The Party for Socialism and Liquidation: PSL as Assad’s Bloodhounds

“Someone has to be the bloodhound.”

Social Democrat Gustav Noske uttered these words in 1919 before organizing the right-wing death squads that killed Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknicht, two revolutionary former leaders of the very same German Social Democratic Party Noske belonged to.

Almost a century later, some on the left have once again taken it upon themselves to be the bloodhounds, not on behalf of the capitalist system but of one of its henchmen, Bashar Al-Assad, hereditary dictator of Syria. Despite the many differences between the Arab Spring and the era of wars and revolutions that rocked Europe from 1914-1921, one thing is remarkably similar – both divided the left internationally into three trends: pro-revolution, anti-revolution, and centrists in the middle who align with one camp and then the other depending on the issues and circumstances.

As far as anyone can tell, there is no wing of the Syrian opposition that seeks to physically liquidate the revolution the way Noske did. Instead, we find Assad’s biggest bloodhounds abroad, outside of Syria’s borders, on the so-called anti-imperialist left in the West. They never tire of airbrushing the records of bloody, collaborationist “left” tyrants like Muammar Ghadafi and Assad while smearing revolutionary movements against their rule as terrorist, racist, pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist, and neoliberal in character.

For these bloodhounds, every revolution against “left” dictators is a fresh chance to run over the man standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square, an opportunity to mow down the protestors who brought down the Berlin Wall with machine gun fire and re-open Stalin’s beloved gulags under new management.

One of the worst offenders on the Marxist left is the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) with Workers World Party not far behind. PSL refused to support Libya’s revolutionaries in February of 2011 before they begged the imperialist West to use its military superiority over Ghadafi to counter his military superiority over them (at which point the Western left’s centrists joined PSL in falsely claiming that there was no Libyan revolutionary movement worthy of the name and agitated in conjunction with the bloodhounds against NATO’s attacks on Ghadafi’s forces).

Hezbollah’s boots on the ground. Aleppo Citadel, Syria.

PSL seized on the popularity of the pre-Ghadafi Libyan flag among protestors as “proof” that the rebellion was monarchist in character, nevermind that it was a revolution directed against a man who proclaimed himself the “King of Kings,” nevermind Libya’s first free and fair elections for a national legislature that now rules in his place. Today PSL loyally parrots the Syrian state media as it makes victims out to be criminals and criminals out to be victims by talking about foreign-backed “terrorist” rebels while studiously ignoring Iran’s and Hezbollah’s boots on the ground, playing up sectarian elements within the Syrian opposition while pretending Shia support for the revolution does not exist, and raising a hue and cry over interference with Assad’s counter-revolution from the imperialist West while “forgetting” about the arms, fuel, and economic subsidies provided to the regime by the imperialist East.

This is what passes for Marxist analysis these days!

Thankfully, we will never see the Ghadafi masoleum that PSL plans to erect in Washington, D.C.’s Red Square after a PSL-led revolution here because they (like their three-letter “competitors”) are incapable of accomplishing anything so audacious or liberating. Bloodhounds are dangerous not because of their rigorous arguments, convincing analysis, or ability to inspire and lead successful mass movements but because of their ability to track, attack, and kill. If that is all they can do, they should at least bark in support of the right side: the bourgeois-democratic revolution, not the bourgeois counter-revolution!

Once upon a time, Marxists were the biggest, staunchest champions of bourgeois-democratic revolutions not in spite of their socialist convictions but because of them. “[B]oth the direct interests of the proletariat and the interests of its struggle for the final aims of socialism require the fullest possible measure of political liberty and, consequently, the replacement of the autocratic form of government by a democratic republic” is how a party resolution Lenin quoted approvingly put it.

Political freedom is the best and indeed the only road to a sustainable post-capitalist order (whether that end point is labeled socialism, anarchism, communism, or horizontalism is not as important as actually getting there; we are long overdue). Lenin was prescient when he wrote along these lines in 1905 that “whoever wants to reach socialism by a different road, other than that of political democracy, will inevitably arrive at conclusions that are absurd and reactionary both in the economic and the political sense.” The history of the 20th century is littered with reactionary absurdities of this type. All of them failed without exception. Hitching the wagon of the socialist movement to the governments of the USSR, China, Albania, Cambodia, and now (for the bloodhounds) Ghadafi’s Libya and Assad’s Syria helped drag the international socialist movement back to the fringes where it was before the days of even the First International.

Working and oppressed peoples will never flock to the banner of Marxism again unless and until we prove in practice to be the biggest and most ardent champions of not just their social and economic freedom but their political freedom as well. Freedom from want is just as important as freedom of thought, expression, and assembly. Lenin, following Marx, understood that we will never get to the former unless and until we win and utilize the latter.

To “win the battle of democracy” we must first win the battle for democracy.

This battle for democracy rages in every country affected by the bourgeois-democratic revolutions known as the Arab Spring. Claims that the Egyptian, Tunisian, and Yemeni bourgeois-democratic revolutions were genuine mass revolts while their Libyan and Syrian counterparts were foreign-engineered or foreign-backed-and-therefore-hijacked – advanced by bloodhounds and centrists alike – are laughable fairy tales unworthy of self-proclaimed Marxists. This is not the reality on the ground anddoes not correspond in the slightest with the experience of the Arab and North African masses who are toppling autocrats “left” and right alike using all available means, including imperialist airstrikes on their enemies when unavoidable. They simply do not care about the Western left’s attachment to “socialist” policies such as Ghadafi’s free housing or “principled” opposition to Western intervention which, in the case of Libya, they exploited for their own ends: ousting Ghadafi and completing the first stage of their revolution.

The Libyans dared to win and the centrists and bloodhounds dared to castigate them for it.

The comrades who lined up with the bloodhounds over NATO’s Libya operation under the slogan “hands off Libya” are doing so again over Syria under the slogan “hands off Syria.” In doing so, they provide a perfect example of why the “revolution yes, intervention no” and “no to dictatorship, no to intervention” trend on the Western left is centrist: when imperialist powers intervene against counter-revolutionaries, the centrists join hands with the bloodhounds while claiming they are still for revolution, their alliance with the revolution’s enemies to act against the revolution’s interests notwithstanding.

Think twice before joining hands with the bloodhounds. The Syrian revolution has enough enemies. It does not need frenemies.

Cascadia. A place apart

Historically, the people of each land base have been an integral element of that place’s life. We need only examine the ecologically adaptive cultures of indigenous populations to witness this. In the dominant culture, we have lost our way. We have been raped and pillaged off of our lands and forced to occupy others. This has been done through deception, exploitation, consumption, profiteering and ongoing oppression. At the end of the day, however, we have detached ourselves from the very land that provides life and we no longer know a home.

courtesy of Sightline Institute

There is a resurgence of bioregional ism that extends across many lands. Many people are listening to the bioregion where they reside and initiating community once again. Voices from all walks of life acknowledge that we are infinitely dependent upon nature for survival, and many are questioning loudly why we continue down this path of suicide.

Every place on Earth exists within a bioregion. A bioregion is defined by the organic patterns and natural characteristics of a specific place. It is the unique hydrologic cycles, the watershed, the land base, the soils, the very flora and fauna that weave its whole together. Its periphery is not defined by any arbitrary line, but by the rhythms that encompass it. Cascadia is a land of falling waters. Cascadia extends from northern California to southern Alaska. It reaches inland from the Continental Divide of western Montana and expands to the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. It includes all of Washington and portions of Oregon, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Alaska, Alberta, Montana and Wyoming. For indepth analysis please refer to the Cascadia Institute.

Read the rest…

Caveat: I, Ten Bears, have long been involved in this effort, contribute to the aforementioned Cascadia (Sightline) Institute, and the title of my forth-coming book is Where the Salmon Berry Grow – Cascadia – A Place Apart. Why “Brave New War”? Because there is nothing east of The Rocky Mountains we need.

When you break the Social Contract

Forty-three years ago I got a Social Security Card and went to work on a cattle ranch a hundred miles the other side of Burns (Oregon). When I first cashed that first paycheck, I entered into a social contract with The United States Government – specifically that if I pay into the system for the next forty-five or fifty years, then after forty-five or fifty years of paying into the system the system will pay me back. I faithfully met my part of the contract, I faithfully paid into the system.

Now the government wants to take away what I’ve paid for the past forty-three years, just seven years short of honoring its end of the social contract”¦ to steal it from me and give to the bankers, the trustfunders, and the drug/media/oil/military/industrial complex. Violate the social contract we entered into forty-three years ago. Rip me off, and give it away.

Be forewarned, take from me what I have in good faith paid into the system, and I will no longer consider myself a part of this country, nor bound to its laws, its standards or its mores. Rip me off, and I will collectively rip you a new asshole.

Who better to fight the revolution, than a dishonored Vietnam Veteran?

YouTube and Politics I

This is the first of a series of articles co-written by D.J. Mitchell and Susan Cain on how YouTube is used in politics.  Susan has done most of the research.

YouTube, the free video sharing site offers an incredible medium for uploading and watching videos.  People love it as a free avenue for airing videos that would otherwise have little outlet.  (DJ has uploaded 37 videos so far.)  Some hope they’ll get their 15 minutes of fame.  Others crave the unlimited access to millions of professional and amateur music videos, comedy, political satire, and so forth.

We tried to get a factual idea as to how many videos are on YouTube as of today, the answer is: no one knows. There are no certified totals, only educated guesses. Thirty thousand videos are guesstimated to be uploaded per day.  One source says over a billion vids are watched each day.  A technology site says that a 2006 “Wall Street Journal” article reported that YouTube hosted 6 million videos. The article also states that in 2008, a YouTube search “returned more than 80 million videos and 3 million user channels.” So, it’s safe to say that the total number is currently well into 100 million videos.

YouTube is available to anyone who has an unfettered internet connection– worldwide.  So it’s no surprise that it has been used as a political tool.  Some countries block YouTube, or control what its citizens can watch.  Some of those use their YouTube channel to spread disinformation.  Here’s an example:

Susan has two Facebook friends living in a country where YouTube is banned. The government of that country does not particularly like the USA, especially its policies concerning Palestine. That government posted a YouTube video (embedded above) on its”legal” channel, showing an American musician performing a pro-Palestinian song he had written.  According to both of these Arabic speaking friends, the government channel claimed that the video had been banned in the United States. The clear implication was that our government bans any media here that is pro-Palestinian; that we forbid our people to be anything but pro-Israel.

Citizens of that country can’t verify whether what their government tells them is true, because they can’t access YouTube.  They were shocked to learn from Susan that what they’ve been told is not the truth.

The case for Resilient Community

Some years ago I visited two villages near Gampaha, Sri Lanka. Both were small and poor. Both were inhabited by members of Rodhi caste, the Sinhalese version of untouchables. But there, all similarity ended. In the first, families of five and six lived in palm-leaf huts just large enough for them all to lie down in. They made their living begging, which I’m told is the traditional livelihood of the Rodhi. They had no running water, no toilets, no access road, and no school. Most were illiterate. They lived in squalor that up to that point I would have found unimaginable.

In the second village, people lived in houses made of wood or concrete blocks. These houses were not large and luxurious, but they were at least recognizable as permanent structures. The villagers had installed a gravity-fed water system, had enough sealed-pit latrines for the village, an access road, and a school for the children. They made their livelihood hand-weaving baskets for use by other nearby communities, though they’d recently made arrangements to sell their products in Colombo.  And when we arrived, the villagers smiled at us– a facial expression I never saw in the first village.

How did two villages with an identical background develop so differently? Fifty years ago, a man named A. T, Ariyaratne, then a science teacher, had an idea for dealing with Sri Lanka’s poverty: rather than tell the villages what they ought to do, he would ask the villages what they wanted to do, and see how he could help empower them to do it. The second village accepted his proposal. The first did not.

Ariyaratne brought a group of high school students to the village and brainstormed with the villagers what they wanted and how they might accomplish these goals. In the beginning, they had only labor and experience to share. But that gift was enough to change the course of several hundred lives.

In the process, they discovered (as many others across the globe have also discovered) that by giving their gift to these villagers they did not know, something inside the givers awakened as well.  Today, what has become the Sarvodaya Shramadana Sanghamaya (the Movement for the Awakening of All through the Gift of Labor) has touched 10,000 villages, and has a network of over a thousand member villages and tens of thousands of volunteers.  It has rarely exerted its grassroots political strength.  But as one peaceworker, a Brit with Quaker Peace and Service, observed: “Sarvodaya is the sleeping giant.  If it wakes up, things will change.”

The Sarvodaya experiment changed the whole concept of community development, its principles adopted or adapted by the U.N. and GOs and NGOs around the globe. Â That alone is an accomplishment. Â Yet today this experience holds relevance beyond poverty alleviation.  As Alvin Toffler observed 15 years ago, the world is changing. Â Toffler described a shift from a two-pole world to a three-pole world: from tension between local and national power centers, to three-way tension between local, national, and transnational power centers.  He called this the Third Wave, and predicted it would change everything from technology to warfare.  And he’s been right.

John Robb’s blog, Global Guerrillas, analyzes the change in warfare from modern to post-modern.  It has become less centralized, attacks the system itself, and evolves rapidly to meet changing circumstances.  Robb calls this 4GW: Fourth Generation Warfare.  He also suggests it is nearly impossible to defend against with traditional methods.

“It should be clear, as we watch the gyrations and excesses of global markets, that no organization/state/group has any meaningful control over its direction. The same is true for almost every other aspect of globalization, from the environment to transnational crime to energy flows. In short, we’ve lost control and our collective future is in the hands of a morally neutral system that is operating in ways that we don’t fully understand (nor will we). The best defense against this emerging situation is not to call for new Manhattan projects or global treaties or Marshall plans, which won’t work since we can neither marshal the resources necessary nor collectively agree on anything other than the most basic rules of connectivity, it is to slowly introduce organic stability into our global system.”

Robb argues that, from a security standpoint, the only way to defend against 4GW is to create what he calls Resilient Communities. He envisions these communities in an economic/security sense:

“This conceptual model creates a set of new services that allow the smallest viable subset of social systems, the community (however you define it), to enjoy the fruits of globalization without being completely vulnerable to its excesses. These services are configured to provide the ability to survive an extended disconnection from the global grid in the following areas (an incomplete list): Energy. Food. Security (both active and passive). Communications. Transportation.”

Robb’s concept has much in common with Ariyaratne‘s community awakening or Gandhi‘s village councils.  Robb, a former special operations pilot for the Air Force, naturally looks at the results from a security standpoint, both physical and economic:

  • Space. Localization (or hyperlocalization) radically reduces the space needed to support any given unit of human activity. Turns useless space (residential, etc.) into productive space.
  • Time. Wasted time in global transport is washed away. JIT (just in time production) and place.
  • Energy. Wasted energy for global transport is eliminated. Energy production is tied to locality of use. More efficient use of solar energy (the only true exogenous energy input to our global system).
  • Mass. Less systemic wastage. Made to order vs. made for market.
  • Information. Radical simplification. Replaces hideously complex global management overhead with simple local management systems.

For 50 years, Ariyaratne has been describing a similar concept in terms of other benefits: a “no poverty – no affluence” society which promises political, emotional, and spiritual development at the individual, family, and community level.  Ariyaratne argues that awakened communities can participate in an awakened central government for those needs that cannot be met at the community level.  The central government depends on the communities of its membership, not the reverse.  And an awakened central government can participate in global affairs without fear of losing its power, for its power comes from within.

We already see the breakdown of nationalism as groups of U.S. states band together in “compacts”– subnational agreements between state governments– and as California concludes its own treaty-like agreements with foreign nations.  As our national government continues to fail us, and as even some state governments begin to falter, a scattering of communities throughout the nation have begun looking to themselves for support.  Some of this self-awareness has religious roots, especially in Mormon and Catholic areas.  Some has pragmatic roots, in which residents band together because the State has abandoned them or because they seek to be prepared for an uncertain future.  In some cases, people would describe their motivation as moral: the belief that producing food and energy locally is just the right thing to do.

Ariyaratne has been writing about his experience in village awakening for decades from a pragmatic quality of life perspective as well as a spiritual (though non-theistic) one.  Robb’s blog describes the characteristics and development of Resilient Communities in detail.  And again, while his focus is on security, the developments he surveys are completely consistent with the greater changes we need.  Here’s a quick lost of some of the organic and radical innovations he chronicles:

And more.  So while some might argue that the development of a community-focused economy is impossible, they might wish make way for those who are already doing it.