An Email Exchange About School Workers, Our Unions, and Imperialist War

July 2006

Rich Gibson

Tommy Writes on July 21 2006

"What's the problem with supporrting Israel's right to defends its citizens and borders? I don't understand your equating AFT's support for Israel with U.S. imperialism. Israel is a sovereign nation with security issues that must be addressed, what of it?"

I didn't initially equate the Israeli actions with AFT's support for US imperialism.

Read the original post (below)again. However, I will agree your challenge to demonstrate why Israel's actions are wrong, against the interest of most people, and in the service to imperialism, is good and fair.

First, some context:

The AFT leadership has consistently operated in opposition to the interests of the vast majority of the school workers in the US, and especially against the interest of poor, black and working class people.

Furthermore, the AFT leadership, born of the racist Ocean-Hill Brownsville strike, was key in initiating the decades of concessions that have marked the recent histories of US labor unions when Al Shanker, and his dear friend, billionaire banker Felix Rohatyn, engineered a scheme to make teacher union concessions in pay, benefits, and concession, to "save New York City".

I have already demonstrated the close ties of the AFT and US intelligence. Again, if you wish to check that out, see the work of Paul Buhle, Kim Scipes, Bill Blum (all have material on line) as well as Phillip Agee and Jack Scott ("Yankee Unions Go Home"), or just go to the web site of the National Endowment for Democracy and read about their work with the hypothesis that they just might be related to the CIA. There is also an abundance of information on my www site.

The AFT is utterly undemocratic, racist, nationalist, and beyond reform. It is hardly the kind of institution any person concerned with the construction of reason would want to support.

I believe US teachers and other school workers have far more in common with school workers and teachers in Israel, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, etc., than any of those people (including people in the US) have in common with the rulers of their own nations. I believe the vast majority of the people in the world have nothing to gain from this crisis, unless they turn on their own leaders and struggle for an end to irrationalism, exploitation, imperialism, and inequality---for freedom through connectedness in caring communities. I think we should abhor violence, but we should not let those who are willing to be violent, and who train youth to enjoy it (as they do in Camp Pendelton, just next door to me, urging kids to howl, "Kill! Kill! Kill!), to rule us.

Now let us examine the link of the AFT and NEA, US imperialism and Israel's recent aggression, which is largely true, and wrong, against the interests of school workers everywhere, all workers everywhere, and in the interest of really just a veritable handful of rich people.

Israel is a Zionist rogue US client state which has been useful to US imperialist desires, but which also acts on its own. Israel is a formally religious state, making mysticism a test of loyalty.

In many, if not most, instances, Zionism accepts the racist theory that Judaism is a race. That is a notable position, one that the German Nazis had to manufacture, that is, they needed to convince people that Jews were a race, not a religion, in order to prove, on the one hand, that Jews were a sub-race, a threat to the human gene bank, and hence needed to be exterminated, and on the other hand, that being a Jew was not a matter of choice, but a matter of bogus bloodlines, so one could not opt out of extermination.

The Zionist view of Jews as a (superior) race is as preposterous as any superstition that claims it can, by faith, tell a good god from an evil one. Zionist racism is a dangerous idea, not only to Arabs and others, but to Jews, who have had enough experience with extermination.

There is no such thing as religious tolerance, no way to resolve religious disputes, because religion inherently suspends critique, examination of tests of reality, debate. Sooner or later, the logical result of the turn to mysticism, religion, is killing people, as we see. The Zionist belief that Israel is some kind of Holy Land, is preposterous, as is any similar Islamic claim.

I think it is important to point to broader issues than who-did-what-to-who first (second, third, etc.). I will not say that aggression is insignificant, but it does track back through a couple of millennia . Perhaps we should blame T.E. Lawrence?

Until recently, when George H. W. Bush did what may have been the most stupid series of things done by a world leader in the last millennia (which would be pretty big, including Stalin ignoring the Hitler invasion, Hitler's stall at Stalingrad, all of WWI, etc), the interest of the US in the Middle East was control of the oil fields, via instability. Israel was useful to the US in that, and enjoyed billions in US support, far out of proportion to the size of its population.

How did little Israel, even with big US backing, win (for the time being) in the region? The same way metaphorical Masters have dominated metaphorical Slaves for centuries (

Now, however, it appears to me that the US wants much more direct control over the middle east oil fields, and the rest of the world. The US is, in fact, invading the world, while at the same time, the rich everywhere wage war on poor and working people.

The US does not control everything Israel does (though it surely condones this aggression) but it controls Israel enough that Israel can serve as a US probe at Iran and Syria. I note that many people have noticed the Bush administration's voices calling for an invasion of Iran. Sy Hersh has written about it extensively, and Michael Ledeen, who cut his teeth helping in the Grenada invasion, has been calling for an invasion of Iran for years. So have voices in the Wall Street Journal, like Kristol.

In any case, class struggle exists in Israel, as it does in every other place where people must sell their labor to live, which is everywhere. It follows that the actions of Israel' s leaders are not in the interest of, and are often opposed by, the working people and many intellectuals of Israel. However, not unlike in the US, many or most Israelis line up behind their Zionist bosses and sacrifice their lives fighting the enemies of their real enemies. They do that out of nationalism, racism, sexism, and sheer irrationalism, which propel most military forces.

That is also true of poor and working people in other nations as well.

Israel's aggression in the Middle East today is quite easy to see----far beyond defending itself and its borders. Israel has become what it claimed to set out to oppose, a great tragedy.

While Israel's leadership has not, as yet, clearly sought to exterminate the Palestinian people (which distinguishes them from German Nazis) Israeli leaders have sought to grind down and diminish the Palestinian people to the point to which they are set up as being seen as less than human---typically the first step to extermination.

The response to Israel, which comes from Islamic fundamentalism, is hardly different from Zionism, just the other side of the same coin. It is today, though, an underdog response, underwritten with despair.

There are many issues that the current Israeli actions revolve around: Oil, social and political control in the vital Middle East and Caucasus region, religion (always married to exploitation and war), and, above all, the processes of capitalism itself, which currently seem to be out of human control, but are never really out of human control.

Because these issues and the players who move them are profoundly intertwined (Iran and Hezbollah and Hamas and Syria; the USSR and China and Iran; European, Japanese and other imperial nations eyeing the oil fields and fully aware of the clear defeat of the vaunted US military in Iraq--the US facing an Iraqi enemy who has no real supply lines, no rational leadership, no ties like the Vietnamese had with China or Russia, no real internal industrial base to manufacture weapons, and the US managing to lose against this enemy) because of all of this, and other factors like players in India, Pakistan, North Korea, etc., the intemperate Israel action could easily begin a world wide war, which would be fought with the blood of poor and working people, on behalf of the rich.

I am opposed to that, opposed to the Zionist irrationalism that excuses it, opposed to the Islamic irrationalism that pretends to fight it, but does not, opposed to the Christian capitalists (and all the other capitalists) in the US who seek to profit from what they may, or may not, see as a religious war.

I am opposed to the processes of capitalism (exploitation, alienation of all from all) which create and require not only imperialism (cheap labor, raw materials, markets, social control) and but also to the masks that capital wears to make people feel they have a share in it (when they do not) and to die for it (when we should choose life). I am opposed to religious intolerance (and religion is inherently intolerant), opposed to racism, to sexism, and to every division that we should demolish, before it is used to demolish us. The real division in this world is class: the Few versus the Many. It will not be forever that the few win.

I am opposed to the AFT's support for the US proxy wars, and, beyond that, opposed to the existence of the racist, nationalist, leadership of the AFT and the NEA as well. I find it remarkable that AFT had the guts to discuss this issue of endless war, when the AFT really discusses almost nothing, and the NEA refused to discuss it, when all the NEA does is discuss. At the end of the day, though, that irony does not override the fact of NEA and AFT support for imperialist wars, against the interests of poor and working people everywhere.

It is no mistake that NEA, AFT, and AFL-CIO are riddled with police agents, especially NEA and AFT today. It is no mistake that both NEA and AFT not only supported, but demanded the NCLB. The leaders of NEA and AFT, and the leadership of the entire Labor Movement, (AFL-CIO, etc) are on the other side of the class war.

Schools are the centripetal organizing point of life in the de-industrialized USA. It will be schools which will be the feeder plants for the war machines, sending willing, witless bodies. That fact does not escape ruling classes anywhere, which is why we see companion laws to the NCLB popping up all over the world. Control of what people know, and how they come to know it, is key for war-making.

The role of school workers today is, I think, to connect reason to power, in opposition to the barbarism, fascism, emerging quickly around us. That means fighting the leadership of NEA and AFT on this issue, and many others. It also means finding alternative ways to organize and do education, to rescue reason from the ruling classes. It means taking risks, fighting back, making sacrifices (like the Downer 5 or George Schmidt) and standing up to fight once again.

The issue at hand, to me is, always, how do we get beyond capitalism to a world where people can live reasonably free, connected, fulfilling, creative, sensual, aesthetic, lives in caring communities? Clearly, we cannot just declare we have gone from one point to another, from what is to what should be, but we can examine what is with greater care, so we can figure out how to act in the present, in order to steer a good path to the future, that is, what should be. We can teach other people what critical thinking really is, and what it really is, is the examination of change in the material world. That is called, "Dialectical Materialism" (see below).

Again, justice demands organization, and I add, direct action. I have said repeatedly that fascism is emerging, and time is short.

In schools, I think we should be planning to shut down, boycott, the high stakes tests; wildcats of students, parents, and teachers, and back that up with some freedom schooling. We should throw the military recruiters and intelligence agencies, which have nothing to do with reason, off our campuses. We should support worker/immigrants.

In the words of my colleague and friend Wayne Ross, professor at the University of British Columbia, we should, "Read Marx, and make class war."

best, r

Follow-Up Invitations

These are links on Dialectical Materialism (each one is longer than the first)

These are what I think are gateways to understanding capitalism, things that high school kids could understand

Here is Bertell Ollman's very short take on what capitalism hides from us

There are extensive references to the developments of the international war of the rich on the poor, since 2000, on out www page at

What is fascism?

Kathy Emery's www page has extensive material on freedom schooling.

Tommy Writes on July 21 2006

"What's the problem with supporrting Israel's right to defends its citizens and borders? I don't understand your equating AFT's support for Israel with U.S. imperialism. Israel is a sovereign nation with security issues that must be addressed, what of it?"

On Jul 21, 2006, at 7:02 PM, Rich Gibson wrote:

My friends on staff at AFT tell me that the AFT passed a motion supporting what AFT calls Israel's response to Hezbollah aggression, etc. That appears to put AFT right in line with the US State Department, and George Bush (and much of the Democratic party too).

The vote, according to my friends, appears to be much closer than the NEA 3 to 1 decision at their RA to not discuss the Middle East wars at all. It is hard to tell from a phone call, but the impression I have is that the AFT vote was quite close, maybe even deliberately miscounted by the leadership---which is usually unnecessary in AFT since dissension is hardly tolerated in the union.

AFT has long had well-known connections to the U.S. State Department, and the CIA (through AFT leadership in the National Endowment for Democracy, the American Institute for Free Labor Development, etc) and AFT bosses have long played a key role in the ongoing relationship of the entire AFL-CIO with the CIA. Even today, the AFL-CIO spends about 50% of its dues income outside the United States, usually seeking to destroy indigenous trade union and people's movements in other nations. Most recently, the AFL-CIO-NED was instrumental in the effort to overthrow the elected government of Venezuela.

Do not take my word for this stuff, nor my own research. Look for work by Kim Scipes, Paul Buhle, Jack Scott, and many others. It is not a conspiracy theory, but a recognition of the confluence of interests between US union bosses, the US government, and US business. The AFL-CIO unions believe, and have always believed, that workers in the US will do better if workers elsewhere do worse, following closely to the same line that they adopted in the US, that is, white workers will do better if black workers do worse.

While this racism and nationalism may be true (that is, it works) for the union leaders, who are relatively well paid, it is against the interest of the mass of rank and file workers in the unions, including school workers, who have much more in common with, for example, an Iraqi or Israeli or Lebanese teacher, than they do with George Bush or Ted Kennedy: millionaires.

The union leaders betray the people they claim to represent, us, serving as Quislings in our ranks, in exchange for the opportunity to try to behave like bosses, to win income and opportunities that are denied to the rank and file. They systematically, deliberately, disorganize and mislead us, offering our potential militancy as a bargaining chip for their own benefit. They live off the fruits of US imperialism which is necessarily born from US warmaking---and they know it. That is why they support the many endless wars that capitalism has to offer---and it has nothing but war to offer.

The AFT-AFL-CIO--CIA links are pretty commonly known and accepted.

What is not so well known is the NEA's role in all of this. NEA is involved through the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, a branch of the National Endowment for Democracy. NEA signed on to that in 1984.

AFT also voted to raise member dues about 14 dollars per month.

Justice demands new kinds of organizations.

best r