RAY O’ LIGHT NEWSLETTER
by RAY LIGHT
Also included in this issue:
Snowden’s NSA Spying Revelations
Approaching March on Washington’s Fiftieth Anniversary
Postscript on Zimmerman Verdict
“If You’re Not Outraged, You’re Not Paying Attention”
Do You Know Who Said It??
“I know the capacity to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency [NSA] and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
Hints: This is not a response to the current NSA spying revelations that have been courageously exposed by whistle blower Edward Snowden. And these are not the words of a whistle blower at all.–Still stumped? See below.
On July 3rd, barely one year after the Muslim Brotherhood regime headed by Muhammad Morsi had been elected to office in Egypt, General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian armed forces, launched a military coup that overthrew the Morsi government. The overthrow of the Morsi government and the arrest of many key Muslim Brotherhood leaders occurred despite the fact that as even Time magazine’s contributing editor at large, Fareed Zakaria, has acknowledged, “the Brotherhood won at the polls three times. It won in the parliamentary elections, in the presidential election and then in its referendum for the new constitution which passed with 64% of the vote.” (“After the Coup,” Time, 7-22-13)
For those who had possessed any illusions that the Egyptian military no longer controlled the most populous country in the Middle East this successful military coup should make the situation crystal clear.This coup represents a new opportunity for the Obama Regime and U.S. imperialism as well as its allies among the oil rich monarchies to reestablish their most reliable non religious and pro Israeli fellow Arab reactionary rulers, the Egyptian military dictatorship, in power. The current U.S.-led propaganda effort, in the direct tradition of all its efforts since the people of Egypt became among the first and most powerful popular currents of the Arab Spring, has this strategic objective.
Thus, Time Magazine, one of the most vicious apologists for United States imperialism, on its 7-22-13 cover and in the two major stories therein, asserts that Egypt has the “world’s best protesters” and the “world’s worst democrats.” And Time promotes the conclusion that “the street rules.” All this is used to promote the illusion that the Egyptian military is not the ruling force that manipulated the crowd in order to provide a “legitimate cover” to its military putsch; moreover, according to Time, it was the crowd that got the military to oust Morsi.
-“World’s Best Protesters”-
As Karl Vick wrote, “For many Egyptians protest equals democracy. The millions afoot on June 30 persuaded Egypt’s powerful military to remove President Mohamed Morsi …” (“Street Rule,” Time, 7-22-13) But Vick himself gives the lie to that argument and “lets the cat out of the bag” later in the very same article. Vick reports: “By the spring of 2013, sources close to the military high command were telling TIME that the generals were running out of patience with the President and might be willing to step in if his opponents mounted a big show of dissatisfaction.” (ibid.) The “big show” included a signature campaign for a petition of complaints against the Morsi government launched at that very moment by “a small group of young activists.”
The campaigners called their “movement” Tamarod or “rebel” and projected the “anarchist” notion that there was no point in working for change through parliamentary elections scheduled for later this year since the Brotherhood had fashioned the electoral law. This “youthful impatience” with and rejection of electoral work and struggle played right into the hands of the Egyptian military and its U.S. imperialist and Saudi-led Gulf royal allies.
On June 29 the Tamarod movement announced that it had obtained 22 million signatures, a still unconfirmed figure. Even more suspect was the fact that among the many thousands joining the protests in the streets, “the crowds now called on the military to oust the President --- the same military many had rallied against just over a year earlier,” as Time’s Vick observed.
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson has been surprisingly clear in exposing this U.S. imperialist-led propaganda campaign. Says the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, “When vast throngs of ‘moderates’ took to the streets to protest the way Morsi was governing, the generals could have made clear their support for Egypt’s new democratic order, however flawed. Instead, they protected their own interests. Morsi had tried to assert civilian control over the military. How silly of him to think that the generals would surrender so easily.” Robinson draws the correct conclusion that, “What’s happening in Egypt is not a second revolution or a ‘correction’ to the first. It is a coup d’etat that puts the military as firmly in command as it was during the autocratic reign of Hosni Mubarak.” (“Egypt’s Dark Future,” Washington Post, 7-8-13)
Given the above facts, it is clear that the four days of street protests this time cannot be compared to the eighteen days of street protests in the face of the Mubarak police state in February 2011 that culminated with the explosion of workers strikes all over Egypt leading to Mubarak’s ouster.
Certainly, the Egyptian people were among the “world’s best protesters” two and one-half years ago. As we wrote at the time, “After living under one of the harshest and most repressive regimes in the world for the past thirty years, the Egyptian people, through a powerful and growing street protest movement over an eighteen day period from January 25th until February 12th, forced President Hosni Mubarak from power.” (Ray O’Light Newsletter #65, March-April 2011, “The Arab Masses are Taking their Future into their Hands!”)
Indeed, the Egyptian masses had stayed in the streets --- when Mubarak made the concessionary promise not to run for another term and it failed to appease and disperse the masses, and when he had the dreaded National Police dressed in civilian clothes brutally beating the protesters while the military “looked the other way” and hundreds of protesters were killed.
As we further observed, “By the 16th day of the protest, the Mubarak Regime attempted to restore normalcy by eliminating the night curfew and having businesses reopen. The result was a powerful strike wave of the Egyptian working class all across the country… While workers had individually participated in the protest during the first two weeks, now the collective power of the working class sealed Mubarak’s fate.” (ibid.)
We cited Stanford University Professor of Middle East history Joel Beinin who documented the organizing that the Egyptian working class had been engaged in for the ten years leading up to the popular uprising in 2011. Beinin correctly observed, “…in the last few days what you’ve seen is tens of thousands of workers linking their economic demands to the political demand that the Mubarak regime step aside.” (Democracy Now interview, 2-10-11) And finally, as we reported back then, “On February 11th, after Mubarak had refused to step down the previous day, [Vice President] Suleiman and the military chiefs, backed by the Obama Regime in the USA, pushed Mubarak out of power.” (Ray O’Light Newsletter #65, op.cit.)
This time just the opposite occurred! Unlike the situation two and one-half years ago, this time the Egyptian military elite pushed out the “democratically elected” Morsi with a military coup on July 3rd that was coordinated with the movement in the streets!
Unlike Mubarak who had been in power for more than thirty years, Morsi had just celebrated his first year in office. Unlike Mubarak, who came to power through his leadership position in the Egyptian Air Force, and who served as the leader of the U.S. imperialist-financed military dictatorship that had terrorized the Egyptian people for five decades, Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood had been among those persecuted by the Mubarak Regime.
Two and one-half years ago, the Morsi forces had shrewdly and cynically stayed in the background while the working class and the underemployed youth waged the struggle that brought down Mubarak but not the military dictatorship that he led. Then, the Muslim Brotherhood, using its political experience and organizational discipline and wrapping itself in the banner of Islam, won the post-Mubarak parliamentary and presidential elections, and was able to wrest some portion of state power from the exposed and unpopular U.S. imperialist-backed Egyptian military. But the armed forces still retained most of the state military/political power as well as the economic power in the country.
Refusing to mobilize the Egyptian masses up against this military-dominated ruling class and its U.S. imperialist sponsors so that they could overcome the economic hardships they faced, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood did a delicate dance with the Egyptian military-led ruling class for the past year. In “The Arab Spring: Special Report,” the Economist reveals that, “Mr. Morsi has shielded the army and police from scrutiny of repressive tactics that left perhaps a thousand Egyptians dead in repeated bouts of unrest. Under his watch, courts freed dozens of former regime officials accused of abusing power. At the same time they prosecuted young revolutionaries, including on such charges as ‘insulting the head of state’.” (the Economist, 7-13-13)
Elsewhere in the Special Report, the Economist observes: “Egypt has experienced a surge in poverty and childhood stunting, a result of poor nutrition.” According to Time’s Karl Vick, “Unemployment has climbed 50% since before the Arab Spring, hard-currency reserves have halved, and the budget deficit has doubled.” (“Street Rule,” Time, 7-22-13)
The failure of the Morsi Regime to decisively break with the Egyptian military comprador ruling class and improve the economic prospects for the Egyptian people two and one-half years after the ouster of Mubarak provided a fertile soil upon which the Egyptian ruling class, having compromised the Morsi forces, could now lead a “popular” uprising behind which to throw them out and reinstate its own military puppets and henchmen.
-“World’s Worst Democrats”-
To legitimize the reinstatement of the open Egyptian military dictatorship, U.S. imperialist propagandists such as Time Magazine have to carry on the charade that it was the crowd that brought the generals back to power. Consequently, Time’s Vick states that, “Egyptians remain the world’s premier protesters. But they’re proving to be lousy democrats.” Vick “criticizes” the “crowd” for “embracing the military to finish off Morsi.” He asserts, “Popular as it was, the coup sets a precedent for transferring power not by the ballot box but by the mob.”
One argument offered by Vick to “prove” what “lousy democrats” Egyptians are is that “Morsi ruled as if he were answerable only to his brotherhood, and to hell with the 48% of the electorate who did not vote for him.” One might ask Time: How superior to the Egyptians are the “democrats” in the USA, in the so-called “U.S. Democracy,” where George W. Bush, a minority President, ruled as if he were answerable only to the 48% of the electorate that did vote for him, and to hell with the majority who did not.
But the most vicious feature of the U.S. imperialist allegation that Egyptians are “lousy democrats” is that it was none other than U.S. imperialism that created the monstrous military-dominated Egyptian ruling class, especially during the past three decades! As we pointed out earlier, “Ever since Mubarak’s predecessor, Anwar Sadat, signed a peace treaty with the settler state of Israel in 1979, the Arab world has made no attempt to topple the Israeli regime by force. In collaboration with this Israeli apartheid regime, and under U.S. imperialism’s military baton, Mubarak’s reactionary regime in Egypt has protected the flow of oil for U.S. imperialism in the Middle East, a cornerstone of U.S. imperialism’s power vis-à-vis its imperialist partner-rivals. In addition, the Mubarak Regime has ensured critical Suez Canal and over-flight access for U.S. military operations. Accordingly, over these three decades, Mubarak’s Egypt has been second only to Israel as a recipient of U.S. ‘aid.’ Since 1979, Egypt has received approximately $2 billion per year in economic and military aid of which more than $1.3 billion each year has been direct military aid.” (Ray O’Light Newsletter #65, op.cit.)
Furthermore, at the height of the political crisis facing Mubarak, the Wall Street Journal had provided the following advice: “The strongest ties between the U.S. and Egypt run through the countries’ militaries, a relationship that could be pivotal in building a new government in Cairo.” (Wall Street Journal, “Military Ties are Key,” 2-7-11) And we were not alone in noting that “… the extent to which U.S. foreign policy has been directed from the Pentagon during the crisis in Egypt is unprecedented.” (Ray O’Light Newsletter #65, op.cit.) Indeed, the U. S. imperialist government under Obama never stopped sending well over one billion dollars per year to bolster the Egyptian military dictatorship either during the final years of Mubarak’s thirty year bloody reign or in the two and one-half years since.
Finally, within three days after the military coup, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait announced that they were providing the new Egyptian government fronting for the Egyptian military dictatorship $12 billion dollars in loans and grants. These are, of course, three of the most anti-democratic regimes in the world as well as being three of the regimes most closely allied to U.S. imperialism.*
* The Economist’s “Special Report: Arab Spring” points out about these three regimes, among others: “None of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council has made any serious move towards political reform or democracy. Instead they have all cracked down more heavily on dissent, jailing critics, constraining media and introducing tough new laws on public gatherings …”
Clearly, the cynical deception of Time magazine and its imperialist hirelings in denigrating and dismissing the Egyptian people’s capacity for democracy knows no bounds of shame.
Nevertheless, Time editor and U.S. imperialist strategist Fareed Zakaria is clearly worried about what the Egyptian people will do next. At the conclusion of his article, he complains that, “Egyptians are certain that the U.S. is the evil hand behind their woes -— whatever those woes may be.” (op. cit., “After the Coup”) But this elaborate charade does provide Zakaria with his punch line: “The U.S. has been a bystander in this revolution.” (ibid.)
The Washington Post’s Robinson reports that “the prevailing sentiment about Egypt [in Washington, D.C. and other capitals] seems to be that some people just can’t be allowed to govern themselves.” (op.cit.) Such great nation chauvinist and fascist sentiments of Time magazine and so many other supporters of the U.S. Empire serve as justification for the naked imperialist power that the Bush/Obama “Republicrat” Regime asserts over all the peoples of the world.
-It’s time for the Egyptian Working Class to Struggle For Political Leadership of the National Democratic Revolution -
From all of the above, it is clear that the decades-old Egyptian military dictatorship is still today wielding political power in Egypt. It is also clear that the forces of political Islam, of which the Muslim Brotherhood is a representative organization, do not have the capacity to lead the oppressed peoples of Egypt and the Middle East in successful struggle to defeat the combined forces of the reactionary Arab sheiks, the Egyptian military/comprador bourgeoisie and the Israeli settler state, all backed by U.S. imperialism.
It is no accident that U.S. imperialism, through its intelligence agencies and military connections to the reactionary Arab regimes, fomented Islamic fundamentalism and carried out a systematic murderous campaign against Arab communist and socialist workers as well as revolutionary nationalist forces in the Middle East decades ago, beginning with its efforts to counter the rise of Nasserism in Egypt. Tragically, these U.S. imperialist intrigues in the Middle East coincided with the degeneration and disintegration of the Socialist Camp and the international communist movement.*
The fact that the people of Egypt and the Middle East are buffeted today by a choice between reactionary Islamic fundamentalists, military dictatorships and brutal monarchies is a product of the intrigues and ruthless oppression inflicted by U.S. imperialism in particular in this region all these years.
Thus far in the Arab Spring period, there has been no country’s working class that has played such a decisive role in bringing about these positive events as the Egyptian working class, by far the largest, most experienced and most concentrated working class in the Middle East. On February 19, 2011, just one week after the ouster of Mubarak, the Egyptian trade unionists’ declaration was presented under the title, “Revolution-Freedom-Social Justice.” Their excellent and just democratic demands included: raising the national minimum wage, narrowing the gap between the poorest and richest wage, decent unemployment compensation, freedom to organize trade unions and protection for the unions and their leaders, making the huge number of temporary contract workers in factory, field, office and professional jobs permanent and abolishing temporary contracts, stopping the privatization program and undertaking renationalization of all privatized enterprises, removal of corrupt managers, establishing price controls on necessities so as not to burden the poor and the right of Egyptian workers to strike, organize sit-ins, other provisions that will lead toward “the fair distribution of wealth,” decent health care, and for the dissolution of the corrupt and repressive Egyptian Trade Union Federation.
We observed at the time that, “These are excellent demands for the independent mass working class organization to have as its platform; and together they constitute a large part of a national democratic revolutionary program under current Egyptian conditions … For these working class demands to be met, at a minimum, the Egyptian national democratic revolution against the Egyptian comprador bourgeoisie and imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism, must be won through a working class-led national liberation front that unites all the toiling masses of the urban and rural areas and all the patriotic classes of Egypt.” (Ray O’Light Newsletter #65, op.cit.)
The political experience of the Egyptian working class and masses has been tremendously enriched by the powerful and just struggle of Egypt’s Arab Spring over the past two and one-half years. Today there is an opportunity that has not been present for decades for the Egyptian working class to begin a struggle in earnest for the leadership of the Egyptian national democratic revolution, leading to socialism. All the other class forces, including those of political Islam, will surrender to and/or compromise with the military comprador regime and its Saudi royal and U.S. imperialist sponsors.
A new Arab Spring led by the Arab working class, with the Egyptian working class in the forefront, is on the order of the day. Sadly, a vibrant and powerful international communist movement, a new Communist International, has not yet been established capable of playing its full role in the collective leadership of this great struggle in the Middle East that it needs and deserves. Whatever the obstacles and challenges, it is the duty of the working class vanguard forces around the world to provide all the solidarity and support we can muster on the road to Egyptian and Arab Liberation, leading to a Socialist Arabia.
Down with U.S. Imperialism, the Israeli Settler State, and all the Reactionary Arab Regimes!
Onward to Democracy and Socialism in Egypt and the Middle East!
by RAY LIGHT
Proletarian revolutionaries and fighters for justice for the 99% of the world’s peoples are all indebted to former Defense Department contract employee Edward Snowden for the series of blows against tyranny that his whistle blowing has provided. Snowden’s revelations about the global reach and the all encompassing character of the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) spying on virtually everyone have already provided a number of valuable lessons.
Lesson #1: The leaked documents reveal that the Obama Regime has been and continues to be engaged in widespread, systematic surveillance of U.S. citizens with no warrant or any other justification. This is a clear violation of our fourth amendment privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution. It’s supposed to be the law of the land. Such surveillance includes the time, location and duration of all our phone calls. It also includes, under the PRISM program, collection of our private internet data such as email content and search histories from Google, Facebook, Skype and other monopoly companies.
Lesson #2: In the 1970’s, the response of the U.S. government to the exposure of the U.S. intelligence services’ illegal invasion of the privacy of U.S. citizens included a Senatorial Committee chaired by Frank Church, D- Idaho, that condemned the infractions and reined in U.S. intelligence, at least domestically. This time neither the House nor the Senate has raised any substantial public education about the secret spying. On the contrary, with the silent support of the tea party and Republican “critics of Obama,” the Obama Regime is unapologetically insisting on its supreme authority and is getting away with it.* National Intelligence Director Jack Clapper openly lied to Congress in March, claiming that NSA did not collect data on millions of U.S. citizens. With his lie now exposed by Snowden, in a recent Congressional hearing, when asked why NSA needs to spy on every phone number in the USA, Clapper arrogantly responded, “You have to start somewhere.”
Lesson #3: NSA has been collecting such data from sovereign countries throughout the world, including most if not all of U.S. imperialism’s “allies.” When Snowden revealed that the U.S. Empire had been focusing its spying eyes on its European Union partner-rivals the news caused a tremendous uproar among the European imperialist politicians across the entire bourgeois spectrum. Furthermore, it became clear that, along with military and political espionage, economic espionage was a high priority in Western Europe for U.S. imperialism as it defends the interests of U.S. banks and corporations.
Lesson #4: An examination of how the governments of different countries and regions have reacted to Edward Snowden’s asylum requests and to pressure from the Obama Regime to assist the U.S. government efforts to get its bloody hands on Snowden underscores the still obedient and submissive attitude of most of U.S. imperialism’s partner-rivals to the demands of the Empire.
For example, Snowden made his initial NSA leaks from Hong Kong, which is nominally part of China though it retains some independence in line with its one hundred year status as a “British protectorate.” While the revisionist Communist Party rulers in capitalist China did not turn Snowden over to the USA and instead allowed him to make his way to Russia, there have apparently been no Chinese overtures to Snowden regarding asylum. From Russia, Snowden issued more documented NSA leaks. Russia’s Vladimir Putin offered Snowden asylum on the condition that Snowden would leak no more NSA classified information. To his credit, Snowden refused the deal and Putin has thus far refused to offer him an unconditional asylum.
Most dramatically, despite the fact that Snowden’s actions have alerted all the bourgeois governments of Europe that the U.S. has violated their national security, not one European country has offered Snowden asylum! Moreover, the governments of France, Spain and Portugal refused to allow the official airplane of Bolivian President Evo Morales to fly through their airspace on his way home from a diplomatic trip to Russia. The cowardly actions of these three Western European governments forced President Morales’ plane to divert to Vienna, Austria for a 14 hour unplanned stop. With Morales’ permission, the Austrian border police searched the plane seeking Snowden, who wasn’t there. Bolivia’s ambassador to the United Nations said that all these orders came from the U.S. government.
Clearly, U.S. imperialism remains, at least for now, the hegemonic imperialist power. And the Leninist contradiction among the various imperialist countries and financial groupings, while growing in intensity, is still not breaking out in ways that the international proletariat and the oppressed peoples can utilize to great advantage.
Lesson #5: Leaders across Latin America were outraged by the rerouting of the Bolivian President’s official plane, calling it “a stunning violation of national sovereignty and disrespect for the region.” (AP) Cristina Fernandez, the President of Argentina, described the incident as a “vestige of the colonialism that we thought we had completely overcome.” President Morales himself stated: “They want to frighten and intimidate me but they won’t scare me. We’re not in colonial or imperial times … this is an aggression against Latin America.” In this anti-imperialist spirit, the governments of Bolivia, Nicaragua and Venezuela have all offered Snowden asylum in the face of the diplomatic, political, economic and military pressures from U.S. imperialism. These actions and reactions, independent of and in opposition to U.S. imperialism, of many Latin American governments is a reflection of the fact that, while the Leninist contradiction between the “handful of ruling, ‘civilized’ nations on the one hand and the hundreds of millions of colonial and dependent peoples of the world on the other” (see Stalin’s Foundations of Leninism) is no longer at the revolutionary height it achieved in China in the late 1940’s, or Vietnam, Cuba , etc. in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it is still for now the cutting edge contradiction facing imperialism, headed by U.S. imperialism.
Lesson #6: Snowden’s revelations about NSA’s global spying network rip the “humanistic, reasonable, democratic” mask off the vicious Obama Regime. Over the past several years, we have cited words of alarm about the U.S. National Security State from an unlikely source, Paul Craig Roberts, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Ronald Reagan and an Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts observed: “The Bush/Cheney/Obama National Security State has eviscerated the Constitution and civil liberty. Nothing remains … the president is above the law. The president doesn’t have to obey the law against spying on American citizens without warrants … The president can do whatever he wants as long as he justifies it as ‘national security.’ The president’s part of the government, the unaccountable executive branch, is supreme. This is the legacy of the Bush/Cheney regime, and this criminal regime continues under Obama. America’s ‘war on terror,’ a fabrication, has resurrected the unaccountable dungeon of the Middle Ages and the raw tyranny that prevailed prior to the Magna Carta …. Who will now liberate Americans from the Bush/Cheney/neoconservative/Obama tyranny?” (VDARE.COM, 9-2-10) Snowden’s NSA spying revelations are in keeping with Roberts’ words of alarm about the U.S. Evil Empire.
As the courageous, still imprisoned Black journalist, Mumia Abu-Jamal, warned before the 2008 election, Obama was running to be the commander of “the most powerful white nation” on earth. We, almost alone in the world, warned at the time that Obama would be a more formidable adversary for the international working class and the oppressed peoples than George W. Bush had been. And, along with a few other revolutionary forces, early on in the Bush-led war of terror, we pointed out the many connections between the “war at home and the war abroad.” Snowden’s marvelous leaks, documenting the amazing scope, breadth and depth of NSA spying, bring new and deeper meaning to the U.S. Empire’s war at home and the war abroad. Edward Snowden’s whistle blowing about global NSA spying is a dramatic confirmation of our Leninist approach to the U.S. Empire.
Furthermore, after Obama claimed that the U.S. government would not bother to go after one NSA whistleblower, his regime, drunk with the arrogance of empire, involved other major imperialist powers in the rogue state act of interfering with the Bolivian head of state on a diplomatic mission in order to try to capture and silence Edward Snowden. This act of international air piracy as well as the NSA spying by the U.S. imperialist state are in keeping with our persistent warnings about the seamless transition from Bush to Obama and the proliferation of the U.S. national security state.
Thank you, Edward Snowden. You have brought home to U.S.
revolutionary workers and fighters for justice for the 99% that first
and foremost we need to fight to end the U.S. Empire. And your NSA
leaks have helped open up a world of potential allies in this just
By RAY LIGHT
A Fiftieth Anniversary March on Washington has been called for August 24th. Some bourgeois accommodationist and comprador elements of the Afro-American elite associated with the liberal wing of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the Democratic Party and the Obama Regime are anticipating an occasion of celebration. After all, they have been “getting on” well in the aftermath of the 1960’s civil rights movement. However, within sixty days of the upcoming March it has become increasingly clear that what is really needed by the overwhelming majority of the Afro-American people and the 99% is a new Black liberation movement such as the one that unmistakably announced itself as a force to be reckoned with on that historic day in August 1963. For that dynamic movement had already been developing all over the USA and particularly in the Black Belt South Afro-American homeland in the years 1960 to 1963, beginning with the Woolworth’s Sit-in Movement that burst forth across the South in the late winter and early spring of 1960.*
Several major events have occurred in recent weeks that underscore the urgency of building a new militant, Afro-American national liberation movement, rather than passively celebrating the emergence of the last one fifty years ago. These include: 1. The Afro-American people’s victory in electing the long time revolutionary black nationalist, Chokwe Lumumba as mayor of Jackson, Mississippi; 2. The Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965; and 3.The acquittal of George Zimmerman in his Florida “trial” for the murder of Trayvon Martin, an innocent seventeen year old Afro-American youth.
Like the movement that came together fifty years ago in Washington, D.C., all three of these events are focused in the Black Belt South homeland of the Afro-American Nation. In fact, all three are connected to the current Afro-American migration back to the national territory of the Black Belt. As Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies has reported: “According to the U.S. Census, the South’s share of the black population --- 57 percent --- is now the highest it’s been since 1960 .... The shift could significantly strengthen the political power of African-Americans in the South, especially in the historic Black Belt stretching from the mid-Atlantic to east Texas …. Afro-Americans moving South also tend to be young: 40 percent of those moving to Southern states in the 2010 Census count were ages 21 to 40. [This] means that the political force of the latest phase of African-American reverse migration South will be felt for years to come.” (“Black Belt Power: African-Americans come back South, change political landscape,” Facing South, 9-30-11)
In an article last year on the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin, I cited the above and then observed the following: “This demographic shift was begun under the impetus of the substantial though limited achievements of the Black liberation struggle of the 1960’s. It is today a growing objective basis of strength for the emergence of a new more confident and focused Afro-American national liberation movement centered in the Black Belt South.”
-The Jackson, MS Peoples Victory in Electing Mayor Lumumba-
One inspiring reflection of this fact was the election on June 4th of Chokwe Lumumba as Mayor of Jackson, Mississippi, the capitol and the most populous city in Mississippi. Mississippi, the poorest state in the USA today, was the epicenter for the 1960’s civil rights movement that advanced to the level of political militancy expressed in the Black Power Movement. Brother Lumumba was a candidate of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and connects to Mississippi’s heritage of heroic liberation fighters by referring to himself as a “Fanny Lou Hamer -Democrat.” He has been a decades-long fighter for freedom and justice for the Afro-American people. Over the years he has served as a highly successful attorney in support of Afro-American political prisoners, including Geronimo Pratt and Assata Shakur (who has lived for years in Cuba). He has been harassed and persecuted by the state apparatus for his noble work.
Just after the election, when asked by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! about the fact that Assata Shakur had recently been the first woman placed by the FBI on the U.S. terrorist list and had the bounty placed on her head increased by the Obama regime to $2 million, Mayor-elect Lumumba unhesitatingly replied, “Well, I’ve always felt that Assata Shakur was wrongfully convicted, so she shouldn’t have been on a wanted list at all. Assata Shakur, I believe, will historically be proven to be a hero of our times …”
Mayor Lumumba was formerly a leader of the Republic of New Africa (RNA), originally based in Detroit, Michigan, Chokwe’s hometown. The RNA carried out an early reverse migration campaign from Detroit back to the Deep South in the early 1970’s. The RNA had a vision that six Black Belt South states could be wrested from U.S. imperialism to make up the national RNA territory, foreseen as “an independent predominantly black government.” As this was in conformity with the generally sound “Black Nation” thesis put forth in 1928 and 1930 by the Communist International, our predecessor organization, the Stalinist Workers Group for Afro-American National Liberation and a New Communist International (SWG), including me, encouraged and promoted this initiative right at the time, more than forty years ago. Certainly this political background is part of what makes the Lumumba election victory in Jackson so significant today.
Furthermore, Jackson, Mississippi today has an eighty percent black population and a high unemployment rate. It is in dire need of jobs and development. The Lumumba administration, inaugurated on July 1st, has a Peoples Platform which guiding principle is that “Love plus the Power of the people equals progress.” Among the many positive features of this platform are “the right to self determination” defined as “all Jackson residents have the right to participate in the decisions which effect their lives and the city in which they live” and an emphasis on “Workers Rights, Women’s Rights and Fair Wages.” Already in place is a people’s assembly, a meeting every three months where the population is able to express their views in an open forum that is used to “educate, motivate and organize.”
Mass democracy now seems to have a great opportunity to be put into practice in Jackson, Mississippi. And the solid ideas of the Lumumba-led administration will no doubt be replicated in many places, especially throughout the Black Belt South, if they bear great fruit. The powers that be will not sit idly by and allow the Lumumba Administration to be a success without a fight. The struggle in defense of the new progressive, pro-people, anti-monopoly, anti-imperialist Jackson city administration and the struggle to replicate it elsewhere can only be victorious in the process of building a new militant Afro-American national liberation movement, fighting for “Land and State Power in the Black Belt South.”
Unfortunately, most of the news these days reflects the fact that the Afro-American liberation struggle of the 1960’s long ago disappeared in the face of effective psy-war, “carrot and stick” policies utilized by U.S. imperialism in collaboration with modern revisionism in the international communist movement.* It is clear from recent negative developments that U.S. imperialism has no intention of allowing the Afro-American people and other anti-imperialist forces to produce more Jackson, Ms. people’s electoral victories, especially in the Black Belt South. At least not without a bitter struggle. Both the Supreme Court decision to smash the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Florida acquittal of the self-confessed killer of Trayvon Martin are key components in the effort to stem the demographic tide of Afro-American people returning to their Black Belt homeland, replicating “two, three many Jackson, Mississippi’s” and ultimately winning Afro-American national self-determination from the U.S. Empire, up to and including the right to independent existence as a state.
* U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s “era of negotiations,” begun in early 1968, effectively dovetailed with the betrayal of the oppressed peoples by the revisionists in state power in the socialist camp, in the USSR and China in particular. This U.S.-led initiative was aimed against both the heroic Vietnamese people (on the cutting edge of the world revolution at the time) and against the rising Afro-American people, then the most powerful force for revolution within the belly of the beast itself.
-The U.S. Supreme Court Eviscerates the Voting Rights Act of 1965-
On June 25, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling that gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Marcia Fudge, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, described this as “a day that will go down as one of the worst days for civil rights and civil discourse in this country’s history.”
This law had been the most effective tool ensuring the right to vote for previously disenfranchised peoples of color, especially in the South. From 1992-2006, the Voting Right Act blocked one thousand discriminatory changes in voting laws, especially regarding voter ID requirements and rolling back early voting. Just seven years ago Congress voted to reauthorize the Act by a vote of 390-33 in the House and 98-0 in the Senate.
The Supreme Court has not openly opposed the Voting Rights Act. Instead it has cleverly eliminated “temporarily” the requirement that states and cities that have historically discriminated against the Afro-American people in the Deep South have to obtain pre-clearance before making changes in election procedures. Claiming that the list of offending states and cities is “outdated,” the Court’s decision will now place the burden on the victims, the negatively impacted voters, after the discriminatory voting laws are enacted and implemented, until such time as Congress “updates” the list of those that are still discriminating against potential voters. The decision has opened the floodgates throughout the states of the Black Belt South for the introduction of new discriminatory laws — restricting and depriving Afro-Americans and other poor and working class people from voting. Laws such as those providing strict “voter ID” requirements allegedly to “prevent fraudulent voting” have become epidemic. Indeed, alleged widespread fraudulent voting is in fact a fraudulent “problem,” one that leads to the much more serious problem of voter suppression.
But the most devastating development in this period has been the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin.
-The Message of George Zimmerman’s Acquittal-
George Zimmerman’s “trial” and acquittal were in conformity with everything else that has happened in this case since Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin in cold blood in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. Over a year ago, in an earlier piece on the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin I stated that “the most important political aspect of the Trayvon Martin tragedy is … the white supremacist attitude and conduct of the Sanford and Florida and U.S. imperialist state authorities toward the murder of an innocent Afro-American young man.” I cited the Nation’s Patricia J. Williams who observed at the time: “Police failed to follow the most basic procedures for a homicide investigation: Zimmerman was never tested for drugs or alcohol, while Martin’s body was. After sticking him in the morgue, there was no attempt to identify Martin or to notify his family.” Williams concluded correctly : “ When law enforcement officers accept—without question—an admitted killer’s assertion that a homicide was justified because ‘he scared me,’ they license open season. Without question.”
Indeed, the entire murder trial put on by the state of Florida, beginning on June 10th and ending with Zimmerman’s acquittal on July 13th, projected the message that it is “open season” on Afro-American youth. There was nothing that young Trayvon Martin did wrong; yet, according to the conduct of this trial, there was nothing he could have done to keep himself alive.
Recent books (Douglas Blackmon’s Pulitzer prize-winning Slavery by Another Name and Michelle Alexander’s New Jim Crow) have documented the post Civil War use of criminalization of Afro-American men in the South up to the present day as a substitute for the old slave system. As Blackmon points out, “Instead of slave owners, the men who now controlled squads of black laborers available to the highest bidder were sheriffs.” (page 64) Throughout this long period, the innocence of black men has not been an impediment to their arrest and imprisonment. On the contrary, the “criminalization of black men” has been a foundation for much of the super-exploitation and superprofits reaped in the Afro-American nation by Wall Street imperialism and the source of many petty bribes and corruptions among the impoverished white Southern masses. The economic engine that drives all capitalist countries, from the least oppressive to the most oppressive is the same: maximum private profit. In the USA, the criminalization of black men is the foundation upon which so much of this hegemonic imperialist power, what is now the U.S. Empire, has been erected.
The historical roots for the total lack of concern for Trayvon Martin and his family on the part of the authorities in central Florida are clear and deep. This is why Zimmerman never showed remorse for his killing of the youth and why his U.S. flag-draped website attracted a few hundred thousand dollars in the brief period it was up before his attorney convinced him to shut it down. This is why it took over two million signatures on a petition on change.org calling for Zimmerman’s arrest and it took hundreds of protest demonstrations by thousands of people demanding the same before Zimmerman was finally arrested. And he was let out of jail after ten days, despite facing a second degree murder charge. This is why Zimmerman felt he could lie to the judge during his bail hearing, claiming he had few funds, and suppressing the fact that he had already garnered at least a few hundred thousand white supremacist dollars with his website.
Yet the few million who had signed the petition and the thousands who had demonstrated all over the USA demanding the arrest of Zimmerman were largely satisfied to passively await the trial of Zimmerman, without continuing the mass pressure that had resulted in his arrest in the first place. This mass complacency was largely based on illusions about President Obama and the criminal justice system and indeed of the U.S. economic system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism.
The present widespread outrage and massive street demonstrations in response to the Zimmerman lynch law verdict, especially in the Afro-American community, are a hopeful sign. And the people in the streets show no sign of letting up as yet. But the previous period of complacency, individualism and bourgeois democratic illusions about Obama, etc. have already been costly. The horrific court decision has its own momentum. All this underscores the need for an ongoing, dynamic Black liberation movement that consistently struggles to unite with its friends and allies on the one hand, and consistently struggles against its adversaries and enemies on the other.*
* Regarding Obama’s disarming role in the Trayvon Martin tragedy, his rotten role in the Atlanta, GA execution of Troy Davis , the firing of Shirley Sherrod at the Department of Agriculture, his promotion of the illusion that the USA is heading toward a “post racial society,” is making great racial progress, etc. I wrote in the earlier piece: “The bloody, brutal, harsh and unrelenting historical assault by U.S. imperialism on the Afro-American people’s national identity is the only explanation for the desire of the majority of the Afro-American people to keep hoping that Obama will be ‘successful,’ even though his success clearly comes at their expense! Clinging to this national identification with Obama, the successful individual African-American, many Afro-Americans refuse to recognize the fact that Obama is a more effective enforcer of the national oppression of the Afro-American people than George W. Bush was.” (“The Tragic Death of Trayvon Martin and the Struggle for Afro-American National Self-Determination,” Ray O’Light Newsletter #72)
In the earlier article I stated: “Trayvon Martin was killed for the ‘crime’ of being a young Black man living in the territory of the Afro-American nation, imprisoned by U.S. imperialism.” To this we can now add: the verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial sends the white supremacist message that young, innocent Trayvon Martin was killed with impunity because there is today no Black Power in the Black Belt South homeland of the Afro-American people. The white supremacist message to young Afro-American men (and the Afro-American people in general) is that they will live and breathe in their Black Belt South homeland in great and constant danger of being killed, no matter how innocently they conduct themselves. And therefore they should leave the Black Belt and never return home again. To reactionary whites and their allies, it sends the white supremacist message that a black man has no rights that the white masses are bound to respect.
All the more true after the verdict are the words with which I closed my earlier article: “A successful struggle to win Afro-American national liberation, including the right to self-determination on the territory of the Black Belt homeland of the Afro-American people will be a fitting way to ensure that there will be an end to the white supremacist rule that deprived Trayvon Martin of his life and all of us of the gifts he could have presented to the world.”
Freedom-loving fighters for justice have a lot to march about on August 24th in Washington, D.C. See you there!
This time when we build the movement, let us be true to the words of the Negro National Anthem—
“Let us march on ‘til victory is won!”
Toward Victorious Afro-American National Liberation!
For A Socialist USA!
-Latina Juror Counters U.S. Imperialism’s Divide and Conquer Tactics-
As we are going to press, the only juror of color, a Puerto Rican woman, has expressed remorse at Zimmerman’s escape from punishment and has stated that Zimmerman got away with murder. But, given the “judicial guidance” she received on the applicable Florida law, this young woman, who is now conscience-stricken, did not feel that she could maintain that position and hang that jury.
There were two excellent results of the Latina juror’s positive public statement, however. First, the compassionate and clear voice of this Puerto Rican juror in condemning Zimmerman’s guilt and affirming Trayvon’s innocence helped to defuse the post-trial efforts of the Wall Street ruling class to pit the two largest and potentially most revolutionary oppressed nationality groupings within the boundaries of the U.S. imperialist state, the Afro-American and Latino peoples, against each other. Virtually the entire monopoly bourgeois media has projected, like so many other lies and falsehoods connected to the case, the claim that George Zimmerman “identifies as a Latino.” This was despite the fact that Zimmerman, the son of a white judge and a Latina mother, to the contrary, had racially profiled Mexican immigrants during his time as a neighborhood vigilante.
At the same time, the Latina juror’s strong statement strengthens the conviction of a surprisingly large minority of the white population that Zimmerman was guilty and a great injustice has been perpetrated against the Afro-American people. Thus, the existing division between the Afro-American people and the U.S. white population on the question of the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, while still a serious problem, seems not to have become worse in the aftermath of the verdict. Nevertheless, the Wall Street ruling class and their white supremacist stooges will continue to use this tragic event to try to keep the Afro-American and white sections of the working class and the 99% from developing effective unity against U.S. imperialism.
Secondly, the Latina juror’s public comments, condemning Zimmerman’s guilt and affirming Trayvon’s innocence, have exposed the way that the state of Florida both through the judge and the prosecution and their interpretation of Florida law, rendered it impossible to convict Zimmerman. Once again this underscores the “open season” on young black men in the national territory of Afro-American people, the very land built upon the blood, sweat and tears of Trayvon’s ancestors.— the Editor
| *A good bumper sticker reads, “If
you’re not paying attention.” If you are paying
attention, please send me the items that are enraging you. Thanks.
- the Editor
While big banks receive a loan rate from the Federal Reserve of 0.75%, Congress recently allowed a key student loan rate (affecting some 7 million students) to double from an already high 3.4% to 6.8%. The average U.S. college student graduates with over $35,000 in debt and an average monthly payment of $499 for an undergraduate degree and $653 monthly payment for a masters degree. While banks line their pockets with exorbitant interest rates, students face a grueling debt in a “jobless recovery” where youth unemployment rates are well over 20%.
Within hours after the Supreme Court decision overturning key portions of the Voting Rights Act, states with a history of discrimination directed against Afro-American people in particular, moved to further restrict voter rights. Texas immediately put into affect a voter identification law and a congressional voting map identical to the one ruled discriminatory last year. North Carolina lawmakers are planning to eliminate early voting, same-day registration and implement new photo ID requirements. 613,000 voting age North Carolinians lack required photo ID. Since 2000 there have been just 10 documented cases of in-person voter fraud in the entire country!
In another assault on individual privacy and rights, the U.S. Supreme Court recently legalized the collecting of DNA samples from anyone simply arrested and charged with a felony. This is long before innocence or guilt has been established! There is nothing more private and personal than one’s DNA.
Still stumped! See answer below to front page mystery quotation.Answer: Senator Frank Church, Democrat-Idaho. In the mid 1970’s, Church, one of the leading members of the U.S. Senate, chaired the Committee that exposed to the people of the USA, through widely publicized hearings, the dangerous overreach of the U.S. intelligence services, including NSA. The Church Committee played a large role in restricting the power of the intelligence services to disrupt and repress the domestic life of the citizens of the USA in that period. Today, Democratic Senators Udall and Wyden, both members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, are among the few in Congress who have expressed alarm about the oppressive threat of Bush/Obama intelligence tyranny but they have been afraid thus far to spell out their concerns to the public.
| “The great appear great to us
Only because we are on our knees:
Let us rise.”
— Camille Desmoulins
Revolutionary Organization of Labor (ROL), USA is a revolutionary working class organization that fights for working class power and the elimination of all human exploitation. Ray O’ Light Newsletter is the regular publication of ROL, USA. We believe, with comrade Lenin, that the working class “… needs the truth and there is nothing so harmful to its cause as plausible, respectable petty bourgeois lies.” In the spirit of Karl Marx who taught that “our theory is not a dogma but a guide to action,” we welcome your comments.
Ray Light — Editor
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