Why it is Possible and Imperative to Teach Capital, Empire and Revolution-and how.
by Rich Gibson
Not terribly sophisticated 4th Graders can grasp the two- century old tale: The Spider and the Fly.
This is the text:
“Will you walk into my parlour?” said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair
-can ne'er come down again.”
“I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?” said the Spider to the Fly.
“There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!”
Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, “Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome — will you please to take a slice?”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “kind Sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!”
“Sweet creature!” said the Spider, “you're witty and you're wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself.”
“I thank you, gentle sir,” she said, “for what you 're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day.”
The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
“Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple — there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!”
Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue —
Thinking only of her crested head — poor foolish thing!
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour — but she ne'er came out again!
And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.
~By Mary Howitt, 1829
It is unfortunately clear that the crux of the story–Spiders must eat flies--eludes most of the world's people today.
“...not criticism but revolution is the driving force of history...” Karl Marx
The core issue of our times is the rise of color-coded inequality and the real promise of perpetual war met by the potential of mass class conscious organized resistance for the clarion call that has driven social movements for centuries: Equality! Revolutionary Equality!
In the absence of such a social movement, education remains snared by capital and empire, as we shall see, and resistance merely recreates ignorance and despair–Dark Ages’ barbarism--in slightly new ways.
This is not a utopian scheme that aims at a far distant tomorrow and refuses to address the necessity to win reforms, or to even defend what is minimally left to poor and working people today. It is, instead, to insist that U.S. unionism as it is–and most of the counterfeit reformist ‘left’– cannot win even short term reforms and, moreover; to split the needs of today from the requisite need to transcend capitalism is to lose both.
Or, perhaps more abstractly, to abandon both the theory and practice of revolution is to deny science (quantity into quality and leaps in, for example, evolution), philosophy (dialectics into materialism), history (revolution on revolution to end exploitation, to overcome the Master/Slave relationship, for freedom), in pedagogy, those transformative “aha” moments when quantities of effort become qualitatively new knowledge, and passion itself–a cornerstone of any movement for change.
To give up even the theory of revolution is to dump the materialist conception of history, replace it with reformist--idealist--fantasies about democracy dominating the capitalist state, to pretend that capitalism can be softened over time, that imperialism will end by ignoring it, or voting it away. It is to deny there is an economic base to today’s society, rooted in exploited labor and the unappeasable quest for cheap labor, raw materials, regional control, and markets. It is to pretend the political world is distinct from the economic, and the rich can be voted out of their money and greed.
For many people, forsaking revolutionary theory is to become what they set out to oppose. They’re instruments of their own oppression.
To give up on, at least, the theory of revolution is to guarantee the spiders will feed on our great-grandchildren.
Using works of Marx and Engels, Chalmers Johnson, Lenin, Lukacs, and Luxemburg, I believe it’s possible to teach revolution in theory and practice–and survive as an educator.
In practice, the Rouge Forum is the only education-based organization in North America that has, for fifteen years and more, seen class struggle as central to school and society. We are not a revolutionary organization. There may be Rouge Forum members from groups who say they are–and perhaps they are. We have not, however, run from the term–revolution. Indeed, we have investigated its aspects with care.
And your education! Is not that also social, and determined by the social conditions under which you educate, by the intervention direct or indirect, of society, by means of schools,
Given the role of imperialist de-industrialization, school is one of the centripetal organizing points of daily US life. There are about 3.9 million school workers organized into the two US unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers. If schools are missions for capitalism and empire; the vast majority of school workers-who are not professionals but workers and more so ever year-are their missionaries.
“The parson goes hand in hand with the landlord.” The parallel is clear enough. Most teachers see themselves as witting agents of the capitalist, today corporate, state.
Schools are middle class job banks, peopled by school workers full of fear.
Even so, as Marty Glaberman famously said, “as long as work sucks, there will be resistance.”
At issue is whether or not resistance makes any sense, or it flails at phantoms, rushing toward mirages.
Teacher work, often wrongly described as professionalism, tracks the same avenues that any job suffers. Teachers, really school workers, are not professionals–until the employer gulls them into buying books, supplies, extending hours, “volunteering” weekend work, etc.
Teachers are alienated from the processes and products of their work.
School workers do not control the curriculum. Indeed, many of them could not operate without a pre-packaged set of textbooks.
They have, for twenty years and more, been ordered to proctor high-stakes standardized exams, It’s Taylorism in the classroom; tests which most of them know measure little more than parental income, race, and home language–and amount to child abuse.
The medical, “First do no harm,” was nearly never raised by non-professional school workers.
Teachers engage the same war of all on all that all workers face: the struggle for jobs–when jobs should be plentiful and class size less than ten. Like any factory worker, “the greatest aid to efficiency is a long line of (people) at the gate.”
In schools, teachers are estranged from students (grading, tests), from the curriculum (textbooks, regulated curricula) from parents, and administrators--and each other (competition for jobs and wages).
Kids, the focus, or 'product' of schools, are particularly alienated, distanced from meaningful struggles for what is true, from freedom, from any remote practice of democracy, from equality. For example, as James Loewen demonstrated in “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” most of the history, particularly historiography itself, isn’t true.
The unjustly structured taxes that make capitalist schooling possible pay the intellectual jailers of those who must attend.
Teachers work in segregated schools, by class first, then race, a creation of capitalist inequality in accumulated wealth, income, and geography.
School workers create surplus value in the sense that they prepare the next generation of workers, they manufacture (real or false) hope, and they participate in schools as huge markets. Imagine the costs of I-pads, Chromebooks, busses, architects for buildings, test-prep, etc Schools warehouse kids–babysit. It’s a tax funded service for low wage companies. Schooling produces labor power in more ways than one.
Teachers and students are routinely commodified. Test results, revered by real estate agents who churn the market, are one example.
Flatly, in every school, every student represents a dollar value. In California, every student is worth about $5,000 a year, carefully pro-rated hour by hour on daily attendance.
As with any capitalist relationship, behind compulsory state schooling is violence: truancy laws, threats, fines, and arrests.
Alienation, exploitation, and commodification add up to form reification–these processes seen as normal and inevitable. Test scores, again, are a glaring example, but so is the daily life of school: bell schedules, the division of labor in history versus science vs language arts, etc.
Schools, unbeknownst to most in higher education and politicians, are part of society.
They are, as we shall see in detail, embedded in capital and empire and face the crises that necessarily take place within those systems: upheavals following periodic stagnation in the economy, and war.
To suggest that these factors, then, necessarily lead to revolution, or even mass resistance, would be to mock history. They do not–as the last twenty years of life in U.S. schools demonstrates.
On the face of it, these terms could easily be applied to the majority of the US teaching force which has done little but acquiesce to their own, and their students oppression: cowardly, racist, nationalist, and superstitious.
Very few teachers would read from American patriot, Thomas Paine’s “Age of Reason, in a classroom:
“The story of the angel announcing what the church calls the immaculate conception is not so much as mentioned in the books ascribed to Mark and John; and is differently related in Matthew and Luke. The former says the angel appeared to Joseph; the latter says it was to Mary; but either Joseph or Mary was the worst evidence that could have been thought of, for it was others that should have testified for them, and not they for themselves. Were any girl that is now with child to say, and even to swear it, that she was gotten with child by a ghost, and that an angel told her so, would she be believed? Certainly she would not. Why, then, are we to believe the same thing of another girl, whom we never saw, told by nobody knows who, nor when, nor where?”
This could not be read for reasons: Too many teachers are mystics themselves. Administrators would hear about it and go wild. Parents would go wilder.
School workers have no conception of the materialist viewpoint in history.
They have unsystematic, often inexplicable, world views.
Nor, though they are daily changing people, do they see themselves as agents of dramatic social change.
There are, certainly, many pressures from above.
In California, it is illegal to teach favorably about Karl Marx. Hence, labor history’s core is out.
Reason–against superstition–is out, in favor of “tolerance” of all available ontologies except rational ones.
Love, as a matter of sexual pleasure, it largely banned, in favor of teaching fear of sex: AIDS, STDs, etc.
Freedom is out as there is no real freedom practiced in schools.
That almost obliterates the key factors of life: Love. Work. Knowledge and the struggle for truth. Freedom.
Trained in mis-education centers, colleges of education, teachers work through a process that too often selects against rebels, even intellectuals, and forges the factors above.
Nevertheless, some fight back.
There are less than 4500 "members" on the closely-held Rouge Forum email list-with no dues, nor a line. But we have held up a beacon for school workers, veterans, parents, students, and others, world-wide, India to Grenada, shining on the reality of class struggle. As important, we have been a community of friends.
Clearly, we are not enough--yet. In the absence of a revolutionary movement for equality and justice: savagery.
What Explains Popular Madness?
If you seek barbarized continents, nations, regions, cities, or tribes, look around you: El Salvador, Guatemala, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Syria, South Sahara, or Detroit inside the heart of darkness itself. Seek the centers of hydrophobic-like barbarism in Washington, D.C. or Moscow or Beijing–the beast-cooks.
What produced this reality is part of the investigation into why things are as they are-and what to do--as we are responsible for our own histories.
Taken from another side: What created the mass hysterical conversion crisis lurching around the world?
Beyond false consciousness, a conversion crisis related to hysteria, is the transference of a mental disorder to physical activity; for example, stress switched to paralysis of a limb. Taken in mass, a hysterical conversion crisis is personified by groups of people who, unable to address the whole of why things are as they are, attack distinct, idiosyncratic, symptoms and thus are unable to find a cure.
A clear, current, indicator of this disorder comes from the Pew Research Foundation:
“The share of countries with a high or very high level of social hostilities involving religion reached a six-year peak in 2012, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. A third (33%) of the 198 countries and territories included in the study had high religious hostilities in 2012, up from 29% in 2011 and 20% as of mid-2007. Religious hostilities increased in every major region of the world except the Americas. The sharpest increase was in the Middle East and North Africa, which still is feeling the effects of the 2010-11 political uprisings known as the Arab Spring. There also was a significant increase in religious hostilities in the Asia-Pacific region, where China edged into the "high" category for the first time.”
That’s violent, 6th century, pathological mysticism running amok. Rolling Stone reporter, Matt Taibbi, calls it, “The Great Derangement, a Terrifying Story of War, Politics, and Religion.”
Wilhelm Reich, in “Mass Psychology of Fascism,” explored the psychological realm.
Reich located what he called an “emotional plague,” in the suppression of sexual pleasure, which sweeps across class, churches, parties, families especially, and related social organizations. I will leave it to the reader to interrogate this avenue in greater depth, although my efforts don’t show much improvement on his too-often-ignored examinations of the emergence of fascism as a popular movement.
One other, not alternate but additional, element of explanation:
There is no left.
Nearly all of what is in fact the bogus world "left" has abandoned revolution-except in its most hollow, even reactionary, forms: the Arab Spring; the ultraconservative farces in Egypt and Syria, the Orange revolution (and other Central Intelligence Agency sponsored color-uprisings--now in the Ukraine), and earlier--the tragedies that came of Russia and the long revolution in China, and the fictional left in the USA, etc.
In the Arab world, and elsewhere, it is reasonably clear that masses of people reject, on one hand, US imperialism (if not necessarily the draw of US consumerism and culture-not you Taliban and ISIS), and the obvious failures of Soviet and Chinese "socialism," really capitalism with a purportedly benevolent party at the top.
They have turned, alternately to Al Queda, the Taliban, the Islamic State or ISIS (aka Daesh), savagery, or the fascist nationalism of the Ukraine phony rebel--and often fascist--leadership.
In the US, the fake socialist left on one hand hides its politics, perhaps believing people must be led to revolution by baby steps: first a union, then a caucus, then a book club, then the party (which keeps revolution a secret--meaning the party is useless–ducking the pedagogy of class consciousness--to the people while the police are fully aware of the party and its `real' politics).
There is no proof people learn like this, and a great deal of evidence to the contrary.
On the other hand, the sectarian left stands with bullhorns shouting revolution-but refusing to detail the sacrifices and real devastation that any revolution must first create and yet transcend.
Environmentalist revolutionaries seem to dismiss the environmental devastation that any revolution would explode and, likely, will be blackmailed by this threat in the future.
Ghost Dancing Against Capitalism and Empire
In the late 1880's and 1890's, despairing Indian tribes, under assault from all angles, took leadership from a “Weather doctor,” Wokova, who promised that the Ghost Dance, a circle dance, would restore peace and prosperity for the various tribes. Some enthusiasts apparently believed that the Ghost Dance was a protection against bullets and death.
Over time, the Ghost Dance spread to the Lakota Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. The US sent federal troops to stop them, against the advice of a former Indian agent who complained that other religious services, similar services, were not prohibited nor threatened.
Federal troops, on December 15, 1890, opened fire, killing the famous chief, Sitting Bull. Two weeks later, troops killed more than 150 Indians. The Ghost Dance lost its appeal.
The Ghost Dance misread why things were as they were, urged a mystical series of tactics disconnected from any reasonable strategy, and an occult Grand Strategy, popular yet failed for centuries–heaven will wait. They lost, were crushed, by force.
There have been at least five easily recognized Ghost Dances around the world in the last 14 years–and it is more than 100 years later. Indeed, another is occurring as I write, in late February and early March, 2015–an “Adjuncts’ Day of Action,” organized in the main by the Service Employees International Union, a dues collecting machine initially organized by the mob, and embedded with the empire as is the entire AFL-CIO.
Ghost Dances: Taken one at a time
1. The first Ghost Dance was, at base, two dances on the same dance floor: the outpouring for war after the superstitious billionaire’s terrorist attack of September 11, 2001—and the subsequent idiot invasion of Afghanistan–a war in response to a crime.
The flip side of that dance were the mass US demonstrations against the war on Iraq–carefully steered by the Communist Party USA and its front, United for Peace and Justice, away from any analysis of capitalism, imperialism and the rise of the corporate state: fascism.
Today, those who so favored the wars are exhausted by war–perhaps surprised and disheartened that war is hell--and unwilling to fully probe into Syria or the Ukraine, even knowing their over-stretched empire evaporates beneath their feet.
The anti-war side now barely exists. It has no notable numbers, and thanks to the CPUSA and UFPJ, few learned anything of import from their opportunist activities.
The CPUSA illustrates the kind of opportunism that sacrifices the needs and goals of real friends and allies for petty advantages about second tier issues.
Metaphorically, it is to seek to address separate parts of the organic capitalist machine, hoping this will weaken its development–which in this social situation in particular is an illusion. It’s to build on sand. The CPUSA is the leafleting wing of the Democratic Party.
Opportunists may arrive with numbers of people in their base—who know nothing truly important. Those people will be fickle at heart. Lots of people over time becomes few people, most of them vapid.
Sectarians, on the other hand, arrive with no people. Sectarians and opportunists produce, at base, very similar results.
This marriage of opportunism and sectarianism adds up to a form of liberalism that paves the way for fascism: again, the current corporate state. It’s a re-run of the Second International, but dumber.
I believe it became more than reasonable to describe the US as a fascist empire when two elements combined: The declaration of perpetual war under crusader banners in 2001 and the bank and industrial bailouts of 2008. Wars could have been ended, but now neither can be reversed. The imperfect combination of corporations, government, and militarism is complete.
Liberals seek to moderate capitalism by empowering a government that is not an ally, nor potential ally, but an enemy; the executive committee and armed weapon of the rich.
Al Szymanski, more than 35 years ago, described the duties of what is, in fact, monopoly-finance capitalism with a pretense of democratic statehood: a corporate state (bank bailouts, the takeover of the auto industry, endless war-add it up):
1. To guarantee the accumulation of capital and profit maximization and make it legitimate.
2. Preserve, form, and temper, capitalist class rule.
3. Raise money to fund the state.
4. Guarantee and regulate the labor force.
5. Facilitate commerce.
6. Ensure buying power in the economy.
7. Directly and indirectly subsidize private corporations.
8. State sanction of self-regulation of corporations.
9. Advance the overseas interests of corporations.
Democracy does not command capital. Democracy submits, atomizes voters to individuals huddled in ballot booths asking capital's favorite question: What about Me?
Opportunism denies, or hides from the mass of people, Lenin’s thought, following Marx and Engels, that government is an armed force designed to protect the interests of one class against another. The state exists as a demonstration that irreconcilable class antagonisms exist.
Liberal opportunists want capitalism and empire, without their underpinnings in robbed labor and wars.
Rather than a bad social system–capitalism in decay–they identify bad people and ratify evil by choosing its lessers time and again, most recently the demagogue, Obama.
There are no significant differences between Republicans and Democrats on the most fundamental issues in the US: endless war and the militarization of all life; bailouts (finalizing the move to fascism); deportations; greater reliance on deception and force; racist segregation, especially private property; and greater regimentation of schooling. Of course, they’re all nationalists.
Sectarianism and opportunism combine to form the fatalistic belief that the world, matter, will surely change in ways we desire. Both finally limit or deny the significance of fully reflective human agency–grasping and changing–upending– the world at its political and economic roots.
We have seen these mis-estimations quickly turn into the opposites of their civic claims far too often.
For the philosophically minded, left Hegelianism, sectarianism, and right Hegelianism, opportunism, change happens along a line of accumulated, predictable, nearly inevitable, ingredients or change happens because we wish it so. Both reality and/or change are constructs of the mind, usually the Mind in charge. Meet the new tyrant, same as the old tyrant.
The resolution of this is a deep probe into the intersections of mind and matter, in the construction of everyday life, in using critical–marxist–theory to make the reproductive veils of capital transparent, and to grasp what useful elements of the future are built into the present–and to look into the future.
2. The second Ghost Dance, the massive outpouring for immigrant rights that involved more than a million people marching on Mayday, 2006--perhaps the biggest one day strike in US history--was quickly demolished by flag waving nationalism, religion, Democrats, and unionites and later, Obama.
3. The third was Occupy Wall Street, a mindless yet heady adventure that claimed no Grand Strategy (distant goals like a world of sharing and freedom: communism), no strategy-meaning the strategy became the dumbest low denominator of whoever shouted loudest in the “people’s” mike-and no leaders when the leaders were easily spotted by the police, and pretended that it occupied something when it was always swept away with ease.
In some instances, OWS was a cultural carnival with artful puppets in the front.
In militarized San Diego, it was always small. On a fall day, a young self-described “graduate student,” lay on a sidewalk next to a pricey theater with a sign, “the Constitution Says we Have a Right to Revolution.” His little group of comrades, none standing, posed for wealthy theater-goers, on intermission, who photographed them with phones. Told the Constitution didn’t back revolution and in fact it was written in secret by far too many slavers, he insisted he was right.
Blocks north, a street-marching crowd of about 15 chanted, “We are the 99%!!!” as police cars led them, police motorcycles followed them, and, on adjacent blocks, police armed personal carriers stood ready.
In Nebraska, dozens huddled on the cold ground. I met a young woman OWSer’s whose legs were broken by the police in Rhode Island. She remained active.
In Oakland, California, OWS was militant and politicized. Where is it now?
OWS was destroyed by unionites, Dems (hand in hand) and some carrots (ballots) and Obama led, coordinated, police violence.
4. The fourth Ghost Dance was the anti-tuition fight led by students–segregated by, mainly, class– primarily in California and New York state, but scattered all over the country (note that with minor variations, each Ghost Dance grows smaller). That was again destroyed by unionites, Democrats, and a little state violence.
The key error of this Dance was the student leaders’ failure to recognize the fact that capitalist education has never been public. Their demand, duplicated before and after their actions, “Defend Public Education,” was a call to defend the systematically segregated, stupifying, mis-education of what is now a corporate state. A similar error is made by the demand to “Stop Privatization.”
Inherent in "Save Public Schools" is the nationalist view that we all share a common goal to educate all kids in a democratic society. That's never been the case. It is, though, a good way to make a war popular.
In 1900, in “Reform or Revolution,” Rosa Luxemburg warned about this move: “the gradual reduction of capitalist exploitation (in our case, in school cost increases) and the extension of social control (the schools of the capitalist state).
Following this common-place unionite logic: “let us return to the halcyon days of truly public education”–which never existed.
From the other angle, it again means “Defend the Corporate State,” the merger of business, the military, and government (that’s how the money moves)–in creating schools as illusion mills and human munition factories–capitalist education.
A second anti-tuition hike error was the failure to merge the leadership from segregated systems like the University of California (the “race horse system” per a former Chancellor, Charlie Reed,) and the “work horse system” of the California State Universities, and the “Holding pens” of the Community Colleges. It was easy to see who was doing most of the “leading,” and talking, in the coordinating meetings–UC students, who had the least to lose.
5. And now, the fifth and most recent Ghost Dance as the resistance decays even more, we see the spurious school “test resistance” movement led by the likes of the vacillating reactionary (and probably police agent) Diane Ravitch, AFT president Randi Weingarten, and NEA boss, Lily Eskelsen. Ravitch is a god-blessing patriot in her own words.
Ravitch is now joined by the unionite tops who helped write the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Race to the Top (Ratt), and the Common Core (CC), like the $465,000 a year NEA boss Dennis van Roekel and his successor, Lily Eskelsen-Garcia. They want the CC and tests repaired, as do all those liberal grouplets (Fairtest, on the payroll of the National Education Association, and Rethinking Schools, come to mind) who refuse to critique the source of the necessity of greater regimentation of the curriculum (always regimented by textbooks)-the wellspring being capitalism in crisis and an empire evaporating.
Together, they form the three Mother Superiors of the missions for captialism. They all live very well–off others.
They (as well as the teacher union rank and file) want less testing (warned for a decade, school workers finally caught on to the logical step of merit pay-the most grotesque opportunism). They also insist they want to “defend public schools,” which really means– “save my job-I already proved I will conduct child abuse (racist high-stakes exams) to keep it”– when (again) capitalist schooling has never been public but always segregated by class and race.
The duplicity of NEA’s leadership became glaringly clear when the NEA representative assembly of 2014, 9,000-plus members gathered in Denver, voted by a wide margin to demand the resignation of Obama’s Education Secretary, Arne Duncan.
Days later, Eskelsen-Garcia, new NEA president, met with Duncan, hugged him, and called him, “a good man.”
Duncan remains on the job.
That second-tier demand, “Save Public Schools,” worships an apparition. It’s the kind of liberalism that aspires to a new master.
It also ignores the unpleasant fact that the education agenda is a war agenda: class war and empires’ wars.
To carry the personifications of war a bit futher: General William H. McRaven, former head of the terrorist Joint Security Operations Command (at base, an huge assassination squad that helped lose the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq) is now the head of the University of Texas system.
Janet Napolitano, former immigration boss under the demagogue, Obama–the woman who made her cred off nationalism and racism–is now the boss of the University of California System.
And General Petraeus, failed general who wrote the half-witted “US CounterInsurgency Manual,” (done better 2000 years earlier by Sun Tzu in “Art of War”) and disgraced CIA top who turned over top-secret material to his paramour and was fired, prosecuted, and wrist-slapped, is now teaching at City University of New York.
Wherever We Go, We have Got
The Maxim Gun, and they have not.
In the midst of World War I, a general demanded that the schools become "human munition factories." That capitalist schools serve a capitalist state is key to grasping the war project at hand.
Recently the Council of Foreign Relations, led by war-hawk Condoleeza Rice ("We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,") issued its Education Task Force Report, demonstrating in clear terms that the education agenda is a war agenda.
"Human capital will determine power in the current century, and the failure to produce that capital will undermine America's security. Large, undereducated swaths of the population damage the ability of the United States to physically defend itself, protect its secure information, conduct diplomacy, and grow its economy."
Harry Magdoff spelled out what should be an obvious connection years ago: “Economic theory and analysis which omit imperialism and militarism from their underlying paradigm are far removed from the reality of today’s world.’
Imperialist war is a reality that Rouge Forum members pointed to even before 2001. In 1999 we wrote, “If you are teaching middle school children, you are teaching the soldiers in the next oil war.” We had no crystal ball, just an understanding of the necessary relationship of imperialism and war. Better than “Defend Public Education” is “Rescue Education from the Ruling Classes.”
What will come of this last and smallest Ghost Dance so far?
They will lose, just like their predecessors (and the 19th century tragedy that gave rise to the term).
Even if they win; they lose. Capitalist schooling can easily appropriate John Dewey or Paulo Freire. Freire’s method, ostensibly created to oppose “banking education,” is used by banks’ training programs.
The people the reformers misled will learn nothing significant about grand strategy, strategy, tactics, nor even the most rudimentary methods of doing criticism. The last dullard to help lead the test resistance crowd, part of which is now claiming the “Patriotic” banner, derisively called the Common Core “socialistic” (not National Socialism).
Another Ghost Dance is picking up partners inside the teacher unions, the suburban and whiter NEA, and the urban American Federation of Teachers.
A self described “radical,” Alex Caputo Peal, recently won election in the second largest local in the US, Los Angeles.
In Detroit, a long-time teacher, Steve Conn, a member of By Any Means Necessary, a front for the Trotskyist Revolutionary Workers League, finally won the Detroit Federation of Teachers’ presidency, after more than five attempts. Conn courageously led the Detroit teachers’ wildcat strike of 1999, but was repeatedly cheated out of leadership positions for the remaining years.
In a DFT recount vote, Conn won election by four ballots, 621 to 617 with about one quarter of the members voting. Conn may find himself sandbagged by a dedicated, entirely reactionary, opposition and an apathetic, despairing rank and file, accustomed only to defeat. Conn is probably the most outspoken of the new electees. We shall see how he overcomes the countless obstacles he, and the people of Detroit, face. In September, 2015 Conn was impeached, having served less than 8 months, much of that during summer vacation. He has an internal union trial coming late in the month.
In the Chicago Teachers Union, a moderate posing as a radical, Karen Lewis, won election against the past notorious sellout caucus.
Lewis led a brief strike, then urged the teachers to return to work under what she posed as a good contract, a victory.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel, an Obama foot-soldier, laid off hundreds of teachers subsequently, with a good deal of noise, but no direct action, from the Chicago Teachers Union, an AFT affiliate. Now, Lewis’ health forced her to step away from her position which today is held by Jesse Sharkey, a member if the International Socialists, another Trotskyist sect.
Sharkey led CTU’s drive to back Chuy Garcia against incumbent Emanuel in a mayoral election. Garcia is a long-time Democratic Party functionary. Less than 35% of Chicagoans voted.
Nevertheless, Sharkey and the CTU helped Garcia win enough votes to cause a run-off. Sharkey declared that Garcia would win, “changing Chicago politics forever,” a fancy: win or lose. Chuy lost.
In Milwaukee, Bob Peterson, a key leader of Rethinking Schools, closely tied to the Democratic Socialists of America, is now the president of his union.
All of these “radicals,” have everything in common with the past Ghost Dances:
*No critique of capitalism and imperialism in their organizing or publications,
*No analysis of the capitalist state, now a fascist corporate state, in favor of “our democracy,”
*A second tier analysis of the roles of racism and sexism–the former a creation of the development of capitalism and the latter a century’s old remnant, still powerful within capital,
*No open declaration of class war or opposition to imperialist war from their official union positions (and in DSA, none at all),
*”..addressing only the distinct, separate parts of a lifeless machine,” artificially isolated “facts” that are truly part of a totalizing process,
*assuredly, no critique of religion, superstition, which plays a significant role in the world’s many, endless, wars,
*All these struggles are designed to remain within parameters set by capital and empire, so any victory, temporary as it may be, is theirs,
*Hence, support for the system of capital and its decaying U.S. empire–convincing people fundamental change is impossible.
While some may openly be members of “socialist” sects, and others may be not so openly aligned, they all behave as nationalist liberals–or social nationalists.
This decision to address the reform-or-revolution contradiction by obliterating any knowledge of capitalism, imperialism, or the corporate state, follows the same path that those who, in the US and much of the UK walk when they denounce “neo-liberalism.” They seek to return to those better days of capitalism–in schools for example–when schools were not segregated by class and race, didn’t teach lies to children using methods so obscure kids learned not to like to learn. Those would be days when alienation, exploitation, commodity fetishism, reificationn and imperialism had only the smallest impact, if any, on schools–days which never existed.
Rather, the more vocal of the anti-neo-liberalists want to, again, empower a corporate state. They seek to creat more flies to dance on te spider’s web. Or, philosophically, they abolish the negation of the bourgeoisie negation. Notably, Stalin who had a similar interest in preserving a corporate state in the Soviet Union also abolished the negation of the negation in Soviet philosophy in 1938, the same year he declared the end of class struggle in the country, one maneuver buttressing the other.
Bob Peterson is probably not the most radical of this group of opportunists, but his reach, via Rethinking Schools, is wide. Indeed, he publishes in what many call the “Voice of US intelligence,” the Washington Post.
For that reason, and the fact that the others’ public positions so closely parallel his, I will use his Washington Post piece as an example..
In his piece, Peterson argues that teacher unions are under attack. While he focuses on the Republican assault that eliminated what I would call forced dues collection, and what Peterson calls “collective bargaining,” that originated with a (popular) governor and legislature, he does note that Democrats have joined the fray as well.
Peterson believes a “new” (he knows his history better) kind of “social justice unionism” can revitalize the teacher unions and communities as well.
His description of social justice unionism:
“Three components of social justice unionism are like the legs of a stool. Unions need all three to be balanced and strong:
We organize around bread and butter issues.
We organize around teaching and learning issues to reclaim our profession and our classrooms.
We organize for social justice in our community and in our curriculum.”
Peterson proposes that tactical work through coalitions with parents and related community groups, a la Chicago, is key to their efforts. Among his coalition partners are the usual suspects: NAACP, ACLU, Parents For Public (sic) Schools, and others.
Peterson wants to enhance teacher “Professionalism.”
To beat this dead horse to death, again: Teaching was never a profession; school workers don’t set their hours, wages, methods of work, the curriculum, and now not the tests. It’s a working class job–professionalism is an elitist dodge that allows, for example, principals to demand teachers buy supplies, work hundreds of unpaid hours, etc. and see themselves as educated superiors to blue collar workers–the allies they need most.
In this, Peterson managed to get his “union,” to train teachers on the districts, “student learning outcomes” a move well within the management box.
He’s proud of the union’s burgeoning electoral efforts, despite the fact that this was the key union which sought to recall Governor Scott Walker, and lost, positioning Walker today as a presidential candidate. Rather than a state-wide strike, actions similar to what gave birth to the distorted baby, collective bargaining, unionites in Wisconsin empowered their enemies.
Peterson wants to fight “privatization,” a second or third level issue, and on those grounds, he fears what amounts to fighting back too hard, speaking out of turn.
“ ...speaking out can play into the hands of the privatizers as they seek to expand privately run charters...”
The only mention of a strike is historical, about Chicago–not something that would be openly planned in Milwaukee–when it was only strikes, most of them illegal, that won the earliest rights to collective bargaining.
Not surprisingly, Peterson never gets to exactly what his hobby horse of “Social Justice,” is. And it is unsurprising that the Washington Post so easily carried his work.
It is impossible for any knowledgeable radical, set aside a revolutionary, to read this series of what are in fact but tactics, never really reaching into the respectability of a simple strike strategy, and not think, perhaps stridently, “petty bourgeoisie opportunism with a middle class core.” In this sense, per Marx, he’s both a reactionary and a utopian.
While many honest and relatively innocent people involved themselves in these Ghost Dances, it remains that each has been led by people in leftist groups who deliberately reject the notion of simply telling people about the easily seen realities of class war and failing empires.
The ruling classes see it and worry about the relationship of inequality and uprisings. See their writing at about the crises of inequality and the potential of class-consciousness in, for example, the Council on Foreign Relations. Even the French worry about inequality on behalf of Americans: Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century,” which unfortunately ends with a request for the rich to give up their riches.
At base, part of the imitation left lies to people in order to trick them into revolution: to appropriate one favorite Trotskyist term, “putting people in motion,” which will somehow make them smart.
The lies come from two poles–hiding the reality of capitalism’s failures and at the other end, the fact that any kind of social change will cause a great deal of suffering and destruction. Things will not get better fast after a revolution. Indeed, for some time they will get worse.
Perhaps this “left” wants to imitate the Bolsheviks who famously gave the bourgeoisie the rope to hang themselves with; then moved to power when the bourgeoisie couldn’t rule.. But then came the Bolshevik failure in quickly restoring capitalism with a purportedly benevolent party at the top, Bolshevism: tricked by the bourgeoisie within its own midst.
The phony US left did all it could to prevent the rise of a mass, class conscious movement. Hence, the importance of ideas–and the ideological battle.
On one hand, what defeats men with guns? On the other hand, what easily understood singular belief holds together a movement that must suffer to win a better world?
That is likely to be the only worthwhile lesson of the Arab Spring.
That is why the ideological battle is important.
The core idea? Equality–true in science and society.
What does the fake left dodge?
*The reality of the domination of capitalism and imperialism, as we have seen.
Per Rosa Luxemburg:
"...capital in its struggle against societies with a natural economy pursues the following ends: 1. To gain immediate possession of important sources of productive forces such as land, game in primeval forests, minerals, precious stones and ores, products of exotic flora such as rubber, etc. 2. To `liberate' labour power and to coerce it into service. 3. To introduce a commodity economy. 4. To separate trade and agriculture.”
Everywhere in the world now, children of the poor kill other children of the poor on behalf of the rich in their homelands.
Militarism invades every aspect of life in the US. Empire come to ensnarl everything, as William Appleman Williams put it: “Empire as a Way of Life.” He also warned it will inevitably lead to nuclear death.
The US military budget, if we take it at face value (and we won’t) at about $640 million in 2014 takes up about 55% of the total budget while education gets about 6%. It is more than the combined military spending of China, Russia, Saudi Arabia (yes, third), France, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, France and India.
The real military, “defense,” budget is now well over the one trillion dollars that Chalmers Johnson described as far back as 2008. Much of that budget is secret–black?
The 2014 “Quadrennial Defense Review,” issued by the Secretary of Defense, describes three pillars of empire:
“* Protect the homeland, to deter and defeat attacks on the United States and to support
civil authorities in mitigating the effects of potential attacks and natural disasters.
*Build security globally, in order to preserve regional stability, deter adversaries, support
allies and partners, and cooperate with others to address common security challenges.
*Project power and win decisively, to defeat aggression, disrupt and destroy terrorist
networks, and provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. ...
These pillars are mutually reinforcing and interdependent, and all of the military Services play important roles in each. Our nuclear deterrent is the ultimate protection against a nuclear
attack on the United States, and through extended deterrence...”
Empire is temptation. War means work: jobs.
College and university campus are littered with military recruiters, intelligence agencies, high-tech operations that build, for example, drones. High schools and community colleges in poor and working class areas are awash with militarist hustlers in uniform distributing materials and in the classroom teaching–patriotic veterans. Now, the military poses its mission as "a job, not an adventure," as it moves to recruit women for combat because American men are too uneducated, too addicted, too convicted, and too unfit to fill the numbers needed for cannon fodder.
The deadening, “Thank you for your service,” is routinely offered to strangers in uniform. And, to beat an already dead horse, “American Sniper,” rules the culture along with baseball played in camouflage, football games with flyovers. I frequently meet educated Americans, like my Kaiser doctor, who are surprised Guantanamo is still open and reject the claims made in the brilliant and tragically funny, “Guantanamo Diary.”
Paraphrasing Chalmers Johnson: “History is so eradicated that Americans cannot connect cause and effect.”
Today, monopolized finance capital dominates industrial capital in the US. It has for 100 years. Now, however, that domination is full-blown and especially poisonous.
Evidence: Finance capital won $12.9 trillion in the 2008-09 bailouts while industrial capital only stole about $700 billion. We’ll repeat this below, for emphasis.
One implication of this overwhelming rule of finance capital was witnessed by the billionairess Lady Astor who said (paraphrasing) “We the wealthy once looked ahead 50, even 100 years. We built industry, commerce, productive fields. We worried about the poor. Today, the newly rich just run higgidly piggidly after the nearest dollar.” Or, “after me, the deluge.”
The recent, “Flashboys, A Wall Street Revolt,” demonstrates not only the domination of finance capital, but also shows the rush for the nearest penny, in nano-seconds, the class nature and corruption of the rigged stock exchange, and the players’ utter lack of interest in the long term, a psychological issue addressed soon on these pages.
From time to time, greed vastly outweighs ruling class patriotism, though they know well they hide behind the national military–everywhere.
Take for example, Jamie Dimon of what was J.P Morgan and is now J.P Morgan Chase (big fish eat little fish).
In the fall of 2008, when the US’ bankers faced a watershed crisis, the collapse of the US banking system and, most likely, the world economic system; to be predictably followed by mass riots and social unrest, Hank Paulson, then head of the Treasury, approached Dimon for assistance in a bailout.
Dimon: “Hank, I would do anything for the United States, but not at the expense of JP Morgan.”
Dimon and his cohort, white men meeting on a weekend, in secret, did win the bailout battle. There were quid pro quos.
They promised to allow for more regulation of the banks, to carefully supervise loans but to offer them to the deserving, and to stop the rampant greed made too obvious in the multi-million dollar bonuses they received in the past.
At this writing, the bankers have defeated the regulations, they are not offering loans to many solvent people but the student debt crisis is rising–more than one trillion dollars. And, in 2013, Dimon got a 70% raise to $20 million.
With monopoly finance capital ruling the corporate state, short term views, the absence of grand strategy, combine to devastate the nation’s cities, its infrastructure, international imperial politics, and, horrifically, the world climate itself.
“In its pure form, fascism is the sum total of all irrational reactions of the average human character. To the narrow-minded sociologist who lacks the courage to recognize the enormous role played by the irrational in human history, the fascist race theory appears as nothing but an imperialistic interest or even a mere “prejudice.” The violence and the ubiquity of these “race prejudices” show their origin from the irrational part of the human character. The race theory is not a creation of fascism. No: fascism is a creation of race hatred and its politically organized expression. Correspondingly, there is a German, Italian, Spanish, Anglo-Saxon, Jewish and Arabian fascism.” (Wilhem Reich, Mass Psychology of Fascism).
Another element of fascism is secrecy, on the one hand, and mass surveillance on the other. Liberal author and former New York Times reporter, James Risen, describes this pervasive reality in the US in “Pay Any Price; Greed, Power, and Endless War.”
In regard to secrecy and surveillance, Risen notes the New York Times’ suppression of his own work on the National Security Agency’s constant intrusions into the email and web traffic of both Americans and foreigners–the latter illegal on the face of it, but constant never the less–a fact later revealed by Edward Snowden.
Risen concludes: “In 2009, I realized...that the war on terror had become a bi-partisan enterprise. America was now locked into an endless war and its perverse and unintended (sic) consequences were spreading.”
Fascism is now a popular mass movement in the US and much of the world, taking on somewhat different forms, but in essence largely the same. Witlessly supported, passively or actively backed; that is what is.
The US is a consumerist, not industrialist, society, the result of imperialist out-sourcing and finance capital in stagnation, fashioning gargantuan debt. Between two-thirds and three-fourths of the economy is rooted in consumption.
This is not a post-Fordist argument. Fordism (an extreme division of labor, aggregative industrial production, standardization of parts and methods of production, interchangeability, Taylorism, a mass of overseers o all forms of work and life, etc.) exists world-wide; many aspects appearing in US schools.
Industrial production shifted; did not disappear. Hence, the post-modernist turn, really the whining of the vanishing middle class intelligencia, is not mine. Culture nests in an economic base, a whole that cannot be ignored.
The mass psychological impact of this material reality, hinted above, is this: Industrial society is easily seen as a class war, not as easily recognized as a form of exploitation as slavery, but in the late 18th century, class war was widely admitted.
The obvious, conscious, solidarity of factory work: everyone must join together to create a product and, to control the processes and products of that creation, even to a degree, it’s necessary to act in solidarity–an injury to one preceding an injury to all or, in the case of a strike–“don’t scab!.
Consumerist mass psychology, however, is different. It’s truly a war of all on all. “I wish to offer you as little as possible for your product,” and vice versa. It may be the highpoint of human alienation.
A consumerist society, which must involve the individualistic thrust to the front, is an even more narcissistic society than what Drs Jean Twenge and Keith Campbell noted in “The Narcissism Epidemic,” and was played out in the “Too Big To Fail,” Wall Street inverted laissez faire greed-festival before and after the collapse of 2008.
While class consciousness, or its absence, is not solely located in an economic base, in this case a consumer society, that undergirding reality has to be a consideration to explain this “Great Derangement.”
Consumerism is, assuredly, contradicted by booming inequality and a huge underclass. The poor can only buy so much, especially with a color-coded two million of them in prison.
In the ruling class, married to the governing class, a top-down ad hoc, make-shift, set of moment to moment tactics with plenty of pyrotechnics and little grand strategy and in the remainder of the people, a “what about me at this moment,” mass population especially susceptible to spectacles, despair, and manufactured panics.
Mix in the formidable displays of police violence against protestors from Oakland, California, to Ferguson, Missouri–ruthless ferocity to be seen by all, tweeted, youtubed, Facebooked, and televised, probably to not too much consternation of the authorities.
In school, however, an overblown culture of fear exists.
In 2009, Susan Harman, a former school principal, and Robert Apter, Marxist scholar and retired union organizer, and I visited nearly every county in California, meeting with hundreds of school workers, parents, school board members, and community personnel. Our overarching conclusion is that the primary affect of schooling is fear, the result of increasing authoritarianism in most aspects of school life.
Nevertheless, Apter and I came to believe that much of that fear is, in fact, an overestimation of the power of school bureaucrats and a lack of courage to act.
Fear, in schools and out, has a material footing in the economy. Massive debt, calculating competition for low-wage jobs, widely televised police violence against non-violent innocents, all add up, but in most instances the worst-case scenario in schools is dismissal. Who, of any weighty consequence, has never been fired and/or jailed?
All of this begins to sum up to be a significant part of why people of the US are so easily led into, and out of, Ghost dances.
*The rise of corporate states, fascism, in varying forms worldwide.
R. Palme Dutt: “Fascism is an inevitable result of capitalism and its decay if the social revolution is delayed.. "Fascism is the logical result of the fact that the form of private ownership of the means of production can progress no further and must create violent crises, stagnation, and decay. Only the social organization of production can sanely organize production, and this can only come through social revolution.
"The world available for capitalist exploitation now contracts. Fascism is a further stage of capital in crisis. A massive world army of unemployed people grows, and as this world crisis grows, so does the need of bosses to lower the costs of production. There are but two alternatives, social revolution or destruction. The class struggle now intensifies. .” (paraphrased from “Fascism and Social Revolution).
Here we will need, for brevity’s sake, to use a footnote for the more critical reader to enter into an expansion of precisely what fascism is, where it originates, who it serves, its backers, and hence, how to fight it and why.
*The Quisling role of the “labor movement,” as partners of the unified parties of capital, that is, the war parties. No significant labor boss in the US will state that employers and workers have contradictory interests. More, they are all steeped in nationalism and the practices of empire.
This became glaringly clear in the National Education Association’s Representative Assembly of 2010, about 10,000 mostly rank and file practicing school workers, voted “not to discuss,” the wars as it might disturb the feelings of the attendees. This wasn’t an orchestrated parliamentary trick, it was the raised hands of more than 90% of the room. In 2011, the NEA voted to endorse Obama, despite his Race to the Top attacks on school workers and the wars that were destroying so many recent graduates.
That school workers are among the last in the US to have fairly decent wages, health benefits, some forms of tenure like “just cause,” and pensions, is indicative of the empire’s bribe. It creates what Marx and Engels called the “labor aristocracy.”
Engels wrote, “Participation in the world market was and is the economic basis of the English working class’ nullity.” He wasn’t just pointing to labor “leaders.”
Lenin on the empire’s payoff to its junior partners:
“The receipt of high monopoly profits by the capitalists in one of the numerous branches of industry, in one of the numerous countries, etc., makes it economically possible for them to bribe certain sections of the workers, and for a time a fairly considerable minority of them, and win them to the side of the bourgeoisie of a given industry or given nation against all the others. The intensification of antagonisms between imperialist nations for the division of the world increases this urge. And so there is created that bond between imperialism and opportunism, which revealed itself first and most clearly in Great Britain, owing to the fact that certain features of imperialist development were observable there much earlier than in other countries. Some writers, L. Martov, for example, are prone to wave aside the connection between imperialism and opportunism in the working-class movement...”
*The powerful remnants of mysticism (42% of Americans are creationists, others believe God created evolution).
The pretend-left is as afraid to say, “People make gods, gods don’t make people. Believe that and you will believe anything. You have fairies dancing in your head,” as the US is unwilling to say the same thing to the Taliban, Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qada, IS, Opus Dei and Israel.
No gods/no masters is the only possible response to religious barbarism. Otherwise, it is “My God can beat up your god,” and endless religious wars: an element of today’s educated barbarians at much of the top of the US, and the Middle East, and the world.
*Nationalism, the curse of the last 2 ½ centuries. A geographical accident of births unites the slaves with the masters, often in the name of freedom. “You’re not a slave! You’re free! Your problem is the slaves of the Master over there! Kill them!”
*The necessity of revolution and the suffering that any revolution will make, victorious or not, for some time. The failure to take on the "whole" of society, described in brief above, means movements typically lack grand strategy (an equitable just society of free people living in harmony), strategy (revolution taking place in different forms in different times in different areas), and tactics (strikes, demonstrations, propaganda, etc).
This leaves the initiative solely in the hand of capital, as the “left” chases its symptoms and false flag creations.
This means movements flail at shifting effects of capitalism, effects frequently manipulated by elites (Occupy Wall Street, union elections, educational testing opt-outs, etc).
As they leap from second tier mission to second tier mission, they also adopt utopian solutions (save “our” schools and let them return to the pristine days of the past) with no inkling of how to get from the compartmentalized and partial here, to there.
Who are other fake left's personifications?
*The various farcical political parties of the US, tracking back to the USSR’s hand-maiden CPUSA (Code Pink, UFPJ, etc), and the Trotskyist (International Socialists-Chicago Teachers Union, Labor Notes, etc) and the police infested parties like the Democratic Socialists of America (Billy Ayers, Deborah Meir, Rethinking Schools, etc).
Meier and Ayers (once a liberal Weatherman terrorist who sought to replace class consciousness with a bomb, now a grant sucking liberal) joined to forge the farcical "Small School" movement which pretended that shrinking schools would solve key educational problems (Note that few if any rich suburban schools shrank). The effort has, today, failed, proving Jean Anyon's mantra: "Doing school reform without social and economic reform in communities is like washing the air on one side of a screen door. It won't work." It didn't work for the schools but it did help make Ayers and Meier richer. Whether they are stupid or dishonest is left to the reader.
*Those mis-leaders of Rethinking Schools who promote bogus reforms, deliberately quashing radical critique. They toady to union bosses like Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, the union which helped organize the decay of urban education (and player in the CIA sponsored National Endowment for Democracy, Meany Center, and others-and NEA's Van Roekel.)
The Rethinkers spiraled down after their early publication, “Rethinking Columbus,” and, wittingly, describe their denial of class war, capitalism, fascism, and empire, as, in their leaders' words, "strategic positioning."
*Freire Iconicizers–the little publishing industry around the work of a self declared “Catholic Marxist.” Freire rarely missed a mass. Preposterous. Freire worked for the National Council of Churches, in Geneva. Not bad. Yet he complained and complained of exile. He plagiarized much of his key work (note Critical Consciousness is not class consciousness) from the leader of Catholic base communities, Dom Halder Camara. He begged, far too much, not to be praised, while deluged with praise. He was a revolutionary wherever he wasn’t, and a liberal reformer wherever he was. He worked, at the end, for his hero,quasi-Trotskyist Lula, of Brazil, while Lula rushed forward all the forces of capital.
* Post-postmodernists: It’s religion with an angry cloak which sought to demolish history by disconnecting the past, present, and future as well as to deny, or obscure, the labor theory of value with unintelligible language-pretending language alone is life. The pomo trajectory is perhaps best personified by Henry Giroux, an oozing fistula of opportunism, who began a career as a Marxist with thin analysis, then as fashion dictated, became a self-declared postmodernist, really a posing obscurantist, and is now fronting for the Democratic Party's voice-Truthout while occasionally harkening back to the glaring realities of inequality.
A dandy who twinkletoes across keyboards, prattling like so many others about democracy, few people have demeaned the term, “left,” while self-advertising, more than Giroux.
“ In 2004 Giroux became the Global Television Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.” I didn’t make that up. He’s beyond a Renaissance Man: he’s electric!
In March, 2015, Giroux, was named the Paulo Freire Chair at McMaster University in Canada–no tongue-in-cheek. In fact, Freire and Giroux have a lot in common: rhetoric about democracy and justice, and little else.
He’ll also be honored by the ultra-bourgeoisie American Education Research Association in the same year. AERA is, perhaps, the largest collection of undeserved egos and hollow narcissists in North America. It’s a wellspring of intellectual selfishness: “I alone understand...” Nobody serious about social change is going to pick up many kudos from thus contemptible group.
*Outright police agents–Diane Ravitch, all the former presidents of the NEA and AFT, now working with the CIA backed Education International, the inheritor of the old cold war western empires’ unions.
Leaders from both school unions retire to Education International where their salaries are not disclosed. But NEA's ex-president, Reg Weaver is there. He was paid $686,949 for his last year in office, in a union where many teachers live in house trailers. Former NEA president Mary Hatwood Futrell is at EI. Former NEA president Dennis Van Roekel ($465,000 a year and an expense account he can live on) is there. He joins Ed MCelroy who "serves on the board of directors of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Education International, and ThanksUSA. McElroy is a member of the board of directors for the National Endowment for Democracy (NED)-a private, nonprofit organization created to strengthen democratic institutions around the world through nongovernmental efforts."
*”Save ‘Our’ Schools, ” “United Opt Out,” and related anti-testing groups, often funded by the unions, and the Democratic Party. SOS and UOO are little more than middle class opposition to curriculum regimentation and high stakes exams, absence the reasons for these “reforms” in schooling. Indeed, their leadership actively works against class conscious interventions.
*Unionites described above.
*Liberals like Bill Moyers who pretend that capitalist democracy can be democracy.
*Those anarchists who give up on Grand Strategy–Chomsky who wants a world of small, marginally connected communities–clever but not wise.
I seek to challenge the reader, and especially school workers, to describe a revolution, how and why it might happen, to locate strategic objectives (personnel, geo-strategy, etc) and tactics that educators of all levels might adopt to transcend both the opportunist and sectarian errors of the past, and present.
What is it that might solve the mystery of creating a class conscious international social movement that can fashion revolutionary change, and sustain the life of equality in post-revolutionary, hard, times?
What is a Revolution? It’s Reasonable to Teach It.
There are two words in Chinese that describe "revolution."
One is Fanshen (see William Hinton's brilliant book on the Chinese revolution by that title). Fanshen means to dig into and turn over the soil. What is on top is new, but what is below is still there.
The other word means "to withdraw the mandate from heaven." That's a legitimacy crisis: when the people realize the emperor is a mere mortal, no better than others,, has no honor from God, and is indeed, worse, because the ruler has mis-served the people-theft, nepotism, etc.
The bourgeoisie itself, therefore, supplies the proletariat with its own elements of political and general education, in other words it furnishes the proletariat with weapons for fighting the bourgeoisie.
Chalmers Johnson (author of the "Nemesis Trilogy") was a CIA asset whose work on Revolution is a benchmark for all similar modern studies. Of course, at the time of the writing, Johnson was seeking to oppose revolutions, but he wrote a cookbook.
"Revolutionary violence must attack the central seat of power. Decentralized violence often leads to reform. Societies are rooted in coercion, forms of violence, applied inequitably in inequitable societies. When hope vanishes, and people are just scavenging for food, revo may be at hand.”
I paraphrase, and quote directly, from Johnson.
"The most important value system in a society is to legitimize the use of force."
Johnson: sources of change:
1. External: world wide communications system, foreign travelers returning, international communist parties, external warfare, etc.
2. Internal: changes of values brought about by intellectual activity, scientific discovery, acceptance of innovations that are not incorporated into "normal" society.
3. Ideology, an alternative value system, plus much more, is key to revolution. In this sense, ideology would mean a program of values, a coherent or at least understandable method of analysis and plans of action: Grand Strategy, strategy, and tactics.
Such an ideology will "supply intellectually and emotionally satisfying explanations of what is wrong with the social system," why, who personifies the prevention of change, promises some methods of suggesting that success of change is possible, some view of a better way to live. Revolutionary ideologies, thus, offer a method of thinking, apply it to criticism of things as they are (the existing social order), produce a culture that shows how things can change, long term goals, and, during a revolutions, these ideologies often shift in order to explain deficiencies within them as social practice tests them.
Revolutionary ideologies are, typically, imminent. That is, they do not argue for postponing change but seek to hasten it. High degrees of generality, or correctness in terms of explanation and practice, means that revolutionary ideologies can spread between and among dissident groups: solidarity grows.
* Related Causes:
*power deflation, dependence on more and more force.
*loss of authority, use of force seen as illegitimate-lost foreign wars.
*accelerators: events that make armies mutiny, revolutionary leaders decide to move, etc.
In order to retain power, elites must do two things: recognize disequilibrium and move, convincingly, to act on it.
One common method to retain power is to coopt opposition leadership.
This ends the summary of Chalmers Johnson on revolutionary change.
Revolution is an academic field that gets far too little attention.
And, in practice, everything is in place for a dramatic, revolutionary upheaval. But there is no left.
Class Consciousness to Connect Reason to Power
What, after all, is class consciousness?
Per Ron Eyerman, class consciousness is the awareness that one is, “part of a social group that, through common work activity at the same time reproduces a social system and others in it who do not have the same interests regarding that system, and who do not participate in it in the same manner…it is an orientation toward political action…an awareness of others, of those who are similar and those who are different with regard to their long-term interests, and an awareness of the social structure that makes their differences real .”
Class consciousness implies anti-racism, anti-capitalism, as well as a vision of a better future against which today’s actions can be examined. This is not to simply reduce every question of race, sex, religion, or ethnicity immediately to greed, profits, but it is to say that the war for surplus value has, at the end of the day, decisive influence in setting up all the social relations of capital.
Capital’s schools, racism, nationalism, sexism, and religion all disguise social problems, problems of class, as problems of individual people, competing races/crafts/industries/nations, or fate. That is, capital’s schools and US forms of unionism are designed, above all, to create a veneer of limited knowledge, but to wipe out class consciousness. To date, this is succeeding.
Following Eyerman, class consciousness has been seen as:
(1) a logical and necessary result of the advance of productive forces, that is, when the world is industrialized, people will become class conscious (Kautsky, Stalin),
(2) an awareness of the whole picture of capital, through the daily bitter experiences that capital must offer the working class- and the intervention of an advanced party (Lukacs),
(3) an offering to working people from organized intellectuals and dedicated activists, especially as crises arise (Lenin),
(4) as workers' spontaneous response to their collective, persistent, problems, as work is always alienating (Marty Glaberman),
And (5) class consciousness has been seen as the natural product of intellectuals produced by the working class itself, organic intellectuals, whose ideas can be more easily accepted, grasped (Gramsci, Freire). None of these formulas has worked well so far, or yet.
Class consciousness, then, is a pedagogical and practical problem that has not been resolved. Its absence plagues the working classes of the world as crises of capitalist inequality, imperialist war, racism, rising irrationalism, international bankruptcies, militarism, etc.-make the current situation especially menacing: urgent.
The crux of the pedagogical issue goes beyond transcending racist alienation and defeating exploitation.
At the heart of the question is the view that people can overcome the Master/Slave relationship, consciously, yet not recreate it at a new level; to forge a new society, a caring community, from the wreckage of the old, to forge reason from unreason.
Justice does demand organization. Organization requires discipline.
That, too, is a problem, a contradictory relationship of taking direction, at bottom obeying orders from those with the broadest view, to paying careful attention to those with specific knowledge of particular circumstances.
In practice, this has meant that those in relatively secret sections of revolutionary organizations, which must exist, have to operate with limited knowledge of all sorts: who is who, what the next steps will be–and they frequently cannot question directions. They must grasp the “whole,” without knowing many of its revolutionary parts.
Lukacs, in “History and Class Consciousness,” locates “imputed consciousness,” among the oppressed as taking corporeal form, bodily form, inside a Marxist party, in his case, the temporarily successful Bolsheviks. That consciousness is then transferred, through various forms of educational efforts, or propaganda, to the exploited.
Perhaps this became, primarily, a one way, top-down, message. It surely did within the CPUSA where many old members remember the main message as: “Do what you’re told.”
Class consciousness must be dialectically pressed on organizers, and from organizers back and forth to masses of people. Organization must be moral, ethical, to win the trust of the masses, and to set an egalitarian standard–which recognizes the vital role of leadership--against which opportunism can be judged.
But the crux of education, of organization, and of pedagogy itself, is the fact that we can understand and transform the world. We make our own histories, are subjects who can create change, or an unacceptable, soon-to-be-disastrous, false continuity.
The path to a loving society, a community where people can live creatively, consciously, collectively, and not merely democratically, free of the rule of private property, exploitation and empire, is probably only possible through great suffering. We should not despair in that, because that is the home of hope.
People who have suffered and struggled, in that process, they define themselves and achieve a standing that is unavailable to others.
People who have suffered can transcend fear, the host of hate, because they will have had to truly move in understanding from what appears to be, to what is, to what can be-because the processes of their suffering gives them a better understanding of what is essentially a Master- Slave relationship than the Masters can ever attain, and because their daily lives serve as proof to the Masters’ lies.
In doing that they may be able to fashion a society that lives by the idea, which will require a massive international change of mind (and a calling off of the massive scientific industrialized slaughter), an idea whose time has come: From each according to their commitment, to each according to their need.
This stands in clear opposition to what the zenith of capitalism today, summed up by Conrad in Heart of Darkness as the ultimate declaration of imperialism: “Exterminate all the brutes.”
Yes, of course today there is a gap between the present state of unconsciousness, or madness; class consciousness, and a revolution (which is no more inevitable than the temporary victory of fascism).
Obviously the balance of forces, everywhere, is not good. In the US, the usually vacillating petty-bourgeoisie, in schools and out, are not just tilting to the ruling class, they toady for it.
Still, if there is never to be a revolution, there will be nothing but repeatedly “perishing in the death throes of capitalism.”
The specter of World War III is real to former USSR top, Gorbachev, and me.
Between here and there is a fight.
It would be unwise to offer a prescription that could be applied to every community, detailing the old "what is to be done," question.
But direct action (control of workplaces and communities at key choke points), relentless agitation for class consciousness, and, importantly, close personal ties across all the barriers that capital creates seem key.
It is fair to ask: What has the Rouge Forum done?
We led the initial test resistance with boycotts in the early 1990's, direct action in the “professional organizations” and unions–always pointing to the war agenda that drives capitalist schooling.
We were involved at all levels in the Detroit teachers’ wildcat strike.
We help fight the RaTT and Common Core–placing them in their social context.
We engage the battle for ideas.
We hope these ideas will defeat men with guns who fight on behalf of a tiny minority of the world’s people.
Capital has united the world via systems of production, exchange, communications, exploration and divided the world by class, race, nation, mysticism, and sexism. It is a social system that has far outlived its usefulness. Indeed, everything Chalmers Johnson described as the backdrop for the possibility of revolutionary change is well in place.
Capital has nothing left to offer masses of people. Even before the NASDAQ collapse, people with three SUV’s began to notice that such good luck was just not fulfilling.
Capital has inverted science, consider the huge scientific advances in weaponry and gas-masking, while 25% of the kids in parts of New York City are cursed with environmental asthma.
Capital is attacking all that is beautiful, from rationality to aesthetics—the drooling fundamentalist snake-handling top office-holders who cloak the breasts on statues. But overcoming the processes of capital is going to require a massive change of mind-an urgent change if we are going to go beyond industrialized slaughter.
Changing minds is the daily life of every school worker. School workers are situated at the centripetal organizing point of North America's de-industrialized life. They do not have to operate the school-to-war pipeline.
Indeed, if they begin to recognize the contradiction between why they think they are in capitalist schools, and why elites want them there, perhaps those educators can rescue education from the ruling classes-then help to expose the false mandate from heaven that offers dishonest and incompetent leaders legitimacy they do not deserve.
War and more war is inevitable within the systems of capital and empire; as inevitable as the betrayal of the promises of nationalist liberals in socialist garb. If history is any kind of guide, the lessons of the Second International should be enough.
What we do counts, more than ever. There is no guarantee we will win. But we must. That will not happen by simple reasoning. The Masters will not adopt the ethics of the slaves.
We will win by resisting, with a plan to overcome, and by learning from our resistance-outfoxing the destruction of reason and wisdom.
The core issue of our times is the rise of color-coded inequality and the real promise of perpetual war met by the potential of mass class-conscious resistance for the clarion call that has driven social movements for centuries:
A single-minded aim: Equality! Revolutionary Equality!
We will not be fed willingly, witlessly, to the Spiders.
Death to the Fascists and…
Up the Rebels!
Good luck to our side.
Rich Gibson is an emeritus professor at San Diego State University and a part-time community college US history professor. He has worked as a pot and pan washer, a ambulance driver, a Ford Rouge iron foundry worker, a classroom teacher, an organizer, arbitration specialist, and bargaining agent for the National Education Association and the Director of Organizing for a federal workers’ union. He was a professor of labor relations and history at Wayne State University in Detroit, and a social studies professor at SDSU. With perhaps ten others, he founded what is now the largest local in the UAW–local 6000, state employees, not auto workers. He is saddened, but not surprised, that the local became what it is–just another dues collection machine and protection racket. For seven years, he actively served on the Steering Committee of the Historians Against the War, until they could no longer handle his insistence on the reality of class war and empire in their midst. He’ll run again. He is a co-founder of the Rouge Forum. He can be reached at email@example.com
. I urge the reader to get the 2012 Deluxe Edition of “The Spider and the Fly,” brilliantly illustrated, published by Simon and Schuster. Read it to adults. There are many online editions, texts, and one online youtube effort to put the book to music. The audio, unfortunately, is terrible.
. Marx, Karl (1845) “The German Ideology,” online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/german-ideology/ch01b.htm
. A fine beginner’s text on empire with short essays that can be read by high school students is Magdoff, Harry (1978) “Imperialism, From the Colonial Age to the Present, Monthly Review Press, New York. Magdoff notes there have been three full years of war for every year of peace for the US since the Revolution (p199).
. See for example, the work of Greg Queen, a high school teacher for more than twenty years, and member of the Rouge Forum, who describes some of his work in, “I Participate, You Participate, they Profit,”(2005) at http://www.academia.edu/4771470/_I_participate_you_participate_we_participate_they_profit_Notes_on_revolutionary_educational_activism_to_transcend_capital_The_Rouge_Forum
. Marx and Engels (1848) “Communist Manifesto,” Chapter 2, online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm
. Marx, Karl (1848) in “Marxism, Essential Writings,” edited by David Mcllelan (1988) Oxford University Press, New York, New York.
. In a tour of nearly every county in California in 2009, with educator and former principal Susan Harmon, and former UAW organizer Bob Apter, meeting with students, parents, administrators, school board members, and community organizations, we concluded that the primary emotional affect in schools was, and remains, fear.
. Glaberman, Marty(1997) “Workers have to deal with their own reality and that transforms them.” online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/glaberman/1997/xx/workersreality.htm
. On Taylorism in the classroom, see the classic: Callahan, Raymond (1964) “Education and the Cult of Efficiency,” University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
. Foster, John Bellamy and McChesney, Robert (2012) “The Endless Crisis,” Monthly Review Press, Chicago p115. The quote is taken from an American industrialist.
. Loewen, James (2007) “Lies My Teacher Told Me,” TouchStone Revised edition, NY.
. Paine, Thomas (1794/95) “Age of Reason,” online at http://www.ushistory.org/paine/reason/singlehtml.htm
. Pew Research Foundation (February, 2015), “Religious Hostilities Hit Six Year High,”online at http://www.pewforum.org/2014/01/14/religious-hostilities-reach-six-year-high/
. Taibbi, Matt (2009) “The Great Derangement,” Spiegel and Grau, reprint edition, NY.
. Reich, Wilhelm (!970). “The Mass Psychology of Fascism.” Touchstone Book, New York, New York.
. The most up-to-date work: Wolfenstein, Eugene (2003) “Psychoanalytic Marxism, Groundwork,” Guilford Books, Great Britain.
. The Arab Spring began with an accelerator: a Tunisian fruit vender, denied a permit to sell his wares, self-immolated, beginning a series of uprisings that led to the overthrow of the government. Today, the country is in turmoil, suffering religious, tribal, and for-profit wars. Following Tunisia, the US, led by Obama, Susan Power and Susan Rice, backed Muslim fanatics in overthrowing a tame dictator, Ghadaffi, who was for years a US asset. Now, the country is also in turmoil, fighting the same wars as Tunisia. Egypt followed. The US again betrayed a tamed dictator, Mubarak, who had been funded by the CIA for years and whose military is largely a US creation–the most powerful in the Arab world. Turmoil in Egypt led to the imprisonment of Mubarek and the election of a government under the 100 year old Muslim Brotherhood. That government was overthrown by the military, thousands jailed and killed, and Mubarek is free. American intelligence simultaneously backed Muslim fanatics, Islamo-fascists, in Syria, again trying to overthrow a tame dictator, “King,” Assad, a secular ally, more or less, of the Russians. The US cooked up accusations that the King had, and used, poison gas. Obama drew a “red line,” around this activity. The Russians intervened and Obama did not act, perhaps because respected journalist, Sy Hersh, revealed that the King had no gas and it was likely the Islamo-fascists who used it. Without going into detail about the demoniac, “crusader,” trumped up war on Iraq, and the earlier attack in Afghanistan, the whole of North Africa, Central-east Africa, Syria, and Iraq, are now hunting grounds for the Islamist’s dream: IS and its Caliphate. The utter stupidity, absence of strategic vision, described in this essay, and the dishonesty, of US leaders is, I assert, remarkable, even knowing the history of Vietnam, and before. Chalmers Johnson described Osama bin Laden’s goals: luring the US into a war against Islam in the Middle East and later the world; undermining and overthrowing corrupt Arab puppet regimes; and finally bankrupting and destroying the US. Dream nearly fulfilled. http://tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/160156/how-bin-laden-won
. Rogan, Eugene (2009). “The Arabs, A History,” Basic Books, New York, New York. Rogan, unfortunately, completely misread the Arab Spring, predicting it would begin to offer proof that the Arab people can build democracy. It has done anything but. Nevertheless, his analysis of the past, up to say 2009, the date of the publication of the hardback edition, is unsurpassed.
. On the Ukraine debacle, see Blum, William (2015) “The US and Ukraine, Dumb and Dumber, Foreign Policy Journal, online at http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2015/01/24/the-us-and-ukraine-dumb-and-dumber/
. At this writing, it is not possible to determine what will come of the anti-racist demonstrations that took place since a series of police and white civilian murders after the killing of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and other black youth. However, without left leadership, the protests will remain, at best, protests and little else.
. Kehoe, Alice Beck (1989). "Death or Renewal?", The Ghost Dance: Ethno-history and Revitalization, Washington, DC: Thompson Publishing.
. On SEIU and empire, see Scipes, Kim (2005) “Free Labor from the Empire,” Monthly Review online at http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2005/scipes190705.html A classic in labor studies which describes the bourgeoisie nature of labor boss is Mills, C. Wright (1948) “New Men of Power,” University of Illinois Press, Chicago. Part-time faculty, many with PhD’s, witlessly seek to add a new layer of enemies, accepting the divisions of labor that unionism reflects.
. For a detailed examination of the bizarre trajectory any loyal rank and file Communist Party USA member would have followed, see my “Torment and Demise of the United AutoWorkers Union, and search for the term, “contorted changes,” here: http://clogic.eserver.org/2006/gibson.html
. Regarding “executive committee,” expands on Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto of 1848 online at http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/world_civ/worldcivreader/world_civ_reader_2/marx.html
. Szymanski, Al ( 1978) “The Capitalist State and the Politics of Class,” Winthrop, Cambridge. p198.
. Lenin, V.I., (1917) State and Revolution, opening paragraphs online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1917/staterev/ See also, Reich (above) arguing that liberalism leads to fascism, p73.
. See for example, LATimes, May 2, 2006, “500,000 March In Los Angeles,” http://articles.latimes.com/2006/mar/26/local/me-immig26 . I use the term “unionite,” deliberately, distinct from “unionist,” as an insult as today’s unions are not what most people think of as unions, but dues collection machines working on behalf of capital and empire. For an extension, see my “Counterfeit Unions in the Empire,” (October 23, 2013), Counterpunch online at http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/23/counterfeit-unionism-in-the-empire/
. For a visual display of the police violence, witness the casual work of Lt. John Pike at UC Davis https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6AdDLhPwpp4
. Luxemburg, Rosa, (1900) “Reform or Revolution,” Chapter V, online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1900/reform-revolution/ch05.htm
. Neff, Blake (2014) “NEA Demands Arne Duncan’s Head,” online at http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/07/national-teachers-union-demands-arne-duncans-head/
. Reisnikoff, Ned (2014) “NEA Leader Inherits Tensions,” MSNBC online at http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/incoming-nea-head-inherits-tension-arne-duncan
. British imperial chant quoted in Magdoff (#40 below) p112.
. Hochschild, Adam (2012) “To End All Wars,” Mariner Books, New York, New York p133.
. Council on Foreign Relations Task Force (2014) online at http://www.cfr.org/united-states/us-education-reform-national-security/p27618
. Magdoff, Harry(1978) “Imperialism from the Colonial Age to the Present,” Monthly Review Press, p210.
. Paraphrasing Marx in “The Communist Manifesto,” in Mcllelan, David, (1988) “Marxism, Essential Writings, Oxford University Press, New York, New York.
. See Phillips, Elizabeth (April 9, 2014) New York Times, “We Need to Talk about the Test,” online at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/10/opinion/the-problem-with-the-common-core.html
. Gibson, R (1999) “The Detroit Teachers’ Wildcat Strike,” Cultural Logic online at http://clogic.eserver.org/2-2/gibson.html
. “The DFT Election Committee reported March 5 that the official recount of the January presidential election resulted in Steve Conn garnering 621 votes. Edna Reaves received 617 votes.” Retrieved from the DFT web site, March 15, 2015. http://dft231.mi.aft.org/
. Chicago Politics and Life (2/25/2015) “Sharkey Believes Chicago Politics are Changed.” online at http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/Felsenthal-Files/February-2015/Jesse-Sharkey-Election/
. Chalmers Johnson alternately described the US as a fascist state, and a state where fascism was emerging in his “Nemesis” Trilogy as well as in many online articles and youtubes. Here is but one: http://www.truthdig.com/arts_culture/item/20080515_chalmers_johnson_on_our_managed_democracy
. Luxemburg, Rosa (1900) “Reform or Revolution,” online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1900/reform-revolution/
. Chalmers Johnson’s “Nemesis” Trilogy which began with “Blowback,” then “Sorrows of Empire,” and concludes with “Nemesis,” remains the best on the issue of the decaying US empire, despite the fact he was a lifelong anti-Marxist and for a good part of his life, a CIA asset. Johnson’s death, now three years ago, is a terrible loss for those who do serious analytical work. His resources, methodology, and conclusions were brilliant, and nicely referenced.
. See for example, “Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neo-Liberalism,” online at the liberal Democratic website Truthout at http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/26885-henry-giroux-on-the-rise-of-neoliberalism On Stalin and the negation of the negation, see Philosophy in Russia by Ferederick Copplestone , Bloomsbur publications, p227. See also, Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism, Columbia University Press, p136-160. Marcuse used as a base for much of his work on Dialectics: Wetter, Gustav (1963) Dialectical materialism, New York, Praegar. Furthermore, this outlook follows the views of the Second International and Bernstien, mechanical materialism which led to the social nationalists’ support for WWI. Fore elucidation, see R.W. Postgate, The International During the War (1918), Herald Publisher.
. Peterson, Bob (2/13/2015) Washington Post, “Social Justice Unionism,” reprinted by Post columnist Valerie Strauss at http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/02/13/how-teachers-unions-must-change-by-a-union-leader/
. Peterson maintains a web page with this in the title: “emphasis on the essential links between quality public schools, a vibrant multicultural democracy, and justice for all.” Multi-culturalism became, long ago, a veneer for nationalism. Peterson is also closely linked to the Zinn Educational Project, celebrating the dogmatic pacifist Howard Zinn, whose work rather carefully ruptures the idea of US “democracy,” a fact which his celebrants seem to miss entirely, as they do the fact that he weaves his history around his pacifism. Peterson is here http://bob-peterson.blogspot.com/
. Probably the easiest way into this history is the film, “With Babies and Banners, The Great Flint Strike at General Motors. It is about 50 minutes long, perfect for most classrooms, and demonstrates the efforts of real radicals, surely not revolutionaries, in the Communist Party USA of the 1930s. It is online at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pa75V-tdBko (disclosure, many of the people involved in making the film were friends).
.Marx, Karl (1948) “The Communist Manifesto,” in Mclellan, David (1988) “Marxism, Essential Writings, Oxford University Press, New York p40.
. Council on Foreign Relations, here http://www.cfr.org/united-states/income-inequality-debate/p29052
. Lenin picked up this strategy from Marx and every revolution since pursued this path: China to Cuba to Grenada. It hasn’t worked and is one of several Achilles’ heels of socialism as we have known it. See Marx, Karl (1850) “Address of the Central Council to the Communist League,” in Bender, Frederic (1967) “Karl Marx, Essential Writings, Harper Torchbooks, NY. Chapter 26, p264. Reader: a version that appears to be this reference is online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1847/communist-league/1850-ad1.htm but this is NOT the document I reference.
. Luxemburg, Rosa (1913) “The Accumulation of Capital, The Struggle Against Natural Economy” online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/luxemburg/1913/accumulation-capital/ch27.htm
. Berger, Henry, ed. (1995) “A William Appleman Williams Reader,” Elephant Books, New York, p375.
. Peterson Foundation (2014) “US Defense Spending” online at http://pgpf.org/Chart-Archive/0053_defense-comparison
. Johnson, Chalmers (2008) “How To Sink America,” in Tomgram online at http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174884
. Quadrennial Defense Review, Executive Summary (2014) online at http://www.defense.gov/pubs/2014_Quadrennial_Defense_Review.pdf
. Slahi, Mohamedou (2015) “Guantanamo Diary,” Little Brown, New York, New York.
. Johnson, Chalmers (2000 hardback), “Blowback,” Holt, New York, New York, p120.
. Lenin’s, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” begins with the role, in the early 1900's, of monopoly-finance capital. What is often missed by radicals is Lenin’s examination of the relationship of empire and bourgeoisie leftists, bought off by imperial bribes. And, John Belamy Foster follows that path and brings it up to date in “The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism.” The former is online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/ Foster is published by Monthly Review (2014). The introduction is here http://monthlyreview.org/2013/07/01/introduction-to-the-second-edition-of-the-theory-of-monopoly-capitalism/
. New York Times (August 13, 2007) “Brooke Astor, First Lady of Philanthropy, Dies.” online at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/13/obituaries/13cnd-astor.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
. Lewis, Michael (2014), “Flashboys, A Wall Street Revolt,” Norton Books, New York. For the point on short-term views: p141 and p238.
. Sorkin, Andrew (2009) “Too Big to Fail,” Viking Press, New York, New York.
. Moore, Michael (2013) “JP Morgan Gives Dimon 70% raise to 20 Million,” Bloomberg online at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-01-24/jpmorgan-increases-dimon-s-total-pay-to-20-million-for-2013
. For an examination of the ruin of an American city, see Gibson, R. (2013) “Barbarism Rising, Detroit and the International War of the Rich on the Poor,” online at Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/03/28/detroit-and-the-international-war-of-the-rich-on-the-poor/
. Reich, Wilhelm (1933) “The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Touchstone Books, NY and online at http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Wilhelm_Reich
. Risen, James (2015) “Pay Any Price, Greed, Power, and Endless War,” Houghton Mifflin, New York, New York p273.
. A discussion of the relationship of Fordism, post-Fordism, and post-modernism is in Callincos, Alex (1989) “Against Post Modernism, a Marxist Critique,” St Martin’s Press, New York New York, p134. He also makes the case of a disgruntled middle class producing the linguistic turn, pretending that language, incidentally their speciality, is the crux of life. Bryan Palmer, in “Descent into Discourse (1990), Temple University Press, famously said, “"Critical theory is no substitute for historical materialism; language is not life." pxiv.
. Wierson, Matt (2013) “Is the US Consumerist Society Flawed by Design?” Market Realist online at http://marketrealist.com/2013/09/u-s-consumerism-economy-flawed-design/
. Twenge and Campbell (2010) “The Narcissism Epidemic, Living in the Age of Entitlement,” Atria Book, New York. Christopher Lasch (1980) explored the burgeoning problem much earlier in “Culture of Narcissism,” W. W. Norton, London. Lasch locates a variety of matters underlying the narcissistic American personality, particularly a pathological fear of being nothing, treated, or not, by meaningless spectacles. His Freudian prescience of an even-more-serious to be is worth noting. Interestingly, Lasch uses Billy Ayers Weatherman sect as a clear indication of a collective narcissistic disorder. Ayers’ life long project has been to destroy class conscious mass movements with bombs or, later, seeking surcease in grants. Narcissism, in his case, is on point, but second tier. Former Weatherman Mark Rudd has admitted that the sect destroyed the Students for a Democratic Society, on the eve of the biggest outpouring of student activism in 1969/70, by destroying the mailing list.
. Thomas Piketty in “Capital for the 21st Century,” makes a convincing case for the facts about flourishing inequality, then suggests the rich should give up their money: not likely (2014, Belknap Books). Michelle Alexander in, “The New Jim Crow,” (2012, New Press) described mass incarceration of, especially, black and brown people and its effects of stripping the convicted from all forms of citizenship. Interestingly, she comes out against affirmative action. John Bellamy Foster and Robert McChesney in “The Endless Crisis,” (2013, Monthly Review) follow the traditional Monthly Review investigation into the necessity of stagnation in an advanced society ruled by monopoly-finance capital.
. Dutt, R. Palme (1935/1974 second printing) “Fascism and Social Revolution,” Proletarian Publishers now online at file:///C:/Users/Rich/AppData/Local/Temp/Dutt-2.html Dutt wrote this text on opposition to the Bulgarian, Dimitroff, whose work set the stage for the shift in the Comintern’s line from class against class, to the popular front. Dimitroff’s work is United Front Against Fascism online free at https://archive.org/details/TheUnitedFront . A functionary, Dutt easily adjusted to the demolition of the “Third Period.”
. Gibson, R (2001) “What is Fascism?” online at http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Fascism/What_Is_Fascism_Gibson.html For a more recent take on the rise of fascism, see Pilger, John (2/27/2015) “Why the Rise of Fascism is again an Issue,” at Z Communications online at https://zcomm.org/znetarticle/why-the-rise-of-fascism-is-again-the-issue/
. Gibson, R. (2013) “Counterfeit Unionism in the Empire,” online at http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/10/23/counterfeit-unionism-in-the-empire/
. Engels quoted in Hunt, Tristam (2011) “Marx’s General,” Metropolitan Books, NY p320.
On the NEA representative assembly votes, see Gibson, R. (2010) “The NEA Representative Assembly: Proof the Education Agenda is a War Agenda, Substance News online at http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=1526§ion=Article
. Lenin, V.I. (1916) “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, Chapter 10, online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1916/imp-hsc/
. Newport, Frank (2014) “42% of Americans are Creationists,” Gallup Poll online at http://www.gallup.com/poll/170822/believe-creationist-view-human-origins.aspx
. See for expansion, Fredy Perlman, “The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism,” (1984) online now at https://libcom.org/library/continuing-appeal-nationalism-fredy-perlman Disclosure, Fredy was a friend and mentor, and frequent critic.
. Draper, Theodore (2003) “The Roots of American Communism,” Transaction Publishers. Draper was right. The CPUSA, on the main, followed the self-serving directions of Moscow. Moscow gold was real. CPUSA members acted heroically, especially fighting racism in the south, but all they did was under the umbrella of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Harvey Khler followed on after Draper, less successfully in my view. His works are listed here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvey_Klehr#Works
. Anyon, Jean (1997) “Ghetto Schooling,” Teachers College Press, New York, New York p188. Disclosure: Jean was a friend.
. The NED is a notorious CIA front. It’s self admitted: “Allen Weinstein, CIA founding father.
Online at http://www.telesurtv.net/english/analysis/How-the-US-Funds-Dissent-against-Latin-American-Governments-20150312-0006.html
. Taylor, Paul (1983) “Texts of Paulo Freire,” Open University Press, New York, New York. See also Gibson, R. (2008) Speech at University of British Columbia, “The Dead End at Freire,” online at http://www.richgibson.com/rouge_forum/CSSE2008/GibsonCSSE2008.htm
. Breisach, Ernst (2005) “The Future of History, The Postmodernist Challlenge and Its Aftermath,” University of Chicago Press, Chicago. This is the best, mainstream, summary and demolition of postmodernism, the whining of the declining professoriate, yet. Lukacs, G. (1955) “The Destruction of Reason,” Boulder Press, Boulder, Colorado, serves as a brilliant philosophical interrogation of irrationalism: "We [Lukacs] mean to show . . . that the various stages of irrationalism came about as reactionary answers to problems to do with the class struggle. Thus the content, form, method, tone, etc., of its reaction to progress in society are dictated not by an intrinsic inner dialectic . . . but rather by the adversary, by fighting conditions imposed by the reactionary bourgeoisie...”p156.
On Giroux, Truthout, and his call to restore a never existent democracy by overcoming neoliberalism, see “Henry Giroux on the Rise of Neo Liberalism,” (2014) Truthout, at http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/26885-henry-giroux-on-the-rise-of-neoliberalism
On Giroux’s farcical honors: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/henry-giroux-named-paulo-freire-chair-in-critical-pedagogy/
To further the joke, “ In 2004 Giroux became the Global Television Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.” Retrieved from Wikipedia and confirmed by his former Penn State colleagues. Wiki at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Giroux Disclaimer: I was initially Giroux’s research assistant at Penn State. I removed him from my committee.
. AFT web site at http://www.aft.org/about/leadership/edward-j-mcelroy
. A description of the NEA’s imperial support is at Gibson, R. (2009) “The NEA Representative Assembly, 2009,” online here http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=778§ion=Article
. Marx and Engels (1848) “The Communist Manifesto,” Chapter 1, online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm
. Eyerman, Ron. (1981) “Ideology and False Consciousness in the Social System,” Humanities Press, Stockholm.
. Glaberman, Marty (1978) “Workers have to deal with their own reality and that transforms them” online at http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~rgibson/workersreality.htm Glaberman was a member of the Johnson-Forrest Tendency. Nevertheless, his insights are worthy.
. Lukacs, Georg (1931) “History and Class Consciousness,” online at https://www.marxists.org/archive/lukacs/works/history/ In my softcover edition, the references, although throughout, appear on p3 and p42.
. Conrad, Joseph (1899) “Heart of Darkness,” now online by Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/219/219-h/219-h.htm
. Lukacs in Mcllelan, “History and Class Consciousness,” p263.
. Defotis, D. (January, 2015) “Gorbechev: Russia, Ukraine, and Europe Risk Nuclear War, online at http://blogs.barrons.com/emergingmarketsdaily/2015/01/09/gorbachev-russia-ukraine-europe-risk-nuclear-war/
. For a detailed description of the opportunism, which I have used interchangeably with liberal nationalism, see Lenin, V.I. (1915) “The Collapse of the Second International, online at http://www.marx2mao.com/Lenin/CSI15.html