides the PSL speak at such events. I’m sure it has happened before, but it isn’t often. It was mentioned that CODEPINK played a big role in making the protest happen, including getting the sound system. It is also worth mentioning that Spring Rising appears to be a Cindy Sheehan project considering that SpringRising.org redirects to Cindy Sheehan’s website. CODEPINK and/or Sheehan definitely deserve applause for forcing the factions play nice together. I can only imagine how the conversations at those organizing meetings went.

Again, to be fair, it was a great rally and the speakers were very good.

Something does bother me though. Why is it that PSL/ANSWER people (and others) keep doing various Palestinian liberation chants in Spanish? Palestinians don’t speak Spanish. It’s like they have an awkward fetish for Latin America. If they are trying to highlight Hispanic-Palestinian solidarity, then it gets even more awkward considering their hero Fidel Castro said Israel “has a right to exist as a Jewish state.” And then there is the Israeli investment in the Cuban citrus industry. This isn’t to say the two states have been entirely chummy throughout history. There has been more hostility than partnership.

While it is definitely important to have an anti-war presence in the streets, the anti-war left should put more effort into opposing the war in the workplaces and campuses. Wildcat strikes by workers and students would shake the system more than any weekend street demonstration. If thousands of students and thousands (or at least hundreds) of workers walked out to protest another barbaric war, then the rulers of this country would be hit right in the wallet and would realize that regular people aren’t going to stand for it. I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. I’ve tried it; I would know just how hard it is. Such actions have happened before in American history, and they can certainly happen again. Just don’t expect your modern Leninist outfit to try. These days they are either reformists in disguise or revolutionary newspaper companies. Do I have any right to talk? No, but someone needs to say it.

Real organizing knows no boundaries. Real organizing transcends ideological dogmas and stiff little groups. The people themselves must revive real grassroots organizing. By the people, I mean all of us. The people at yesterday’s protest, the person reading this, myself, my neighbor, our co-workers, everyone. Only then will our opposition to the endless wars be taken seriously.

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